Date Joined: 03/16/01
Pros: Nice, simple assembly. Fairly sturdy. Doesn't rely on USB power.
Cons: I had to use foam and rubber bumpers to keep drives from clunking around (though mine did ship with two rather flimsy foam pads, they weren't quite sufficient). But the largest drawback is the lack of any heat dissipation whatsoever. A 5400 RPM drive ran so hot after 3 minutes that I could feel the heat radiating from the drive when I held my hand above it. In fact, I had to drill vent holes into the plastic lid in order to let heat escape. The result? The drive runs about room temperature. It should have shipped with vent holes molded into it, I shouldn't have had to modify it myself.
Overall Review: If you don't plan on applying a little DIY elbow grease, I'm not sure I can recommend this enclosure.
Pros: Decent speeds, peaking at ~500MBps for both linear reads and writes. Low cost per GB, especially since I got mine on sale. Runs pretty cool at 37ºC / 98.6ºF, which isn't much above ambient as of this writing, and there's no airflow over it (SSDs like to run a bit on the warm side for longevity). Shipped with current firmware.
Cons: When zeroing this drive before use, it started out at >500MBps but eventually settled down to roughly half of that after a few minutes. So for heavily sustained writes at least, the low pricetag certainly shows. The housing on this drive is a bit flimsy feeling, but this isn't much of a con IMO; it's to store bits on, not to feel expensive in the palm of your hand.
Overall Review: I bought this drive specifically to house games, so there wasn't much risk in terms of durability. Not only will its workload be far more read-intensive than for writes, but there is nothing there which can't simply be reinstalled. I'll write an updated review if I have any problems down the road, but so far so good.
Pros: Works at DP 1.2 standard. Good build quality. Perfect length for typical desks/workstations with cable management.
Cons: None noted.
Overall Review: In my opinion, it's worth going with Tripp Lite over no-name brands. "Saving" a few dollars only to find the product doesn't work very well isn't a very good value proposition, IMO.
Pros: Silent, fanless operation. Powered exclusively by PCIE buss. 30W max power consumption. DDR5 provides quite a lot of memory bandwidth considering its narrow 64-bit buss. Quite good build quality for an entry-level card, typical of EVGA. On the card I received, it appears brand new and there is no obvious indication that the card is refurbished at all. Surprisingly decent performance for desktop rendering, accelerated video playback, and selective gaming.
Cons: Mine shipped with only the full-length bracket pictured, which is expected. But this one was going in a small form-factor system with low-profile PCIE slots. Thus I had to re-use a matching low-profile bracket I already happened to have, which was expected though somewhat inconvenient.
Overall Review: Installed this as an upgrade in an older HP dc5750, which is a small form-factor business class desktop. It just *barely* fit with the CPU cooler, to the extent I was worried it'd fit at all without modification. But when I actually slotted it in, the clearance of the tapered video heatsync was so snug and precise it was almost as though it'd been designed for this very system. Lucky coincidence.
Pros: 100% leather belt, looks cool, decent finish and manufacturing quality.
Cons: Mine came dry as the Sahara, so I'm going to have to oil it up with some neatsfoot oil before I'll be comfortable wearing it, exposing it to water, etc. The pyramids feel like a tin allow, not stainless steel, so they'll probably get pretty beat up or even break over time.
Overall Review: I'd recommend this belt as long as you understand you're probably going to need to oil it and maybe replace a few studs over the years. But if you treat it well, this belt might just wind up a "retro" heirloom for your offspring.
Pros: In my case, the boost clock went to 1888MHz automatically without any tuning software (Linux w/official NV drivers). 6GB of VRAM is generous for current and previous gen games and video applications, even paired with 2k displays. Relatively low wattage (120w max) compared to other similar cards (180w max for my 1070 Ti). Only requires a single 6-pin PCIE power lead. Temperatures under full load, while not mind-blowing, are perfectly reasonable. Zero detectable coil-whine.
Cons: Some of the screws fastening the HSF assembly on this particular card were slightly loose, which may be the reason some people have reported early failures on this model. Giving them a quick half-turn with a jeweler's philip's head screwdriver put a lot more tension on the GPU. Finally, the white cowl is a bit 'meh but, as in my case the chassis it lives in doesn't have a glass side panel, it's not a big deal.
