Date Joined: 10/15/02
Pros: Sips power through a straw
Powerful graphics card handles MKV, MP4 and BluRay with ease
GigE streams local content quickly and easily
Integrated Bluetooth easily enables keyboards, mice and remotes
Cons: Not 100% fanless (but awfully quiet!!)
Lacks SPDIF; only delivers analog audio through headphone jack
USB 3.0 ports means some USB 2.0 and 1.1 devices need not apply....
Overall Review: I have a pair of book-sized HTPCs, one on an AMD E450 and one on Cubox i-series. The AMD HTPC runs Windows and handles video well, but takes too much (Windows 7) maintenance. The Cubox handles most video well, but was extremely difficult to customize. I wanted an HTPC that could run a simplified OS, didn't require a ton of work to maintain and could handle any variety of MKV, MP4 and streaming web content.
I am extremely pleased at the performance and versatility of the ASUS Chromebox. I installed OpenELEC in less than 5 minutes, and had XBMC indexing the content on my NAS almost immediately. It easily plays 1080 MKV from my NAS via GigE with no issues. YouTube and other streaming content plays smoothly.
It was nice to see the WiFi and Bluetooth worked out of the box, both on ChromeOS (before I flashed it) and on OpenELEC. It make setting up the HTPC in my living room a breeze, so I can use my Harmony remote, in conjunction with an older Microsoft eHome IR receiver. You can buy a Rosewill remote on Newegg for little or no cost, and put together an incredible HTPC setup.
The USB 3.0 ports support many USB 2.0 and 1.1 devices, but I was unable to get an old set of USB 1.1 gaming pads to work, as well as a USB 2.0 home automation interface (to control a light system). Most recent USB peripherals should work, but you'll want a backup plan. Similarly, if you only have SPDIF optical for your stereo receiver, you'll need a workaround there. The ASUS Chromebox lacks SPDIF, so you'll need to rely on HDMI for audio. I bought an HDMI to SPDIF audio converter, so I will see how that works shortly.
The unit is not fanless, but I could only drive enough to spin up the fan while playing a 1080 movie, and then it come on intermittently over the course of the movie. If I sat more than 3ft from the Chromebox, I could not hear the fan at all.
I intend to replace all of my HTPCs with Chromebox as my budget allows!
Pros: NAS pulls SMART data successfully from drives
Drive speed moves from power-saving to performance with ease
Drives perform very quietly
Drive temperatures stay low and uniform
Cons: Different firmware (NASware 2.0) is limited to getting drives with the "right ship date" or upgrading yourself.
Overall Review: I purchased six 3TB WD REDs for a ReadyNAS Pro 6 in August 2013. I performed a factory reset on the NAS to properly format the drives and prep them for use. I had no issues with this process and was ready to rock. I opted to use all six drives in RAID-5, not RAID-6, to get 13.4TB usable, 10.8TB. This is because my NAS holds music, movies and TV shows, all of which can be (easily) downloaded again from the internet. I have a small 150GB share that I backup to the cloud separately, so I have little fear of losing important content.
The WD REDs have performed very well since installation. I pull SMART data from them on an hourly basis, and map the stats with MRTG. In the last six months, I have seen little variation between drives, and performance has been excellent. I run PLEX Media Server on the ReadyNAS and regularly transcode video to other computers on the LAN and to our iPad and Android phone over the internet. My only complaint was the difficulty with upgrade two drives to NASware 2.0 firmware (which is standard on the WBD 4TB RED). WD's forums have a few tips and tricks to get it done. I was unable to do the upgrade with WD's supplied tools, but I was able to do so with third-party software.
Pros: Dock is well-constructed
Simple to use
eSATA ports recognized at 3Gb/s in BIOS
Cons: None worth mentioning
Overall Review: I purchased two eSATA docks for my home PCs. One PC uses an extension cable from two internal SATA ports, converting to eSATA in a slot cover; the other PC uses a two-port eSATA PCIe card. I can drop drives into the dock and have them recognized in the OS with no issue. Performance is more than adequate, as I use the docks to duplicate drives with tools like Partition Magic and CloneZilla. I've recommended these to friends and coworkers and have been very satisfied.
Pros: Cable is sturdy
Ample plastic at connector ends
Cons: Cables have quite a "kink" from packaging
Overall Review: I purchased a pack of cables to use with both car chargers, wall outlet USB chargers and a laptop. My Motorola Droid Razr M, Bluetooth headset and various device all charge without issue. I'm pleasantly surprised that things work as expected!
Pros: Nice card - good transfer rate!
Cons: Firmware update was required - relatively old firmware was shipped
Doesn't detect all drives on hot plug (see below!)
