Joined on 11/27/04
Easy, effective, all-in-one water cooling option
Pros: I bought this to cool an Intel i7-3930K hexacore running at 4GHz. This was my first foray into water cooling, and I am glad I started with one of these units rather than a larger set-up with an external cooling tower which would take up a lot more space. My CPU runs about 80F (26C) at idle or while doing basic business tasks (Word, browsing). Under full load, it has not exceeded 120F (49C) and very quickly brings temps down after full load. I mounted the water block with the hoses on the side, and the radiator block with hoses on the bottom, after reading other reviews about the gurgling noise at startup, and I haven't had a single gurgle. The radiator block is large and with the push-pull fan setup, it just barely has clearance for my outermost DIMM slots in an Antec P280 case with an ASUS Rampage IV Gene mobo. The stack of fan-radiator-fan will protrude deeply into your case, so plan accordingly if your DIMM slots are there. The rubber hoses and connectors seem well made, I have had zero issues with leakage, and if memory serves, the block doesn't use water, but another coolant, which is reassuring.
Cons: The fans on the radiator are too loud. I hate fan noise and I was aiming for a whisper-quiet rig, which was one reason I chose an all-in-one water unit to cool the hexacore CPU. (Another reason was not wanting to fasten a 50 pound heatsink to the CPU.) I replaced the radiator fan between the case wall and radiator with a Noctua NF-P12, and this was an improvement. The inner fan, which mounts to the other side of the radiator block, has cut-away screw holes for mounting, so unless you can hack off the corners of a replacement fan or find extra-long screws, you're stuck with it. It is by far the loudest fan in my six-fan case. The other fans are Noctuas and the two stock Antec fans provided for the top vents on the Antec P280, which are barely audible. With fan controller software, I can cut the RPMs down to an acceptable but not perfect level except when CPU runs at full load, when the only fan I hear is the Zalman. If you are a quiet freak, this might displease you, but otherwise, the fan noise probably won't bother you, and you can minimize it. Also, the fan has gotten a little quieter after the first week's "break-in" period. During the first week, the fan had a distinct high-pitched "scratchy" sound, which I assume was some bearing or cuff wearing in. As others have noted, the instruction sheet is poorly written. Read it carefully before installing the CPU mounting frame, and play with the pieces first before attempting to fasten it to your board. After reading the reviews here, and the sheet carefully, I still goofed up the mounting pin placement, but since I checked alignment BEFORE pushing the pins down and inserting them all the way, this was easily fixed. I highly recommend double-checking that all the pins are lined up before pressing them down to mount the water block to the CPU. Otherwise, removal might be a pain. Very minor, but I removed the stock cooling compound on the water block, which only covered about two-thirds of the copper surface and was a rather thick clay-like pad. I used Arctic Silver CMQ2 Ceramique to coat the entire copper surface to maximize contact to the CPU metal shield.
Overall Review: The light on the water block looks cool. It's so effective at bringing the temp down quickly, I actually worry about the thermal stress on the chip material, but I have no idea if this is an issue. My CPU temp drops from 120F (49C) to 80F (26C) in about two seconds when going from full load to no load. This unit provides a TON of cooling power for my needs.
KB good; mouse stinks
Pros: I use this KB+mouse combo principally for business applications. KB works great. I didn't need all the bells & whistles, but it is responsive, doesn't drop letters, and battery life is quite long. I'm on the second set of batteries after a 5 months of occasional use (maybe 10 hours a week). I was familiar with Logitech's SetPoint system tray app and customization works smoothly.
Cons: The mouse is horrible! I've used both cheap mice and Logitech's MX-Laser at home extensively, and this is the worse mouse I've owned in years. Tracking is not smooth, and I've tried all the SetPoint settings for speed and accelaration. Worse, the tracking is "crooked." Imagine holding the mouse so its central axis (front to back) is along a line that points straight ahead, away from your wrist. Now imagine sliding the mouse perfectly "horizontally" left to right -- i.e. perpendicular to the center line of the mouse. On screen, you would expect the pointer to track horizontally left to right. Mine always slides diagonally, regardless of the angle of my grip or the direction I slide it. My mousing surface is your typical fake wood laminated desktop surface, so that's not the problem. No amount of "adjustment time" has made this mouse comfortable. Buttons are a little clunky too. I'm getting a new one.
Overall Review: If I didn't love Logitech for its awesome high-end mice, I'd try another brand. As it stands, I'm buying another MX-Laser for work to replace this one.
Pros: I hate fan noise, so sometimes I hunt through reviews for a very quiet fan. This time, I was less picky and I was pleasantly surprised! Installation was easy into an large uncrowded, heavy Antec ATX case that I was repurposing. There's no insulating material in the case, but it does baffle some noise. I have to listen hard to tell whether the fan is running from even a foot away. At top CPU load, I hear it, but the sound is not a shill whine, which is great. Kudos to the fin and bearing design. Most times, the only thing I hear is intermittent coil hum from a pesky inductor on the motherboard. System specs: CPU cooler is mounted to a Kaby Lake quad core that is running 25% 3-5 hours/day, and is on 24/7 at lower loads. The only fans in the case are this cooler and a high-efficiency PSU which also serves to draw hot air out of the case. SSD drive, no graphics card. So my thermal output is modest. Hidden cabling leaves lots of room for airflow in the case. The result is whisper quiet. The bearings have held up great for the past 18 months! Not the slightest indication of whirring or grinding noises that often precede failure. I dust it all out with compressed air every 6 months or so; that's it. I would definitely buy this again for future builds.
