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Michael K.

Michael K.

Joined on 12/14/07

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Product Reviews
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product reviews
  • 6
Most Favorable Review

It all works, easy to configure

ASRock Z390 PHANTOM GAMING 7 LGA 1151 (300 Series) Intel Z390 SATA 6Gb/s ATX Intel Motherboard
ASRock Z390 PHANTOM GAMING 7 LGA 1151 (300 Series) Intel Z390 SATA 6Gb/s ATX Intel Motherboard

Pros: Everything worked right out of the box. Was able to boot into UEFI with DDR4 3200 RAM on first try and one-click configuration to get it to read the DIMM's XMP profile. The board's two M.2 slots both have heatsinks, which is a good thing because one of my M.2 drives runs pretty hot. I'm not a fan of all the RGB lighting craze, and turning off the RGB led's was easy.

Cons: The default driver install option of "install all drivers" is bad - it will install unwanted bloatware such as the Norton security trialware, and Chrome toolbar. I would advise everyone to do a selective custom install of the drivers - with current Windows 10 build 1902 installation, it's almost unnecessary to install the drivers that come with the mainboard. The default Windows 10 install finds and automatically installs all the required drivers.

Overall Review: My experience with this board has all been positive. Since I've built many computers before this, I didn't fall for the "install all drivers" bit. I had been dreading a possible difficulty getting faster RAM to work (faster than the standard 2666), but the board made it very easy to get that recognized and working without any trouble at all. The board also has two gigabit ports for those who want to run VMs or use the board to run a server (the board supports 128GB of RAM total). Overall, a very good product. I would recommend it to others without hesitation.

Most Critical Review

Download-only setup is a mistake - setup launcher opens up COMPLETELY BLANK!

H&R BLOCK Tax Software Deluxe 2020 PC Windows/Mac (Key Card)
H&R BLOCK Tax Software Deluxe 2020 PC Windows/Mac (Key Card)

Pros: There are no pros - if you can't install it, then of course there's no way of actually using it.

Cons: The setup launcher - HRBlock_Launcher.exe - opens to a completely blank dialog. See the picture I've uploaded. "Maybe it's just a bad download," you might say. Well, I thought that myself, so I downloaded it again, and again, and again. Each one behaved the same. I also thought "maybe it just needs a little time to download the rest of the setup." Nope. Even after 30 minutes, it was still.... BLANK!

Overall Review: I called the 800 number for support. I waited on hold for over 40 minutes, and then the system told me "your call will be answered in 35 minutes." I hung up. They do not offer a call-back option instead of holding forever. They also do not offer email support - I searched through their support web site but did not find any email support options. I also put the setup launcher on an exception list to allow it to go through my Windows firewall - did not work. Tried to do a "compatibility" option and run as administrator - also did not work. This setup is dead-on-arrival. I've used HR Block's tax software for the last 10 years, but I'm never buying it again. There are other marketplace options - like TurboTax! Stay away from HR Block tax software!

works, but finicky; only works with some drives

ORICO 2.5" Transparent USB 3.0 to SATA 3.0 External Hard Drive Disk Enclosure Box, USB 3.0 High-Speed Case for 2.5" HDD / SSD, Case Support UASP Protocol SATA III Tool Free
ORICO 2.5" Transparent USB 3.0 to SATA 3.0 External Hard Drive Disk Enclosure Box, USB 3.0 High-Speed Case for 2.5" HDD / SSD, Case Support UASP Protocol SATA III Tool Free

Pros: I've bought two of these enclosures for use with spare SSD drives. They're simple to assemble, and the clear plastic allows you to easily see which drive you've got inside them. Speed is acceptable.

Cons: The bad: out of the five SSD drives I've tried with these enclosures, only three out of the five have worked. I've verified that all five of the drives do work fine when connected to SATA, so the fault definitely lies with the enclosures. The SSD drives that did not work with this enclosure were MX500 (1TB), and HP S700 (500GB). Another bad is that it loses connection sometimes during copy operations - quite annoying but it doesn't happen that often.

Overall Review: The drives that did work are: Micron 1100 (2TB), Crucial MX200 (250GB), and Crucial M4 (250GB). Don't really know why only some drives work with these enclosures. Seems like luck of the draw. A little too random to recommend. Orico's shipping is also kind of random: my first purchase arrived within just a few days, but my second order took more than two weeks to arrive (while my card was charged right way, the package did not actually ship for more than 10 days afterwards).

Simple configuration UI, but ships with bugs

Cisco Small Business RV042G-K9-NA Dual Gigabit WAN VPN Router 2 x 10/100/1000Mbps WAN Ports 4 x 10/100/1000Mbps LAN Ports
Cisco Small Business RV042G-K9-NA Dual Gigabit WAN VPN Router 2 x 10/100/1000Mbps WAN Ports 4 x 10/100/1000Mbps LAN Ports

Pros: This router has a simple management UI which makes it very easy to set up. The VPN configuration is the simplest one I've seen in all of the business-class routers I've used - just one page, and you can see the entire VPN definition. This is the simplest implementation, and I prefer this approach best among the VPN routers I've used.

