Joined on 03/02/07
Pros: After running a great Dell XPS for a few years, I wanted to go back to the self-build route again and put together something wonderful :). Was highly debating EVGA's 4-Way Classified or this (as it'd be easily $600+ more for the dual-Xeon route). Glad I went the SR-2 way now! Running 2x Megahalems / 2x EVGA 580s / SR-2 PSU with Xeon E5620s at 3.7 Ghz. If you're looking for a render machine or for video crunching, this board seems to simply beat anything else out there. I had to tap the mounting board of my PC-P80 for the last standoff to make it fit so this isn't a quick plug-and-play job. If you would like a fun project however, this board is superb and has nearly every feature you could ask for.
Cons: One would suggest price here but if you need the horsepower of dual Xeons, you know what you're getting yourself into. Noticed the E5645 six-cores are "only" a few hundred bucks more (they seem to have come down in price since I built this a few months ago) Oh well. That PSU does crank the volume up a bit there once you're pushing over 1,000 watts... Not unbearable but just a note there. As to whether a more adaptable solution suitable for the SR-2 exists without as much noise, I can not say firsthand. If you do plan on a fully loaded system though and use 2 or more 580s, certainly plan on 1,200+ watts. Apparently my previously highly rated review was removed for mentioning other aftermarket notes. Wow.
Overall Review: It's wonderful to pull up task manager and see 16 threads working away! Using this system as a production backbone and it really chews through whatever you put on it. Things like rendering compared to a traditional LGA 775 qua core are sped up by 4x or greater; video is a great deal faster for sure. If you crank out science, it will run BOINC / Rosetta at Home or Folding at Home at the equivalent of anywhere from 2 to 8+ traditional systems - it just has that much power going for it, coupled with the Westmere architecture. Haven't tried putting in more than 12 GB of RAM yet, but the Mushkin Redlines have generally been running fine. Timings are very lax as I've not gotten everything to be stable with them at JEDEC Spec. Maybe I've just hit the limits of what a good air cooling set up can do? It's an expensive purchase / investment but one that should serve for many years and I couldn't be happier with it. Highly recommended.
Arlo Essential Camera
Pros: Arlo’s Essential Spotlight Camera comes in a nice tiny box with minimal things to get you going. You receive a white 3-holed plastic base for mounting, 3 aluminum wood screws, 3 plastic stubs (most likely for soft interior wall panels), the connecting pivot with tightening knob and the camera itself along with a flat-style 6” USB to micro-USB cable for recharging. After signing up with an account on Arlo, you set up 2FA and your network SSID / Password, press the button on the bottom of the camera for syncing, then have it scan a QR code generated on your screen as a pairing ID / token. From there, everything else moves to the App itself. I had no issue installing the Arlo Security App on a Samsung Galaxy S7 or an Ipad Mini Gen 2, or browsing to it on a Desktop. I had to reset the device once as it claimed at first to receive poor reception from our tri-band wireless router barely 10 feet away, one room over. Once the pairing was done a second time and the firmware updated, things proceeded smoothly. I signed into the Arlo app, and there was no problem to ID the camera, set it up, and configure various device options. Keep in mind since it relies on wireless, there is a small delay between a change such as motion detection or other settings being changed in the app to being reflected in the camera output. You can change motion detection settings, crop the region you want recorded, enable or disable night mode, and change a few other parameters. The camera had no problem during testing pinging our phones with SMS to let us know motion was detected when we were walking in or out from our home; about 20 feet from the mounting location nearby, again with a slight delay for live feed. It appears to save battery as the camera retains a low-power state but will automatically record a clip when it detects movement past your specified motion (but not noise) threshold or you hit play (go live) on the app or browser page. Viewing and configuring settings on a desktop was by far the easiest, then phone, then tablet last of all. Overall the video quality is okay for night 1080p as I wouldn’t expect a super high res feed given the item’s cost. I’ll have to run it long-term to see how long the battery lasts but if I can a couple weeks’ runtime from it at a time I’d be happy.
