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STEPHEN B.

STEPHEN B.

Joined on 02/04/09

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Product Reviews
product reviews
  • 6
Most Favorable Review

Excellent budget quad-core AMD

AMD Phenom II X4 840 - Phenom II X4 Quad-Core 3.2 GHz Socket AM3 95W Desktop Processor - HDX840WFGMBOX
AMD Phenom II X4 840 - Phenom II X4 Quad-Core 3.2 GHz Socket AM3 95W Desktop Processor - HDX840WFGMBOX

Pros: Great value that won't break your pocket book. Processor performed well with Windows 7. My client was happy, therefore so am I. With 4GB of RAM to back it up, this processor will do everything you throw at it. Would make a great budget quad-core gaming CPU.

Cons: Not a Black Edition CPU, so it doesn't have the massive overclocking potential of one. I would put forth some more money for a higher end CPU if your intentions are to overclock for maximum performance, but out of the box this processor is very balanced in terms of performance/value. The heatsink and fan that comes with this model is very basic. Aluminum heat sink with a standard AMD fan (without an AMD holo-sticker). Fan is quiet and moves decent amounts of air, however it's not flashy or show quality by any means. At stock frequency @ 70 degrees F ambient temperature, idle temps were 37C, full load stress test yielded 46C. Not too shabby, but definitely not flashy. :) Gets the job done well.

Overall Review: I believe that a better heat sink would compliment this processor. I would have liked to see a heat-pipe heatsink vs the solid aluminum finned sink that comes with this processor, but the stock heatsink gets the job done well. One could swap the heatsink out with one from another model of AMD CPU for a bit more performance (Phenom II Black Edition's comes to mind.)

Good combo burner.

LITE-ON 24X DVD Writer 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 8X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM Black SATA Model iHAS-324-98B
LITE-ON 24X DVD Writer 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 8X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM Black SATA Model iHAS-324-98B

Pros: It works. It's not too loud, has decent build quality. It's SATA. I'd use this drive again, but it's not the fanciest optical drive on the market. Burns CD's and DVD's just fine.

Cons: It looks like a generic DVD combo burner, no fancy buttons, no fancy graphics, etc. Has a generic green activity light. I'd like to see a drive with blue/amber instead of green/amber. That's just my color preference though. Tray isn't as sturdy as other brands, but it's not a horribly flimsy pile of junk. I would certainly recommend this as a standard combo burner.

Overall Review: It's a decent burner, but most are. For the price, I think this burner is worth it. Knocked one egg off simply because it's not fancy and isn't awesome by any means, but it's more of a user preference. It does what it's supposed to do. It's not a lightscribe, which I think by now all burners should support lightscribe technology. Cool little 'perk' with higher end drives. Comes in handy for those that archive DVD's and would prefer a nice professional label system without using a permanent marker or a sticker.

Great budget Motherboard

ASRock K10N78M-PRO AM3/AM2+/AM2 NVIDIA GeForce 8200 Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
ASRock K10N78M-PRO AM3/AM2+/AM2 NVIDIA GeForce 8200 Micro ATX AMD Motherboard

Pros: Great budget board for anybody wanting a motherboard that supports the high HT frequency of an AM3 processor. Great motherboard for use in a business environment or all-purpose computer. Onboard graphics gets the job done but is far from a high performance chipset. Decent configuration options in BIOS, but nothing fancy. No big heat sinks, no awesome designs, supports AM3 CPU's. D-SUB/DVI ports.

Cons: Build quality isn't the highest selling point of this board by any means. The PCB isn't flimsy, however it's just not something I'd use for a high performance gaming rig. Onboard video chipset is outdated. (nVidia GeForce 8200). Wouldn't use this board for gaming at all without the use of an add-on graphics card. Legacy games will play just fine. Simple-user activities will be fine, but don't expect this to be a champ when it comes to graphics intensive applications. It does basic tasks flawlessly, however. One thing that stands out is the lack of quality heatsinks for the chipset. This board only has two DIMM slots, so don't expect to be using 8GB of ram with a 4x2GB configuration, you'll be forking out the money for 2x4GB DDR2-800 if you want to run 8GB. This was disappointing. There's not a lot of room between the DIMM slots and the CPU, so don't plan on using a large bulky aftermarket CPU cooler without low profile RAM. It'll be a tight fit.

Overall Review: I would use this board again for a customer all-purpose computer that wasn't used for gaming. It's definitely outdated by todays standards, but it gets the job done. It MAY support DDR-1066, but I wouldn't claim the best stability with that RAM speed. I used 667 RAM clocked at 800, without any problems. Would make an excellent first-time system builder's motherboard, it's cheap - has onboard video, and isn't a pile of junk. Decent for a budget system.

Great budget HDD

Western Digital Caviar Blue WD3200AAJS 320GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive Bare Drive
Western Digital Caviar Blue WD3200AAJS 320GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive Bare Drive

Pros: Great budget hard drive. This drive is fast, and quiet - and will get the job done.