Cons: The router's CLAIMED NAT throughput speed is a whopping 800mbps, but reality is very different. On a 150mbps connection, I get a maximum throughput of about 132mbps. If you look up this router in various forums, there are many postings from users who have 1gbps connections - lucky them - who complain that they can only get max speeds around 135mbps. Those postings are more than a year old. The other "gotcha" with this router is that the management UI becomes unresponsive - as in, you can't log in to the router to do any configuration work - after it's been running for more than about 24 hours. It still passes traffic, but any attempts to connect to the management UI simply times out after a few minutes. There are forum postings about this problem that date back more than a year. You can't deploy this thing into the field in its current state if you can't remote manage the thing. So, the first thing I did when I got this router was to update the firmware. The currently shipping firmware DOES NOT fix the above two problems I mentioned. However, if you call the Cisco small biz tech support and describe the problem to them, they will escalate your case and you will be given new, beta firmware that does fix these two problems (you'll have to agree to a beta test contract first).

Overall Review: So, overall, the router is usable AFTER you get the newest beta firmware. It's performance is reasonably fast, and configuration is very easy. The VPN connection is very stable. It can be remote managed through https, and it even has a local DNS server inside. I don't use VoIP with this particular router, so I can't vouch for that - I've seen forum posts from users whose VoIP services don't work with this router if both WAN connections are in use. It's disappointing that a company as big as Cisco doesn't act fast enough to fix long-standing problems and release the fixed firmware officially. But, to their credit, they did FINALLY fix the two most annoying problems - even if they do force you into installing beta software. I can't vouch for longevity of the router since I've only had it for a few weeks. However, my last RV-series router - a then-Linksys RV0041 - lasted for 8 years. I replaced that RV0041 with this RV042G to get faster throughput for a remote server deployment.

10/30/2013

It overclocks the memory by default

ASRock FM2A85X Extreme4 FM2 AMD A85X (Hudson D4) SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard
ASRock FM2A85X Extreme4 FM2 AMD A85X (Hudson D4) SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard

Pros: It has a nice feature set for the price. Plenty of SATA III connections and USB 3.0 connections.

Cons: The board overclocks the memory by default. I initially put in the standard DDR3 1.5v memory modules, and immediately had problems with boot. When I checked the BIOS, I saw that it had set the memory voltage at 1.58v, not 1.5v, and when I tried to adjust it down, I saw that it didn't even give me the option of setting it at 1.5v - 1.58v was the lowest setting available.

Overall Review: After trying and failing to install Win7 about 6 different times (it would just crash at various different stages of installation), I finally gave up and got memory that runs at 1.65v. After I made this change, the experience was completely different - everything worked smoothly and exactly as expected. Since the standard DDR3 voltage is 1.5v, I think Asrock made a mistake by not even giving us the option of setting it to that standard voltage. I was ready to throw this board out the window before I decided to try higher voltage memory. For this frustrating experience alone, I dock two eggs - that frustration was completely unnecessary. Asrock: don't cheat, don't over tweak things by default. And, by the way, my first set of memory that I tried to use in this build is fine: I just used it in an Intel CPU build without any problems.

performance is just OK, HSF is tiny and loud

AMD A10-5800K - A-Series APU Trinity Quad-Core 3.8 GHz Socket FM2 100W AMD Radeon HD 7660D Desktop APU (CPU + GPU) with DirectX 11 Graphic - AD580KWOHJBOX
AMD A10-5800K - A-Series APU Trinity Quad-Core 3.8 GHz Socket FM2 100W AMD Radeon HD 7660D Desktop APU (CPU + GPU) with DirectX 11 Graphic - AD580KWOHJBOX

Pros: It was cheaper than the Intel equivalent, with better GPU.

Cons: For a processor that is very likely to be used in a HTPC, they include a heatsink fan that is tiny (70mm) and loud. The RPM never goes below 3,100rpm, with a high-pitched whine.

Overall Review: Even though this is installed in a Define R4, a silence oriented case, with case fans running at only 5v, I can hear the high-pitched whine of the heatsink fan with the computer case sitting under the desk. I'm certain that this will drive me nuts soon enough that I'll end up having to replace the heatsink and the fan. The case fans can't be heard at all. This APU is running Win7 64-bit, and the system runs decently enough, but I wouldn't call it fast. I would say that it comes right in at "acceptable," but that's the best I can say about it.

seller reviews
  • 1

shipping delay was not acceptable

My card was charged the next day. Then the order "was assigned tracking number" and stayed this way for 2 weeks without shipping, then "tracking label was printed" and stayed that way for another week, then the package all of a sudden showed up in my mail box. I checked the tracking number every day. At no time did the package show as "shipped." It's like after they charged my card, they placed the order at the factory in China and waited for it to show up here in the U.S.

On-time
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Accuracy
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Satisfactory