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Michael P.

Michael P.

Joined on 11/20/01

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Product Reviews
product reviews
  • 8
Most Favorable Review

Great product with caveats

EVGA GeForce GTS 250 512MB DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 SLI Support Video Card 512-P3-1153-TR
EVGA GeForce GTS 250 512MB DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 SLI Support Video Card 512-P3-1153-TR

Pros: Fast, relatively cheap, great feature set, and of course, wonderful drivers.

Cons: First of all, the card is HUGE. I figured since it's an entry-level card, it would be more manageably-sized. Well, I was wrong, and didn't do enough research. Fortunately, I was able to cram it into my Micro-ATX case, and Newegg has a better picture up now, so hopefully future buyers won't make the same mistake I did. Secondly, speaking of not doing my research, apparently this NVIDIA model is little more than a rebranded 9800 GTX, based on the G92 GPU. The GTS 250 model name is highly misleading. Not a big deal, the cost is about the same and it's a well-tested product by this point, but don't trick yourself into thinking this is a next-gen card. Look for a product based on the GT200 CPU if that's what you're after.

Overall Review: I'm happy with the product but am considering taking advantage of EVGA's "step up" program.

11/13/2009
Most Critical Review

Improved from X470D4U in many ways but still lacking

AsRock Rack X570D4U micro-ATX Server Motherboard AMD AM4 PGA 1331 Dual GLAN
AsRock Rack X570D4U micro-ATX Server Motherboard AMD AM4 PGA 1331 Dual GLAN

Pros: - Better CPU cooler support than the X470D4U (I'm using a Noctua NH-D9DX i4 3U with the NM-AM4 mounting kit) - Better IOMMU groups than the X470D4U - Better SATA DOM port than the X470D4U (with pin "8" power) - Better M.2 speeds than the X470D4U (one Gen4 x4 from CPU, one Gen4 x4 from PCH) - BMC is very nice; responsive and easy to use! - Performance and power efficiency with a 3900X is par excellence

Cons: - The built-in gigabit ethernet is based on the low-cost i210 chipset instead a higher-end i340 or i350 chipset. i350 (v2) with SR-IOV support would have been a great value-add for virtualization use-cases. - Where are all the USB ports?? X570 provides so many USB ports. This board only has two on the rear I/O panel, and a sole internal header for two more. - The 2L2T model uses a Gen3 x4 link from the PCH for the built-in 10GbE, but that link goes completely unused here. This model would have much better flexibility and utility if that link had been used to provide a PCIe x4 slot (i.e. where the x1 slot currently is). This is especially relevant since the 2L2T model is absolutely impossible to find right now. - The x1 slot has a closed back so there's painfully little room for creative solutions. - Memory QVL is very limited and the board can't push more than 1.2 VDIMM. I was able to get 2x32GB EdgeTech W724GU44J2320NA running at DDR4-3200 CL22, but YMMV.

Overall Review: Overall I'd say it's a very good board with too many compromises to be worth its exorbitant price. It's greatly improved from the X470D4U but I still find it severely lacking and may be returning it.

Cheap but meaningful upgrade

be quiet! PURE ROCK SLIM 2
be quiet! PURE ROCK SLIM 2

Pros: Easy to install, works great, small footprint. It's way overkill for the Athlon 64 X2 (Socket AM2) system I'm refurbishing, but it lowered core temps by about 15°C over the old-school stock cooler, and it's MUCH quieter. The best thing about it is the price!

Cons: The Intel bracket is push-pin based, so maybe look elsewhere for an Intel solution. The pre-applied thermal paste was slightly smeared and no additional compound is supplied in the box. No anti-vibration pads, no additional fan clips, and no other accessories are included, but it's hard to complain at this price.

Overall Review: I'm impressed. The Vetroo V5 is similarly-priced, performs about as well, and comes with more/better features and accessories, but it's also much larger and louder (to the ear as well as the eye). If you're in the market for a small and simple cooler for an AMD system, this is it!