Cons: --You can’t really use this camera as a separate software package to your own Network; it requires an Arlo Account and paid subscription to use as well as always-on Internet. While Arlo's plan is not terribly expensive on its own and priced well for a plan of having multiple cameras for a home is expected, it’s too bad there is no local networking option. --The software review of the feed while great on desktop and workable on a phone, is quite poor on a tablet. You can’t resize the camera feed configuration window and even going live does not let you give you a larger PoV when on a tablet (it does on phone). It made determining if features were working a bit frustrating and many of the menu buttons and icons on a tablet are extremely small. A phone was clearly the designed target for this software. --We have forests and rural property near our location and with the motion threshold still at about 50%, it was detecting cars (fine) but it would also trigger the alerts on bugs flying by when the spotlight turned on. I wonder if there is even a sweet spot where bugs would not set it off but there would still be enough detection for people? I can’t fault the camera too much as it is motion of course but something to keep in mind depending on your location. If you have a rural location this may not be the best device for you. --Video quality is just, okay. On Desktop, zooming into the video feed leaves a very aliased mess as if too much EV is applied and no AA; at least during the night. Daytime review is fine.
Overall Review: Overall I can see the product serving as a good deterrent and okay peace of mind since I have not used any other security cameras to date. Setting up was very easy and the hardware is simple to use, however the software needs refinements and more options. Arlo has done a decent job in making a functional product that is certainly usable. However with the quality I’ve seem from the feed so far, I have to ask if this would really stop a potential crime or break-in vs offering simply a deterrent. It is good that you can capture audio, there is a bright LED light for the dark, and the software is easy enough to use if sluggish. Since you can’t run a local network feed, having your phone / browser / tablet always nearby and on and ready to review a camera alert seems to get cumbersome quickly, however you can always disable particular alerts in the settings. If Arlo would consider offering a local networking option without subscription or a toggle for local and network recording (to a user’s memory card first, then to cloud after or both), this product would be even more useful. The software, while functional and easy to read, could use further improvement and a description box of what, exactly, each option does or recommends would be nice to see. As usual for modern products, no user guide other than a quick set-up is included in-box. Everything is online. If you lose internet or disable your wireless, no communication can be made with the camera. This would in one swoop disable someone’s security so there needs to be more thought put into this as well from Arlo’s end. If you have weak wireless or spotty internet, this is unfortunately not a product for you.
Seagate Ironwolf 16TB HDD Review:
Pros: Pros: The Seagate Ironwolf 16 TB HDD is spacious, robust for a platter drive, and dense with a cache of 256 MB and a speed of 7,200 RPM on a typical SATA III power and data connection. You can really tell the platters are packed tight as this drive is a couple pounds or at least feels like it. Upon formatting in a Windows 10 x64 machine, this drive offers 14.5 TB usable. While this drive is intended for a NAS environment, I always utilize drives in a JBOD environment with manual RAID 1 so as to be more selective over data. On power-up, this drive is significantly louder than others I’ve owned, probably due to the seek arm aligning; however it presents no issue after a couple seconds. Reads: This Ironwolf drive performed surprisingly well in all read tests I ran on it. Utilizing HDTune, speeds started around 270 MB/sec and eventually fell to 125 MB/sec at the end of the platter structure. Access time was in the 14-16ms range with CPU utilization of 8-9% on a 7940X (14-core) system. Bursts were nearly at 500 MB/sec, however the cache fills quickly on a large transfer. Placing photography work on this new drive, it’s performed very well, and while not at the speed of an SSD, the cache helps to speed up short term data. This makes it feel at times like an SSD since my particular work is serial. Manually upping the queue / threads beyond 2 starts to make any performance metrics dip seemingly square to the amount of requests, though giving this drive many small files makes performance quite impacted. For an as-expected NAS environment though, most users are requesting a mix of files or larger transfers and I saw no issue with that given an expected performance drop. In Crystal DiskMark x64, this meant a sequential read of again, over 200 MB/sec; around 230. Yet any 4K data (where traditional HDDs struggle) relegated this drive to sub-2 MB/sec performance. As usual, if you need high performance on many tiny files, go SSD / NVMe. Writes: The writes on this drive proved similar to the read levels. Transfers start off fast, reaching around 250 MB/sec at the start of the platter, then falling in toothed fashion down to 125 MB/sec at the end. Bursts clocked in just under 300 MB/sec for writes which is very impressive for a platter drive. Access time was about 5-6ms, with identical CPU usage. Crystal DiskMark x64 echoed similar results as above, with writes reaching a generalized 250 MB/sec, yet at 4 KB file size, falling to 2.5 MB/sec. In sending over large amounts of data to this new working drive (over 5 TB), I saw the cache benefit greatly with video files and other large pieces of data, far exceeding typical transfer rates. Sometimes I’d see bursts to this drive at over 1 GB/sec, holding for a few, then moving down to the 200 MB/sec range so it simply depends on what you’re writing to this drive in terms of file make up to accurately gauge performance.
