Beautiful, hiding the flaws inside7/7/2020 12:01:33 PM

Pros: * While I love Micro-ATX cases and building in a small area to fit as much power as possible, the biggest con usually is the lack of options and configurations. This is why building small usually lends itself to purchasing a high-end micro-atx case, one that a newbie and enthusiast alike would not have trouble working in. Unfortunately, though gorgeous looking, the Styx by Raijintek does not accomplish this. * - I received the blue chassis variant, and I must say it really is sharp to the eye. The brushed aluminum appearance, and candy blue look is fancy and expensive looking. The finish is nice. The case has a lot going for it on the outside. Pure black on the inside, and the colors work well with one another. The size is really nice, and could easily fit on top of your desk, looking smooth and sleek. - There’s a clear plastic window on the right side panel (see cons). - Comes with one case fan, which isn’t terrible quality. - The Raijintek Styx has enough room to fit a 240mm radiator up top for your CPU AIO liquid cooling unit, but it is a tight fit, without being able to do push/pull config if you use a GPU.

Cons: - The design and layout is relatively confusing at first, especially in comparison to most chassis. I’m not necessarily saying I don’t like the layout, but it does take a bit to get used to. For example, there’s a Slim DVD drive bay on the side panel. That simply takes away from the aesthetics of the unit as a whole. I’d rather that feature just not be included and have to use a USB drive if needed. Especially considering that nowadays nearly no one uses a DVD drive, slim or not. Micro-ATX are starved for room, and this is a feature that should be scraped immediately in favor of more room or another, better feature. The PSU connector is on the top of the back panel, and since the Mobo (5 PCI Slots) is inverted, so are the PCI slots, and this is just annoying. I shouldn’t have to run all my cables to the top of the PC; this impairs the aesthetics of the build, as hiding them underneath and not having a mess of cables stringing down from the back is much harder to accomplish. - The cooling layout is kind of scary. It lends itself to exhausting at the bottom of the case, when ideally it should be working with thermal dynamics and moving up (hot air rises). Getting positive air pressure, which you want typically, will be difficult with the innate design. You’d need to use the top as an exhaust and bring the back fan in as an intake, throwing out positive air pressure design. I’m really worried about temps inside this case as working with thermal dynamics and limited by its design, hot air is definitely going to get stale in it. - There’s a dust filter up top, which is extremely difficult to remove and requires removal from the inside, however, you’d likely want to use this more as an area to mount two more additional fans. - First off, I’m used to the window being on the left side panel, but that’s fine that it’s on the right, no harm in mixing it up. But the window is relatively small, might be hard to show off anything inside. - The back tray for the CPU motherboard access for the back of the motherboard is not cut out properly to easily access the motherboard back in order to easily install a CPU cooler. - No easy removal system or latch for the windowed side panel, so anytime you want to get in you can’t even access it by simply removing thumbscrews even, but have to retrieve a screwdriver and remove 4 screws.

Overall Review: - No front panel USB-C, but at this price point, I can understand, and from what I can tell this case is over 5 years old already. 2 USB 3.1s on the front top with audio jacks. - Be really careful in picking out your GPU and its size, but you can definitely fit a good mid-size on in here. Same goes for the PSU. I’d go with a high efficiency PSU one with preferably zero RPM fan mode under a certain power draw. - Get two case fans for the top to help the airflow.

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My New Favorite Keyboard10/12/2019 1:24:13 PM

