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Brian V.

Brian V.

Joined on 02/07/08

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Product Reviews
product reviews
  • 97
Most Favorable Review

Very good for the price, with some drawbacks

Seagate Central STCG2000100 2TB Cloud Storage System
Seagate Central STCG2000100 2TB Cloud Storage System

Pros: The speed for an NAS drive of this price/style is pretty okay. I wasn't sure what to expect, so I assumed it would be around 15 to 25 megabytes per second. Turns out it can sustain 35 megabytes per second and burst at around 40 to 50. The drive is pretty quick and responsive. It seems the hard drive is almost always spinning, rarely spinning down. For watching 1080p movies and listening to music, the bandwidth is just enough to sustain (without stutter or buffer) up to 3 different 1080p movies simultaneously. Anything further and the video either has to be of lower quality and/or higher compression. I very much like the design of the drive. In the pictures, it looks like the whole thing is solid plastic, as one would expect of a product like this. The front and back are made of solid plastic, but the top (black part) looks like textured plastic from the front, yet it is actually a fine mesh. Lets heat dissipate without being completely open. Also, the indicator light on the drive (telling you whether the drive is ready, starting up, or off) is the right brightness to see, but not crazy enough to light walls. Often products in the computer realm use unregulated LEDs that are far too bright; good to know that some companies or designers are aware of this annoyance. USB port handles hard drives very well, working with both USB-powered drives and wall-powered drives. I even used a USB hub at one point to see if this can use multiple hard drives. It appears it actually can, but be warned that the USB port does not provide enough power, so use wall-powered drives if this is the direction you decide to go. The Seagate website part worked as expected. It shows you all of the data and lets you manage and download files with relative ease. Simply login to the website from anywhere, and assuming your network is setup properly and your upload isn't completely terrible, you should be able to download files easily. Should be noted though, most home internet service has terrible upload, so it should not be expected to sit and download movies from your drive on the go.

Cons: The disk not spinning down is a minor worry. While I would anticipate a NAS drive to be spinning quite a lot, it should have a reasonable spin down timer, anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. However, this seems to choose seemingly at random when to start and stop. I tested the USB port on this using a 1 terabyte WD Green in a Rosewill RX-358 U3C. I had a minor suspicion that maybe the SATA bus in the NAS could be why the speed was lower than my network can handle (as proven by my server). However, it was quickly realized that the network card in this NAS is the bottleneck. The Rosewill/WD enclosure drive, when plugged into a computer, easily hits the USB 2.0 limit of 60 megabytes per second (or 480 mbps). Transferring from either drive, or both drives, yielded the same total throughput numbers as mentioned earlier. I also tested it with a WD 250 GB hard drive and a Seagate 1TB STBX1000101. All drives I tried worked properly, but were still bottlenecked by the network interface.

Overall Review: Fair warning, I did not use the software and I didn't use this as a backup drive. I used it primarily as a shared data drive to be used anywhere on the network by many different computers. I consider myself a power user, I often test things to their limits in whatever day-to-day ways I can muster. My entire network consists of gigabit switches, gigabit devices, and CAT6/6a cable. My server running Fedora 18 can sustain 100 megabytes per second assuming realistic and optimal conditions (very few devices active, nobody downloading from or viewing the drives, etc). Overall, it is a pretty solid product. Maybe my expectations are a little too high, but I was hoping for something that was capable of about 60 megabytes per second. All-in-one NAS boxes are not something I purchase frequently, so I cannot speak to how it stacks up against recent competitors. That said, the drive is great for normal users. Most users won't notice these bandwidth limitations, mostly because most routers will actually be the bottleneck.

Most Critical Review

Better than expected, but inconsistent

TRENDnet TEW-736RE N300 Easy-N-Range Wireless Extender
TRENDnet TEW-736RE N300 Easy-N-Range Wireless Extender

Pros: Range is very good. Goes from one end of a ~100 foot wide house to the other with about 4-5 bars of signal (about 65-75 percent signal). Setup was relatively painless. I tested it at three different locations with 3 different routers and it worked with all of them (one is a Qwest all-in-one DSL modem/router; one is a Netgear WNDR3700 with DD-WRT, one is a Linksys WRT610N with stock firmware) [See Cons]. I like the SMA replaceable antennas, always a nice option in the future. Webpage interface is simple, clean, and does all of its functions just fine. Inserting this into a network certainly raised the ping by anywhere from 25-100 ms (as expected), but reduced the jitter dramatically in areas where there was very little signal to begin with. In this respect, the repeater worked EXACTLY as expected. The throughput was not-at-all amazing (a couple megabits per second at most), but you shouldn't really be buying this product to do heavy loads.