Cons: Cons: Normally one always brings up price as a con factor. As this drive is currently offering pretty much bleeding edge capacity, the price will naturally be high. I mean, it’s not a 16 TB SSD? No cons at this time. A longer warranty past 3 years would be nice.
Overall Review: Other: Overall, I am very impressed with this drive. It doesn’t sacrifice any performance (within the constraints of what platter based drives can achieve) despite its huge space. Overlapping work data onto this drive from other SSDs and HDDs took about 7 hours to write 5+ TB over part of a day. Of course I want to imply that if one intends to use all 14+ TB of this drive, start considering backups and mirrors of one’s data as this is getting to data center levels of capacity and 16 TB is a lot of space. My particular drive arrived in a small box with Jell-O plastic cushioners and barebones, yet was in good shape. SMART and other tests showed all sectors were good. We’ll see about how this drive holds up long term, as platter drives naturally have reputations for being sporadic on their lifespan and behavior from time to time. Operating temperature in a mounting cage in a Caselabs SMA-8 Rev. A with passive cooling / venting was about 35 C continuously, reaching about 41 C while writing. This variance is only due to my room fluctuating in temperature, but the drive’s range specifies from 5-70 C operating so clearly it can handle far worse. Doing large bursts of copying to this drive presented no issue, and I was getting advertised speeds at 33% use of the drive compared to my own diagnostics. Windows and this drive handled a few 600 GB to 2+TB copies like a champ, no issues. In terms of pricing, one may think it easier to buy two 8TB drives, but the cost for this singular drive is not too much higher and it’s nice that the pricing is still in the curve of efficiency. So if you have a ton of work, project data, RAW files, video, B-Roll, etc., and don’t mind this cavernous volume not being an SSD, what is presented here can’t be beat, well until probably next year when Seagate and others push 18+ TB to market.
Toshiba Canvio Advance 1TB Review
Pros: Inside the case, you’ll find only the basics – a black, glossed, hard drive case itself without any rubber feet, a guide for California electronics standards, a quickstart manual, and the SS / USB 3 cable, all wedged by a plastic clamshell casing and a simple box. This drive is pretty speedy for being an external USB 3 hard drive. I was able to obtain roughly 135 MB/sec in reads and 125 MB/sec in writes regardless of whether I used my X79 board’s native ports or an ASMedia PCIe port extender, although the general access time was faster using native ports. Upon connecting the drive, it is naturally pre-formatted for PC use and you can find software backup and encryption tools for use on the drive. I however, am not one to normally utilize these extra utilities and mirror my own drives so I did not test them out. Other reviewers state however that they do not work on the latest builds of Windows 10 so I can not comment on this. You receive 931 GB usable once formatted from a 1TB HDD. Read speeds are pretty quick on HDTune, going from roughly 135 MB/sec at the start of the drive and slowly going down to about 60 MB/sec at the end simply due to mechanical HDD nature. Write speeds are again, pretty quick due to USB 3, starting at about 125 MB/sec and going down to 75 MB/sec halfway through the platter. For whatever reason however, my particular HDD had massive trouble with the second half of the write cycle, plummeting down to barely 1 MB/sec for a span of the drive, briefly recovering, then staying flatlined until the end. An error scan however, shows no errors in sectors or via SMART.
Cons: For $60, Toshiba is sadly not really differentiating its product from that of any other prominent hard drive manufacturer. Sure, you get some free software on the drive, but most others include such tools too. My particular HDD exhibited very odd behaviors when writing to the second half of the platter, plummeting in write capability. I do not know if this will affect the longevity or capability of the drive, however. It was severe enough in my observation that I'll ding an egg for this, even though I am sure it's a unique situation to me.
