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Kevin F.

Kevin F.

Joined on 08/17/04

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Product Reviews
product reviews
  • 7
Most Favorable Review

Good for NAS

SAMSUNG EcoGreen F2 HD103SI 1TB 5400 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive Bare Drive
SAMSUNG EcoGreen F2 HD103SI 1TB 5400 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive Bare Drive

Pros: Low temps, low noise, low power usage. Works with d-link dns-321 with 1.03 b7 firmware. After a day of continuous copying, drive temps read at 32 C from the dns-321 status page.

Cons: Not a high performance drive, but it isn't designed for that. Choose a 7200 or 10000 rpm drive if you want performance (better yet, SSD).

Overall Review: Most cheap NAS boxes don't transfer more than 15 MB/s, so I'm not concerned about the performance. 15MB/s is plenty for streaming high def h.264 compressed videos over a network. I would expect the drive to be pretty reliable, considering it's lower rotational speed and cooler temps, but only time will tell...

Most Critical Review

Functional HTPC, Improvements Desired

Zotac ZBOX HD-ID11-U Intel Atom D510 NM10 Chipset 1 x 200Pin Next-Gen NVIDIA ION GPU Mini / Booksize Barebone System
Zotac ZBOX HD-ID11-U Intel Atom D510 NM10 Chipset 1 x 200Pin Next-Gen NVIDIA ION GPU Mini / Booksize Barebone System

Pros: Small (about the size of an average textbook), very low power (~25 W measured using a Kill-A-Watt). No problems with video/audio over HDMI in Win7. Plays 1080p x264, 5.1 audio movies with no dropped frames over GLAN.

Cons: Unit gets hot, as you might expect with its small fan and heat-sink. The fan on my unit was full-speed at an idle Win7 32-bit desktop. I bumped up the temperature threshold in the BIOS (mash the DEL key as it boots) a little to prevent that. The fan is very noisy on full-speed (~6500 RPM). Navigating menus in XBMC or Windows Media Center with a medium-sized library (>60 movies; >20,000 mp3s) is laggy. Does not handle full-screen HD flash videos. Supposedly, an nvidia/adobe update will fix this. Also, a faint buzzing noise can be heard coming from the unit while it is off and plugged in. The buzzing goes away when the unit is powered on. I would have preferred they use a standard ATX power cable for the power supply brick.

Overall Review: I recommend spending a little extra and building a Core i3 based system. It may be be larger and consume more power, but would provide a smoother and more responsive UI experience (especially for Windows Media Center). This product should have a revision to increase the performance of the cooling system - an HTPC should be silent. I did not test the built-in wireless, but the GLAN works fine. Here are my Win7 performance scores: CPU: 3.3 RAM: 4.5 GPU: 4.6 GPU (Gaming): 5.5 HDD: 6.8 (I'm using an SSD)

Great with lower latency @ 1333

Mushkin Enhanced Blackline 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model 996657
Mushkin Enhanced Blackline 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model 996657

Pros: 7.6 Win7x64 Memory score with 4 x 2GB modules. Running them in an Asus P7P55D. Using 6-6-6-18 timings @ 1333.

Cons: Can't say if it's the memory, or mobo, or both, but system was unstable at the advertised speeds (7-7-7-20 @ 1600), although it worked ok with only two modules. Not very stable unless they run at 1.95V.

Overall Review: I was more interested in lower latency than overclocking. I can't give any insight as to how they would perform in that aspect.

12/18/2009

Recommended, but room for improvement

Thermaltake V9 Black Edition ATX Computer Gaming Chassis with Dual Oversized 230mm Ultra-Silent Cooling Fans VJ400G1N2Z Mid Tower
Thermaltake V9 Black Edition ATX Computer Gaming Chassis with Dual Oversized 230mm Ultra-Silent Cooling Fans VJ400G1N2Z Mid Tower

Pros: Great airflow Lighter than some other full-size steel cases. Lots of space, for components and cable hiding. Quiet

Cons: Not "Ultra-Silent". Blue power LED is a little too bright. Seems to be common with most blue LEDs. Clear plastic that holds the HDD LED broke off the front panel, so I glued it back on. HDD brackets are little flimsy. I prefer screws padded with rubber or silicone.

Overall Review: There is a filter on the bottom of the case where the PSU is installed, but I went with a rear fan PSU (Antec TPQ-850) anyways.

12/18/2009

Sturdy and Adjustable

Planar 997-5253-00 Black Dual Monitor Stand for LCD Displays
Planar 997-5253-00 Black Dual Monitor Stand for LCD Displays

Pros: Easy to set up, hex key included. Independent tilt up/down, left/right, and rotate for each monitor holder. Very stable, even with uneven loads.

Cons: A little heavy; shipping may cost more. May need help from someone to balance the stand while you attach the monitors.

Overall Review: Using it with a 22" Dell E228WFP and 23" Acer X233H. If you know you will want two monitors, it's best to get an identical pair =p Most cheaper LCD's come with pretty poor stands, so I think a stand like this is an excellent value for people wanting a clean and ergonomic workstation.

12/18/2009

Good value memory

Crucial 1GB DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Desktop Memory Model CT12864AA800
Crucial 1GB DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Desktop Memory Model CT12864AA800

Pros: Cheap, overclocks fine with my old P4D 805 (as it should, since that cpu uses ddr2 533 at stock speeds).

Cons: No heat spreader - but it is value memory after all...