Cons: While I'd love to have said it worked perfectly, it didn't. First up to the plate is the WPS function. I personally haven't had much luck with WPS setup in the past, so for this repeater, it's business as usual. On the Qwest and Linksys routers, it refused to work at any range (NOTE: on DD-WRT, I didn't bother trying, sorry). Second up is the overall internet connection stability. This repeater doesn't use base station setup with MAC addresses and gateway controls, as such it connects like any other wireless device. I had my suspicions on how well this would work. It was common that computers would turn on or come out of sleep and be incapable of getting internet through the SSID until the repeater was unplugged. I had thought originally that this was like lightning and wouldn't strike twice, but then I used it on the Qwest router and a similar story crept up.

Overall Review: Lets cut to the chase though, if you are considering a repeater, it is because you have very few options. This type of repeater is just a big band-aid. Without proper base-station/repeater setup, this just clutters the airwaves using a different channel to rebroadcast. This even brings up the point that maybe if it had full repeater setup, there wouldn't be a constant need to power cycle it. It is plausible that this works with a TRENDnet router, but I cant be sure. In DD-WRT, this repeater worked very well with my WNDR3700. Larger releases of DD-WRT contain tools for repeaters. Without these tools, I had four internet hiccups in 4 days of use in my apartment. With, I never had a problem once setup properly. When it worked, it worked very well and as expected. However, it doesn't work consistently, so I cannot give it more than a 3 of 5. I gave it a 3 because when it works, it actually works remarkably well... credit where its due...

Great Case, Bad Quality Control

Rosewill RSV-Z2600 - 2U Rackmount Server Case / Chassis - 4 x 3.5" Internal HDD Bays, 3 Included 80mm Cooling Fans
Rosewill RSV-Z2600 - 2U Rackmount Server Case / Chassis - 4 x 3.5" Internal HDD Bays, 3 Included 80mm Cooling Fans

Pros: Considering the form factor, this case is great. Sure, it's hard to assemble if you fill every part of it with stuff... but what did you expect? It's only 2U and not super deep. It's a simple case, and doesn't pretend to be anything else. Price is right for what it is.

Cons: It's worth mentioning that out of the 4 of these I've purchased so far, I got one for which the front USB ports are shorted and kill USB devices you plug into it. I lost two flash drives before realizing this was the problem. The first flash drive wasn't being recognized. Seems the short killed it immediately. I decided to make a second install image flash drive to see if the problem was the first one's setup. The second flash drive didn't die immediately, but died about 20 seconds into the machine being turned on. It was dead midway through loading the OS install image. This one had a metal sheath on the body of it. It heated up to the point of scalding my hand when I tried to remove it. No, I'm not a wimp or something. It was legitimately so hot that I unplugged it and immediately dropped it. It was really dang hot.

Overall Review: Could be worse I guess. Flash drives are cheap. But hard to give a better rating after something like that.

Nothing to Report

ASRock H170M-ITX/ac LGA 1151 Intel H170 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Mini ITX Intel Motherboard
ASRock H170M-ITX/ac LGA 1151 Intel H170 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Mini ITX Intel Motherboard

Pros: Everything about this board is pretty unsurprising. - Layout is as expected, almost industry standard really. - The BIOS is the usual fancy mouse+keyboard affair that's the current fad in motherboards. - Comes with a decently fast-throughput wireless card for [effectively] 10 dollars. Others may complain that there is 2 USB 2.0 ports when it already has 6 USB 3.0 ports, so why not go all the way? To be honest, when USB 3.0 first started rolling out, I had strange issues involving peripherals during boot, at the BIOS and in games. It hasn't really regained my full trust yet. As a result, I actually REALLY LIKE when USB 2.0 is included on the board. A lack of it won't put me off buying a product. But call me crazy, but I have 100% confidence that those ports will work when everything else won't.

