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JAMES G.

JAMES G.

Joined on 11/09/04

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Product Reviews
product reviews
  • 32
Most Favorable Review

simply amazing audio

HT  OMEGA CLARO II 7.1 Channels 24-bit 192KHz PCI Interface Sound Card
HT OMEGA CLARO II 7.1 Channels 24-bit 192KHz PCI Interface Sound Card

Pros: * Music is sheer bliss. I literally spent an entire day re-listening to my lossless music collection after getting this card. I upgraded from my ever-problematic Auzentech Forte and there is an audible difference in quality. * The drivers are slim and stable. * It supports front panel output with Dolby Headphone for gamers. So far I've tried with BFBC2, COD Black Ops, and World of Tanks. The positioning is accurate and the sound is vibrant. * Customer service. HT Omega is a small company that looks after its clients. I sent questions about this card before purchasing on a Sunday afternoon and got a reply that evening. Don't get me started on Auzentech or Asus...

Cons: * no auto-mute when connecting the front audio. Gamers might find this annoying, but really all it means is that you turn off your speakers. Not a big deal, but you can get this on the eClaro if it's a must. * PCI slot. I had to move things around to free up a slot. Still, it was worth it. There's always the eClaro if you must have PCI-e, but the Claro II uses a better opamp for analog output.

Overall Review: Don't be deterred by the price. It's completely worth it given the quality of the card and the company that stands behind it.

Most Critical Review

good ram, bad rebate

HyperX Blu 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model KHX1600C9D3B1K2/4GX
HyperX Blu 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model KHX1600C9D3B1K2/4GX

Pros: Memory is good for the advertised post-rebate price.

Cons: Would have preferred slightly lower voltage, but there is not a big difference between running it at 1333 vs 1600.

Overall Review: I purchased two kits (8 Gb total). Kingston didn't acknowledge receipt of my rebate submission for a month, and like another reviewer said, they only processed one rebate. I followed instructions carefully and included both rebate forms and UPC codes in the same envelope. When I called to ask about the second rebate, the CSR was evasive and said to call back in 1-2 weeks.

snazzy

SILVERSTONE Black Aluminum skin reinforced plastic front panel, 0.8mm SECC body MILO Series ML03B Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case
SILVERSTONE Black Aluminum skin reinforced plastic front panel, 0.8mm SECC body MILO Series ML03B Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case

Pros: Looks great. No front panel door to mess with. Filters for both cpu fan (top) and psu (bottom) intakes. Aluminum skin on the front panel looks nice. Very light, but good overall build quality. USB3 front panel ports (now standard).

Cons: The plastic edges running along the front bezel were slightly discolored, though this is impossible to notice from your couch so I didn't bother returning it. I did call Silverstone about it and they were very helpful. Some screw holes were slightly misaligned, though it might be a result of flex in the case during building without the crossbeam support. Would have been nice to have a stealth cover for the DVD/BD drive rather than having a plastic front to break up the aesthetics. Standoffs for motherboard are not removable. Some of them near the front of the case are useless and make mounting fans difficult.

Overall Review: I was drawn to the ML04, but opted for this earlier version owing to price and features (namely, I didn't want a front panel door). It's not that hard to build in this thing as long as you follow the manual, take your time, and place things in order. As many have noted, be sure your PSU is less than 140 mm. I got a Silverstone SFX psu, which leaves plenty of room behind the BD-ROM drive. My two HDDs started to get a little toasty for my taste, so I added a single 80mm fan and used silicon mounts. If you are going to use a fan, mount it FIRST before anything else. Otherwise you'll have to remove a few things to make it fit. My build: i3-4130T + AC Freezer 11 LP, 2x2Gb DDR3, 1xSSD, 2xHDD, Silverstone SFX 300W

quiet, mostly silent

SILVERSTONE SFX ST30SF 300W Small Form Factor 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Semi-Fanless Power Supply
SILVERSTONE SFX ST30SF 300W Small Form Factor 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Semi-Fanless Power Supply

Pros: Hybrid design means the fan only kicks in once the psu goes over 100W. For a low power HTPC, this effectively means a fanless psu most of the time but with a fan backup if needed. Build and packaging are high quality. The included bracket adapter was a nice touch.

Cons: Cables are short. In a Silverstone ML03, the atx power cable was too short and I had to flip over the psu (with the fan up) to make it reach. I'd noticed this in a review so I wasn't surprised, but most people probably won't expect this. Also, only 3 SATA power connectors. I needed a 4th, but a molex-SATA adapter works fine.

Perfect for HTPC

Intel Core i3-4130T - Core i3 4th Gen Haswell Dual-Core 2.9 GHz LGA 1150 35W Intel HD Graphics 4400 Desktop Processor - BX80646I34130T
Intel Core i3-4130T - Core i3 4th Gen Haswell Dual-Core 2.9 GHz LGA 1150 35W Intel HD Graphics 4400 Desktop Processor - BX80646I34130T

Pros: 35W at load = virtually silent air cooling. HD 4400 integrated graphics works great (but you probably already knew that). No discernable lag in performance despite low power.

Cons: Intel's graphics driver lacks some configuration options and takes some poking around to find what you need. If you're using this for HTPC/video purposes, be sure to disable "dynamic contrast enhancement."

Overall Review: Some argue you should get a regular i3 and downclock rather than pay a premium for the "T" version. For my part, I'm quite happy not to fiddle with it.

great HTPC board

GIGABYTE GA-H81M-HD3 LGA 1150 Intel H81 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
GIGABYTE GA-H81M-HD3 LGA 1150 Intel H81 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard

Pros: Great build quality, as has always been my experience with Gigabyte boards. Perfect for a small HTPC as long as you don't need a lot of SATA devices. Nice to have both HDMI and optical outs to accommodate older AV receivers. Has onboard USB3 header for case front ports. UEFI bios is easy to navigate. Smart fan control actually works!

Cons: Needed a BIOS update (F3-->F5) for HDMI audio to work properly. ATX power connectors placement is a little inconvenient for a small psu with short cables. Battery located close to the cpu mounting bracket might interfere with some low profile cpu coolers (but it works fine with AC Freezer 11 LP). Included Cyberlink software is actually 30 day trialware.

Overall Review: I paired this with an i3-4130T in a Silverstone ML03 case for a new HTPC. I'm very happy with the outcome.