Date Joined: 03/02/02
Pros: Looks nice. Decent airflow (but only because of the side fan).
Cons: You get what you pay for in terms of layout and design. Metal is one step above aluminum foil. Even though it has rolled edges the metal is so thin that edges (and especially corners) are still pretty sharp. Putting the side panels on requires great care as it is very easy to bend the tabs (fortunately they can be easily bent back using fingers alone).
Only two of the three fans are LED. Front fan is in danger of actually being useful, for the most part it will just blow hot case air around rather than pull outside air in from the front. Plus it only blows over the very top of the HDD cage so the bottom drives cook themselves. Rear fan mount is 120mm yet the exhaust is only for a 92mm fan, significantly restricting hot air exhaust. The only thing keeping this from being a hot box for a high powered system is the side fan.
HDDs are hard mounted to cage (no rubber grommets for noise or vibration isolation), and the only way to mount them is by the front, leaving back of the drive cantilevered half way out into the case. A real head scratcher are three 5.25" bays, two or which are tool free, but there is only a single front panel knockout. Since the font is curved a 5.25" device that is installed here will not be flush with the front.
Overall Review: I would not get this at it's normal price, it has lots of quirks but will work. It should be possible to do much better than this at it's normal price.
Pros: There a few things I consider case to do well: (1) The assembled look of this case is fantastic. Fit and finish is nothing short of what is expected from Fractal Design. It's not quite as minimalist as Fractal Design is known for, but it is still simplistic and attractive. (2) The cooling potential is phenomenal with the dual fan meshed front and multiple potential exhaust fan points. The intake air is well filtered to keep the dust bunny's out and the included fans appear to be of superior quality (albeit three pin, not PWM). (3) Two 5.25" drive bays. Yes, you can actually use a CD ROM and card reader with this case, one of seemingly few Fractal Design cases that will do so. (4) LARGE window that compliments the overall look rather than making the case look cheap and gaudy.
Cons: So close, and yet so far on so many other things. (1) While the fans are fans you'd like to keep, it needs at least one more in the rear to exhaust hot CPU air. Unfortunately, at this time, it appears Fractal Design does not sell these fans as aftermarket items. To ensure matching fans you have to replace the front ones too. (2) The hard drive mounting brackets are exceedingly flimsy and an HDD will actually move about in the cage when installed due to the loose fit. (3) The SDD mounting point behind the motherboard is infinitely impractical and takes away already limited space for cable management. I used some velcro to put mine on top of the HDD cage. (4) The space behind the motherboard is very tight for cable management. Although it can be made to work, expect difficulty and some frustration to arrange cables flat enough so that the panel will close without interference. (5) The fan grids on top are slightly squished in. I noticed this in many on-line photos as well so seems to be "just the way it is". (6) The feet are not tall enough to clear even modest carpeting, starving the PSU for cooling air. The PSU cannot be mounted securely "upside down" in this case, so the case must be raised off the ground (I set mine on a sheet of plywood). (7) The Power and HDD LED are EXCEEDINGLY BRIGHT to the point of annoyance! They are like flickering flashlights shining up in your eyes! (8) While Fractal Design was careful to design the front to be removed without having to disconnect any front panel items, it will hang up on the bezel of 5.25" devices, necessitating their removal as well. Unfortunately, removal of the front panel is required to remove and clean the intake filter, so this will be somewhat frequent.
Overall Review: In the end I want to like this case, and I generally do. I like Fractal Design cases as a whole too. What this case does well, it absolutely nails it. Unfortunately there are just enough turn offs and caveats, many are minor but others may be serious to some, that it's difficult for me to think of this as being anything more than an average case.
Pros: It spins it's impeller round and round to apply the slightest touch of pressure on air molecules within it's grasp. This has the effect of gently (and quietly!) accelerating them out of the fan, thereby drawing in a fresh batch of molecules into the opposite side to ensure a continuous process. Four blue LEDs mounted strategically around the hub provide a mellow emission of blue photons, just enough to ensure you and the molecules endure enlightenment and happiness so long as the fan spins...
Cons: I ordered 3 fans, 1 possibly is from a different OEM or factory or just a complete dud. The LED color clearly off kilter (more blue-green than blue), especially noticeable when the other 2 fans are nearby. On top of that the bearings are starting to rattle after only a week of use. Finally, one of the photon emitters, er, LEDs just turns itself off and back on at seemingly random intervals (we're talking days between events).
Overall Review: These are not exactly a force to be reckoned with in the wind department but are probably about average. Rosewill RFTL-131209B is definitely a superior air mover, although it is not silent at full speed.
Pros: Installed in a 5 year old thinkpad that already had it's drive replaced once. Been working just fine for about a month now.
Cons: Somewhat thicker than the old drive, had to trim some of the parts in the laptop to fit.
