Date Joined: 12/06/07
Pros: It supports VT-d with a compatible CPU, and has no issues with any server-class hardware I've tried. ESXi 5.1 installs and runs smoothly on it (no extra drivers required), and it has been perfectly stable for me for the last 6 months.
Cons: None. For a home server you can't ask for a better board. At least not if you don't want to pay the premium for a server chipset, ECC memory, and/or a 6+ core CPU.
Overall Review: The ASRock Extreme4 is just as good for a home server if you're trying to save money, but it has one less x16 slot.
Pros: Used this CPU to upgrade a machine for a client. They needed an extra server to host a few virtual desktops for specialized applications, so instead of buying a whole new machine I upgraded one of their old Sempron desktops on the cheap using this, some spare RAM from other decommissioned desktops, and a good NIC. For this purpose, it worked absolutely great. Peak time CPU load is only about 30-40%, so it's still got plenty of headroom for growth.
Cons: For a standard desktop, whether its for gaming or office work or whatever, Intel's Core i3-2100 is by far a better choice for a similar price. It's faster in most applications and the socket gives you a nice upgrade path in case you need more power later. It also uses less electricity, and Intel's stock cooler is BY FAR quieter.
Overall Review: Rating this 5 stars because it fit my needs perfectly. However, at this point in time I can only recommend this CPU if you are simply upgrading your AM2/AM3 system to get some more life out of it. If you're building something from scratch its price/performance ratio isn't what it used to be, and the AM3 platform limits your options in the future.
Pros: Getting images off of CF cards has never been faster!
Cons: The cable is very short. Then again, if you've got a laptop that's exactly what you want.
Also, SHDC cards seem to be limited to USB2 speeds by whatever controller chip is inside. I have not tested xD or MS cards.
Overall Review: Read benchmarks with a 300x Transcend CF Card (reaching full threoretical speed):
Access Time: 0.879ms
4k IOPS: 1037
4k Throughput: 4.05MB/s
Read benchmarks with a Sandisk Extreme III 30MB/s SDHC Card (limited by reader):
Access Time: 1.35ms
4k IOPS: 670
4k Throughput: 2.6MB/s
Pros: Allows the use of CF cards as SSDs in old laptops! The speed increase over an old hard drive is absolutely incredible, not to mention the silence and weight reduction.
Cons: Not a con with the product, but something you should be weary about: NOT ALL CF CARDS WILL WORK! And it's not this product's fault, it's just how the technology is. All CF->IDE adapters are passive devices, so you need to be sure that the CF card you buy supports UDMA or it won't work (even if your motherboard is so old that it doesn't). Also, if your motherboard does not support 48-bit LBA then you may be limited in the size of CF card that you are able to use.
Overall Review: If you've still got an old laptop that you use for whatever reason, a CF card drive may be just the upgrade you've been looking for.
Pros: The Intuos5 tablets are the best screenless tablets you can get.
Cons: The drivers have a well-known bug in Windows. If you experience lag and/or inaccurate lines, go to Control Panel -> Pen & Touch and disable "press and hold" for right click, and disable flicks. That should solve it.
Overall Review: I found out the hard way that the small version is nearly impossible to use on a 30" 2560x1600 monitor. Every small movement - including unwanted hand shakes - gets magnified on the screen. This makes it very hard to draw straight lines, to touch up photos, or even just to right click on the recycle bin to empty it.
On the other hand, it works great on my Macbook Air 13" (1440x900). But I'd consider that the limit, and if your resolution is any higher than that my advice would be to go with at least the medium size instead, if not even larger.
Pros: This case is absolutely PERFECT for a home server:
- Holds 12 HDDs (using a 5.25" bay converter)
- All HDDs have proper airflow
- Front fans are easy to swap if one fails
- The 8 HDD bays are easy to swap if you leave some slack in your SATA cables
- Mesh filters keep out most of the dust
- Three fans around the CPU ensures adequate cooling even if one fails
Other great features:
- Great cable management
- Great airflow for cooling
- Heavy steel construction
- Fits radiator for water cooling
- Fits large heatsinks (I'm using a megahalems)
Cons: Some of the PCI slot screw holes weren't tapped correctly, and don't quite hold onto the screw properly.