Overall Review: Decent enough build quality for the price-point, but if you buy one make sure the screws securing the HSF assembly are properly tightened.
Pros: Definitely a modest improvement over the stock Intel LGA1155 cooler in the same cooler footprint. Took down the average temperatures of my old Xeon E31220 by 6°C. The fact that the fan is PWM helps the noise factor, and I can't tell a difference between the stock fan noise and this one.
Cons: Installation is a bit of a hassle. It uses a flimsy plastic backplate that lightly adheres to the LGA1155/1156 CPU backplate, and the HSF in turn threads through that. Thus the motherboard must be removed in order to install this cooler. I had to put pressure on the brass fittings from behind in order to get it to properly thread for all four screws.
Overall Review: I'm not sure whether to credit a more aggressive/efficient fan, a larger surface area on the heatsync, better surface pressure thanks to the much heavier springs, or some combination thereof, but it does manage to cool better than the stock Intel cooler in exactly the same form factor. The heatsync is very nearly identical otherwise.
Pros: Excellent color reproduction, that 10-bit claim is no exaggeration. Great contrast ratio. True sRGB 6-axis color calibration, so you can get pretty close to "standard" , though mine was pretty close out of the box. No visible interlacing artifacts (though that's not surprising at 60Hz). The stock stand is really very good, with a stable base and sturdy assembly overall. It can be raised, lowered, tilted, swiveled, and rotates 90' to give you 9:16 portrait mode which is extremely useful to many creatives. As a complete package, excellent build quality for the money. Very pleasantly surprised by Acer.
Cons: I wish it had integrated wire management in the back, especially since the stand allows for rotation. There is a cable portal in the stand, though. Only 60Hz, so hardcore gamers aren't going to be wowed, but that's not really the target demographic of this screen in any case.
Overall Review: I've never been a fan of Acer, but this monitor has shown me that they're just as capable of making fantastic mid-range products at entry-level prices if they put their minds to it.
Pros: Zero dead pixels out of the box. Perfect matte finish to my personal tastes; not too fine, not too course. Colors are bright and vivid, but not over-saturated. Great contrast ratio for this class of monitor. I understand some earlier models had an external DC adapter, but this one takes a plain old C13 just like your computer's PSU. Blue light reduction adjustment is a little course (25% per step), but it's there and it's useful. Yes, this monitor actually supports FreeSync. It's off by default, but you can easily turn it off in the menu. Yes, this monitor actually supports 144Hz, despite some reviews to the contrary. X.org shows 59.9Hz, 100Hz, 120Hz, and 144Hz as viable options, and they all function as expected.
Cons: There are definitely some visible interleaving artifacts within certain color spectrum, though that should be expected anywhere close to this price range for a high refresh-rate monitor like this. Lots of visible "bow-tie" effect due to the curved screen, if you look at the screen all at once. No problem for gaming or general usage, probably a big problem for photo editing or other graphical work. But really, creatives should be looking at a six-axis sRGB monitor for that so you can actually calibrate it properly. This is first and foremost a gaming monitor.
The stand is sturdy and supports limited tilt, but not pitch or swivel. It also has quite a large footprint, though there's plenty of room beneath the legs to run cables, etc.
Overall Review: Monitor is detected as "VIOTEK GN27D" via DP connection. One port is listed as an HDMI 1.2, the other as HDMI 2.0. I wonder if the reason some people can't get FreeSync or higher refresh rates to work properly isn't simply using the legacy (i.e. wrong) HDMI port? Food for thought.
Pros: As advertised, this set worked perfectly in a mid-2011 iMac. Tested overnight with Memtest86+ 5.01, zero errors.
Cons: No brand bragging rights; G.Skill doesn't sound as cool as Crucial or Corsair.