Overall Review: I took this drive for the review, had it formatted, immediately copied data to it and had to deploy it in a work environment for a media heavy convention two days later after receiving it. The drive backed up all data and handled all transfers between machines without a hitch, as expected. In terms of pricing, you can spend roughly $10 more and get a 2 TB version so why not? HDDs at these sizes are now, and have been, commodity computing products for some time, and I’d wager a price closer to $40 would be better. I don’t know once I fill the drive with more data as to if there will be any significant issue with the plummeting write speed, but even after the media oriented weekend I used the drive for, only about 300 GB were used. This observation that is unique to me does not start until 400-600 GB, and is apparent after 500 GB on a write graph. To conclude, this drive performs at top speed for most of the time when I’ve seen it. USB 3 is implemented well on the controller. The software, while nice, isn’t necessary, and the drop off (beyond expected mechanical platter limits) is a little surprising. The price of this drive is roughly comparable to that of other manufacturers so really I guess it just depends on how much data use you require. 1TB can be literally the world or a fraction of someone’s media library so simply shop accordingly. A two year warranty is again, simply average in this day and age for portable devices; some companies offer more or less, but all of them less than before! I will ding this one egg for the write flukes as that does make me question the long term stability of the product. Otherwise performance was fantastic. As always, if something is important to you data-wise, back it up in more than one place!
Samsung ArtPC Review
Pros: After reviewing the Samsung ArtPC what do I have to say? As always, it depends on who the target audience is and what their computing goal is. This PC is marketed as a plug-in-and-go, creative center, gaming, and powerful small form-factor system, and I believe it hits those targets admirably. Comparing this to a full-size desktop with the understanding of lower performance, I was genuinely surprised at how decently the 6th Generation i7 performed at CPU tasks compared to my overclocked i7-4930K at 4.3Ghz being a few generations old now. This machine, coupled with the incredibly fast NVMe drive, is easily sufficient for photo and video editing, and the included GPU can game at moderate settings with some concessions, depending on the title. The Harman / Kardon speaker actually had some bass to it, sounded crisp and clear, and definitely cemented this machine as a desktop you could leave out, show your guests, or use as a media center system, rather than have it tucked away somewhere. Samsung naturally is eyeing the presentation and rich aesthetic appeal of a machine to be displayed and I can’t blame them. The Good! --Gaming: You may have to reduce settings for your favorite titles but the included RX 460 is decently powerful. This is NOT a 4K capable machine, however. The ArtPC uses the Intel 530 series onboard graphics for desktop and 2D needs, and automatically turns on the 460 for 3D applications or gaming. AMD’s Catalyst Center could not even see any GPU was shown when dabbling around in settings. Due to limited time for testing and software availability on my end, I could only thoroughly test FFXIV Stormblood, World of Warcraft, Diablo III, and consulted a graph for Overwatch which makes for a mixture of newer and older titles at varying graphical demands. For performance numbers I found the following: --World of Warcraft - Easily Playable at Preset 7 to 10 Ultra. 1920x1080 FPS was between 35-90. You could raid on this, easy! --Diablo III - Somewhat Playable. 1920x1080 and anything above medium detail is a no-go. Drop it to 1360x768 all Low and Forced Low FX and you can get perhaps 20-30 frames. Not unplayable, not but ideal. --Overwatch - I could not test this firsthand but graphs suggest a buttery smooth 1920x1080 High level of GPU settings. Ultra may need concessions, however. --FFXIV Stormblood - 4K points so "High" on the Benchmark. 30 FPS in Housing outdoors at 1920x1080 Maximum. 60 FPS at 1920x1080 Standard Desktop or High Laptop. Reduce settings even a little bit, and you have a machine that can easily play or raid in this game. --Productivity: While navigating in tools such as Blender was not an issue, it is probably production software dependant as to if this machine will pick up the GPU or not for your task. But the CPU surprisingly did not thermal throttle. The fan does ramp up two levels to a light hum but this machine is still super quiet compared to my large desktop’s PSU fan. I was incredibly surprised that while this tiny machine of course could not match my overclocked 4930K at 4.3 Ghz., it performed quite sufficient at photo editing and in some tasks, got reasonably close to my CPU’s performance while still having two fewer cores. I tasked this machine with the following: --Blender BMW Render - About 10m 15s compared to 7m 23s for my primary desktop so only ~25% behind. --Blender Classroom Render - About 33m compared to 25m 16s for my primary desktop so again, only about 25% behind. --Canon DPP Batching and Export - From 85 to 117 seconds for pre-processing, single batch multithread exporting and multi-batch, multithread exporting. My desktop was roughly 20 seconds lower on these tasks so again the ArtPC is only 15-20% behind my machine. --Disk I/O!: Again, while I thought my Intel 750 Series 1.2TB PCIe x4 NVMe SSD was fast, even the basic Samsung M.2 form factor SSD blows mine out of the water, especially in lower file size writes at moderate queue depths! Wow! This system isn’t even using an expensive 950 EVO or Pro and it out-performs my drive handily except in sequential reads. It boots a fresh or lightly loaded Windows 10 Home install from power on to desktop in only about 10 seconds. Samsung’s BIOS is pretty fast and simplified though. You won’t see nearly the amount of fine-tuning as you would on EVGA, ASUS, Gigabyte, or other board makers’ systems however. It makes me really want more than 256GB! The disk is screaming fast. The 5,400 RPM 1TB slower HDD module though can be relegated to basic storage.