Also, you may have to play around a bit with the front fan quick-release connectors. They weren't making proper contact when I got the case, but after a bit of prying with a screwdriver they've been perfect.
Overall Review: I used to have a CM Stacker for my server (16 hard drives!) but wanted to downsize. After several days of researching each and every mid-tower on the market, this case was clearly the best choice.
If you need more than 12 HDDs, you're pretty much stuck with using a full tower case. If you need less, then save yourself some space and get an ITX chassis.
Pros: It's a Wacom pen, and it's really thin. I can't use it for long sessions because it's so thin, but it's perfect for keeping around as a spare when traveling.
Cons: Only one button.
Overall Review: Wacom pens with model numbers that start with "UP" or "MP" (this pen included) only work with Penabled Tablet PCs and some very old serial port and ADB port tablets (before USB was even invented). They won't work on Bamboo or Intuos tablets.
Pros: It's a low profile GTS450!
Cons: RIDICULOUSLY LOUD. I don't mean it's just loud enough to be bothersome, I mean it's loud enough that other people around me had to raise their voice for me to hear them. Yes you can argue that it's because of the form factor (and therefore the smaller heatsink and fan), but it's clear that the design isn't very efficient:
1) The base of the cooler is very rough, which prevents good contact with the processor.
2) The fins only take up about half the available space under that plastic cover - they should have used as much space as possible, and maybe even thrown in a heatpipe or two.
3) The shape of the fins doesn't allow the airflow to be used as efficiently as possible. Instead of pointing straight up they are bent over to one side. So there's a huge gap on one side of the cooler, with all the fins squished together going towards the other. Spreading them out evenly would have allowed for better airflow (and better cooling) at any given fan speed.
4) Copper would have been
Overall Review: When idle, or under very little load, the card is inaudible. You can put your ear up to it and you'll only barely hear it. But if you're not planning on fully tapping into the potential of the card, then you're wasting your money on it.
A better purchase is Sparkle 9800GT that's currently for sale. It's about the same speed as this card (contrary to what nVidia would have you believe), but it uses 30W less under load, and puts out a lot less heat. Less heat = easier to cool. Coupled with a better (but still mediocre) HSF design, it beats this one by a mile.
I just wish there was a good aftermarket cooler for cards like this.
Pros: I am very impressed with the overall build quality. It's very solid, with no flex or creaks or anything like that, and the texture adds a little something to it. It feels like it can handle a drop or two pretty well. But most of all, I'm very happy that it's almost entirely matte surfaces so it doesn't catch fingerprints, and uses a matte screen too. Glossy screens have a semi-reflective coating that can increase contrast ratio, so manufacturers like to use them to hide the junk LCDs behind them. But the screen on this one is decent enough not to need it.
Another nice thing that I didn't expect is that the hard drive is a Seagate Momentus 5400.6 - one of the better 5400RPM drives out there. However, it comes with AAM enabled, which slows the drive down by a lot to reduce noise (less than half the original speed). I found that it's painfully slow if you don't disable this, so you may want to do so.
Cons: The left side of the keyboard has a LOT of flex. You can even hear it rattling when you hit keys on that side. And apart from the fact that it has smaller keys (which all netbooks do), there's very little tactile feedback so you're never really sure if you've pressed the keys or not. It is one of the worst quality keyboards I've ever used, in any size.
Overall Review: If it wasn't for the absolutely TERRIBLE keyboard this would be one of the best netbooks you can get.
Pros: Pretty much everything about this PSU is excellent. It's got great efficiency, very little voltage drop under load, proper OVP/OCP (Over-Voltage and Over-Current protection), very little noise and ripple, properly advertised Amp ratings, excellent handling of high temperatures, and good quality components that won't die easily. There are very few sub-500W power supplies that can claim all these things. In fact I can count them on one hand.