Another great entry in the Meshify 2 series

Fractal Design Meshify 2 Compact Black ATX Flexible High-Airflow Dark Tinted Tempered Glass Window Mid Tower Computer Case
Fractal Design Meshify 2 Compact Black ATX Flexible High-Airflow Dark Tinted Tempered Glass Window Mid Tower Computer Case

Pros: - Perfect size

Cons: - No integrated fan hub - HDD cage and trays are different than those found in the Meshify 2 and 2 XL - The front panel almost-but-not-quite fits a 120mm fan in addition to the two stock 140mm fans... very frustrating!

Overall Review: This is my third build in a Meshify 2 series. Please see my other review(s) for additional thoughts if you're interested. The Compact stacks up well against its larger siblings, although at this price point I was really surprised not to find a version of the integrated fan hub that comes with the other two models. The only other weird thing is that the HDD cage and trays are different, which I guess is just due to the smaller footprint.

Wonderful overall, but questionable for lots of drives

Fractal Design Meshify 2 XL Black ATX Flexible Dark Tinted Tempered Glass Window Full Tower Computer Case
Fractal Design Meshify 2 XL Black ATX Flexible Dark Tinted Tempered Glass Window Full Tower Computer Case

Pros: My last few homelab systems have been recycled, rack-mounted enterprise hardware, including drive shelves and proprietary motherboards and all that good stuff. Lately I've wanted to simplify everything into a single tower and use more commodity hardware including AIO liquid coolers. When I read about the "Storage Layout" of the new Meshify 2 (XL) I thought it would be a perfect fit for an off-the-shelf (E)ATX board and a bunch of hard drives and other peripherals. The only other disclaimer I'll give is that I've hardly built any custom systems over the past six or seven years, so it's nearly impossible for me to compare this enclosure to similar products in today's marketplace. I recently moved my Z87 build out of an Antec Mini P180 (c. 2009) if that gives you any idea. Over the past few months I've built systems in a CoolerMaster HAF XB, a Fractal Design Meshify 2, and now a Meshify 2 XL. - Outstanding build quality and ease of assembly. You'll love working in this case. There's a lot to appreciate. - The integrated fan hub is great! I've never truly understood the purpose of these—since most motherboards already have so many fan headers—but it greatly simplifies cable management, it keeps a lot of cables out of the main compartment, and it's hard to argue with the results. It's made a believer out of me. - The front bracket can actually accommodate a 140mm fan plus three 120mm fans. This is great news for anyone trying to maximize airflow over 14+ 3.5" HDDs! - I was able to mount a molex-powered SAS2x24 expander card to the plastic trim piece on the back—perfectly insulated and conveniently placed. Unfortunately, I had to remove one of the two drive cages to make some room, but I think it's worth the tradeoff over having to run 14+ individual SATA cables.

Cons: These might go without saying when working in a large case such as this, but for absolute clarity: - If you swap out the front fans, make sure they have LONG cables (or get some 3- or 4-pin extensions). The integrated fan hub is positioned fairly far back in the case, which makes some of those runs a bit tricky. - If you front-mount a radiator, make sure it has LONG tubes. - Make sure your PSU has LONG SATA power cables (or get extensions). Additionally: - You can't (easily) remove the integrated fan hub if you decide to go with a different solution. (It appears to be riveted.) - The multi-brackets seem innovative and useful on paper, but in practice they are difficult to work with. In order to install a drive in (or remove a drive from) one, you have to remove the multi-bracket from the case. To remove the pre-installed one, you have to remove the front fans (due to the way the plastic cover attaches to the storage bracket). And to access a multi-bracket on the bottom of the case, you have to lay the whole thing on its side. I wouldn't recommend designing around this particular feature for multiple hard drives if you need to be able to swap them out quickly and easily. - You will need a screwdriver with a HUGE bit and lots of torque to remove most of the pre-installed screws. I used a Phillips #2. As for "Storage Layout" only: - You should not mount 3.5" drives trays without the top bracket attached. The storage bracket is not rigid enough to support multiple drives on its own. I learned this the hard way! - In addition to the main thumbscrew that holds each 3.5" drive tray in place on the "back" side, I would strongly recommend that you also screw the tray in on the "front" side (i.e. behind the plastic cover). This will add an extra step when swapping out a drive, but I feel as though the trays are much too "loose" without that extra screw. (If you are going to move the case around AT ALL after installing drives, this is absolutely critical.) - I don't love the 3.5" drive trays in general. You need two hands and lots of visibility and clearance to install them, the thumbscrew holes are elusive, and as described above they're not particularly stable unless you take some extra steps. I'm not looking forward to my first drive failure. - I faced some radiator mounting limitations that—in my opinion—weren't called out clearly enough in the materials. You'll either need to stick with a top-mounted 240mm or 280mm radiator or you'll lose the top one or two 3.5" drive tray positions (to make room for the tubes, radiator, and/or fans). - Cable management when fully populated is quite challenging! I'm not sure what else Fractal could have done to mitigate this—short of offering an optional backplane—but it's definitely problematic. - I would have liked to see a metal side panel option. Paying a premium for tempered glass is a questionable choice for a home server that'll spend its life on a shelf in the basement.

