Joined on 04/14/03
Solid performance with a couple of caveats
Pros: Includes a 3.5” mounting tray, so no need to spend extra ordering one separately if you're installing in a desktop system; 240GB (223 usable) is just about right for an operating system, applications, and a handful or two of cherry-picked games; Fast sequential reads/writes; Fast random 4KB reads/writes for “snappy” day-to-day OS/application performance; 3-year warranty. Takes full advantage of SATA 3 and is backward compatible with SATA 2. Speeds will be heavily bottlenecked on the latter, but if you're coming off a spinning disk drive the performance gain will be massive regardless. I have not yet encountered any of the issues people have experienced with other drives using the same SandForce 2281 flash memory controller this one uses. *Knock on wood*
Cons: As of writing this it's shipping with firmware v5.02 which has broken TRIM functionality. Without TRIM there will be some performance degradation over time, but I'd say the vast majority of users are unlikely to notice it outside of benchmarks (i.e. in actual day-to-day usage). Corsair has released a new version of the firmware (v5.03) that restores TRIM functionality which you can update to through a relatively painless flashing process, just be sure to read the instructions carefully and understand the risks associated with flashing firmware. I don't know if Corsair plans to push newly manufactured SSDs out the door with v5.03 going forward or if they'll wait for a future version, but even if they do retailers will still be shipping drives that come with v5.02 until stock is depleted. A minor gripe, but if you're using all of the SATA cables that came with your motherboard and don't have any other spares you'll have to buy one separately as this drive does not include one in the box.
Overall Review: I've installed this product as the boot drive in my system running a Phenom II X4 925, GA-970A-UD3 motherboard, and 8GB (2x4GB) of DDR3-1600. Using ATTO, AS-SSD, CrystalDiskMark, and Anvil's Storage Utilities I've come up with the following results: ~495MB/s sequential read ~434MB/s seq write (compressible data) ~266MB/s seq write (incompressible data) ~76MB/s random 4KB read (queue depth=4) ~232MB/s random 4KB read (QD=16) ~210MB/s random 4KB write (QD=4) ~226MB/s random 4KB write (QD=16) There is some variation between the numbers each benchmark spits out, so I took the individual results and averaged them for the sake of simplicity. It may not be the ideal way way to present this data since it doesn't let you see all of the lows and highs, but it gives you a general sense of things and doesn't make me overshoot my character limit. ATTO gave the highest individual sequential read and write results at 542MB/s and 505MB/s respectively. CrystalDiskMark gave the highest individual random 4KB read and write results at 316MB/s (~77285 IOps, QD=32) and 266MB/s (~64972 IOps, QD=32) respectively. I believe the 90K random 4KB write IOps speed advertised on the box was achieved with IOMeter, which I also used but was only able to roughly match the results I got with the other benchmarks even after putting in my due diligence to find the optimal settings. However, I have seen reviews done on Intel-based systems that have reached all of the advertised rates. I don't have an Intel system to test with, but results found around the web consistently show performance to be in favor of Intel's SATA 3 controller, so you may not match the advertised rates unless your system is equipped with one. I'd wager most people wouldn't notice outside of benchmarks provided they don't have extremely demanding I/O requirements, but it will likely leave some feeling a bit sour regardless. Having only owned it for a short period of time I obviously can't speak to long-term reliability, but this drive delivers performance on-par with and in many cases exceeding that of its competitors. It's fully capable of reaching its advertised rates when installed in the right system, and even with the diminished performance in other systems it's still far from a slouch—definitely worth considering when you weigh your options.
Good portable drive, lackluster bundled backup software.
Pros: I like the look of the case and the snug fit of the Micro B connector makes an accidental disconnect less likely. It survived a ~4ft tumble onto a tile floor (while the drive was off) caused by a moment of carelessness with very minor damage to the case (a minor dent on one of the edges). Hopefully that won't happen again, but it's good to know that the enclosure isn't so delicate it can't handle a little drop. Might want to consider getting the protective case that's sold separately if you've got butterfingers or will be using the drive in a rough environment. Password protection utilizing hardware encryption. Install WD Security on one computer, set a password, and then you don't have to install WD Security on computers the drive is subsequently used with. When connected it mounts a virtual CD containing the unlocking application, which after receiving the correct password from the user mounts the drive itself. This is probably suitable for most users and if you feel you need a more robust solution I'm sure you already have something else in mind. Cute little rubber nubs to absorb some vibration from the drive and stop it from sliding around. Hopefully they won't wear down too quickly.