Overall Review: G.Skill is one of the better desktop memory manufacturers out there right now. Their quality is solid, support is good, and they actually honor warranties. As expected, this kit is inexpensive, decent latency, high quality, four sticks for four channels. If you've got an i7-based iMac which supports quad memory channels, this will make a massive difference. Even in a dual-channel i5 iMac, the quality and latency of the G.Skill memory still had a noticeable improvement in practical performance.
Pros: Reasonable cooling, doesn't look horrible, not too flimsy, relatively lightweight, half-depth, inexpensive for a server chassis. Also includes rubber bumpers to help keep the vibration down.
Cons: Poor layout, not particularly well thought-out. Annoyingly bright LEDs on the front of the chassis (especially for the HDD indicator). Difficult to work on; requires nearly complete disassembly for many common tasks. No hot swap bays, though that's not surprising for the price bracket. Also, the powder coat is about the quality of budget spray-paint and can be scratched with a fingernail. This thing will age poorly.
Overall Review: This chassis isn't horrible, it's just mediocre. It is probably acceptable for a home or small office server on a budget, but I'd never drop it in a colo. The lack of hot-swap bays and the overall difficulty to work with it pretty much disqualifies it for anything serious. Still, if you want small footprint 3U rackmount for a fraction of the cost of a professional grade server chassis, the 3U390A may be just what you're looking for.
Pros: This CPU outperforms the i7-3820, which costs roughly $100 more and pulls 5 more watts TDP, in most benchmarks. Its 8 real cores excel at parallel tasks, and single core performance isn't too shabby either. Additionally, with just a touch more voltage on the CPU/NB, mine runs my DDR3 out of spec with no problems; 1866 across 4 banks (interleaved). Virtualization with multiple concurrent guests is very fast and consistent, especially if you're running with your memory banks full and the RAM unganged. Transcoding with 64-bit HandBrake on Linux gives a ~30% improvement in FPS over the Phenom II X6 1100T.
Cons: Less motherboard options than your equivalent Intel CPUs, though I wouldn't consider that a big issue. The stock cooler seems functional but a bit on the lower-end, though I've never used it; I reused the Cooler Master V8 from the CPU it replaced. And as with previous AMD processors, the integrated memory controller can get a bit touchy about RAM timings and voltage. Unless you want to run bone stock and without any special tuning, prepare to perform a lot of Memtest86+ passes overnight.
Overall Review: Choosing an FX-8350 over an i7-3820 is a bit like buying a Ford GT500 instead of a BMW M3. Lower cost, more horsepower, more features, and if you know what you're doing, better overall performance. All you're really missing out on is the fancy badge on the chassis.
Pros: Very high factory clocks for an air-cooled Kepler GPU, with substantially higher VRAM throughput than a GTX 680 -- the 680 runs at about 192 GB/s, whereas the 770 weighs in at 224GB/s. This helps it beat a well-equipped GTX 680 by a noticeable margin, and at a substantially lower price-point. It also has some nice 700-series features which have been backported, such as GPU Boost 2.0 and OpenGL 4.3 support. Unless you're pairing an existing GTX 680 for a particularly power-hungry SLI config, there really isn't any reason to look at 6-series cards at this point. Unless, of course, the GTX 680 prices come down substantially.
In terms of real world performance, my older GTX 570 SC came in at a score of 1371 in Unigine Valley (OpenGL, 1920x1080, 4xAA, fullscreen, high quality). The GTX 770 ACX SC scored 2255 with the same settings. Not too shabby.
The ACX heatsync/fan variation does a great job keeping this beast cool, about 10C cooler at idle and peak than the normal 1x 80mm version, and it's much quieter in the process. Cooler, quieter and higher clocked than the non-ACX version, for the same price... I'm still waiting for the catch.
Cons: At 10" long the GTX 770 ACX SC isn't the longest card out there, but it'd still be wise to measure your mid-ATX chassis before buying. Thankfully the PCI-E power headers are on the side of the card, not the rear as with the 5xx series, so you don't need much clearance beyond that.
Overall Review: This card comes with an inordinate number of stickers, and a huge, gaudy Game of Thrones parody poster. Not the kind of thing I go in for, but at least it doesn't feel like an OEM brown-box purchase.