Overall Review: I absolutely love this case. It's a pleasure to work in and checks a lot of boxes. However, several times during the build I definitely thought to myself "this is why I prefer drive shelves." For the premium I spent on the case, the extra drive trays, the SAS expander card and all the necessary cables, etc., I could have easily bought e.g. a lightly-used Dell PowerVault MD1200 or Lenovo ThinkServer SA120—or two!—and achieved a much higher "quality of life" for swapping out failed drives, expanding storage capacity, etc. (It's hard to imagine this changing unless Fractal Design comes out with a compatible SAS/SATA backplane with hot-swappable drive caddies for the storage compartment. As far as I know, nothing like this is available or even in development.) Still, if you require an enclosure that supports large motherboard form factors and lots of liquid cooling and storage options, this is a great choice. Just be prepared for downtime (and frustration) when it comes time to swap out a drive.

Easy to love, but quirky and over-priced

Fractal Design Celsius S36 Blackout 360mm Silent High Performance Slim Expandable All-In-One CPU Liquid / Water Cooler, LGA 1700 Compatible
Fractal Design Celsius S36 Blackout 360mm Silent High Performance Slim Expandable All-In-One CPU Liquid / Water Cooler, LGA 1700 Compatible

Pros: - Easy to install - Integrated fan hub makes cable management a breeze (for the most part) - "Auto" setting gives a nice, smooth fan curve - Looks nice and runs quietly (for the most part) - Adequate thermal performance if fans have room to "breathe"

Cons: - Fan noise in "push" configuration - Tubes too short to front-mount in longer/larger cases - No extra screws included for optional "push-pull" configuration - Poor price/performance relative to the competition - Tricky to get the third (farthest) fan plugged in

Overall Review: TL;DR: If you abhor RGB, have a smaller/shorter case, and plan to front-mount it in a "pull" configuration I think this AIO is a great choice... if you can find it on sale. I had my Celsius S36 going in a "pull" configuration on an open-air test bench and my initial impressions were quite positive. It was easy to assemble, quiet, and performed well. Although some reviews have mentioned that one fan has a longer cable, I did not find this to be true--so you might have to work a bit to get the third fan routed and plugged in to the integrated hub. Later, I moved it into a Meshify 2 enclosure, and this is where I started to run into some trouble. First of all, the tubes weren't long enough to front-mount it, so I changed it to a "push" configuration and top-mounted it. This performed adequately, but I started hearing a very irritating ticking/buzzing sound. After some troubleshooting to make sure it wasn't the pump or any other case fans, I narrowed the problem down to the three included fans attached to the radiator. I tried loosening/tightening the screws, isolating the fans from each other, inserting some sound dampening material, etc. but nothing permanently fixed it. I put it back into a "pull" configuration (i.e. with the fans sandwiched between the radiator and the Meshify 2's top bracket). This has seemingly resolved the noise issue, albeit with an appreciable decrease in overall thermal performance. I suspect this is due to the fans being pressed right up against the top-bracket, its dust filter, and metal mesh top cover. Generally speaking, though, I'm happy with my Celsius S36--although it seems a bit pricey when compared to better-reviewed products from the competition. The "Auto" setting (which controls the pump and radiator fan speeds based on the internal water temperature) gives a nice, smooth fan curve. This is in contrast to the "PWM" setting (which controls the speeds based on your motherboard's CPU fan settings) that seems to ramp up and down too quickly and inconsistently under load--on my old motherboard, at least. I would definitely recommend it under the ideal circumstances.

12/15/2020