One other really nice thing with it is that the cables come out near the rear of the case (on the right side). This makes cable management slightly easier than when they're on the left.
Cons: Some people say that it not being modular is a con. But due to the rear-mounted fan on this unit airflow must go from front to back, meaning that there's no place to put the modular connectors without risking overheating it. And since some cases just don't allow for a bottom-mounted 120/140mm fan, so some people will choose this over a modular unit.
So yeah, it's not really a con, it's just a choice everyone will make for themselves.
Overall Review: There's another review on here that says "if you are 16 and don't care what your parents pay for electricity then get a 1000w unit." This is wrong in every sense. Just because a PSU says 1000W that doesn't mean it'll always pull 1000W from the wall. It only pulls what your components need, up to 1000W, and then a little bit extra due to inefficiency (and that's why you want an efficient unit).
To maximize efficiency and lifespan you want to run your PSU between 25% and 75% load at all times. With this specific one (430W), this means you should be running AT LEAST a quad core and mid level GPU or you'll risk having certain components deteriorate faster.
Pros: The best thing about this player is its sound quality. It's the best among mini players (ipod shuffle, archos clip, etc), and is comparable to the top full sized ones (cowon S9, samsung p3, etc). Oh, and did I mention, it plays FLAC? And has a 5-band equalizer? And with a microSDHC slot you've got practically unlimited space to store your music. You really can't beat its value.
Cons: The earphones it comes with, just like any mp3 player. Do yourself a favor and pick up a nice pair to use with this thing, especially if you're coming off of an ipod.
Overall Review: Between the sound quality, the features, the filetype support, and the price, this is definitely a player that everyone should own. Whether you're looking for your first MP3 player or if you just need one for the gym where larger players just aren't practical (and they risk breaking), this thing won't let you down.
Pros: This thing adds some extra airflow over RAM. Active cooling normally isn't necessary for ram, but it really helps when you've got 6 sticks packed in close together or are running ECC/buffered RAM.
Overall Review: Keep in mind that this is a 60mm fan - It is designed for boards with 6 RAM sockets. If you've got a board with only 4 sockets and are worried about it getting in the way of your CPU cooler then look for coolers with 40mm fans instead.
Pros: Quality wise, this is a great PSU. The output is very solid, it's got great efficiency, and it's quiet enough to use in a room with a sleeping baby.
Cons: There's only a single SATA cable, and its pretty short. I needed two separate cables - one for a BluRay drive and one for two hard drives. Which only makes sense these days.
Also, is it too much to asked for sleeved cables? There are plenty of other PSUs at this price that have them, and it's dirt cheap to do it. It just makes things so much neater and easier to deal with.
Overall Review: I was kind of forced to buy this PSU. It's the only decent PSU that has front-to-back airflow (one with a fan on the bottom wouldn't have worked in my HTPC). So instead of going with more convenient ones, I had to sleeve all the cables and convert one of the molex ones into SATA (regular adapters took up too much room in the case).
On a side note, If you don't have a kill-a-watt meter you really should get one. You always want to make sure that your PC is running within 25%-75% of a PSU's capacity, otherwise you're asking for very low efficiency and higher noise on the lines. And believe it or not, you can run a lot more than you think on a 370W PSU without even stressing it out.
Pros: Having a see-through case is neat as hell! And when it's in the middle of your living room it makes a great conversation piece when guests come over (and you get to show off and say "I built that! :D". If you can put the extra effort into owning a case like this you will be well rewarded.
Cons: Some people don't know how to take the proper precautions with an acrylic case. I listed these precautions under "Other Thoughts" because they aren't really cons, they are just part of owning an acrylic case that you should be aware of before buying anything it - certain things that are taken for granted with metal ones.
Overall Review: Remember that you're working with acrylic here. Normal metal cases use the chassis as a ground just in case there's any ESD, but acrylic won't do that. So to make sure that your components are safe, connect a wire from the power supply's chassis (a bare metal part, not a painted part) to one of the screws that hold down the motherboard. If you want to put the effort to be EXTRA safe, connect that same wire to the shielding of the front USB ports, the rear I/O panel, and to a screw holding down each hard drive/CDROM. This will ensure that your components are safe.