Speaking of stickers, the factory anti-scratch stickers are layered. There is an outer layer, with another underneath it covering the golden bezels at the outside center of the card. Another user complained about the metal bezels "peeling up" on the sides of his card... I wonder if he forgot to remove the second anti-scratch coating.
Finally, EVGA offers a free backplate (normally retail at $20) if you register your card. It looks cool, and they bill it as offering some minor heatsync functionality. I haven't received mine yet, so I can't speak to the accuracy of their claim, but it's a nice touch.
Pros: Lightweight, inexpensive, Android 2.2 "Froyo" platform. Has a Micro-SDHC slot, supporting up to 32GB of additional storage. The sound processor on this unit is quite good, and sounds very true on decent headphones even with a flat EQ. The platform is open with no DRM, and as with most Android devices, you can mount the root filesystem on your computer without special software. Archos has traditionally done a good job with their Android builds, not including a lot of built-in bloatware you can't get rid of, and this device is no exception. The speed of the device is fairly good, and I haven't found myself waiting on the hardware much if at all. The onboard 2.4GHz wireless works adequately, and I had no problems joining it to my WPA2 Personal encrypted wireless network. Based on battery wear patterns so far, 24-hour audio playback on one charge seems plausible. Also, the battery charges pretty fast; 0%-100% charge in 20 minutes on my Nook AC charger.
Cons: The screen is very low-end. The first model I received had a factory defect, with a bright red line down the middle of the screen. The RMA looks fine though. And speaking of the screen, at 270x480 and resistive touch, you're not going to be wowed by it. While it's not the worst touchscreen I've ever used (no stylus required), this is definitely no Gorilla Glass. Having the screen on also eats a *lot* of battery. The 6-hour estimate for video playback is most likely with the volume low or off, and the screen at the lowest possible brightness. Onboard storage is a paltry 4GB, but you should be using the SDHC slot for music anyway, and this thing's not much good for apps. Finally, the volume controls are permanent buttons built onto the front panel, much the same way as the home or back buttons common on older Androids. This means you can't change the volume while the screen is off.
Overall Review: This is clearly designed to be a low-end, Android-based, Internet-capable MP3 player, *not* a general purpose tablet. If you don't expect any more than that, you won't be disappointed. Got this for my young daughter on sale for about 40% lower than list, and felt it was worth the money. Updates to "Froyo" 2.2.4, and with the hardware being so low-end, there's not much point going to a newer Android build anyway. I recommend enabling Deep Sleep mode in order to keep background processes from needlessly running down the battery. It's an MP3/MP4 player after all, not a dedicated advertising platform for Rovio.
Pros: 2x RJ-45 ports, inexpensive, good quality, small form-factor, gigabit, Intel 82576EB chipset. Compatible with Supermicro X8DTU(F).
Cons: Proprietary form-factor to accommodate specific Supermicro servers. Otherwise, there is nothing wrong with this NIC.
Overall Review: If you own an X8DTU or X8DTU-F based system and want a few extra gigabit ports, this proprietary small form-factor NIC is inexpensive and gets the job done.
Pros: This is an all-around well-designed fan. It moves a lot of air even at low RPMs, doesn't eat as much power as the ball-bearing fans that came with my chassis. The CF-V12HPB's rubber dampers do a surprisingly good job of reducing chassis vibration. And the surface textures on the blades aren't just for show; they work more efficiently than smooth bladed fans at the same RPMs, and also sound less high-pitched. PWM support means you can make your motherboard run them at low RPMs when your systems at idle, then automatically ramp up the airflow as needed. Last but not least, its fluid bearing design is rated to last around 30 years, so if they last even half that they'll have justified the cost.
Cons: A bit on the expensive side, though if the MTBF numbers are correct, they will outlast most of your system by a few decades.
Overall Review: The box says "Optimum cooling efficiency & extremely silence". I don't know what 'extremely silence' means, but I think it must be something positive. Is it anything like "Rock Solid. Heart Touching"?
Designed in Germany, translated in Taiwan. :)
Pros: Small, high-quality, and inexpensive; these flash drives are a good value.