Cons: Not as fast as a Caviar Black, but I wouldn't hesitate to use this drive in a customer computer. I wouldn't choose this drive in a top of the line computer, or a gaming rig. I also wouldn't use this drive if I required a hard drive that was extremely fast for use with software that is hard-drive use intensive. Purchase a Caviar Black if you want high performance, but this drive does well for all-purpose use.

Overall Review: Can't beat it for the price. Not the fastest drive out there, but surely not the slowest. Good warranty, quiet, gets the job done. I'll be using this drive again for hard drive upgrades on client computers and/or a budget storage HDD option.

Best version of Windows to date

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders

Pros: Windows 7 is a highly stable, high performance operating system. IMHO, Windows 7 Home Premium (x64) is the best option for the home user or gamer. This version of Windows is what I use on all customer builds that do not require the added functionality you get with Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate. There is no performance difference between versions, only different enabled functionality.

Cons: Windows 7 Home Premium x64 gets the job done, however there are drawbacks for anybody that has a large heavily-used home/business network. You cannot host Remote Desktop sessions with Home Premium. If you require Remote Desktop, one must use Windows 7 Professional Edition. You do not get EFS (Encrypted File System) functionality with Home Premium. No XP mode (which 99% of users will never need/use anyhow). Cannot join a domain (not really a requirement for most situations, but for businesses or people using the computer in a networked environment, domain join may be a requirement that Home Premium will not meet. Use Windows 7 Professional Edition if you need Domain Join functionality.)

Overall Review: Many will argue about the best, most stable, most functional version of Windows. Many die-hards will argue Windows XP vs Windows 7, claiming Windows XP is the best there is. In my opinion, Windows 7 far surpasses the end-user quality of use, functionality, ergonomics, and performance that of Windows XP. I do not believe Vista is even worth mentioning. Windows 7 has the same basic interface and GUI as Windows Vista, but is far superior by design. It is WELL worth the money upgrading from Windows Vista to Windows 7. The same applies for Windows XP. Many will argue that Windows 7 is a memory hog. That is true, and that is a good thing - RAM is faster than a hard drive, and by todays standards, your computer should have plenty of RAM. 2GB of RAM is plenty to run Windows 7. The more the merrier, but whatever amount of RAM you have - Windows 7 will utilize it in the best ways possible to give you the best performance from your system. IMHO, Windows 7 is the best Windows versi

Awesome case for the money!

Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

Pros: This case is awesome. I use an Antec 1200 for my personal computer, and the build quality of it is excellent. I have seen Antec 900's before, and they are just as high quality. I figured I would give the Antec 300 a shot at being my case of choice for customer builds and I thought right. This case comes with the large cieling exhaust fan which is 3-speed via a cabled switch (L/M/H). On high settings the fan is actually really quiet and moves a lot of air. The rear fan is 120mm, with the same cabled fan speed switch, which is also quiet. This case moves a lot of air and has great ventilation, with optional 2x 120mm fan slots up front for HDD/Intake cooling, and one 1x 120mm fan slot on the left case side panel. With only two exhaust fans going, it draws air from the side and the front very well, even without additional fans. With 3 more 120mm fans, this case will move about the same amount of air as the Antec 1200. This is the perfect all-purpose great-looking case. Highly recommende

Cons: This case is oriented as such that the power supply must be mounted on the bottom. This isn't really a con per-se, however with the MicroATX motherboard and power supply combo I used in this case, the power supply cables were barely long enough to reach their appropriate plugs on the motherboards. I'd recommend buying a higher-end modular power supply for use in this case, as I am sure that low-end budget PSU's will have short cabling issues as well. This case can be fitted with 3 additional 120mm fans, which are not included. This case only comes with the top exhaust, and rear exhaust fans. They are high quality, but be advised that THIS case doesn't include the fans up front - nor are they blue LED illuminated. The Illusion model Antec 300 includes the fans, this does not. I opted for the non-lighted version since this build is in a business environment and blue LED's are NOT professional IMHO. Unlike it's big brother Antec 1200, this case does not feature air filters.

Overall Review: This case immediately earned my praise the moment I took it out of the box. It is very elegantly styled, and is low-key. It looks very good, the black finish Antec uses looks very professional. The grille styling on the front looks very sharp, so it will fit into any surroundings quite well. Out of the box, it's quiet and moves air well. I will be using this case in the future for any client-builds I do and I highly recommend this case to anybody seeking a well built, high quality mid-tower without forking over loads of cash for a high end gamer-oriented case. I would be comfortable building a gamer rig using this case, as well as a business class case, or even a generic desktop. Lots of available space for additional hard drives, or addon devices. The front USB ports point straight forward instead of at an angle, but they are very sturdy and are not loose. You need not think twice about this case, buy it - and you will be pleased with what you get. Enjoy. =D