Cons: The only gripes I had with this little tower were the following: 1. The included wireless keyboard and mouse were serviceable but I found them to lock up and be laggy or totally unresponsive during copying to or from a USB drive. I do not know if this was due to the Intel storage controller, Windows itself, the wireless adapter, or the keyboard or mouse themselves, but it made the experience of using them frustrating. I just plugged in wired items instead and never had an issue. 2. The wireless peripherals themselves. They are minimalist, compact, rounded, and work decently enough. I didn’t really find them dropping connection much if at all, but the keyboard is again, serviceable. Coming from a mechanical keyboard, I found the keys crammed, the lack of any indication lights to be troublesome, and no real easy resting area for my hands short of looking literally at the home row to reset my typing position. Key travel was “ok” with a good press and bottoming but the keyboard itself was pretty compact. The mouse is a more sideways compacted style that you grip, however the scroll wheel and buttons worked fine. I’m nitpicking them also for Reason #1. Again the Keyboard and Mouse aren't horrible by any stretch, just that there are a few qualms I had personally. 3. No HDMI Cable. Look, I get it’s 2018 and those cables are cheap, ubiquitous, and plentiful. But for your average user who may not know they need a spare cable and no indication of this on the box, and only a “Additional cables sold separately” alert in the quickstart guide, this is surprising. You can always pull off one from a TV, Playstation, or cable box but why should an end user have to do this? It turns your $1,400 PC into a nice paperweight while you’re starting at a black screen display. Hope you kept your monitor’s display cable from your previous PC or GPU otherwise you’re out of luck, have to run to the store to buy another, or order it online. I understand the desire for minimalist approaches, packaging, etc., but please Samsung, include a $3 cable so your end users aren’t frustrated! This made setting up the machine a frustrating experience since I personally use DisplayPort to connect my 4K60 monitor and was even fortunate to have an HDMI spare.
Overall Review: I still feel though that for an average user with some multimedia needs who may game lightly, this system is a good value – just keep in mind that it’s NOT designed for 4K, and depending on the title, might struggle on games. I was not able to open the system to find out what if anything is upgradable, however most literature online seems to indicate soldered in place components. So to wrap, I’m giving this system 4 of 5 Eggs. It does a lot well, but the sheer unresponsiveness of the peripherals during USB load, the general non-ergonomic aspect of the keyboard, and the lack of included HDMI cable despite the ubiquitous of such today (Really Samsung, spend the $3 and include a basic cable) leave this product on third base instead of a home run. Especially for being touted as a purchase, take-home, plug-in-and-go, machine. I didn’t have extra cables around without a search on my end and that literally stopped me, or a potential end-user from even being able to USE their new machine fresh out of the box. But for all the comparisons I ran and tested, this tiny cylinder merits respectable performance, a good enough gaming experience to have fun, great sound, no thermal throttling, nearly inaudiable acoustics (and when it’s ramped up under load it’s still pretty quiet), and super fast operation due to the NVMe SSD. Kudos to Samsung for making a competitive product in the small form factor space!