Cons: Detailed specs on speed aren't listed, but I wasn't able to get near the USB 2.0 theoretical limits on this flash drive. Raw disk access without a filesystem in Linux showed 18.9MB/s read, 4.2MB/s write. Not horrible, but not great either. For the price point, this is about the performance I would expect from a USB 2.0 flash drive.
Overall Review: I typically pull off the silicon cover, revealing the very slim metal housing inside. That allows me to add printed labels that show the drive contents (I use them for the odd OS installation or for system recovery in a pinch).
Pros: The aluminum case is a nice touch, the drive feels solid and high value. But more interestingly, this USB stick's raw read and write speeds are even faster than advertised. Specs claim 100MB/s read, 25MB/s write @ USB 3.0. By writing directly to the block device in Linux, I measured reads at 130MB/s and writes at 30MB/s. Usually drives like this claim a lot more speed than they can actually accomplish, but in this case the specs were actually conservative.
Cons: Lettering is painted on, and will scratch off over time.
Overall Review: If you're unable to achieve the rated speeds of this flash drive, don't be quick to blame the drive. It could be your operating system, or it could be the filesystem you've formatted it with. NTFS or HFS+ are both journaling filesystems, which may be overkill for the short-lived data usually stored on thumb drives. Journaling provides better data safety, but can incur some speed penalties -- especially for writes. Additionally, random reads and writes are much slower than bulk, symmetric transfers. In other words, a few large files are faster than a bunch of small ones. There are also some early USB 3.0 controllers with sub-standard performance. All of these things can impact disk performance, especially over USB.
Pros: This heatsync has tons of surface area, and an interesting design where the fan is nestled dead center, acting as both a "push" and a "pull" fan. Despite its massive size, the footprint on the motherboard itself is surprisingly small; it cleared my G.Skill Ripjaw memory heatsyncs easily, and was well clear of the heatsync running the length of the chokes and MOSFETs around my CPU socket. Keeps my Phenom II X6 1090T cooler than body temperature under most loads (currently 93.2°F / 34.0°C).
Cons: The included fan is rifle bearing, which is better than sleeve but inferior to ball or liquid (aka "fluid") bearings. For the money, I would have expected a better quality fan. This is compounded by the fact that a potentiometer has been added to this model in order to add resistance and slow fan speeds. This might sound like a plus to some, but I don't see the point. The fan has a 4-pin lead, which would have allowed the BIOS the ability to control the RPMs based on temperature. This is ideal. I don't want to have to manually ramp up or down the RPMs based on whether or not the expected load is heavy. The important thing is temperature control, and modern motherboards are able to do that without my intervention.
Also, as others have mentioned, the heatsync is quite tall, and stands off the motherboard by quite a lot. If you have a shallow chassis, or one with side fans already oriented over the CPU socket, you might want to get some measurements before committing to this HSF.
Overall Review: The fan is replaceable, so the fact that it's cheap and has an unwanted potentiometer isn't a total show stopper. But whether you use the stock fan or a higher-quality replacement, make sure that it's oriented to exhaust out of your chassis, not into it. I suspect some of the folks who have complained about high temperatures with this beast of a HSF may be exhausting heat right back into their chassis, then circulating it around. That might eventually saturate the heat pipe design, causing it to fail to cool effectively. To be fair, it's also possible that the pipes in their cooler are defective, and were not manufactured with the correct amount of heat conductive liquid inside.
Pros: Lots of surface area, 120mm fan with 4-pin connector included, and in theory compatible with all popular modern CPU sockets.
Cons: The fan is cheaply constructed with a sleeve bearing, and has a short life expectancy even from the manufacturer's own estimates (which are always generous). However, this could be overlooked if it wasn't missing crucial parts of the HSF which allow it to work with the AM3 sockets so prominently featured in Xigmatek's advertising. I have contacted them through their "info" channel (they offer no customer support as such), asking them to please complete the kit I've already purchased by sending me the AMD compatible components my kit is missing. So far, nothing.
Overall Review: I guess what others were saying about this company being on the sketchy side were not exaggerated. To those that tried to warn us, sorry I didn't listen. The Internet is, after all, full of misinformation. I won't make the same mistake twice; you can be sure I won't be dealing with Xigmatek again.