Overall Review: Bought this and a StarTech eSATA dock for my home rig. Installation and setup was easy, but I noticed the firmware was almost 6 months old. I downloaded new firmware from the web page, but it didn't seem to take. Turns out I had to update the Windows driver first, then update the card firmware after a mandatory reboot. No big deal, just an additional step. After those updates, my dock recognizes 3TB SATA drives with no issues.
The only issue I run into is the hot insertion of new disks. When I boot up with no drives in the dock, I cannot detect a hot-plugged drive. If I reboot with any drive in the dock, I can hot-swap all day and each drive is detected just fine. Seems like the card only hands over a device to the BIOS at boot only. No big deal - I just leave a disk in the dock all the time. HDDs spin down when not in use, so there's no power draw.
All-in-all, this was an excellent purchase!
Pros: Heatsinks are low-enough to slip under after-market CPU Coolers
Easy to open packaging
Cons: None, really!
Overall Review: Bought this 16GB kit as part of a new build. The packaging was easier to open than other kits I've bought. Memory was fully recognized by Windows 7 64-bit Professional. I opted to disable my swap space as a result, and I've never looked back. I run VMware Workstation 8 all the time with two or three VMs up and I've never had so much as a hiccup.
This was an extremely good purchase for me!
Pros: Samsung Data Migration software is extremely easy to use!
Deals with tricky factors nicely
Recognizes 4K formatted source disks
Cons: None, really, except the price. Then again, we all want everything to be next to free...
Overall Review: I bought this SSD as part of a desktop refresh. After installing the new drive, I used the Samsung software to migrate my Windows 7 partition to the SSD. Process took all of 15 minutes and I was ready to reboot. Afterwards, Windows boots in less than 10 seconds! I run Handbrake and Freemake pretty heavily and both apps seem to have less lag in their menus. Ripping/trancoding times are basically unchanged for me, since I have the apps writing to an old 1TB SATA drive for temp space.
For comparison, I have an OCZ Agility installed in a simliarly-configured PC. The performance is comparable, but I've noticed read times on the Samsung seem consistently higher than the Agility, which was only a few dollars cheaper. Seems like those extra dollars were a good investment to me.
All-in-all, I've very satisfied with this purchase!
Pros: Nice selection of ports and features
Good board layout - components are easy to find
UEFI DualBIOS is well laid out
Excellent USB port density (8 rear ports!)
Cons: In BIOS, key repeat is off - must repeated press up/down keys
BIOS does not identify SATA port speed
Overall Review: I bought this board to replace an aging Gigabyte GA-MA785G-UD3H board with an Athlon II X4 620 processor, all bought from Newegg. At almost three years old, the older MA785G was showing its age. I bought the GA-970A-D3, a new set of DDR3 DIMMs for 16GB of RAM and a new Samsung SANDisk 240GB SSD and went to town. I moved over the older X4 620 processor, and an old 1TB SATA hard disk. In less than an hour, I moved my Windows 7 install to the SSD without re installation. Thanks to the speedy SSD, Windows boots in 10 seconds or so, and this board allows me to use all 16GB of RAM under Windows 7. Handbrake and Freemake are the defacto apps I run, and they seem pretty happy with my build.
All-in-all, Gigabyte continues to keep me loyal to their products and I have no complaints!
Pros: Cleanly detected in Windows. Nice performance for sequential and reasonable amounts of random I/O. Considerably better performance than an HDD. TRIM performance seems to indicate good write lifespan for this drive.
Cons: Purely-random I/O tests under IOmeter are really poor with multiple worker threads, but that's to be expected.
Overall Review: A very nice SSD for the money. If you have multiple random I/O threads running against the SSD, you'll plateau performance pretty quickly, for those of you expecting to get 8000 random IOPs at this drive. Stop. Now. Wake up to reality: you'll need multiple SSDs in a RAID configuration to get thousands of random IOPs. Looking at forums posts over the years, people don't seem to grasp that.
Pros: Delivered quickly and installed very easily. Replaced the 10GB drive in an old Dell Inspiron 4300.
Cons: None really.
Pros: Appliance is very small and easy to mount out of sight. Easy to configure and deploy.
Cons: As of 10/31 there is no firmware update available. My unit fails to show the menu option for NTP. Called support and they recommended an RMA. May do so when I don't need my DSL to work for a week. :-)
Pros: A cost-effective way to get Office 2010 on multiple computers.
Cons: Read the included software carefully! Several reviews here are from people upset that this does not include Microsoft Outlook 2010. Really? Why would a student want or need Outlook? The mind boggles....