Pros: - The Logitech G913 has beautiful presentation and packaging. Taking it out, you notice the brushed aluminum, which looks sophisticated. Compared to most other ‘gaming’ keyboards, the G915 looks super professional. Honestly, it further transformed my office from looking like a gaming setup to a clean, professional setup (I previously had the G710+). There’s no cheap plastic on this keyboard’s aluminum chassis and it screams quality. - Right when you pick this keyboard up, just by the weight of it, you can tell it’s sturdy, well-made, and durable. There’s a braided micro-USB cable for charging, extending the wireless dongle, or keeping it plugged in, non-wireless. - Five LED brightness settings, controllable on the keyboard’s media control buttons. Speaking of these buttons, they look sleek and subtle on the keyboard. They take a while to get used to as the haptic response and feel of them is strange at first, but I’ve come to like them. There’s LED brightness control, three video media controls, a mute button, macro recorder, 3 mode shifts, Windows key lock, and Bluetooth/Wireless toggle switch. There’s also a fat volume wheel bar, which looks sweet and feels great. Also, two LED indicator lights for when the battery is charging/charged and caps lock. - Not being a Cherry-Style switch, I was dubious at first. I personally prefer the Cherry-MX brown switches the most on keyboards, as I think they are a perfect mix of tactile/click/speed. I never really liked the Blues. Logitech’s ‘Clicky Keys’ feel like a lighter-weight Cherry-Blue, and one that I actually like. There is some higher operating force behind them, but don’t click nearly as loudly as the Blues, while travelling much quicker on the down stroke. As a web development programmer, who types a lot, I do really enjoy composing on this keyboard. - The G915 replaces the previous Logitech Gaming Software with G-Hub. It’s amazing software, with a ton of customization and awesome LED effects. You can upload and download custom LED profiles, for different games and settings, etc.. You can set a G-Shift to have one key do two things while the G-Shift key is held down. So essentially, you can turn four G keys into 8 macros. Using the M1, M2, M3 modes, you can quickly switch key profiles on the fly. The option for onboard and application profile switching is there as well. The software is extensively adjustable. - Have not noticed any input lag when on wireless battery. And speaking of which, the battery lasts a long while. I went three days without charging it, likely a total of 30 or so use hours. - The ability to switch from Bluetooth to wireless dongle is pretty cool. This allows easy swapping from different PCs even. At one time, I had it connected to my laptop via wireless USB, switched to Bluetooth via the Bluetooth toggle switch on the keyboard, which connected to my HTPC. Now I was remotely controlling my television. The switch is very quick, as well. Pretty cool!

Cons: - The white LED is sadly more blue than white! Miss the whiteness the g710+ was able to emit. -To my dismay, my custom recorded key combination macros seem to get mixed up occasionally. This is likely a software issue, so it may be improved after a patch or two to the GHub software. But I’ve encountered some repeated keys when clicking on a G4 key for example in G-Shift mode and it ghosts the other non-G-switch key. - This is more a personal preference and setup specific gripe, but I wish the keyboard were a little thicker and taller. I know this would slightly defeat the portability aspect of the keyboard, but it’s something I would have wanted. The keyboard stands are nearly enough, but again, I wish there was a third, taller option at 10. There are two options at 4 degrees and 8.

Overall Review: * Since I started gaming seriously when I was 15ish, with the release of WoW, I bought the G15 Keyboard. Man, did I love that keyboard. 18 customizable macro keys! I could cast all my spells and my left hand literally never left the G-Keys on the side while I was exploring Azeroth. Nowadays, we’ve seemed to have moved away from that excessiveness. And that’s okay with me. The G915 seems to have taken this trend to a whole new level, stripping back to the basics of aesthetics, shedding the gaudy gaming look, focusing on functionality and performance. I’ve always been partial to Logitech for my personal peripheral choices, and I have to say the G915 is now my new favorite keyboard. * - I was never a fan of wireless keyboards. I’ve had bad experiences with a few wireless keyboards, a mix of distance and interference, in the past. So far, the wireless on the G915 has been great. Nonetheless, with so much wireless interference nowadays on 2.4ghz bands, and especially Bluetooth, I don’t know if I’d bet my gaming life on wireless connectivity. However, that might just be some paranoia on my part. I would certainly not use the Bluetooth, however, when gaming. - People who will use this keyboard solely for gaming might prefer to go with the Tactile switches or the Linear. The Linear will likely be more like Cherry-Reds which a lot of gamers most prefer. However, using this keyboard as a hybrid of web development typing and gaming, I still really like the Clicky keys. - Overall, I love this keyboard. The software is awesome, in typical Logitech fashion; the keys feel great; the aesthetics are first-class; and the build quality is enviable.