Cons: The wireless card is definitely an afterthought in the design, but I get why they do this. They want to make the same board over and over with variances for different price points. This is their method of giving half the market wireless, while giving the other half the savings. I knew going into this that the wireless card mounted like this, so I can't complain, and others on here really shouldn't either. The dual LAN is a confusing addition. This board is not really loaded with the features for a server... so why even bother having TWO separate chipsets put onto the board for a feature that is unlikely to be used? Maybe I don't understand the way the rest of the market is using this motherboard. For the love of- why is PS/2 still being included? While I like that it still includes USB 2.0, I don't like that motherboards are STILL in 2016 including a PS/2 port. PS/2 was released in the 80s. I get it, it's 30 years rock-solid. It gives older hardcore computer enthusiasts a warm fuzzy feeling... BUT, USB 2.0 has been around since 2000. I think everyone on Newegg can agree with me that the USB standard is rock-solid, and doesn't need the silly redundancy of a PS/2 port. /rant

Overall Review: I now own 3 of these. Personally I really like them. Sure the wireless is an afterthought and it only has 2 fan ports... but that's all I need anyway. Really anyone who complains about attributes/features on these kinds of products either got unlucky or really didn't do any research. So far this board hasn't surprised me at all. It's the reason I like it so far. I did my research, bought it, and found the setup/use transparent. The mark of a good product is that nothing surprises you. For a computer, I want to forget the part exists. This does the trick.

Compact, Great Internal Layout, All at the Right Price

SilverStone Milo Series ML07B Black Reinforced plastic outer shell, steel body Mini-ITX DTX Computer Case with PCI-E Riser
SilverStone Milo Series ML07B Black Reinforced plastic outer shell, steel body Mini-ITX DTX Computer Case with PCI-E Riser

Pros: In the HTPC market, there's a lot of overpriced junk. Cases which are laid out in a weird, inefficient manner, which are smaller than normal cases are mysteriously more expensive than you would think they are. As such, when I stumbled upon the ML07B, I was pleasantly surprised by the idea of a case the size of an old fashioned VCR capable of holding huge graphics cards. For 70 dollars, it's definitely a reasonable price. Some of the pros: - The case layout is genius. - The generic and simple style (with optional logo) means it will blend into any environment. - Two 120mm fans for the graphics cards, and capability of using a liquid cooling system rather sweetens the deal. - The manual includes diagrams and measurements to help you pick components. - The ability to hold three 2.5" drives, one 3.5" drive, and a slim optical drive gives this tons of versatility.

Cons: That said, the case has trade-offs and some small faults. - Watercooling is possible, but not practical. If you use a single 120mm radiator, you're limited to 6.25"/160mm graphics cards. - The LEDs are too bright, this seems to be common among cases. I do precision layering of painters tape over the lights. - You cant really put a fan in the spot over the CPU if you put a bigger heatsink.

Overall Review: I recommend using the manual to determine the components you can fit. It was what I used to buy my first one, and it gave me every piece of information I needed to figure it out without having it. Measure twice, buy once.

Excellent Budget Performance

OEM Intel Core i3 i3-6100 Dual-core 3.70 GHz Processor LGA 1151
OEM Intel Core i3 i3-6100 Dual-core 3.70 GHz Processor LGA 1151

Pros: Performance is excellent. On Windows 10, boot times are excellent. Game performance by cost is much better than expected. I think the hyperthreading is really what makes it great. Dual core with hyperthreading is just the right amount of threads for gaming. Keep your OS clean of random background applications and performance in some of the newest games will not disappoint. Effortless to clock up to 4.2 GHz.

Cons: I had some trouble getting past 4.2 GHz on overclocking. This isn't a big deal to me since the overclocking was optional. I theorize my motherboard is the source of the difficulty, and not the CPU itself. I have no numbers to back this up, but I think AMD may be pretty competitive in this price range based on performance.

Overall Review: For the price, performance, and power consumption, this is now my default for great budget gaming.