Overall Review: I've been slowly warming up to Toshiba drives after starting as relatively "unknown" (even though they are Fujitsu and Hitachi in heritage, their is no guarantee the product is representative of either), having installed this exact same drive as a PVR drive ~2 years ago and a 3.5" in my son's desktop last fall. I figure PVR duty is a pretty good stress test, and that drive is working just fine. Given Toshiba's recent financial difficulties, I hope we do not loose what appears to be a fine HDD manufacturer. It's slowing becoming a two vendor race between "the worst" and "you just thought the other guy was the worst"...
Pros: Been running 2x of the 4GB drives for about 3 months now in a ZFS mirror on an AsRock C236 WSI under NAS4Free 11.0. Very quiet drives! The physical installation was as expected (completely straight forward) and the data transferred ("re-silvered" in ZFS speak) from the old, smaller mirror without issue. No issues to date in use.
Cons: Smartmontools (at least the version that ships in NAS4Free at this time) hasn't caught up with these drives yet and give some alarming readouts from the SMART data and even warns the drive should be replaced. You will need to search for the SMART codes for Seagate to manually decode the hexadecimal values to see what's really going on. In my case I have what appear to be extraordinary high Seek Error Rates and Command Timeouts, however after decoding the reported value I actually have NO Seek Errors and only TWO timeouts that I can trace to my doings at installation (see below)...but boy do the raw numbers look terrifying!
Overall Review: Been very very wary of Seagate starting with a bearing failure in a Barracuda 7200.10, which over the next few years was followed by failures of nearly every retail or OEM Seagate drive I owned (I have exactly one left out of 10 or so, which is the OEM drive in a 6 year old Thinkpad...the only success story Seagate can claim with me in the past 10 years!). I do hope this re-branding is sign they are distancing themselves from this era and have returned to their former glory. This will serve as the test case to see if I start buying Seagate again. Five stars for now, but only time will tell if it continues to deserve this rating.
At installation I always run both short and extended SMART check and these passed, no issues, but apparently the USB dock I was using confused HDDTune software into thinking that the test wasn't actually running (could be a dock, drive, or software issue...don't know), but I could see each attempt logged a Command Timeout in the SMART data. Smartmontools on a direct SATA connection ran the tests just fine.
Pros: Been using it in a NAS4Free ZFS server for about three months now, no issues. Appears to be solid RAM. Asrock C236 WSI motherboard.
Cons: Seems horribly expensive for what it is (but that's ECC memory in general)...
Overall Review: Intel Validated apparently means Intel has certified this RAM to work with Intel banded server motherboards. The way I read it, it's really just saying this RAM on is Intel's QML. In this sense every motherboard maker has RAM that is "Brand X Validated". See https://media.kingston.com/pdfs/Intel_ServiceSupport.pdf
Pros: Legendary EVGA quality...this board oozes it. Nothing particularly tangible, but more like the same perception as when you've been driving a Chevy or Toyota and move to a Cadillac or Lexus. The all black on black design and low on bling is certainly unique and looks like it means business. The heat sinks are SUBSTANTIAL. The hex display is extremely useful as it displays CPU temperature post POST (It would be even more useful if it could be located the the case). Overclocking was ridiculously easy by following by short guide on EVGA's webpage. I found I could overclock AND undervolt and still be Prime95 stable. Maybe this says more about my I7-6700k, but the board has to do it's part too. Built in fan control is very well done negating any need for software to control fans in the OS. As a bonus, both 3 and 4 pin fans can be controlled, a rarity these days. Board has proven absolutely and extremely stable, although I had a rash of issues installing Win 7 (nothing turned out to be the fault of the board, per say).
Cons: This is my first ever EVGA board, not 100% certain I'd buy another. The BIOS is missing features that are normally commonplace. Nothing glaring, just annoying. For example you cannot boot legacy and UEFI devices, it's either-or. If you have a UEFI HDD and need to boot a thumb drive or DVD, it's off to the BIOS to change modes, and change back again to boot your HDD. The manual is overly simplistic (for example, no interpretation for the onboard LEDs or explanation of key BIOS settings are given). I still have not changed my mind on sideways SATA connectors. I hate them on every board I've encountered as they are next to impossible to plug into and demand at least an extra inch of space in front of the motherboard. Unfortunately, EVERYONE uses them these days, yet they never used to be necessary. If something blocks them then the connectors need to be in another spot. Speaking of sideways connections, the PCIe power connection is just plain silly...I guess if you needed it you will figure out how to plug something into it. Glad I don't need to. An internal USB 2 header would be nice, but an adapter will take care of that.
Overall Review: I7-6700k + EVGA Z170 FTW + Team Vulcan 16GB DDR4 = One heckofa Handbrake rig!