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Top of the Line Corsair9/29/2018 5:07:44 PM

Pros: * For as long as I’ve been building PCs, I’ve always opted for a Corsair Power Supply. They’ve simply never let me down, last forever, are well made, and durable. Every component looks top of the line and is quality. So I admit I do have a tad wee bit of bias here, but during my review I tried to put that all aside. Albeit, by the end of testing the HX1200, my bias toward Corsair, and specifically their PSUs, only deepened. No longer is it a simple bias, it’s straight up tribalism! * - Wow, I mean as far as PSUs can be, the Corsair HX1200 is gorgeous. It has a freckle matte black paint job that looks elegant and clean. The greyscale color tone will fit into most PCs just fine. The top grill striped design is also a nice aesthetic accent. It’s a long, beefy PSU at just shy of 8 inches (7.9”). Through the back honeycomb, you can see the meticulously assembled components. There’s a large power switch and outlet on the back. The front has a switch for the single or multiple 12V line and all the fully modular ports (use what you need) for the many different cables included. Speaking of which, there’s the 20+4 ATX cable, which is a little short of two feet in length. There’s two 4+4 EPS12V, which are slightly longer than the ATX cable. There are four 6+2 PCIe cables, allowing plenty of GPUs power, and these are about 26 inches in length. There are also three SATA x12 connectors, which is about a total of 30 inches in length, with 4.5 inch separation in the connectors. Another two SATA x8 connectors with little less than 4.5 inch degree of separation. And lastly two Molex x8, at about 30 inch in length, with 4 inch degree of separation in the connectors. Somehow a floppy disk connector made its way into here. These cables are pure black, as expected, and look decently enough. I’d still say go with aftermarket cables if you intend to build an aesthetically pleasing PC, but these no doubt do the job and can pass a glance through an acrylic window. - The HX1200 is rated at 80PLUS Platinum, which speaks to its incredible efficiency. The 12V rail alone can quite impressively deliver the entirety of the PSU’s wattage. - Corsair also manufacturers amazing fans (I use them pretty much solely), and they have a 135mm (I wonder why they don’t just do a 140mm, but that’s beside the point) fluid dynamic fan inside here. It’s quiet as to be expected by Corsair and does its job presumably well, not even spinning when at the lower end of its power consumption. - There’s an amazing 10-year long warranty on this beast. Corsair stands behind their products.

Cons: - It’s hard to find a con in a power supply unless it’s glaring. There are no such glaring issues such as this when it comes to the HX1200. I think PSU manufacturers could always improve the aesthetics of their cables and this still stands for the HX1200.

Overall Review: - Corsair Link, the monitoring software, isn’t built into this line of Corsair PSUs. I believe that besides that feature, this PSU is about the same as the HXis. - I don’t know much about mining cryptocurrency, just the basics. I got into PCs just because of gaming. So this PSU will likely be overkill for most machine requirements, but if you’re running multiple GPUs for mining or gaming, the HX1200 will give you plenty of power to do so.

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Some good, some bad7/15/2018 2:22:06 PM