Pros: Undeniably extremely fast for the money, especially after upgrading to 0009 firmware.
Cons: Had several of these in a RAID for a storage node, running only the OS for the host machine (not being used in the storage array). Despite the very low duty requirements of the task, they kept causing IO freezes which would make the host OS unresponsive. Futher, one drive kept falling out of the array. I'd re-add the device only to have it fall back out again after 20-40 minutes with IO errors. Next I tried upgrading the firmware, running a power cycle (vendor recommendation), switching AHCI modes, disabling all ATA power saving, switching out the SATA cables, tried different ports and even different filesystems. When I thought perhaps the Intel ACHI controller might be unhappy with that particular model SSD, I even tried throwing it in a different system with a different AHCI controller. Same issue. Replaced the SSD with a brand new replacement of the same model, had the same symptoms. Replaced with a different SSD brand, and the machine has been up for days without a hiccup. Hmmm.
Overall Review: After running into these issues, I did quite a bit of research on this model and found the problems we ran into are actually pretty common. There is a theory that the onboard Marvell logic controller has a major part to play in the IO blocking behavior, but I don't have a reasonable way of vetting that claim (besides, my company is no longer buying Crucial brand SSDs due to our experiences with them so far, so there's not much impetus for me to do so). There were some grumblings of negative posts to this effect being exorcised from Crucial's forums, though I was not witness to any of that, so can't comment on it either way. Some people seem to have no issues with this drive, but I think it's very possible there's a lot of folks out there who are blaming their OS for instability that's really the fault of their SSD. Fanboys may "unhelpful" this review into Internet oblivion, but hey, I do this for a living and the problems I experienced with this model were unfortunately very real.
Pros: 110 watt amplification per channel at 8ohms, which is fairly beefy. I typically shy away from upscaling in favor of native, but the integrated Anchor Bay hardware upscaler works surprisingly well. And the audio quality in my experience, unlike how others may have categorized it, sounds amazing. Let me qualify that by saying my hearing tests in the top 1% and I tested with lossless FLAC samples through fairly decent speakers. There are also some advanced audio calibration features that make a major impact on perceived sound quality, such as phase control (making sure that both high and low frequency sound hits your ear at the same time from each of your speakers simultaneously) and PQLS (for high-resolution jitter correction during DA conversion, thus eliminating distortion). One of the most compelling features is full remote control without the need for the stock remote via iControl2. This works on iPhones, iPads, most recent iPod Touches and Android. You'll never touch the IR remote.
Cons: Doesn't ship with a few option modules, like Wifi (does however ship with built-in Ethernet, so you can still use it on the network).
Overall Review: Bought to replace my Onkyo SR-607 with the typical burnt-out HDMI board problem. For the relatively low price I wasn't expecting much in terms of sound quality, but I was pleasantly surprised by exactly how good it does sound. The Pioneer VSX-1021k makes my old receiver sound like junk in comparison, and I actually had a lot of compliments on how good the last one sounded. The built-in hardware upscaler does a great job of upscaling sub-1080p video, but I'd advise you to leave it off on full-time native 1080p devices like Bluray players or media set-tops. Passing through native 1080p content seems to wash out the chroma scale a bit. Also, you don't need the wifi module to use the iControl2 app from wireless; just make sure the wireless clients in question can reach it on your Ethernet. For advanced users with a firewall between network segments, you'll need to forward TCP ports 80, 8080 and 8102 to your receiver. I couldn't find it documented anywhere, so ended up sniffing traffic.
Pros: Large, bright, and vivid colors. Plenty of inputs, built-in HDTV tuner, swivel stand, and the power LCD is refreshingly subtle (I hate being laser-beamed in the eyeballs by blue LED's of death).
Cons: The unit I received has a massive factory defect which appears as though somebody has vomited a rainbow from inside the screen. The obvious nature of the artifact tells me iSymphony does little or no QA on their products. To add weight to this point, the included remote control was also DOA -- I confirmed it was the remote (and not just the obviously defective monitor) with the viewfinder of an infrared-sensitive camera.
