Joined on 03/06/11
Excellent Video Card for a Low Price!
Pros: - Space saving design (freed up a lot of space in my ATX Mid-Tower case compared to the old card that was twice as long) - Powerful, energy efficient GPU using only 60 Watts directly from the PCI-E Bus (no need for extra power cables) - Stays cool and fan runs quiet - 2GB of GDDR5 RAM - Supports Max Digital resolution 4K x 2K for UHD TV's/Monitors - This model is overclocked from factory - Excellent Bang for the Buck
Cons: 1. This was causing Explorer to crash when right-clicking on any Drive/Resource in the left pane to display the context menu. Explorer would close and the Desktop would be re-displayed. Event Viewer showed the faulting module in Explorer was SHELL32.dll, but did not give any other useful information. Using the ShellExView 64-bit utility I could see that NVIDIA installed 2 64-bit Shell Extensions called DesktopContext Class and NVIDIA CPL Context Menu Extension. In this utility I disabled the NVIDIA CPL Context Menu Extension and this fixed the problem with Explorer crashing when right-clicking on resources in the left pane. As far as I can tell, the only thing this extension does is give a shortcut to the NVIDIA Control Panel when right-clicking on the Desktop. I don't need that since there are other ways to launch the Control Panel. I contacted EVGA about this problem on Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit, and they sent the information to NVIDIA. Hopefully they will fix it in the next release. 2. The NVIDIA GeForce Experience icon in the System Tray stops working after I turn off the monitor or let it go into power saving mode. When I bring the display back, then I can't use the icon to access the options. Not a big deal since there are other ways to launch the GeForce Experience and Control Panel utilities.
Overall Review: I bought this to replace an older AMD Radeon HD 5830 PCI-E 2.0 card that was going bad in my Home Media Server (HMS) that consists of the following: OS: Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit Motherboard: ASUS M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3 Socket AM3+ CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Quad-Core 3.4Ghz RAM: Patriot Viper Extreme 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 PC2000 SDRAM PSU: Antec True Power 650W Continuous ATX 12V 80 Plus Bronze Rating OS Drive: Adata XPG SX910 256GB SSD Sata 6Gbs Storage Spaces Parity Array: 3 x WD Red NAS HD 2TB Sata 6Gbs This is the only PCI-E device in my PC. This video card still takes up 2 bays, but is only about half the length of my old card. This freed up space and improves air flow in my ATX Mid-Tower case. I have the DisplayPort connected by DisplayPort/HDMI cable to a 19” LED monitor's HDMI port. I connected the HDMI Port to my Home Theater Receiver by HDMI cable to display on my 65” LED TV. I'm using all the default settings in the NVIDIA Control Panel, but had to adjust the Scaling a little when displaying on my TV. The picture quality on the Monitor and TV is excellent. Configuring Surround Sound on the HDMI cable to my Yamaha HTR was easy and sounds great. With my older AMD Radeon card Extending the Displays never worked properly, but I decided to play around with extending them with this new card and everything worked fine. My main Desktop was on my small monitor and it extended to the TV with the correct settings. Dragging iTunes, Video Player, or any other app to the TV and going full screen was very easy. Even the Video Win8 container app worked fine. In order to get a real test of video quality and performance, I downloaded the Final Fantasy 14 A Realm Reborn Official Benchmark utility. This does not allow you to play the game, but plays some very graphics intense clips from the game. At the end it gives a Benchmark Score to show how well the video card performed. I'm displaying this utility on my 65” LED TV. In the utility I set the Graphics Settings & Display Settings to the max for 1080P. Running this utility 3 times gave Very High Benchmark Scores from 6642 to 6696. I used the EVGA PrecisionX 16 utility to monitor the Video Card while the Benchmark was running. The GPU temp never got above 50C/122F, the GPU Clock never went above 1305Mhz, & the Fan Speed never went above 50%. The video quality on my TV was super crisp, clear, & smooth without lag. I'm just wondering how much better this would have performed if my motherboard had a PCI-E 3.0 port instead of its older PCI-E 2.0 port. I've only had this card for 2 weeks, but overall I'm very impressed with quality, performance, & price. This was an excellent buy for a low price and will future proof my video needs for the next few years. I would definitely recommend this card to anyone who wants a powerful, energy efficient video card. I will update this review if I run into any future issue, but for now everything is working fine.
Good Hardware But US 4G/LTE Issues...
Pros: Good hardware and runs fast for factory unlocked phone.
Cons: Focus problem when using Zoom on 13MP HD camera. T-Mobile 4G/LTE not working in my area.