Cons: Power/activity LED is a bit bright in a dim or dark room. Doesn't help that it also has an attention grabbing light blue hue, either. When it's plugged in I feel like I'm always aware of it in my peripheral vision. Included USB cable is a bit short at 18”. It's sufficient for laptop use, but restrictive when connecting to a desktop. I would have appreciated if it were a 24” cable and I don't feel that it would have impacted portability. I also checked to see if a 24” cable could fit in the packaging without them having to make it larger and it could. I recommend buying a longer USB 3.0 A Male to USB 3.0 Micro B (not the same as the older Micro-USB A/B connector you're probably familiar with) cable with the drive if you want more wiggle room. WD SmartWare is functional but flawed. There are two options for how your data is backed up: category mode and file mode. Category mode scans all of the data on the selected drive and lumps what it finds into categories. Unfortunately, it tends to miscategorize ambiguous (e.g. .mp4 audio file vs .mp4 video file) and obscure file types (e.g. not knowing to put .mpc audio files into the music category). This can lead to some files not getting backed up if you only select one category, but selecting multiple categories just to make sure it doesn't miss anything in the ones you do want means you'll end up backing up a lot of data that you don't want or don't need. Files it doesn't know what to do with are put into the “Other” category, which included useless data like my Spotify cache. Even after selecting all categories there was a discrepancy with the total number of files/folders, and while a lot of that may be unnecessary system data that it omitted (thumbs.db, desktop.ini, etc.) you might go looking for something only to find out it's not there. If you choose to continue using SmartWare I suggest switching to the “File Backup” mode which allows you to specify what folders and files to save. Regardless of which mode you use, SmartWare continuously monitors selected categories/files/folders for new data via a background process, so it does it even when the application isn't open. I prefer manual and scheduled backups over a continuous background process, so the lack of an option to only backup manually or on a schedule is a bit of a bummer. I'd also like an option to have SmartWare “echo” all changes made in the source directory to the backup directory to maintain a 1:1 mirror of the source directory. Without that option I had duplicates accumulating from moving, deleting, and renaming files even after setting the “File History” option to only keep 1 copy of files. I rarely feel the need to revert a file to a previous iteration and would appreciate being given the choice to throw caution to the wind and maintain an exact mirror of my source.
Overall Review: Here's a comparison of the transfer speeds I get on USB 2.0 vs 3.0 using CrystalDiskMark (5 runs, 500MB test size). USB 2.0, Sequential: ~37MB/s Read & Write USB 2.0, Random 512K: ~23MB/s Read, ~35MB/s Write USB 3.0, Sequential: ~77MB/s Read & Write USB 3.0, Random 512K: ~31MB/s Read, ~41MB/s Write Of course, speeds will drift higher or lower depending on where the head is on the platter and what kind of data you're reading/writing (i.e. lots of small files vs a single large file). It's just a 5400RPM HDD in there so it's not going to take full advantage of USB 3.0, but it does get a respectable boost over 2.0. If I considered the included backup software to be more important I would have rated this three stars because I feel it certainly leaves something to be desired, but there are freeware applications that offer functionality on par with and exceeding that of WD SmartWare (as well as various commercial options, of course). From a hardware standpoint, it's a hard drive from an established company housed in an attractive and compact case. It does what you expect it to do and as long as it doesn't implode without warning there's not much else to say. If the included backup software was better and the drive came with a longer cable I would have given it five stars instead of four. One last thing of note: don't put all of your eggs into one basket, folks. Copying data to a single external drive is better than nothing at all, but you should always try to maintain at least one off-site backup as well (another drive kept at a friend or relatives house, a cloud storage solution, etc.). If you lose access to the data on this drive for any reason you'll be glad you did.
Good performance, stability, and features prevail over a few issues.