Pros: * I never heard of Gamdias as a whole until I first received their M1 Gaming Chair. That was followed up by the gaming keyboard, Gamdias Hermes E2. Now, the Gaming Wireless Mouse, Gamdias Hades M1. I commend them hitting the gaming market with a whole slew of products like Corsair and Logitech has. Unfortunately, these aforementioned companies just do it better all around. * - The Hades M1 is a gorgeous looking mouse. It’s sleek, on the smaller side for a gaming mouse, has great lines and curves. It has a matte black coat, but the dpi buttons and around the scroll wheel is a ugly black plastic, finger-print magnet. But overall, the design screams gaming. However, there are certainly drawbacks the design when it comes to functionality (see Cons). It has a minimalistic footprint and is about the 25% smaller than the Corsair Scimitar Pro (however, it has 90% less buttons). The RGB LEDs crisscross the entire length of the mouse, etched in smart locations. The LEDs look extremely crisp and well-lit. The left side is coated in a nice rubber for a good thumb-resting grip. The right side is a whole different story… (see Cons). It has a DPI up and down button in the middle, and two left side buttons. A charging cord comes in the box. - I love the weight on the Hades M1. You can remove the four 5g weights to make it lighter if you like mouse lift and less weight resistance. However, I think the weight is perfect, as it feels solid in your hand and durable. The weight optionality is also a nice addition; I know a lot of mice have it, but it’s still a good bonus feature that gives you some customizability. Speaking of customizability… - At first I hated the fact that there was no right side finger rest. But then I realized there were three different, interchangeable side rests for your ring finger to chill on. I was elated, swapping each one out to see what I liked most. My elation subsided when I came to the conclusion that I didn’t like any of them. The fact that they added this option, deserves props. The ability to change them out is cool and adaptable. However, none of them were good for me and none of them fit with the mouse’s aesthetics besides the initial one (see cons). - A lot of gamers refuse to use wireless mice. I’m an exception, as I love them, and my main mouse for about four years has been the Logitech G602 wireless. I can understand not wanting a wireless keyboard, though. But with the Hades, I didn’t notice any issues with polling rate (1k, which is a nice amount) or input lag. When putting the USB dongle behind my monitor, in a USB slot, though, it was jerky and unusable. So just be conscious of where you place the dongle in relation to interference. - I really like the scroll wheel. It has a great feel to it, is fast, and has an easy click. The feedback is a tad light, but overall, it’s the best button on the mouse. The left and right mouse clicks have a good deal of resistance to them and sound good with feedback and haptic response. The two side buttons are atrocious, however (see Cons). - The software is decent. It has a slew of settings and customizability, but still lags behind the more well-rounded software of Gamdias’s competitors.

Cons: - The right ring finger side rests are just not any good. They mismatch the design of the mouse and don’t encourage comfort. It’s cool they incorporated interchangeable rests, but the fact that none of them are good enough is disappointing. Your finger still rests uncomfortably and having none at all seems to be the best option. I would have preferred a simple ridge to lay my finger upon. - For the price, you’d think there’d be more buttons to click on the mouse. There are only the two on the side and the dpi buttons. When I’m gaming, I like at least six different hotkeys to be executable on the mouse. Ostensibly, there are only two on the Hades. And the two feel terrible to click. They’re plasticy and cheap feeling, when they should almost feel like a mechanical key. The DPI buttons suffer the same fate, but those aren’t clicked as much. They also are a little too easy to click, possibly accidentally as there’s no initial resistance to them. - The Hades M1 is decent for a palm grip (bad for a claw grip, according to my brother the claw grip gamer, who gives me his input on all opposing grip comfortable). I have a palm grip and it fits just fine. The only drawback (I have long scraggily fingers) is my middle over hangs a tad, but not devastatingly so. However, due to is lessened footprint, it doesn’t hug my palm as much as I’d like. - The Hades M1 glide is not easy. It definitely is more resistant on my Razer Goliath mouse pad than other mice. This could be considered up to personal preference, but to me it’s more of a con.

Overall Review: - The click actuation (besides on the side buttons) is slightly more resistant than the four gaming mice I have on hand. This comes down to personal preference though. * The biggest drawbacks for the Hades M1 are the lack of comfortability when gripping the mouse and the lack of buttons. It seems like for every positive the Hades has, there’s a negative lurking right behind, or in plain sight. I would be much more lenient on it if the mouse were twenty dollars cheaper. In some areas, the price is justifiable, but the other areas take away more than the positives add. *