Pros: Team has been my budget "go to" RAM for a while. It has always performed at rated speeds and I have never experienced an issue in any system I have installed it in. You could call this no-fuss RAM. But...I have never been really able to overclock it...previous experience being it fails any attempt to do so. Not this stuff! This RAM proved very very easy to OC to 2800MHz and with a very modest voltage boost it maintained the stock timings across the board (no Memtest errors in 24hrs). It very probably could be pushed more if I wanted to take the time to do so.
Overall Review: Intel I7-6700k + EVGA Z170 FTW + Team Vulcan 16GB = Bliss!
Pros: All the bits that get pushed into one end seem to come out of the other end.
Cons: The bits don't come out until after you have pushed them in, not before.
Overall Review: The connector is not backwards, it is a so-called "left" angle connector as per the description, and that is what you get. I actually prefer these as you can plug the cable into the drive then route the cable up, then over the top of the drive and the cable is now completely out of the way of everything else.
Pros: Bought this based on reviews that suggested it was roughly equivalent to a Coolermaster Evo 212+. I have nothing against the evo, it is a fine cooler, but this cooler is shorter and was compatible with the case I am using. The evo was not. I was not disappointed. It keeps a lightly overclocked i7-4790K in the neighborhood of 70C during torture tests.
Cons: Their is no free lunch here. A smaller cooler means the fan does need to work harder, and this cooler is somewhat noisy as a result. The fan has rather blunt blades, I wonder if a better fan design with swept blades would help. The noise level is certainly not unbearable or unusual sounding in any way...just white noise.
Overall Review: As others noted the packaging leaves a bit to be desired in terms of bent fins, but in my case the cooler did appear to arrive OK, but I did bend a few fins getting it out of the box. Again, as is consistent with other reviews, tweezers were all that were required to make everything straight again.
Pros: ...which I mean literally, not figuratively. It moves A LOT of air and it's even reasonably quiet doing so.
Overall Review: Evidently there are two versions of this fan. I bought some blue LED fans that are physically identical to this one, only the blue ones move about half the air and spin much slower. I simply wasn't paying attention to the electrical specs when I bought. No problems, these fans run beautifully on 5 volts which makes them pretty similar to the lower power version. The LEDs sill light reasonably well (though not as bright) and the fan is virtually silent at this speed.
Pros: Two out of the three original drives put into service in a RAID-Z array are still working after 60 days, and that ain't bad...
Cons: One of three drives fell out of the array after 60 days so solidly full of errors the RAID volume refused to mount and WDDIAG fails it the instant the quick test starts. I now have a degraded array which undoubtedly we will all soon be informed that "this is not the intended experience with this product".
Overall Review: Red is not WD's best color.
Pros: Needed an ITX case that held at least 4x drives was compact and didn't break the bank. This case fits that need perfectly (with the fourth drive being secured in the 5.25" bay)
Cons: The front panel cables are *excessively* long. I have them all bunched up running to the back of the case before they loop back to the front of the motherboard. Still, would rather have that than being too short.
Overall Review: The back of the case is odd with protrusions for an ATX power supply and add-in cards. They should have just made the case about 3/4" longer. Would have been nice as well if the drive trays had some vibration isolation, but probably not going to happen at this price point!
Pros: ...as in relatively low in thrills but outstanding stability. Some very interesting features in terms of connectivity. Makes an outstanding low power build since it uses (mostly) laptop components. BIOS is very easy to get around in and setup, even includes some mild overclocking stuff...
Cons: ...as in the board has some quirks and missing features. Nothing that makes it a deal breaker, but things that do give you pause. For instance, AMT cannot be disabled on this board...a feature I have no need for...and the SATA power cable needs to be about 3" longer.
Overall Review: Paired this with an HP 120w "smart" laptop powersupply purchased from the jungle for about 20 bucks. Powers the board, an i3-3220T 35W CPU, 8GB DDR3-1600 SO-DIMM Mushkin RAM, a 32GB mSATA boot SSD, and 4x 3.5" HDDs for a 24x7 headless Openindiana based server.
Pros: Installed on an Intel DQ77KB motherboard as a small boot drive for an Openindiana server I'm working on. No issues encountered.
Cons: Not as fast as I expected.
Pros: Does what it claims to do...no more, no less. What do you expect for 4 bucks?
Cons: The metal is very flimsy and the adapters are only about half as long as a 3.5" HDD. Consequently they only support either the front half or rear half of a drive, leaving the other half cantilevered beyond the rails. Probably OK for most installs, but not ideal.
Overall Review: Compared to some old rails I have for adapting 3.5" floppy drives to a 5.25" bay, these are toys. They don't make them like they used to...
