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Andrew H.

Andrew H.

Joined on 02/07/05

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Product Reviews
product reviews
  • 10
Most Favorable Review

Decent so far - precautions required for any HD

Western Digital WD Green WD20EARX 2TB 7200 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive Bare Drive
Western Digital WD Green WD20EARX 2TB 7200 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive Bare Drive

Pros: Faster than WD20EARS even on 3Gbps connection.

Cons: None so far.

Overall Review: This was a warranty replacement for a WD20EARS (1/3 I own) that started throwing errors after about a year. WD sent me a WD20EARX as a replacement. Even on a 3Gpbs SATA port, it outperforms the WD20EARS by about 15MBps (MegaBYTES per second) on writes. FYI, read the "My WD drive was DOA/failed, don't buy WD drives!" reviews with a grain of salt. Read the Seagate, Hitachi, etc. reviews of similar drives and you find the same thing. Sadly, the initial failure rate of new high capacity drives seems high, from all manufacturers. It's important to do initial "burn-in" of a new hard drive before you start using it for anything useful. At worst, try the free Parted Magic CD to run the extended S.M.A.R.T. test on a new drive, perhaps after a few dummy copies of large files. S.M.A.R.T. monitoring is also very useful while you are using the drive to detect potential failures early. In Windows, try the free Crystal Disk Info for example to monitor a drive's S.M.A.R.T. status all the ti

Most Critical Review

Only 400 watt max + no 3.3v SATA power

Cooler Master Elite Power - 460W Power Supply
Cooler Master Elite Power - 460W Power Supply

Pros: Cheap, quiet power supply.

Cons: Misleading marketing in the description - only 400 watt max power. No 3.3volt SATA power. Found this out when plugged it into my PSU tester. 3.3volt light didn't come on. There is no 3.3v to the SATA connectors unlike my other PSUs. Still, I don't only any 3.3v SATA devices - all 2.5" laptop drives and 3.5" desktop drives can use 5v. Only 1.8" mini-hard drives work with 3.3v so wouldn't get power from these connectors.

Overall Review: It's true that the theoretical "maximum" of all the power sources on this supply is 460 watts - but it can't supply that at one time. You get 460 watts if you add up total power from +12v, +5v, +3v, -12v, and +5VSB. But it can supply only 377.9 watts from +12/+5/+3 according to the label...plus 9.6w -12v, 12.5W +5VSB...equals 400 watts. This marketing gimmick is similar to hard drive manufacturers advertising a "500GB hard drive" that's really less when you count 1024 bytes as "1K byte. But we aren't used to this kind of marketing with power supplies. My other Cooler Master PSU shows a spec of 540 watts additive maximum power (like the 460 watts here) but is advertised as a 450 watt PSU, because that's all the real power it is spec'ed do deliver. Still, I knew about the 400 watt thing ahead of time. Just needed a cheap PSU that day and this one fit the bill. Wish they'd be honest about their advertising!

Great little board for media center

ECS NM70-TI (V1.0A) Intel Celeron 847/807 Intel NM70 Thin Mini-ITX Motherboard / CPU / VGA Combo
ECS NM70-TI (V1.0A) Intel Celeron 847/807 Intel NM70 Thin Mini-ITX Motherboard / CPU / VGA Combo

Pros: Incredible price (esp if on sale/rebate) Decent performance for a cheap board Small size, ideal for tiny media center. Two mini-PCI Express (laptop style) slots.

Cons: No USB 3.0 Limited USB 2.0 ports No PCI-E slot

Overall Review: Board works great with Ubuntu 12.04.3 (kernel 3.8) . Does NOT boot Ubuntu 12.04.4 (kernel 3.11) or 14.04 (kernel 3.13) Expansion to USB 3.0 seems POSSIBLE (I haven't tried it yet) using a Syba mini-PCI Express card, if you can give up using an mSata drive. Celeron 847 is a Sandy Bridge dual core (same CPU as my netbook) so I knew it wouldn't be that slow. Performance for a media center or NAS is more than adequate. Uses a DC power supply; my Dell PA-12 65 watt power adapter works perfectly. The unit draws only 15 watts at idle and maybe 30 watts under load so 65w should be plenty. There are only two USB 2.0 ports on the back. There enough headers on the board to add up to five additional USB 2.0 ports: one dedicated header for two of those ports and three others that can also be used for a webcam, cardreader, etc. An included cable has a connector for micro Sata in case you want to add a "slim" DVD drive (laptop DVD drive basically) as you would use in a small case. If you want to add a better internal wireless card than the one that comes with the board, try an Intel 6235 which is not only dual band but also has bluetooth if you need that.