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WYSIWYG6/2/2018 12:46:10 PM

Pros: - The Canvio Advance is a good enough looking drive (see Cons). It’s amazing how slim (half an inch in height) it is, when comparing a drive I had received from Newegg about 8 years ago that has 500GB of capacity that’s about three times the size of this; granted, that’s simply advancement in tech and is ubiquitous, but nonetheless impressive. It has a light blue LED indicator light that flashes when booting or sleeping and stay lit when in use. It uses USB 3.0 with a Micro-B going into the drive. The cord is a little too short for my tastes, a little longer than a foot in length. - While running, the Canvio is a quite drive. It emits a light hum and slight vibration. You really can’t hear it or feel it. It’s extremely light and portable. - The drive goes to sleep after a few minutes of not being in use. I like this feature a lot, as it’ll extend life. It seems to be pretty smart about when to shut down and sleep, as well. - The Canvio Advance’s performance is good enough. It pretty much clocks the way you’d expect a USB 3.0 external drive to perform. It tops off at about 150MB/s either way. I’ve provided benchmarks in Other Thoughts. It inevitably comes with software for windows, with a HTML link on the drive by default. The software performs as you’d expect as well, like many other manufacturers nowadays. It includes password protection to access the drive and scheduled backups. I prefer to use just the built in File History by Windows since it’s already in your OS by default, but now you’ll have the option, at least. - The Canvio Advance has a total formatted capacity of 1.81 TB much like other 2TB HDDs. It comes with a 2-year warranty.

Cons: - Since external drives aren’t really meant to be features, or necessarily look great, I don’t consider this a huge drawback. However, I never liked the glossy, reflective exterior. The Canvio is a fingerprint magnet, showcasing them every time it’s touched. - The Canvio lacks rubber feet to keep it in place. So it slides around with ease. I consider this more of a drawback than a plus as when you place an external drive down, it usually (should) stays there.

Overall Review: * Overall, the Canvio Advance by Toshiba is what you expect. It’s another 2TB external HDD with a 3.0 USB port in a market flooded with them. There’s no reason I’d recommend this one over any other manufacturer, as there’s nothing special about it. It’s a classic example of what you see is what you get. * Below, I’ve listed some benchmarks, both from Crystal Disk Mark and ATTO. Overall, the performance was pretty decent. ATTO Disk Benchmark MB is MB/per second. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 64KB Write: 132MB | Read: 143MB 128KB Write: 143MB | Read: 143MB 256KB Write: 143MB | Read: 141 MB 512KB Write: 142MB | Read: 144MB 1MB Write: 149MB | Read: 144MB 2MB Write: 148MB | Read: 147MB 4MB Write: 150MB | Read: 148MB 8MB Write: 151 MB | Read: 148MB 16MB Write: 141 MB | Read: 148MB 24MB Write: 148MB | Read: 146MB 32MB Write: 146MB | Read: 146MB 48MB Write: 147MB | Read: 121MB 64MB Write: 110MB | Read: 129MB _________________________________________ CrystalDiskMark Benchmark: Test : 2048 MiB [I: 0.0% (0.2/1863.0 GiB)] (x2) [Interval=5 sec] ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Sequential Read (Q= 32,T= 1) : 144.789 MB/s | Sequential Write (Q= 32,T= 1) : 151.179 MB/s Random Read 4KiB (Q= 32,T= 1) : 0.543 MB/s [ 132.6 IOPS] | Random Write 4KiB (Q= 32,T= 1) : 7.050 MB/s [ 1721.2 IOPS] Sequential Read (T= 1) : 141.974 MB/s | Sequential Write (T= 1) : 148.257 MB/s Random Read 4KiB (Q= 1,T= 1) : 0.425 MB/s [ 103.8 IOPS] | Random Write 4KiB (Q= 1,T= 1) : 6.580 MB/s [ 1606.4 IOPS]

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Gaming Typewriter?4/28/2018 2:51:46 PM