Pros: Installed on an Intel DQ77KB motherboard, no issues. Wanted single channel for this build to help conserve power. BIOS picked up on rated timings immediately and used them. Had to set voltage manually to 1.35v but I think that was the motherboard, not the RAM. Ran Memtest 86 for 2.5 days error free. Been using Mushkin almost exclusively for a while now and overall have had much better experiences than from other more popular brands.
Cons: The sticker covering the chips ruins the aesthetics...
Overall Review: Interestingly enough, although BIOS reports timings at rated values Memtest claims the RAM is running at CL6. I suspect this is an anomaly, but if true this is some amazingly quick RAM
Pros: Among the fastest USB2 flash drives out there, I'm getting ~30MB/s read, 14MB/s write. More compact and cheaper than the typical "go to" rubber encased high speed USB flash drives.
Cons: Cheap looking.
Overall Review: The observed speeds do not apply across the entire Mulholland line. The 4 and 2GB Mulhollands in particular are rated slower and much slower (respectively). My 2GB Mulholland is in fact about half the speed of this 8GB version in actuality, making it a pretty ordinary device. To get the speed Mushkin boasts about in this line, you need to stick to 8GB or larger drives.
Pros: Very compact and a nice UI for dirt cheap (on sale). It was trivial to set this up as a wireless-n access point for an existing network (I don't need, and nor do I use, any of this unit's router functions, so I can't really comment on those features, but for my end use it's perfect).
Cons: The 100Mb switch caps communications to the rest of my network at (surprise!) 100Mb. Really needs a Gb switch to make full use of the n speed. Still a get 3-4x throughput boost over the g wireless in my FiOS supplied router tho.
Overall Review: Why is it cheaper to get a full blown router than it is a simple access point?
Pros: This is a followup to my review titled "The Little Board That Could" (near the end of the reviews). About six months ago one of the two boards failed. Just completely dead. No beeps, no post, no video. Asrock customer service was EXCELLENT. I emailed them describing the problem expecting several days of back and forth emails before they finally agreed to a return. Much to my surprise, I was issued an RMA the next day, and had a replacement board within about a week. That board had a note that they updated the BIOS for me and thoroughly tested it under Windows before sending it to me (and yes, it was a new board and not the old one boomeranged back to me). Wow! The new board has operated flawlessly since.
Cons: It is unfortunate that one board failed.
Overall Review: This sort of thing does happen now and then. The difference is how Asrock handled the situation. Rather than deny deny deny or play like I was a complete dolt (my experience with PC component suppliers for the most part) they took complete care of me. Although it is not something I wish to repeat, I do consider it an overall positive experience.
Pros: I was going to avoid this and get the flower power one of the same wattage due to the comments here but a special offering a price break and free shipping woo'd me over. Seems like a very capable supply. Powers a system with a 125w CPU, 70w video card, 2x HDD, etc. without any issues. Pushed it all with Prime95 and Furmark just to be sure.
Cons: Rebate is as always an obvious con with many senseless hoops to jump through (clearly only to create opportunity's to reject them) only to get a debit card that you probably won't be able to drain completely. I for one, am not even bothering to apply for it. In fact, I'm probably **already** past the claim window.
Overall Review: I understand I am a small majority but I have no DOA and no whine. I must have got the only good one?
Pros: Appears to be a well made and capable budget supply. Large heat sinks inside and surprisingly heavy. I have no doubt it performs to rated power (as confirmed by several online review sites). Wire bundles easily reach the bottom of a mid tower case. It has performed flawlessly over the past couple of weeks (at least as far as I can push it). Included a small number of tie-wraps, a nice touch.
Cons: No stand out feature that I can see that makes this any greener than any other modern power supply. In fact, came wrapped in two layers of plastic, plus a third that wraps the box. I did not buy this because it claimed to be green, but marketing is really stretching things a bit far here...
Overall Review: Picked this over a slightly more expensive one with pretty ship on it due to the many complaints of high pitched whine. No regrets, I would do it again. In fact I very well probably will...
Pros: Not much to say really. I bought two, they both work as expected. BUT...I am surprised at how quiet and cool they run. These might be as quiet and cooler operating than the WD green drives I own.
Cons: That pesky label blocks my reflection from the top of the drive.
Pros: I have a red version I used for another build. This isn't a half bad solution when it all works. The keyboard is fairly decent.
Cons: Like my red set, the cons lie with the mouse. Only on this set the mouse was defective. When lowering the mouse the cursor does not follow smoothly. I setup an RMA but when I found it cost $12 to ship this set back I decided just to get a new mouse for less instead.
Overall Review: Comments for the red keyboard/mouse titled "Good keyboard, not so good mouse" apply here as well and should give a better idea of what to expect from a functional set.
Pros: Surprisingly good sound for something this small/cheap. No, it won't satisfy the critical listener by a long shot, but they are much better than I expected.
Cons: None, as long as you have realistic expectations / minimalistic needs.