Overall Review: This phone's hardware is good and it is fast, but it has compatibility issues with T-Mobile 4G/LTE in my area. I live in PA and Newegg shipped this phone from CA. The box is clearly labeled as the US Version. I'm having problems getting the full 4G/LTE speeds on T-Mobile. I'm only getting the base 4G connection with poor reception (2 bars) that falls back to the slow E or H networks a lot. I tested with the OOKLA Speedtest app and I'm only getting 12.58 Mpbs down and 1.74 Mpbs up compared with my old Samsung Galaxy S3 that gets 25 Mpbs down and 6 Mpbs up. I called T-Mobile tech support to verify the 4G/LTE frequencies and bands in my area and the only 2 that match this phone are 1700Mhz Band 4 and 1900Mhz Band 2. Part of the problem is that they require both 1700 & 2100Mhz on Band 4, but this phone only supports 2100Mhz on Band 1. As a test they agreed to give me a new SIM card at no charge to see if this fixes the LTE problem. The T-Mobile store is out of stock on Micro SIM cards so I haven't tried this yet. The other problem I'm having is with the 13MP HD camera. When I try to zoom it loses focus and none of the Focus settings fix this problem. Everything at a distance is blurry. The LTE issue is more important to me than the camera and if a new SIM card does not fix the problem then I will try to return for a refund. I have bought many ASUS products over the years and this is the first time I'm disappointed. They should have done more research with the major US carriers (AT&T, T-Mobile, etc.) before they released the US version. What is the point of having a high-tech unlocked phone that won't support 4G/LTE on the major carriers in most US regions? I also opened a support ticket about this issue on my ASUS account (vip.asus.com) 3 days ago. They sent a standard email saying they would respond in 48 hours but I haven't heard anything yet. Very disappointed!
Very Good Streaming Media Player for a Low Price!
Pros: - Small, lightweight Wireless b/g/n DLNA device - Very good Audio/Video (A/V) quality including surround sound on Home Theater - Easy to setup on Home network - Works well with apps (Netflix, Hulu, Localcast, YouTube, etc.) on Android phones & tablets, & Windows 8 PC's (haven't tested it with iPhone IOS or Mac OS X). - Can turn any basic HDTV into a Smart TV by streaming A/V from apps on your device.
Cons: If your home network is not configured properly then your Device apps might keep losing connection to the Chromecast every 10 min. or so. See the resolution to this that should work for most home networks in the comments below.
Overall Review: This was easy to setup with the Chromecast app installed on my Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro. However, like many other users I experienced the problem where the apps on my phone and tablet would lose the connection to the Chromecast after about 10 min. It would continue to play the video on my TV, but I could no longer control it from the app. On your Internet provider's Wireless router (and any other wireless router you may have), login in to the Router Configuration IP in your browser (mine is http://192.168.1.1 but could be different depending on brand. Verify this by opening a Command Prompt and entering ipconfig. Look for the Default Gateway IP. Make sure you know the Password for the Admin account.) and do the following: 1. Verify the AP Isolation mode is Disabled. This can be found under the Wireless Advanced or Professional settings (the location depends on the make & model of your router/s). Normally this is Disabled by default on home routers, but you should check this setting. If it is Enabled it prevents Wireless clients from talking to each other on the same network. 2. Verify the IGMP Proxy is Disabled. Chromecast uses DLNA and DLNA/UPNP uses Multicast packets to communicate on the network. IGMP Proxy is supposed to filter out Multicast packets from going to every client on the network except for the clients that specifically requested them. However, my Verizon FIOS Actiontec MI424WR (Rev. I) Wireless-N router has this Enabled by default. There is a bug in their IGMP Proxy and it filters all Multicast packets even for clients that requested them. On the FIOS router this option used to be in Router Config Advanced options, but Verizon pushed a firmware update that hid the IGMP Proxy and UPNP settings because they don't want customers changing them. IMHO – IGMP Proxy is not that important on a small home network. This can be accessed after logging into the Router Config with the Admin account and changing the active_page parameter in the URL to 6059 (e.g. http://192.168.1.1/index.cgi?active_page=6059). 3. Now you are ready to follow the instructions for setting up Chromecast. Initially the Chromecast setup app wants the device (phone, tablet, or PC) its on to be on the same 2.4Ghz Wireless network as the Chromecast. Follow the setup instructions on your TV and it may ask you to update the firmware. Follow all setup steps carefully. If you have multiple Wireless networks, it just easier to leave your Device on the same network as the Chromecast. Overall I am very happy with this device and would definitely recommend it to others looking for a cheaper alternative (under $40) to Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, or any other Internet streaming media player. This does everything I want with my Phone & Tablet. Hopefully you find the information above helpful if you ran into the same problem where your device keeps losing its connection to Chromecast.