Pros: Mouse has a nice, techy look with odd-swept curves and lines. The forward/backward buttons are nicely placed. The mouse wheel can also provide a third button and directional-scroll functionality.
Cons: Reconnect button is right under your hand - watch your hand placement!
Pros: Very sleek and clean. Keys are snappy and responsive under heavy hands.
Cons: Must read the directions! Could not pair the keyboard to the USB adapter without installing Setpoint software.
Overall Review: Very sleek and light. I installed a Marathon Mouse m705, but was in a rush to get started with things. I didn't have time to install the Logitech SetPoint software, so I just flicked on the power switch and expected the keyboard to work. Nope! I needed to install the software and scan for the keyboard. Sure enough, found it in a flash. With the keyboard paired, I was all set. All-in-all, this was a great purchase!
Pros: Worked nicely with an ASUS eeePC running Ubuntu 10.4. Burned four DVD-Rs and one CD-RW with no coasters.
Cons: None so far.
Overall Review: The aluminum finish is very nice nice and clean. The drive fits nicely in a Case Logic 10" netbook sleeve. A little snug with a bluetooth mouse and power brick, but it will do.
Pros: Lightweight. Paired easily with a Blackberry Curve, an HTC Incredible and an iPod Touch 3rd Gen. The headset is very quiet, very little audible hiss or distortion. The headset quieted my noisy office space and my customer could still hear my voice clearly. I think this was a great investment!
Cons: A little uncomfortable with glasses on, but that's to be expected.
Overall Review: I will try out at the gym later tonight and update my posting.
Pros: More IOPs than 5400 and 5900RPM drives
Cons: A little warm in my StarTech.com dock
Overall Review: I have (4) of these in my Netgear ReadyNAS NV. I get good transfer rates and few, if any, SMART errors.
Pros: Purchased for a ReadyNAS NV (Sparc-based)
Cons: None really - very cost-effective
Overall Review: Works just great in this model!
Pros: Very inexpensive
Cons: None really - the cable is very inexpensive, well-molded and seems very
Overall Review: I use this cable to extend a Wireless N adapter around a corner. Very handy!
Pros: Went in without a hitch
Nice selection of ports
VERY happy with the eSATA port
Cons: None really - some might complain about the price, but the quality is worth the price
Pros: Sleek and well-balanced in your hand
Detects a wide range of devices
Cons: The process to update the remote is rather time-consuming; expect to spend a LOT of time initially configuring the remote.
Overall Review: The remote is sleek and fits nicely in your hand. Configuring the remote was rather time-consuming. Each time I would move buttons around, I would expend 5 to 10 minutes on each update. This wasn't bad, since I did it over the course of several days. Once the remote was configured, I've been very happy with it. I use it to control a SONY LCD TV, a Marantz AV receiver and my HTPC running Boxee. So far, I've been very happy with the whole setup!
Pros: Stable interface, simple web managment, NOT thermally sensitive (like some DSL modems - AHEM!)
Cons: The Ethernet ports are only 10/100. Seriously?!? Even the netbooks are starting to come with Gigabit.
Overall Review: I bought this to replace an over-heating Netgear Wireless-N/ADSL modem . Oriented vertically, it does seem to overheat (logs don't show packet loss, signal noise, etc.). It works nicely with DynDNS and synced easily with AT&T Elite Pro with no issues. I'm very happy with my purchase.
Pros: Windows 7 is an all-around improvement of the Windows operating system family. Many features feel much-more integrated than in XP or Vista. System security feels much better represented (we finally get a standardized inbound/outbound firewall - much like OS X and Linux). The 64-bit version
Cons: Will probably irk security/malware/anti-virus software vendors, since Windows Security Essentials seems to integrate nicely with Windows Update - much nicer than the update methods in McAfee, Norton and Trend.
Overall Review: It's a good price for Windows 7
Pros: Supports drive spin down on eSATA, unlike my older USB-to-SATA enclosures. Very inexpensive, much cheaper than my older USB-to-SATA enclosures.
Cons: Doesn't quite lock drives in place, but never feels unsteady or that the drive may slip out. Only a fool would jump up and down around this dock, or let her kids play with it like a toy.
Overall Review: With one of these docks, you can setup your own, cheap backup operation. Buy your own drive, pop it in the dock and run your favorite backup application. What could be easier?
Pros: Fast and roomy - formats to 1.81TB with GPT partition table under Windows 7 64-bit
Cons: None, really
Overall Review: I use this drive and a StarTech eSATA dock for archival backups. I just write to it via Windows Backup, then put the drive on the shelf. Each week, I pop the drive back in and run a backup. What could be easier?