Worked great after some fiddling

ECS H61H2-M2(1.0) LGA 1155 Intel H61 HDMI Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
ECS H61H2-M2(1.0) LGA 1155 Intel H61 HDMI Micro ATX Intel Motherboard

Pros: Cheap motherboard with all the basic needs for a modern system.

Cons: Some fiddling required to get it to POST (Power On Self Test).

Overall Review: After connecting up everything, power light and fans came on but no display. I unplugged/re-plugged everything, verified connections, tried again. Still nothing. Finally I cleared the CMOS settings with a jumper on the motherboard. (Power off...set the CLR_CMOS jumper to the 2-3 position, power on (no power light), power right back off, put jumper back to 1-2, power on...that should do it.) That worked and all was well. If you think your board is DOA, try this first. I thought mine was. With a Celeron G540 (Sandy Bridge) 2.5GHZ/65 Watt TDP CPU and only an SSD drive connected, draws a whopping 20 watts at idle!!! Amazing. My older Core 2 Duo systems draw 37 watts at idle.

Caution: does not work with older motherboard

ASUS Radeon HD 5450 512MB DDR3 PCI Express 2.1 x16 Low Profile Ready Video Card EAH5450 SILENT/DI/512MD3(LP)
ASUS Radeon HD 5450 512MB DDR3 PCI Express 2.1 x16 Low Profile Ready Video Card EAH5450 SILENT/DI/512MD3(LP)

Pros: Passively-cooled, cheap card to add HDMI, great price, heat sink is much smaller than previous cards, doesn't block adjacent slot. Works great in Ubuntu Linux 10.10 after ATI/AMD driver installation.

Cons: This did not work in an older motherboard with an Intel 945 chipset. (An older card works fine in the same PCI-E slot.) But the card did work fine in a newer board with a G41 chipset.

Overall Review: Be very careful about using this with an older board - as I found, it did not work in one of mine. I had previously had a Radeon 4350 card installed in my Ubuntu 10.10 media center box; in the board that worked, the same driver also worked for this 5450 card, so I didn't have to install or change anything - sweet!

11/17/2011

Decent for HTPC, works great with Ubuntu 10.04 64 bit

MSI Radeon HD 4350 512MB GDDR2 PCI Express 2.0 x16 CrossFireX Support Video Card R4350-MD512H
MSI Radeon HD 4350 512MB GDDR2 PCI Express 2.0 x16 CrossFireX Support Video Card R4350-MD512H

Pros: Decent video card (non-gaming) passively cooled Received MSI rebate in a reasonable amount of time. Works well in Win 7 and Ubuntu 64 bit Excellent value for a graphics card if you get the right price.

Cons: Huge heat sink blocks a slot (but I expected that).

Overall Review: Installed easily in Ubuntu Linux 10.04 64 bit (needed to install closed-source drivers, but they were offered automatically). Works great as a Home Theater PC card with Ubuntu. I've used the HDMI port to drive two different flat screen TVs - works beautifully. I'm using this with only a 350w power supply (and a wimpy Celeron Dual Core motherboard without much else installed). This card was the 2nd MSI rebate I submitted this year and both rebates came in a reasonable amount of time - 4-6 weeks. In both cases I registered before submitting, and I followed the submission instructions to the letter (I've done dozens of rebates over the years so I can do them in my sleep). MSI's rebates actually have been better than average based on this recent experience. Still waiting for that Biostar rebate submitted earlier this year that's probably never, ever going to come...