Very Good Router With a lot of Potential
Pros: - Efficient upright design saves space on desk and the vents on top allow heat to dissipate. Some people felt this design was awkward looking and wanted this to have a wall mount kit. For my purposes I disagree and it has a simple design where form follows function. - WAN/LAN ports along bottom back of unit for easy connection and organization. - Strong WiFi signal throughout house on both 2.4Ghz & 5Ghz with fast link speeds. - Easy to configure UI. - Can turn off LED Lights.
Cons: - Configuration UI is unstable on HTTP connection and keeps locking up or becomes unresponsive. However, This is stable under HTTPS and can be configured in Administration → System → Authentication Method: BOTH. I contacted ASUS Tech Support for North America about this issue with HTTP on Win 8.1 Pro 64-bit on both the current versions of IE & Chrome. Their Tech support person did not seem to understand simple direct English and told me to do the exact same thing I told him I had already done (very frustrating). - I installed the latest Firmware 18.104.22.168_347_5656, but there are still bugs with 2.4Ghz connections. After 2 days all of my 2.4Ghz Wireless-N connections had No Internet access even though they still had good link speeds to the router. Rebooting the router did not solve the problem. After much research I decided to install Merlin's (AsusWRT-Merlin) latest firmware 22.214.171.124_347.42_2 and the router has worked great for the last 3 weeks without needing to reboot. This issue was also in my Asus Tech Support ticket, but again they were less than helpful. They wanted the logs from when this happened, but as I explained the firmware had already been changed to Merlin. I would have to put their firmware back in place to get the logs when this occurs (Still frustrating).
Overall Review: Overall I am very happy with this router using the AsusWRT-Merlin firmware. I have this configured in Access Point (AP) Mode because I want my main Verizon FIOS router to handle all DHCP & NAT so that everything is on the same subnet (On the FIOS router change the ASUS router's IP from Dynamic to Static so it always gets the same IP). My Wireless-N 5Ghz clients are connecting at 300Mbps. Some of my Wireless-N 2.4Ghz clients can connect at 300Mbps and the rest connect at 150Mbps. I have one Wireless-AC client (Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4) and it gets a steady 500Mbps throughout my house. It all depends on what the client's wireless chipset supports. I live in a Townhouse complex and all of my neighbors have wireless routers so there is a lot of interference on the 2.4Ghz band. On the Google Play Store I found a free app called WiFi Analyzer and installed it on my Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro. This showed me all the wireless routers near my house and what channels they were using on both the 2.4Ghz & 5Ghz bands. You can then select your SSID and it will recommend the channel with the best performance. There was no competition on the 5Ghz band with my neighbors so I'm probably the only one using this for N & AC. This made a big difference in my 2.4Ghz band when I switched the router config to the recommended channel. I highly recommend this app to help tweak your wireless network especially if you have a lot of neighbors close by on the 2.4Ghz band. There are a couple other things I did to increase range and performance in my house. Go to Wireless → General tab and change the Channel Bandwidth to 40Mhz (this worked better for my clients than the default 20/40Mhz). Go to the Wireless → Professional tab and change the Tx Power Adjustment to the max 200mW for both the 2.4Ghz & 5Ghz bands (this was better than the default of 80mW). I believe most of the issues with this router are with the Firmware and not necessarily the hardware. This has a lot of potential, but ASUS needs better quality control when developing and testing their Firmware builds. And is it too much to ask that their Tech Support people handling U.S. customers can understand simple, direct English in emails?
Very Good NAS Drive for Price!
Pros: - Runs Quiet & Stays Cool - Rotational Speed controlled by IntelliPower (about 5400RPM, good for NAS, saves energy & runs cool) - Time Limited Error Recovery (TLER) limits disk error recovery 7 – 8 seconds so RAID can take over without automatically failing drive and dropping from the Array - Fast Read/Write Speeds in RAID-5 Array over Gigabit Ethernet (see comments below) - Designed for NAS, RAID, and 24/7 support - 3 Year Warranty - Good Price for NAS Drive ($98 - $110 for 2TB)
Cons: None so far, but I've only been using for 1 week. I will update if any future issues occur. Too soon to give it 5 eggs.