Pros: * The Gamdias Hermes E2 7 Color Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is a typewriter in gamers’ clothing. Now, that’s not a bad thing necessarily; I actually really like this keyboard and the aesthetics. I just can’t help but wonder: What makes this a gaming keyboard…? * - There were a few characteristics that immediately jumped out at me when I got the Hermes E2 out of the box and plugged in. The surface area of the keys appears to be massive at first. While they are bigger than most keyboards, it’s deceptive. But I like the slightly larger size; it encourages more accurate keystrokes. The keys jut out drastically, higher than the vast majority of keyboards, giving it a mean look that’s oddly appealing. The backlighting is pretty decent, not a strip of lighting, but each key being independently illuminated, which is awesome! I’ll go more into the keys below. Back to aesthetics, the back-plate around the keys is plastic but has a brushed aluminum look which adds to that mean theme. Overall, the Hermes is a fantastic looking keyboard, there’s no doubt about that. - If you’re looking for a compact mechanical keyboard, the Hermes should be a good option for you. It lacks a numpad (which kills me, but that’s the feature so it isn’t a con), and because of this, its footprint is impressively small. Unlike some other keyboards, especially gaming ones, there is no extra flair to the Hermes, and I like that simplicity, especially if that’s what you’re looking for in a keyboard. It would fit perfectly on nearly any desk, unlike my massive G710+. Although, in its simplicity, I think the Hermes loses its right to declare itself as a Gaming Keyboard (see Cons/OT). - The key print is nice and big. The graphics on them are cool, and putting WSAD on the arrow keys is a (funny?) addition. One of my disappointments (see Cons) is the switches, but it’s a snobby critique. The keys are grippy but do have one downside (see Cons). The spacebar is nice and big and of perfect size. Pressing it from the far left or far right with a single finger properly engages it. - The lighting works and can be configured without additional software, which is a nice ease of use implementation. It’s all done on the keyboards FN function keys. The FN key throws me off a little but that’s personal preference, and because of this, Gamdias was able to pack in multimedia control without additional buttons taking up real estate on the keyboard. - Though they aren’t Cherry MX Blue switches, they make a loud satisfying click every keystroke. The actuation and haptic response on them is pretty exceptional. Although, the Hermes is definitely the loudest keyboard I’ve ever used. I prefer the sound to the MX Browns, but again, that’s another personal preference. These are rather decent switches. - The USB cord is of a suitable length. The rubber feet on the bottom are above and beyond the call of duty. This keyboard will not slip around at all and will stay where you place it. The kick feet to raise the keyboard also bring it to a nice angle for typing.

Cons: - I’m being a snob here, but as I mentioned above in the pros, the key switches are not bad at all. However, they aren’t Cherry MX Switches. They’re Blue switches, manufactured by Gamdias (most likely), so if you’re expecting (and know well) that Blue feel of a Cherry MX, I’d say get the certified version. Regardless, these off brand switches are just fine. It’s just generic and not name brand. - The keys have a cheaper feel on the finger tips than other keyboards that I’ve used, more plasticy-feeling. - Though this may be a bonus for some people, the Hermes is simplistic and sports no additional flair whatsoever really. I like my keyboard to have at least one additional USB port, a numpad, additional macro G keys, and fleshed out multimedia options, with macro switching. All of these aforementioned aspects are the keystone features that transform an ordinary keyboard into a Gaming Keyboard. Adding LEDs, wicked lighting, or mechanical switches don’t simply make a keyboard a gaming keyboard.

Overall Review: * Overall, the Gamdias Hermes E2 is a fine keyboard. If you don’t mind a stripped down keyboard, or are looking for one intentionally, the Hermes gets the job done, feels good, sounds good, and looks good. For the price, it’s certainly a well-rounded keyboard. However, I’m a gamer and I would never game on this keyboard. Regardless, it’s an attractive typewriter; sounds like one, too! *

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Gamdias > DXRacer?2/24/2018 3:51:27 PM