As other reviews have mentioned, the back-lighting is extremely cheap and directional. I actually expected this as a penalty of the relatively low price tag, but take my word that it's definitely a real issue you will notice when the screen is displaying a dark scene.
Finally, to add insult to injury, every device I have hooked this screen to have detected its native resolution as 1360x768. At a glance it actually does appear to be 1:1 pixel ratio at that resolution. Forcing 1080p overscans by about 30%, and has a pixel waver I'd normally only associate with 108
Overall Review: This is my very first 1-star review on Newegg in over 10 years. The build quality is so very flimsy on this model, and the defects so grievous, that I cannot recommend this monitor to anybody at any price. I'm planning on returning this monitor immediately for a refund and going with a more reputable manufacturer -- preferably one that actually QA's it's own products.
Pros: Atom D525 (1.8 GHz, 2 cores, 4 threads total), 2GB of 800MHz RAM included, ION 2 chipset (512mb dedicated RAM), tiny footprint, HDMI, TOSLINK, plent of USB (2 ports front, 2 ports rear). The included wireless keyboard would be a great feature if the 40812HU was more appropriate as a settop box... see cons below.
Cons: No space for slim ODD, so you'd need to use USB if that's a requirement (which dramatically increases the footprint of this model). Ships with Win7, which does not run well at all on Atom CPUs... especially for multimedia. If you're going for a multimedia settop box (for XBMC, etc) you'd be better served by Linux for full VDPAU support. Shipping without an OS license would have made this product a bit more affordable. Since the 40812HU has some moving parts, it's not a truly silent solution like various competing products. A heat pipe and small SSD boot drive would be much more desirable in a settop. Also, the TOSLINK port being up front in the USB hideaway is a very strange design. If it was me, I would have swapped the 1/8" audio connectors in the back for the TOSLINK in the front.
Overall Review: If you want a lightweight nettop and you're only comfortable with Windows, the 40812HU might be a decent choice for you, as long as you're not expecting outstanding performance. But if you're considering this as a settop device for dedicated multimedia playback, you'd be better served by a product which was designed with those needs in mind.
Pros: The integrated NVidia ION 2 GPU (GT218) allows for flawless 1080p video decoding in Linux via VDPAU. This includes hardware upscaling and studio-grade color correction. The ION 2 doesn't steal system RAM, unlike the ION 1, so you'll have more memory to throw at buffers and cache for silky-smooth operation.
Though the specs on this model claim that it only supports 2.1 audio, this is only true of the analog 1.8" stereo jack on the rear of the unit (IDT92HD81). That is provided by the integrated Intel N10 chipset. Thankfully, the ION provides its own 8-channel digital audio via HDMI. This works perfectly in recent Linux kernels for both normal audio and DTS/AC3 pass-through, meaning you'll be able to take full advantage of your high-end receiver and 5.1 - 7.1 surround.
Finally, this system features well-designed passive cooling. This means if you opt for an SSD boot drive, it will be 100% silent with no moving parts.
Cons: The integrated JMicron JMC260 Ethernet controller is only 10/100. This is adequate for a media client -- even very high definition streams typically only use a fraction of this -- but might disqualify this machine as a lightweight server. The integrated Realtek RTL8191SEvA wireless is also somewhat less than exceptional, although it does the job.
As for output options, the lack of DVI, TOSLINK, and SPDIF connectors is a bit disappointing. Not a major detractor if you plan to utilize HDMI for audio and video, but might present a problem in some situations.
Overall Review: I'm using the XS35GT as my primary media center. It's running Debian Squeeze (AMD64) with a custom 22.214.171.124 kernel, optimized for the Atom CPU and ultra-low latency. This coupled with the Debian Multimedia repository and XBMC makes a perfect compliment to my home fileserver (mounted via NFSv4). Since I am using it only to play media, not to store it, I opted for an OCZ Onyx 32GB SSD. Silent, low-wattage, beautiful sound and video. What else do you need in a media box?
Oh, and one final note: The specs claim that it supports a max of 2GB RAM, but flashing the firmware to the latest build will actually bring the ceiling up to 4GB. Enjoy.