Also, acrylic in itself can be dangerous - it can build up a static charge over time (especially in dry weather). To stop that from happening, every once in a while you should polish it with Novus polish and a microfiber cloth. Not only do you get rid of the static charge that way, but you'll also restore it to a brand new condition after months, or years, of scuffs and scratches settle in and ruin the luster.
Pros: Lots of room for a mid tower (much more room than an Antec 900, that's for sure). Great airflow. Great cable management. Intake fan filter which is easily cleaned. Solid construction. Does not attract fingerprints.
Cons: The one and only con I could find is that there's no space for a hole above the motherboard to route the 4/8 pin P4/EPS connector behind the tray. So that cable either needs an extension, or needs to be routed between the PCI/e sockets and the back, underneath any expansion cards.
Overall Review: This year alone I've worked with somewhere around 50 different mid tower cases - pretty much everything including Rosewills, Antecs, and Lian Lis, just to name a few. And this one is definitely the best, by far. I now recommend it to all my clients looking for home systems.
Pros: It runs very cool. Cool enough that I've got my HSF's fan turned down all the way to 5V, even at full load (Xigmatek 92mm downward-facing). And at the same time, it's fast enough to handle everything I need it to do without hesitation (HTPC, with some light gaming thrown in there).
Cons: Mine wasn't stable with either of the hidden cores unlocked :(
Overall Review: Spend the extra 10 bucks on the Black Edition. The demand for them is higher, therefore there's a better chance that they're really full x4s in disguise instead of just having two unstable cores.
Pros: Right now this is the ONLY ssd that won't lose more than 2-3% performance over time without needing garbage collection. Garbage collection, found on SSDs with Samsung and Indilinx controllers, does restore performance to almost-new condition, but the added erase-write cycles it uses greatly decreases the lifespan of the drive.
And besides all that, this SSD's performance is still the best.
Cons: TRIM support is yet to be enabled, but should be coming very soon through a firmware update now that Windows 7 is out.
Overall Review: If you can spare the cash but don't want to splurge on SLC, this is the drive to get. But if you're looking for the best performance possible at ANY cost, then the newer Mitrons are the way to go.
Pros: It's the most powerful low profile ATI card on the market right now. And since ATI has better video quality than nVidia (at least outside of 3D apps), it's a no brainer for an HTPC.
Cons: The fan is loud. By using the included software you can drop it down to 24% speed manually to make it acceptable, but the automatic temperature control won't drop it that low. And only do that if you're sure it's got some nice airflow from the case somewhere, otherwise it'll burn when you do anything that stresses it out (like playing a video game).
Either way, at 24% fan speed, it's still the only fan in my HTPC that's still audible at 1ft, 3ft, and 6ft away.
Overall Review: If they're going to include only a double-slot low profile bracket with it, the least they could do is take advantage of that extra space in front of the card to make it quieter.
Pros: Overclocking is stable as a rock on this board. It also supports unlocking cores with certain processors. The 785G northbridge stays really cool even though it's got a passive heatsink on it.
Cons: The drivers for the VIA sound card are so unstable in Windows 7 that it's currently unusable. It would not stop BSODing until I completely disabled the card in BIOS. So if you plan on running Windows 7 on it either use a discrete sound card or look for a board with a Realtek chip in it instead.
Overall Review: I've got this in my HTPC along with a Phenom II 545, 8GB RAM, Xonar D1, and a Radeon HD 4650. Everything works beautifully.
Pros: This case really looks and feels like a piece of A/V eqipment, and it's build quality makes even Lian Li look like a budget brand - it's got a powder coated steel frame, a steel lid, and a 3/8" thick solid block of a brushed aluminum front panel.
The flap where the 3.5" bay is opens really smoothly and has a bit of resistance as you close it. A lot nicer than the loose flap that I had expected. And even It is solid 1/8" thick aluminum, so even if you've got kids they aren't going to break or bend it.
