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Joel R.

Joel R.

Joined on 12/01/01

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Product Reviews
product reviews
  • 4
Most Favorable Review

Excellent HTPC Video Card

ASUS Radeon HD 4350 512MB DDR2 PCI Express 2.0 x16 CrossFireX Support Low Profile Ready Video Card EAH4350 SILENT/DI/512MD2(LP)
ASUS Radeon HD 4350 512MB DDR2 PCI Express 2.0 x16 CrossFireX Support Low Profile Ready Video Card EAH4350 SILENT/DI/512MD2(LP)

Pros: Passive Cooling - In a slimline Dell (BTX) this card only reached 64C max temperature, even when running a dual-core CPU alongside a GPU stress test. HDMI/DVI/VGA - All the types of connections you'll need for an HTPC. Had a bit of overscan issue on my LCD TV @ 1080p, but setting the resolution down one notch to a weird resolution (~1000p) in the ATI control panel gave near perfect results. Might be a way to fix this, or it just could be the Philips TV. Slimline - I was limited in my choices of graphics card, and this card fits *almost* perfect. Price - Cheap!

Cons: Passive Cooling - The heatsink isn't small, can easily interfere with any components above the video card. In my case, there was a chipset heatsink whose fins intersected the video card heatsink. They just barely slipped by each other, so it isn't a practical issue. Low Profile Bracket - This is why I deducted a point. The bracket included forces you to take up two slots, one above the video card for the VGA. In my case, I had no slot above, so the bracket was useless. I ended up buying a kit by HIS that had the proper brackets, but I still had to dremel them a bit in order for everything to fit. A definite PITA.

Overall Review: If you are looking for a cheap, silent, slimline HTPC card with HDMI, this is an excellent card. Just be aware of needing a free slot above the card in a slimline case (unless you don't mind a bit of work).

11/21/2009
Most Critical Review

Minimum size case for standard components

ARK IPC-1.5U1525 Black 1.2mm SGCC 1.5U Rackmount Server Case
ARK IPC-1.5U1525 Black 1.2mm SGCC 1.5U Rackmount Server Case

Pros: This is an excellent case if you want a small rackmount setup that you can swap in your mini-itx motherboard, SFX PSU, standard I/O plate, full height expansion card(s), and 2.5" hard drives. Case is sturdy when installed, and looks professional. I have two of these cases and they take right at 3U with a bit of space. LEDs aren't too bright.

Cons: Frustrating part is the case is *so* close to being 5 stars. The case top is just slightly wider than it should be, making the small screws hard to get into place. 1mm narrower would have been perfect. I ordered two cases, one of which was DOA due to a bad front panel connector. The USB cable had a torn wire, and the power/reset switch didn't work. Newegg replaced with a working one. Also had one of the two 60mm fans squeak from the start. I replaced all of them anyway with 4pin PWN fans. Higher quality fans would have been appreciated. Hard drive mounting bracket is difficult to remove. Harder to put back, since two of the screws that secure the cage to the case are directly inline with the screws that hold the hard drives. Means you have to screw them in place at an angle, which is hard and increases the chances of cross-threading. Last complaint is that expansion cards don't have a "lip" that secures one end the of bracket closest to the motherboard. So, you're just reliant on the screw on the other end. Also, I've asked the manufacturer twice for details on where to buy the ribbon cable they list on their website. No response. I ended up buying two off a large retail website, having to return one because it didn't fit. Frustrating that the manufacturer doesn't list a place to buy a compatible bracket, leaving customers to figure it out trial-and-error.

Overall Review: I'm happy with the case, but next time I might just get a 2U case that's higher quality to begin with. If you don't mind the issues with the case, it's great if space is at a premium in your rack. I'm using an IKEA Lack Rack.

Works great with Western Digital Live Plus

Rosewill RNX-EasyN1 Wireless-N 4.0 Dongle (1T1R) IEEE 802.11b/g/n USB 2.0 Up to 150Mbps Data Rates WPA/WPA2 (AES, 64,128-WEP with shared-key authentication) WPS PIN, PBC (Hardware WPS Button) QoS-WMM
Rosewill RNX-EasyN1 Wireless-N 4.0 Dongle (1T1R) IEEE 802.11b/g/n USB 2.0 Up to 150Mbps Data Rates WPA/WPA2 (AES, 64,128-WEP with shared-key authentication) WPS PIN, PBC (Hardware WPS Button) QoS-WMM

Pros: Works out of the box with the WD media player. Just make sure to update the firmware on the player, network connectivity seemed to go better once this was done.

Cons: None. Did 135Mbps over 2.4GHz N, which is near the limit of the spec.

Perfect 4xSATA Server

CHENBRO ES34069-BK-120 Black SECC Pedestal Server Chassis 120W
CHENBRO ES34069-BK-120 Black SECC Pedestal Server Chassis 120W

Pros: Case hold exactly what I needed, Mini-ITX board, 4xSATA hot swap, 1 slim-line PCI (RAID card), 1x2.5" HDD, slimline optical, and internal PSU. I'm currently using a Intel ATOM board (non-gigabit) and haven't had any issues for over a year.

Cons: I REALLY dislike the whole installation process, prepare to really get your hand dirty trying to get everything to fit. The front door hinges are weak and broke on me, and the bracket to hold a PCI card isn't included, neither is the card reader for up front. Still, I have yet to find a case that holds all of this as well as this setup. I would buy it again, but would like more competition for the "home server mini-itx" market.