Patriot Viper V770 RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review
Pros: I received this keyboard from Newegg as part of the Eggxpert Review Program as a disclaimer, but that being said, here is my review of the Patriot Viper V770. Once you unbox the carton, inside you’ll have the robust keyboard itself, the magnetic palm rest piece, an envelope containing a quickstart guide and some badge stickers, and a key puller tool at the boxes’ bottom. No replacement key caps are provided. Of particular note of quality is the wonderful sleeved and braided power cable which terminates to two USB headers for power and lighting and audio pass-through. A USB port on the left of the keyboard for audio, and a 3.5mm jack is on the right should you wish to use this option. Once the keyboard is removed from it’s plastic bag, you can see it’s a quality built product out of solid aluminum. It’s about as heavy as other mechanical keyboards and sufficiently weighty. When placed on a desk it’s not going anywhere and there’s no discernable flex in the deck. The prop feet open parallel to the keyboard and provide a bit of height boost. I’ve never used Kalih keys before, so it was a new sound for me. This keyboard is very clackity! The keys depress moderately without much tension and appear to bottom-out abruptly providing a tactile feel that’s more direct than cherry switches but in my opinion more prone to high APM hand fatigue. Maybe I need more time with the keyboard to press lighter but the keys are pretty light on the press. The illuminated Scroll Lock, Num Lock, and Caps Lock are a nice touch, along with a volume wheel for adjusting Windows sound volume on the fly. The 3 media switches I dabbled with slightly, and found them to conveniently go back a page on my browser or forward. The palm rest not only glows, but it’s magnetic! Really cool. If it’s toward the edge off your desk it’s not strong enough to stay on permanently, but it can hold itself attached at least. The magnets hold it in place and the strip glows RGB once it's mounted to the front of the keyboard. If you wish to remove it thankfully no screwdriver is needed, just pull it off and done. There are a variety of built in lighting patterns, effects, and color choices, all without needing the software package to change keyboard options so that's a plus. Personally I like the RGB full spectrum display, whereas the multi-color rain effect would drive me crazy, but to each their own. When I was using the board for a bit and to test typing and loudness, I personally found the keystokes to be much louder than a competitor's cherry red switches. The clacking / Kailh keys on this board are higher pitched and louder but it's still not a super loud keyboard. Just a different sound than I've heard before. Regarding brightness adjustment, there are 3 lighting toggle modes or RGB lighting off. Compared to a competitor's board however, the Viper is only about half the brightness. For my particular color of choice (red), it is a slightly orange-ish red instead of a deep true red, but I can't knock it for that. For key feeling, the V770 has a solid keystroke response although having extra macro functions on the left side takes time to get used to. The ESC key also has a wide gap of at least a key between the end of the board and function which can be a significant adjustment if needed. Function keys were easy to reach, however I personally felt like I kept hitting Tilde instead of 1, and 1 instead of 2 for various game functions for my hand spacing. The software adjustments let you macro and record key commands which is normal of these types of products as well as disable any key or individually light any key any color to mix and match. Cool stuff. Overall I was very impressed with this keyboard and would not hesitate to purchase it knowing that it is a quality product. Just keep in mind that the feel of the keystrokes may be slightly different than other types of boards.
Cons: --After about a week or two of use, I found the spacebar starting to audibly squeak. Not sure if it's due to something loose but that was a minor annoyance. But can't ding it for that alone. --Software was a little unstable. For all the keyboard lighting effects though, you can do most of it through the keyboard buttons themselves so you don't really *need* the software unless you're macroing or disabling keys. --Brightness isn't quite as boldly bright as other brands, but it's certainly light enough to add a lot of color to a computer setup. --Key puller tool is included, however no replacement keys are. --The manual / quick start guide is maybe 2/3 the size of an index card, total. It's far too small to read in my opinion. A couple minor issues, broadly speaking, but really no major cons! Not enough to dock an egg at least.
Overall Review: --Really nice braided cable with sufficient length (about a meter) --Beautiful lighting and colors --Most keyboard lighting functionality controls are on the keyboard itself instead of software. --Functional, distinct keystrokes with the Kailh keys. --Volume Wheel, Illumination Controls, Media Switches, and other keys are a nice extra touch. --Keys took less force than another brand's keyboard which may take time to get used to.