Pros: Uses a customized version of DD-WRT firmware by default which provides a wealth of configuration options. The first time you go to the configuration page it runs a setup assistant that helps configure basic connectivity and security, from there on out you can change other settings to suit your needs. Nice looking enclosure with the option to mount vertically, horizontally, or on a wall. Connect a USB storage device directly to the router and access it from other devices on the network via FTP (only with DD-WRT), a network share (on both firmwares), or as a DLNA media server (only with “User Friendly” firmware). Auto-sensing 10/100/1000 Ethernet ports with Auto-MDIX (allows a crossover cable to function as a straight-through cable) for wired connections. Dual-Band (2.4Ghz b/g/n, 5Ghz a/n) wireless utilizing a 2x2 multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) configuration. Great signal quality in a residential area with light congestion. Connection remained usable when I carried a netbook to the furthest edges of my property and I've had no complaints of dropped connections from people in my household since the router was set up (two N and two G devices). I've done several tests with single and simultaneous file transfers, as well as streaming video between local devices and throughput has met expectations. Unfortunately, the N devices in my home do not support operation on the 5Ghz band (bit of an oversight on my part), so I've been unable to test signal quality or throughput for it, but it would be safe to assume the usual case of it being faster while taking way more of a hit from obstacles and distance between the device and router compared to 2.4Ghz. Transmit power and antenna gain are adjustable and may provide some extra breathing room if given a boost.
Cons: Proprietary antenna design. Taking various reasons for this design decision into consideration, I would still prefer standardized, user-replaceable parts. Two separate firmware options create a situation where you have to chose what features are more important to you. Although I like the look of the case, glossy plastic always makes any dust and fingerprints stand out. Status lights are only visible from the front of the unit. This could lead to having to get up to see them when wall mounted depending on how you position it. When initiating a large file transfer to a shared folder on a storage device connected to the router there's a noticeable delay, but once the transfer starts it's quick. Aspects of the documentation leave something to be desired. Manuals for both firmware options are combined into one PDF file, and while they are bookmarked to make jumping to specific sections easy I'd still prefer if they were separated. Some information and reference images that are relevant to both firmware options are not found in the DD-WRT manual; namely, the images and text listing the location and function of lights and Ethernet ports. Another odd discrepancy is that the manual for DD-WRT doesn't specify what file systems it supports on attached storage devices, while the User Friendly manual does. The logic, I assume, is that if you're sticking with DD-WRT you don't need that explained to you or that you'll research DD-WRT functionality elsewhere, but it should still be there or at least suggest another source to reference for more information. Lastly, there are three “Quick Setup” guides included in the box aren't particularly useful and I feel like they could have been more clear, either through better images or more descriptive text.
Overall Review: Two firmware options are available, a Buffalo-modified version of DD-WRT that it ships with and a proprietary “User Friendly” firmware (subsequently referred to as WRT and UFF respectively) you can chose to switch to. I used WRT for a week before switching over to the UFF for comparison. Ironically, I found the WRT firmware to be easier to use in some ways. Both have similar page structure, but I felt the WRT web interface had superior positioning and spacing—the UFF pages felt more cluttered and weren't as aesthetically pleasing. There are a few feature differences between the two, but the only thing I found to be of any real use is that the UFF allows the unit to act as a media sever for DLNA compliant devices. Other UFF specific features include a “MovieEngine” switch on the front of the router which enables Quality of Service rules favoring streaming media while the switch is in the on position (non-functional when using WRT), a clunky built-in BitTorrent client, and a power saving mode. Ultimately, to me, the UFF seems “easier” to use in the sense that more of the options are enabled/configured by default, some of the more advanced options aren't there at all (making it less likely to feel overwhelmed), and the documentation is more verbose, but I can't see myself recommending that people switch to it in most cases. This product was a nice upgrade from my previous router (a popular b/g unit flashed with Tomato firmware), and after using it for roughly two weeks I feel comfortable saying I would recommend that someone in the market for a new router should consider it among their options—the one caveat being that I've not yet owned it long enough to make any judgments on long-term reliability. However, thus far it has shown solid performance and stability for a unit at its price point and is only somewhat marred by the negative aspects I've listed.
Solid Flash Drive
Pros: ~25MB/s reads, ~15MB/s writes. Rubber casing helps protect from impacts, and supposedly from water.
Cons: Rubber casing is rather large, which can often interfere with plugging devices into adjacent USB ports. Dust and lint like to cling to the rubber.
Overall Review: I use this flash drive as my "system disk" which holds installers for all the applications I use, device drivers, and other assorted files. The storage space and transfer speeds it offers are more than enough for this usage. The drive spends most of its time in a box, only being used when I need to update a file to a newer version or install a program from it. I have not dropped it yet, but the rubber housing seems like it would absorb the impact of a reasonable fall. I cannot say if it's sufficiently water resistant to protect from spills or being dropped in a shallow puddle as I have not encountered that situation yet (*knock on wood*)
Good, but not great.
