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Robert M.

Robert M.

Joined on 11/05/03

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Product Reviews
product reviews
  • 11
Most Favorable Review

handles high 5V load with ease

SIGMA SHARK SP-585 585 W ATX12V V2.01 SLI Ready Power Supply
SIGMA SHARK SP-585 585 W ATX12V V2.01 SLI Ready Power Supply

Pros: This has been installed in a very difficult to power antique system, a Tyan S2460 dual MP system. Unlike more modern motherboards, the CPU voltages are derived from the 5V line. The system has a history of power supply failures. The most recent supply was a Seasonic S12. It did not blow, but the +5V supply drooped to the point that it caused instability. The Seasonic is designed for more modern systems, which derive CPU from the 12V supply, so this is not really a mark against it. Tyan spec for the 5V supply is a minimum of 30 amps. But the Shark is rated at 34 amps on the 5V line, something formerly quite common, but rare now days. Motherboard sensor readings indicate a higher, more stable voltage. The two AMD MP CPUs on the board draw a combined 110 watts. Power conversion and motherboard logic draw another 25 watts. The supply is delivering about 140 watts on the 5V line at an on-board voltage of about 4.708, indicating a PS voltage of about 4.9 full load.

Cons: Does not have active power factor correction. Not quite as efficient as the newest designs, but do you care? The supply can amply power a modern system.

Overall Review: There is nothing to indicate that the specs are less than honest. Some people think they know how to measure supplies, but don't. Additional installed components: Nvidia 5900 (100 watts), 4X Seagate drives, 3Ware Raid controller.

Most Critical Review

Bad BIOS Handles Built-In USB Badly

SUPERMICRO MBD-X10DAX-O Extended ATX Server Motherboard Dual LGA 2011-3 Intel C612
SUPERMICRO MBD-X10DAX-O Extended ATX Server Motherboard Dual LGA 2011-3 Intel C612

Pros: Once you work through the gotchas, and you mentally accept that the built-in USB ports have severe limitations, it's decent. Takes LRDIMMs for capacious memory capacity. Board is reliable; no mysterious crashes.

Cons: I've started with BIOS 1.0a. Six months later, after burning 2.0a, we have some slight improvement in usb functionality-- but nowhere near right. The problem appears to be the complexity and responsibility of a UEFI BIOS to actually enumerate USB 3.0 devices, and emulate USB 2.0 as well, and the inability of AMI to meet the specs. Since there are so few BIOS makers, Supermicro really has no options to fix this, unless AMI decide to get it right. In practice, this means: 1. Abandon the idea that devices plugged into different motherboard ports don't interact with each other, and with the boot process. 2. Scratch your head, swap plugs, hubs, and devices ad-infinitum, and give up. 3. Install an Inatek or other vendor 7 port USB card. Anything based on the Fresco Logic chipset does everything that Intel/AMI cannot. Except: boot into BIOS, which brings us to the next point. 4. You might expect that every usb keyboard will get you into the BIOS. Not! Happy Hacker keyboards don't. Discover which of your keyboards works for this. Are we done yet? No! 5. You won't be able to boot into the BIOS if any other device is plugged into any other motherboard USB port. You'll get the famous 5-beep code, and the machine will continue into OS boot all the while you're pounding away at "DEL". Confusing? Yeah! Excusable? Noooo Wayyyy!!!

Overall Review: The whole ball of wax is just a continuation of a nasty industry habit: writing specs that can't be fulfilled in practice until long after the product is obsolete, if ever. Once you learn to expect things to be partly broken you'll be "very happy" with this board.

Boot problems solved.

Sunweit PCI express FireWire 800 / 1394b (2+1) Ports card with TI chipset
Sunweit PCI express FireWire 800 / 1394b (2+1) Ports card with TI chipset

Pros: I had complained that the card stops a Supermicro X10SRA from booting. The cause turned out to be the per-slot settings for ROM on expansion cards: UEFI, LEGACY, or NONE. I switched the setting for the slot in which the card was installed from LEGACY to NONE.The machine then booted with a Firewire card installed. But by then, I was trying not the Sunweit card, but a Syba card. So the Sunweit card is probably OK, although I did not test it.

Cons: Motherboard: Supermicro X10SRA, configured for UEFI. OS: W8.1 Machine halted at an early BIOS screen and froze. Will not boot to OS with card installed. With card removed, machine boots normally.<br>Is this a UEFI problem?

Overall Review: In choosing between the Syba and Sunweit cards, notice these differences: 1. The Syba has larger filter capacitors. But they are of the electrolytic type. The Sunweit uses smaller capacitors, but of a more durable type. I do not know how to weigh this. 2. The Syba has three external ports, one of which is Firewire 400, the other two Firewire 800. 3. The Sunweit has two external ports, and one internal port, all Firewire 800 Both use the TI chipset, which is the preferred one.

12/29/2015

excellent, except nonremovable battery

Sony Xperia ZL C6506 Black 4G LTE Quad-Core 1.5 GHz 16GB Unlocked Cell Phone
Sony Xperia ZL C6506 Black 4G LTE Quad-Core 1.5 GHz 16GB Unlocked Cell Phone

Pros: T-Mobile/ATT LTE compatible. Exceptional display Very responsive Sony PC Companion software excellent Large, high res screen Replaces 7" tablets Fast data Versatile, state-of-the-art connectivity No hangs, no glitches. High quality construction. unlocked GPS receiver one of the most sensitive I have seen, either separate or integrated. Apart from the Google Nexus, which is actually a tablet, this may be the only device that is LTE compatible with both Tmobile and AT&T. The US version of the waterproof "Z" covers just a single Tmobile LTE band. The ZL covers five bands. Even with no SIM, the ZL is a very interesting choice as a tablet. The screen resolution compensates for the size.