Pros: * Having spent years trying to find the perfect chair for myself (going through about seven or so), I take seating extremely serious when it comes to my office setup. Needless to say, after cycling through those ubiquitous, generic $40 to $100 office chairs, I started looking elsewhere for more expensive ones. After having found the most comfortable chair yet nearly 2 years ago, I was hesitant to ever transition to a different one. I also suffer from a lot of back issues and physical pain, so chairs are all that much more important to me in particular. The Achilles E1 is Gamdias’s entry level model of gaming chairs. It still has quite a price tag, but it is a “gaming chair” after all, right? What does that mean? I’m not so sure honestly. See other thoughts. * - Aesthetically, the Gamdias E1 is gorgeous. It definitely lives up to that “gaming chair” stigma. The white and black coloring is nearly perfect. It definitely fit my office and PC which is primarily white, black, silver. The general look of the chair gives it a sophisticated, expensive look. Gamdias pretty much nailed the aesthetics when it comes to the Achilles. - The chair was rather easy to assemble. All you need is yourself, though another person may help make it a little easier. It’s essentially four main pieces and it took my brother and I about twenty minutes total. It’s not too confusing or anything, though the instruction manual is a little vague and succinct. Common sense will get you there though and there’s not much room for error. - The included head rest pillow and small of the back pillow are nice additions. Even though I’m tall, I couldn’t get the headrest to actually support my head. And after about an hour of using the back pillow, I discarded it completely so that my spine could hug the back of the chair better. However, without the pillow there, the back of the chair is much less comfortable. I still preferred to not use it, though. I believe this will be a feature of personal preference. Overall, the design and seat is comfortable, but it just isn’t 100% there for me in terms of making me feel at home. - The best part of the Gamdias E1 is the reclining option. You can go back quite a ways and at a severe angle. At first I thought there was no way the chair would remain steady with me all the way back, but it held fast and was anchored well; granted, I’m a mere 130 pounds though. My father, who is slightly heavier and taller, also had no issue though. It feels nice to be able to just kick back when you want to rest for a minute or two. It’s comfortable being all the way back too. If this is important to you, you may want to look into the highest model, the P1 that has a collapsible and retractable foot rest in the bottom of the seat. - Though I have a lot of issues with the armrests (see cons) the ability to move them forward and backwards is a nice touch. It helps you angle your homerow better. Also the height adjust is rather legit. The different degrees are slight enough in each notch that you can have it over your keyboard tray (mileage may vary) or under. - The RGB LED lighting on the back of the chair adds to that “gaming” ethos the Gamdias emits. The Lights are sufficiently bright and colorful. Plugging it into your PC will allow you to use the Gamdias software to further customize the lighting, including effects like breathing, flashing, or rolling, and the brightness levels and colors. - Even though the Gamdias E1 has an intelligent design, as well as a durable one, it still remains rather light. It certainly isn’t tough to roll around and reposition, gliding well across carpet or tile.

Cons: - The chair’s casters are plastic and not metal. I don’t think this is a huge deal, especially since the chair can handle the weight when lounging backward all the way; considering I’m 6 foot 2, as well. But at this price tag, I don’t know if I expected something a little more durable or not. - I’m a skinny geek and have boney everything. My elbows have a real hard time finding comfort on the arm rests since the arm rests are just a matte plastic, hard surface. Now before you interject: I imagine that the armrests are not padded so that gamers can more quickly slide their arms across the smooth surface. However, personally, I don’t think you should be moving your elbows at all when gaming. The DPI and sensitivity of your mouse should be high enough that it’s all in the movement and flicks of the wrists; not the movement of the entire arm. I think you may be doing it wrong if that’s the case, but who am I to judge? Since I spend more time typing than gaming or constantly using the mouse, I found these uncomfortable armrests to be a pain on my sharp elbows. - When I readjust my horrible posture in a chair, I typically grab the armrests and pull myself backward, upward, or forward. Now, even though it’s a cool feature, the fact that the “2d” arm rests slide forward and backward makes doing this not a good idea. I caught myself multiple times sliding with the armrests when pushing off them. There should at the very least a lock for them, much like the lock in the height adjustment. - One of the best features of this chair is its lounging ability. However, much like the armrests, there is a drawback to it. The lever on the side will often not lock in when changing the degree of recline, so when you put weight on or off of it for the first time, it will jockey back or forward before making a loud noise and locking. It made me jump a few times, so then I got in the habit of being really careful when changing the reclining degree and making sure that the lever locked. It would have been nice for this lever to be a little more fluid like the one beneath the chair for the height adjust. - Unlike the non-porous leather in my primary chair, the Gamdias seat cushion breathes. Now this sounds like a good thing, but the issue is that it traps in heat very easily, both the seat cushion and the back. I have a space heater (since I live in the purgatory known as the state of Ohio) and the heat from that makes its way into the material. Within a few hours, my pants and back of my shirt are drenched in sweat. I imagine in the summer it’ll be even worse and no one likes a sweaty gamer, especially sweaty gamers. - I go into this in more detail in the Other Thoughts section, but the USB extension cable coming out of the Gamdias for the LEDs to work is a pain and untidy, naturally. See Other Thoughts for my remedy of this and a more detailed breakdown.