Pros: No dead or stuck pixels in the one I received, higher resolution than other similarly sized monitors, good pixel pitch, excellent black levels for an LCD (better blacks than the CRT I switched to this from), attractive glossy case/bezel, 16:9 aspect ratio ideal for hooking up to a console and for watching any media formatted for a 16:9 display, OSD (On Screen Display) menus are well laid out and easy to navigate, sharp picture and vibrant colors, comes with cables for each of the displays inputs (they aren't fancy cables, but just the fact that they included all of them is nice). The monitor has one DVI, VGA, and HDMI input. Because of that it's possible to have three different devices hooked up at the same time, and thanks to input switch button on the monitors control panel you can change between inputs without having to fiddle with wires. HDCP support ensures that you'll be able to playback any HDCP protected content provided you have a video card that also supports it.
Cons: The monitor uses a 6-Bit TN Panel with Hi-FRC, so there are some color banding issues. Color banding is only really noticeable when a light color transitions to a dark color (such as a glowing effect that fades into a black background or into transparency), however transitions from one bright color to the next are pretty much seamless. Videophiles will want to look elsewhere, but the vast majority of users won't notice the banding under average viewing conditions. The 5ms response time is respectable and good enough for most situations, but it does introduce some visible ghosting during fast motion (quickly panning your view in an FPS game, or scrolling across the battlefield in an RTS game -- it can also be seen in movies from time to time but they are largely unaffected), but it's not a huge issue. Touch controls can occasionally be unresponsive.
Overall Review: The built-in 1W speakers are useless to 99% of users, but since it's a optional feature there's no harm in having them there. You can't even see them as they're hidden inside the monitors case so they don't detract from the aesthetics of the display. There is some minor backlight bleeding around the edges of the screen, but it's not bad enough for me to list it as a con. It's barely noticeable even when the screen mostly displaying black. Overall I'm happy with my purchase. This is my first LCD, and while there are some drawbacks to LCD technology compared to CRT's I'd say the pros outweigh the cons. CRT's still have the upper hand when it comes to color reproduction (even compared to 8-Bit LCD panels) and response times, but large CRT's are heavy and energy hungry (my 21" weighed 70lbs and ate 145W of juice -- compare that to this LCD and you see the problem). LCD's have a sharper picture overall and have the obvious size, weight, and energy advantages among other things.
Pretty good budget case.
Pros: It's fairly lightweight (considering it's Steel) and it looks better than most cases in its price range. It has front and rear fan mounts with screw holes for multiple fan sizes (80mm, 90mm, 120mm). Front audio and USB ports are handy. The plastic front cover doesn't have that "cheap" look to it and glossy black sections of the front panel are nice looking as well. Most of the edges are rolled over to reduce the chances of cuts, but there are a few to watch out for. The vent holes for the rear exhaust and front intake are fairly large and hexagonal in shape, so air passes through pretty easily.
Cons: No useful documentation included, just a sheet detailing the included components (not that you have to be a genius to figure out how to use it, mind you). It's pretty lax on the number of included screws/mounts/etc. so depending on how many components you're installing you may want to have some extras on standby. Despite being able to accommodate two 80/90/120mm fans, it only comes with a single 80mm sleeve bearing fan. It has a plastic punch out for a front FireWire port, but it doesn't come with one so the outline of where it should be slightly (and I emphasize slightly) detracts from the overall look of the front panel. The side vents have large holes, and as a result allow more sound from the internal fans to escape the case compared to one with smaller or no vent holes (if you have low RPM/Silent fans it shouldn't be too much of an issue, though).
Overall Review: The side air duct thing it comes with is pretty much useless. I removed it as soon as I took off the side panel. The 5.25" drive bays are recessed about 3/4 of an inch into the case, so your optical drives will be sunken in a little. It looks a little odd at first, but I got used to it. Not really worthy of being put into the cons, just something to keep in mind. Overall it's a pretty good case for its price range and I'd recommend it for a casual system (internet surfing/music/movies/email/chatting/etc.). It's lightweight for a Steel case because the Steel is rather thin. It's not as fragile as a thin aluminum case, but I'd still suggest being gentle with it. The mounting points for standard ATX motherboards are pre-risen and don't require standoffs, It came with a couple of standoffs for MicroATX boards.