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John U.

John U.

Joined on 11/09/03

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Product Reviews
product reviews
  • 13
Most Favorable Review

Tremendous Value 2RU Micro-ATX Case

iStarUSA D-214-MATX Black Steel 2U Rackmount Chassis 2 External 5.25" Drive Bays
iStarUSA D-214-MATX Black Steel 2U Rackmount Chassis 2 External 5.25" Drive Bays

Pros: - Awesome value. Simple design.

Cons: At this price point in 2RU there are no significant cons to this product. - The blue LED is extremely bright. - The front power and reset buttons are not recessed and are very close to the front USB ports. Care must be exercised when using front USB to not bump the reset button (crash cart keyboard/mouse scenario). I bumped the reset button plugging in a USB keyboard. Can be avoided with mental consideration. - The front dust filter is cheap and difficult to remove. (A dust filter should be cleaned on regular intervals, necessitating regular removal, which is why this is a con.)

Overall Review: Three of these were used part of a new home lab build out for testing both Nutanix (CE) and VMware vSAN hyperconverged infrastructure. There isn't a lot of room in a 2RU, two post case. Prepare to roll up your sleeves, use a screwdriver, and take care in your cable routing and management. A few considerations (not cons at this price point and in 2RU): - Mounting 80mm fans requires removing the 3.5" brackets. I went with 80mm Noctua's and rubber rivet/pin style screws. - The dust filter that sits between the 80mm fans and the front grill requires removing the 3.5" bracks and the 80mm fans to replace/clean. I have a strong suspicion a shop vac to the front grill will work instead of removal based cleaning. - When installing the fans, if using rubber rivet/pin style screws be sure to remove the dust filter and cut out small clearance for the rubber screws on the dust filter. - As answered in the Q/A the two 3.5" brackets each hold two 3.5" drives. However, the lower bay (position) on each bracket is essentially unusable as a 3.5" drive (or even Icy Dock style adapter) will overlap with RAM modules or the ATX power connector on most micro-ATX boards. Only the top 3.5" bay on each bracket is usable. I have Icy Dock 3.5" to dual 2.5" adapters and use them in the top bay of each bracket. - The grill for the set of 5.25" bays is metal mesh and should be filled to provide optimal airflow throughout. I cut out dark foam from my power supply packaging contoured for the grill fitting inside the 5.25" bracket. The 5.25" bracket does does not need to be removed. The foam packaging included with the case could be used - it is white. - Front USB ports are USB2, not USB3 capable (not a con for me). - If using power supplies that have a top/bottom intake (as opposed to front intake rear fan) the case top is slotted to accommodate. - If using power supplies that have a top/bottom intake, the multiple cases cannot be stacked one on top of another. Leave 1RU in between. - I used the stock cooler with the Core i5-6500 (6th Gen Sky Lake) and there was plenty of vertical clearance. I would buy again.

Most Critical Review

Fairly Solid 785G Board - Good Value

GIGABYTE GA-MA785GM-US2H AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
GIGABYTE GA-MA785GM-US2H AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard

Pros: Other reviewers have already noted the great value and features this board has to offer.

Cons: -SATA connectors could be in a more ideal southerly location to avoid being covered by the ever-increasing in size discrete GPU's being installed. Some may say this board has onboard GPU so large discrete GPU is not heavily factored during engineering. Maybe a fair assessment; however, moving the SATA connectors would benefit the segment that buy with onboard and install discrete for additional monitors, Crossfire, etc. -Board (PCB Rev 1.0 for certain) will not wake from Windows 7 Hybrid sleep (S3/S1 with S4 resume fallback) reliably with latest (F11) BIOS. Used to work well with F5 and F6 BIOS. After upgrade latest F11 for CPU support, Windows 7 could only fast resume (from S3) 5-10% of the time. Other times the machine cold boots and Windows 7 resumes (as if from hibernate) . Regressing to F5 restores Hybrid sleep capability.

Overall Review: Great board but the sleep issues (on PCB Rev 1.0 for certain) issues in later BIOS revisions are unacceptable. I have not evaluated PCB Rev 1.1, 1.3, and 3.3 boards. With any luck they may be resolved.