Cons: Support staff ignorant. I called tech support to find out how to tether it via usb. It turned out to be markedly different than a TM506 flip-phone. While tech support was trying to get off the hook by telling me I had to contact Microsoft, I figured it out, and taught them. If a wifi access point is some distance, and the signal is weak, extreme battery drain may occur. Attempting to connect to a marginal 5gHz network, the battery dropped 10% in 3 minutes. The drain would have been less on the 2.4 gHz band. But if traveling with the phone, it seems advisable to either avoid the use of wifi, or carry a charger pack. Battery is nonremovable. One of the big makers should break from this rip-off. Screen front is not Corning gorilla glass.

Overall Review: A larger, swappable battery pack would unlock the missing potential. Grossly overweight Americans should stop focusing on the thinness of their gadgets and instead focus on the thickness of their guts.

Microsoft tries to coerce

Microsoft Windows 8 Professional Upgrade
Microsoft Windows 8 Professional Upgrade

Pros: Windows 7 caches the kernel in unused ram. When a lot of ram is required for demanding apps, the cache is emptied to make room. With Windows 8, the kernel is small enough that most or all of it can remain resident. The actual amount of ram available to applications is very similar with each; Windows 8 has perhaps 200MB more with 8GB of ram. Therefore, Windows 8 remains more responsive when app ram requirements are high.

Cons: The GUI is an abomination. Microsoft has violated their corporate responsibility to the user base. Until now, Microsoft and Apple have served a greater good, greater than themselves: the heritage of Xerox PARC. For billions of users, the desktop is part of their mind-space. And suddenly, there is an intrusion. It's like an uninvited guest. Microsoft, you don't own the desktop. I claim the right to arrange it the way I want it. When I see my accustomed green-blotter colored desktop adorned with MY icons, I receive visual feedback pertinent to my goals. Your image of what you want me to see does not coincide with mine. This is my computer, and my head-space. It is reported that Steve Sinofsky, head of the Windows divsion, convinced Balmer that the start menu had to go, because otherwise, users would never look at the store. In other words, greed tempted Microsoft to take away something that had zero engineering cost to keep in. This is coercion This is where Microsoft puts their interest ahead of your interest. Microsoft deserves to fail. Perhaps the Chinese will succeed in commercializing Linux. I'm ready to buy.

Overall Review: It is rumored that Steve Ballmer fired Steven Sinofsky for reasons along the lines of the above. Mr. Ballmer, you have one more chance to save your corporation. You must reincorporate the start menu, and Aero as an option, at no cost to Win 8 licensees. The style in which you do this counts. Royal granting of great largesse does not work here. Humble humility works. Fix this wagon, and perhaps public opinion will once again favor you with your prior reputation, a jewel in the crown of American technological supremacy.

11/24/2012

Comparison with Alfa AWUS036NHR

EnGenius EUB9603H Wireless Adapter with 5dBi antenna 600mW High Power USB 2.0
EnGenius EUB9603H Wireless Adapter with 5dBi antenna 600mW High Power USB 2.0

Pros: The 9603H uses the Realtek 8188S(U?) chip; Alfa uses the 8188RU high power chip. Both client apps are based on a Realtek code base. The Engenius registers as an Engenius device; the Alfa as a Realtek device. Comparisons were made with an Asus RT-AC66U AP/router, firmware 3.0.0.4.246 (latest). Signal was through two floors, near or at “100%”, link speed reported 72mb/s with both adapters without channel bonding. Throughput measured with LAN Speedtest Lite, v1.2. Identical 5dB omni "rubber duck" antenna swapped between adapters. Engenius throughput without client program installed: 3-18 mb/s Engenius throughput with client installed: 35-45 mb/s Alfa throughput with or without client: 5-20 mb/s, frequently slower than “g” speeds. The Alfa client app appears to be a simple branded copy of the Realtek app. It does not recognize the Engenius adapter. Since Alfa uses the higher end chip, the implication is that the Engenius client program loads something into the firmware that makes a positive difference.

Cons: The Alfa/Realtek and Engenius client apps conflict, and cannot be simultaneously installed. The drivers do not conflict, but as previously noted, the Engenius client seems to provide a beneficial code tweak. The install packages do not offer to install the drivers without the clients. To run both adapters on one machine, first install the entire Engenius package. Then run the Alfa install, use “system restore” to remove it, then manually install the Alfa driver left over by the Alfa install program in the folder “036NHR_WindowsDriver_0104”.

Overall Review: The Alfa/Realtek and Engenius clients conflict, and cannot be simultaneously installed. The drivers do not conflict, but as previously noted, the Engenius client seems to provide a beneficial code tweak. The install packages do not offer to install the drivers without the clients. To run both adapters on one machine, first install the entire Engenius package. Then run the Alfa install, use “system restore” to remove it, then manually install the Alfa driver left over by the Alfa install program in the folder “036NHR_WindowsDriver_0104”. Caveats: The Asus RT-AC66U new, with frequent firmware revisions. Your results may be significantly different.

10/21/2012