Seriously though, there are a ton of cases in this one's price range - Lian Li, Silverstone, Thermaltake....and believe me, they don't compare in quality. You might need the flexibility of a full size ATX case that this one doesn't offer, but
Cons: It's solid construction is also a slight drawback - the HDD vibration resonates within the case when it's closed. However, this is easily fixed in many ways (get sound dampening foam, an SSD , rubber HDD mounts, a network card with iSCSI booting, or use PXE network booting), so it's really not that big of a deal.
Overall Review: Like with any HTPC build, make sure you pick up the right components to keep the noise as low as possible. With this case I was able to make it completely inaudible at 1 foot away, with the exception of the HDD. But no worries, I'll upgrade it to an SSD soon enough :)
Also, look up "Ahanix" and "D-Vine". They have the exact same cases Moneual has (with minor variations), but can be found for a bit less.
Pros: It's the perfect solution for older laptops. The problem is that they use mini-PCI cards (not mini-PCIe like today's), and it's pretty hard to find a reliable internal card to work with them. So this ends up being the easiest solution by a long shot.
Cons: It only connects at 270Mbps max, not the full 300Mbps.
Overall Review: Haven't tried the 5GHz band so I can't comment on that. I'm using 2.4GHz w/ 40Mhz bandwidth.
Pros: I upgraded my Toshiba P25 laptop with this drive from the old 60GB one it used to have. It now runs MUCH faster, quieter, and cooler than before.
Cons: 320GB is only 10 bucks more now :(
Overall Review: I've had this drive for over a year now with no problems. And let me tell you, it's been through plenty of rough rides.
Pros: This is the perfect cooler for a low-profile (half-height) cases, where bigger tower coolers won't fit. It performs very well, keeping an AMD 4850e cool even with the very limited airflow it gets. Just to give you an idea, it doubles as the only intake fan in the case, with only the PSU as the exhaust, and it's even turned down some to be silent. I guess technically that means it's keeping the entire PC cool (4850e + 780G + WD Green 1TB + 2 sticks DDR2-800)!!
Cons: The only con is that when using a 4-pin (PWM) header you can hear the motor ticking - so either remove the 4th pin and run it off the motherboard with regular voltage regulation, or connect a fan controller between it and the motherboard. I'm not removing an egg for this because it's very common among fans and it's a simple, completely free fix. Just something you should be aware of.
Also, It's loud and powerful at full speed which is a con to some, but I consider it a pro because you can always just turn it down to comfortable levels using the motherboard or another fan controller, and it gives you the option of running it at high speed just in case you need that extra boost in cooling.
Overall Review: I no longer use any other heatsinks for my and my customers' HTPC builds.
Pros: It does everything you expect from a mouse. My girlfriend has been using this mouse for over a year on her desktop because she has small hands, and it still works.
Cons: The rubber on the sides and around the wheel have almost completely come off. So the wheel is practically unusable.
Overall Review: I wouldn't buy it again. If even as a desktop mouse it fell apart in a year, I don't want to know how long it would have took being carried around everywhere as a laptop mouse.
Just to give you a comparison - I've got a Logitech V470 mouse for my laptop that I bought in the same order as this mouse. Until now it's as new as the day I bought it.
Pros: High DPI, handles acceleration and high speeds well. And it has tons of buttons. But these are the only reasons it gets two eggs instead of one.
Cons: The feel of this mouse in your hand is horrendous. There is NO comfortable way to grip it. The ideal place to put your thumb and pinky on this mouse - in both a palm and claw grip - ends up being the spot where it starts to widen up. This makes it easy to move the mouse up but hard to move it down. And if you have bigger hands and use a palm grip it ends up bending your pinky backwards.
Overall Review: This mouse just feels way too unnatural, and after only half an hour of gaming my fingers were getting sore - and that has never happened to me on any of the mice I've owned in the past 20 years.
I'm definitely not keeping it.