Overall Review: I bought 3 of these 2TB drives for my Home Media File Server (HMFS) project to backup multiple Laptops and also be a DLNA Media Server for stored Movies, Music, & Pictures. This was a desktop I built in 2011 that still has very good specs (Quad-core 3.4Ghz, 8GB RAM, SATA 6Gbps). I've read many reviews on Hardware/Software RAID options and ultimately decided to give Microsoft's new version of Storage Spaces (SS) built-in to Win 8 Pro a try. This is similar to Software RAID but designed to be more flexible, easily expanded, and easier to administer. I chose Parity for these 3 drives (like RAID-5). A lot of reviews for SS Parity complained about slow Write speeds well under 100Mbps. I'm not sure how old their testing hardware was or how their networks were configured, but I've found the Write speeds to be very good. My home network consists of a FIOS Gigabit Ethernet Wireless-N Router and a Linksys WRT610N Simultaneous Dual-Band Wireless-N Gigabit Ethernet Router (configured as Wireless Access Point only so all DHCP & NAT is on FIOS Router). All of my Ethernet cables are Cat6 Gigabit. As a real-world Write speed test I'm using Macrium Reflect to create Compressed Disk Image backups of the Laptops on our home network. This has some stats at the end of backup like Original Size, Backup Size, Backup Time, & Average Write speed. I ran several different comparisons as follows: HMFS Internal SSD to SS Parity: Size 30GB, Time 00:07:23, Write 386.8Mbps Laptop Cat6 to SS Parity: Size 36GB, Time 00:10:22, Write 477.6Mbps Laptop Wireless-N to SS Parity: Size 36GB, Time 01:03:31, Write 37.9Mbps * I only did a wireless backup as a test and don't do this for my regular backups because its too slow. I also have another Gigabit NAS (WD MyBook Live Duo 2 x 3TB RAID-1 Mirror) on the network and did a backup for comparison: Size 36GB, Time 00:12:53, Write 229.9Mbps I'm getting faster Write speeds to my SS Parity than to my other NAS RAID-1 Mirror. Overall I'm very impressed with the performance of these drives. Read speeds also seem very fast, but I haven't measured the actual specs. However, I'm using Serviio as the DLNA Media Server for Movies, Music, & Pictures I'm storing on the SS Parity volume. My DLNA clients (Panasonic BluRay Player, Xbox 360, Sony PS3, Sharp Quattron Smart TV, & Yamaha Home Theater Receiver) are all connected on Wireless-N 5Ghz, N 2.4Ghz, or G 2.4Ghz. Streaming HD MP4/M4V movies to these client is flawless without any lag in video or audio. Streaming Music or Pictures is a easy due to their smaller file sizes. I would definitely recommend these drives to anyone interested in building their own HMFS/NAS.
Very Good NAS for the Price!
Pros: • Network performance is good for streaming audio, video, photos, & backing up files due to the 800 MHz RISC CPU & Gigabit Ethernet port for connecting to your home router. • Small form factor that is well ventilated on top & bottom. • DLNA/UPnP Media Server works well and easily streams A/V to my network devices (PS3, xBox360, Yamaha Home Theater, Sharp Smart TV, Panasonic Blu-Ray, & all PC’s. • The iTunes Server also worked well and iTunes on my iMac (OS X Lion) had no problem seeing the library in the Shared Music folder. • Easy to configure user interface. • Drives can be spanned to access the full 6TB, or configured as RAID 1 Mirror (cuts capacity in half but provides data redundancy and if a drive goes bad it can be replaced without losing data). • Power Saver feature seems to work well when not in use and doesn’t take too long to become active again when something is trying to access files (maybe a 10 – 20 second lag depending on what you are trying to stream/access).
Cons: • USB port only supports version 2.0 (anything made in 2012 should have version 3.0). • Does not have the ability to turn off Guest access or modify guest privileges to the Public share and it automatically has full privileges (Read/Write). • Setting up new User accounts also does not have the ability to assign Read Only privileges to the Public Share. I don’t always want every user on my network to have Write privileges to Public because my shared iTunes library, and shared photo library are stored on this share and I don’t want anyone to have full access to them but me. • WD’s Personal Cloud website (wd2go.com) uses secure SharePoint to access this device. Unfortunately most Media Players on Win 7 (WMP, VLC, QuickTime, RealPlayer, etc.) can’t handle streaming video on the SharePoint protocol. The only Media Player I found that handled streaming video from this type of mapped drive is XBMC. Maybe someone knows how to fix this for the above players, but I never found any Google sear
Overall Review: Overall I’m very happy with the price, features, & performance of this NAS. Even though it is vented well, I found a small laptop cooler w/fan at Five Below for $5 and plugged it into the USB port. Cooler air is pushed up through the bottom and the hotter air leaves the top. This is ok for me since I never plug any extra drives into the USB port. This supports AFP (Apple File Protocol) and originally I had no problems connecting to my private shares with AFP. However, about 2 weeks after it was setup, Apple came out with a security update to AFP and I could no longer see or connect to private shares. Apple Support said WD is using an open source AFP provider (probably Netatalk) and they need to update their security model. I contacted WD Support with this information and they had a new firmware released in 7 days that fixed this problem. I give WD a lot of credit for responding so quickly to this issue as most companies would have taken months to resolve.