Home Lab Whitebox Host

SUPERMICRO SuperO MBD-C7H170-M-O LGA 1151 Intel H170 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Gaming Motherboard
SUPERMICRO SuperO MBD-C7H170-M-O LGA 1151 Intel H170 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Gaming Motherboard

Pros: - Supermicro server roots and reliability in a smaller, lower cost option. - DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort - goodbye D-Sub VGA. This could be an issue for some data center crash carts, but for my home lab it is not an issue. - Onboard Intel I219-V network chipset is supported ESXi and September 2016 rev of Nutanix CE. - Four 4-pin PWM fan connectors. - Full featured BIOS supporting UEFI. I like the layout. - Easy BIOS update through BIOS itself. - Onboard piezoelectric speaker. No need to purchase separately. Beeps are nice.

Cons: - BIOS PWM fan speed control is limited "Standard" and "Full". "Standard" is adaptive and recommended in most instances but not ideal for this build. A few more options would be nice (I have used several Asus boards with more advanced fan control). More in next section.

Overall Review: Three of these were used part of a new home lab build out for testing both Nutanix CE and VMware vSAN hyperconverged infrastructure. Coupled with Core i5-6500 (Sky Lake), 64 GiB G.Skill (F4-2133C15Q-64GIS), and Samsung SSD's I am happy with the build. A few considerations (not cons): - My Noctua NF-R8 4 pin fans run a bit too slow (325 - 350 RPM) at at the 50% PWM cycle (which is the minimum PWM cycle "Standard" runs at). At "Full" they run at 1800 RPM. I'd like to be able to lock them to a PWM cycle (and thus RPM) other than 100% for this build. - The onboard Intel I219-V network chipset is well supported - it is Intel. However, I added in quad port low profile Intel Pro/1000 VT cards for the build.

Western Digital WD VelociRaptor WD1500HLFS 150GB 10000 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive Bare Drive
Western Digital WD VelociRaptor WD1500HLFS 150GB 10000 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive Bare Drive

Pros: Screams. Seriously, if you put your ear up the 2.5" drive and can get past the crazy heatsinks, you will hear the tiny elven magi screaming your bits to one another. Their work ethic and dedication 24/7 is what leads to the the performance and reliability of this drive. Have you ever seen an elven magi? Exactly, they never quit working.

Cons: None.

Overall Review: Fast, quiet, and reliable product from WD. Two of these in RAID0 and Windows has never been more lively.

AMD Wakes Up... Kind of

AMD Phenom II X4 920 - Phenom II X4 Quad-Core 2.8 GHz Socket AM2+ 125W Processor - HDX920XCGIBOX
AMD Phenom II X4 920 - Phenom II X4 Quad-Core 2.8 GHz Socket AM2+ 125W Processor - HDX920XCGIBOX

Pros: Finally a Phenom worth purchasing.

Cons: Why couldn't the Phenom debut be this lineup?

Overall Review: AMD dragged Intel kicking and screaming into the x86_64 era. "This will all but kill Itanium..." Intel marketing guy says to other Intel marketing guy. The K8 was revolutionary. HyperTransport, NUMA capability (Opteron), and on-die memory controller. Then Intel woke up and fought back with Core, then Core 2, and now Core i7. The initial Phenom release (K10) was underwhelming. Combined with the TLB erratum they were selling like vegetables at a LAN party. Intel regained just about every crown they had lost. B3 Stepping fixed the TLB issues but Core 2 was still spanking the Phenom. Phenom II was introduced. Microarch update, 45nm, and piles of L3 cache later and AMD is finally fabricating a CPU that can compete with Intel's offerings. Not quite up to Core i7 yet, but also not going to require a second mortgage.

Antec Strikes Again

Antec P182 Gun Metal Black 0.8mm cold rolled steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
Antec P182 Gun Metal Black 0.8mm cold rolled steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

Pros: Whisper quiet case fans when set to "low" yet provide more than adequate cooling. Can easily house six 3.5in HD's in fairly close proximity (4+2). Cable management is top notch in Antec's P series.

Cons: No case [PC] speaker. No problem as they are very cheap online (bought 10 of them for a couple bucks plus shipping). Rather expensive, but if you can get it during an Antec case deal with free shipping it becomes more cost effective. The bottom mount power supply means you will require extra length on your ATX12V connector[s]. The standard ATX connector on most power supplies will be long enough including cable management, but the ATX12V can be tricky if you buy a generic power supply (why would you skimp on a PS with a case this nice?) Get yourself a nice PCP&C or Enermax PSU and you'll be fine with lengths.

Overall Review: I have built workstations in the P180, mini P180, and now the P182. They are all top notch cases from Antec. Out of the hundreds of cases I have worked in over the past few years these have without a doubt been the nicest series thus far considering price to performance.