Smooth installation, runs Debian 9, cool and quiet
Pros: Easy to assemble. I paired this unit with a 120GB Gigabyte SSD and 4 GB Crucial 1.35V RAM. Assembly took less than 20 minutes, probably 10 minutes tops if I had read the instructions first! Unscrew the hard drive cage from the lid, and remove the SATA cable from the motherboard. Then connect the SATA to the HDD, screw the HDD into the cage, and screw the cage back to the lid, and then reconnect the other end of the SATA cable to the motherboard -- it's much easier as directed. Just be mindful to tuck in the SATA cable when you're screwing the lid back on so you don't pinch the cable between the lid and the edge of the box. It tucks in easily. Painless, quick installation of Debian 9.7 net installation image from a 3.1 USB stick, using the gigabit wired ethernet connection to download the remaining files. Debian 9 recognized everything except the wifi card, as expected. This is an easy fix. After your first boot to the desktop, configure apt-get to access the non-free lists and download the latest Realtek firmware and you're done. The box was not even warm to the touch after several hours of running it and installing some apps. Completely quiet. No fan noise, no coil hum -- silence is bliss. I wasn't expecting a powerhouse, but Debian 9 runs snappily enough for an office machine. For the price, I am extremely pleased. This little machine would make a great computer for kids to do school work on (but not for games). The chassis feels very solid. It runs on a 12V adapter, which comes with US, British, Australian and European face plate prongs that snap on the front. The snap-on prongs feel very sturdy, which is good if you plan to plug and unplug this unit a lot.
Cons: Not really a con, but the SATA connection to the motherboard looks delicate. I was grateful for the little plastic pull tab to get it out. Use a light touch pressing it back in. For the very small foot print, the inside of this "case" was thoughtfully laid out.
Overall Review: During installation, I had trouble getting it to initially display via HDMI to a 10-year-old TV. The fault probably lies with the TV's slowness to adjust video modes, so I kept missing the BIOS and boot loader screens, then after the Debian splash screen, my display was a solid dark grey with an active mouse pointer on it, but I couldn't get the login prompt to appear. I switched to an old Dell monitor and VGA connector and the remaining installation was a breeze. After installation, I re-attached the HDMI to the TV and it did dual screen display effortlessly. I haven't tried booting it to that TV as primary display yet, but you may need to tweak the boot loader with the "nomodeset" option. The BIOS looks ancient (American Megatrends, 2013) and has few settings. I'm used to ASUS BIOSes that let you tweak everything imaginable. Yet it has a boot password, which is good for a work environment. While muddling around with the settings, I found that if I selected "Windows 7" as the OS, Debian 9 wouldn't restart properly. (The "Watchdog 0 did not stop" message appeared right before the power would normally cycle and the machine would get stuck there instead.) Switching back to the default BIOS option, "Windows 8.x", solved the problem. These are the only two options to choose from. Leave everything at default for a smooth Debian 9 installation. Remember that you need the low-voltage (1.35V) RAM for this motherboard. You can easily remove the WiFi card if you don't plan to use it. Just pop off the two antenna connectors, and disconnect it from the card slot.
Pros: Easy to use, handy, handles a variety of battery capacities and formats. Nice accessories: both alligator clips and circular ring connectors for lugs included. Bulk charges quickly. Has done well with both lead-acid and glass-mat cells. Reconditioned an aging John Deere lead-acid tractor battery which I didn't expect to come back from the dead. That alone was worth the cost of the item.
Cons: None really. Doesn't make toast?
Overall Review: It's yellow so I can find it on my workbench.
Economical but not nearly the SSD speed I was looking for
Pros: Economical, easy to install in RAID 10 configuration on Asus Rampage IV Gene. Very quiet. Gets about 190MB/s on HDDTune large-file read benchmark. Pulls great IOPS scores for short random reads: 144781 IOPS, but only 37 MB/s for sequential 1 MB reads and writes, and dinky 2000 IOPS for random writes. By far the BEST warranty support rep I have ever dealt with in my life. Robert is amazing. The phone wait was about 20 minutes, but I got a professional and funny Seagate rep. who made the whole process a joy. Got me an exact replacement to keep RAID symmetry, and even checked the firmware compatibility. This is the kind of perk I didn't expect, and didn't even have to ask for (he mentioned it first), and is half the reason I called in rather than going through the website, which doesn't guarantee same capacity, etc. Kudos to Seagate warranty service for this guy.
Cons: One of the four drives has failed in 7 months, undergoing warranty replacement. Drive posts "error" in RAID array bootup, clicking noises. Haven't noticed any appreciable decrease in Win 7 boot times since installing 4 of these six months ago in a clean Windows 7 installation on a new machine. If repeated use patterns are supposed to optimize speed after a while, I'm not seeing it either in Windows boot or major apps (Adobe, Office).
Overall Review: Am I doing something wrong by RAIDing these hybrids? Still tempted to shell major money for two 1TB pure SSDs in RAID 1 to see if this makes a huge difference in user experience. System specs: Hexacore i7-3930K at 3.2 GHz (not overclocked) 32 GB Gskill RAM Asus Rampage IV Gene mobo Intel RAID manager