Overall Review: - The seat has a hard side design to keep your legs locked inside of it. I still haven’t made up my mind on this feature; I am torn on whether I like it or dislike it. It seems a little restrictive and may be something that is unattractive to some people. I think I’d rather have the seat just be open and no high rising gutter zones, as that would allow more freedom of movement. - When I first saw the RGB before the chair came to me, I was pumped. My family makes fun of me for how much I love LEDs in everything (My whole office is coated in them with maybe six different strips and banks. Then I saw the USB extension cord and I got nervous. Now this wasn’t a surprise, conventional thinking leads you to understand you need a constant power source for the LEDs. But it was still disappointing. I don’t know about you but I move my office chair and I care a lot about my office aesthetics; thus, the LEDs remained plugged in long enough for me to test everything, but then they were out. I don’t want a tail trailing off my chair 24/7, tripping over it, ripping it out, or just making things look less tidy. There’s certainly some cable management you can do to make it better, but for my situation, it wasn’t a good fit. This led me to wonder, “Why did Gamdias not include a power bank for the LEDs, so that you didn’t need a hard wired USB constantly? Or at least allow us to charge and unplug it.” You certainly can remedy this by purchasing or using a powerbank of your own and velcroing it to the bottom of the chair or something. You’d want to set your software up first and tailor the LEDs to your liking. * Nowadays, marketing and branding being the way they are, I think Gaming Chairs are simply any chair that looks like a DXRacer. Now, I know you may say, they’re racing chairs. But I think it’d be a breath of fresh air for a company to break out of this stigma of gaming chairs and make an honest to goodness chair that’s unique in its own right. Now I’m not saying Gamdias failed here or made a bad chair, not at all. I’m just pointing out a flaw in the logic. For a long time we expected Computer Chassis to look and function a certain way until people like Steve Jobs came along and broke the mold (no, I don’t like Macs). This is one reason, I continue to use my Serta as my office chair, as comfort is my primary benchmark for something I’ll be sitting in for 6 to 9 hours a day. Though I’m a gamer, it’s more important for me to be 100% comfortable than be fashionably tied to a culture that symbolizes a chair as a “gaming chair” based on its aesthetics. Now, again, this is NOT railing against Gamdias at all. It’s a great chair and likely would be a great match for most people. I’d just like to advise you to look outside of the box that are considered “Gaming Chairs.” We aren’t talking about PCs and Keyboards or Mice; we’re talking about chairs. And these chairs carry a premium just for the branding of “Gaming”. *

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Gaming Hard Drive?10/21/2017 4:41:26 PM

Pros: * I don’t necessarily have an issue with Toshiba branding the X300 as a “Gaming Hard Drvie” but it’s kind of false advertisement. I don’t mean Toshiba is lying about their product here; what I am saying is that there is literally nothing about hard drives that make them optimized toward gaming or not. It’s simply faster read and write speeds. In my opinion, a “Gaming” drive is quite simply an SSD. Even then, games won’t necessarily perform any better on SSDs; they’ll load and launch quicker, and save files faster. But don’t expect any extra framerates or anything. You likely know this already, but just in case I wanted to outline this. Unfortunately, this type of advertisement is littered all over the computer hardware market. Think “Gaming Laptop” or “HD” or even Monitors’ “Response Time GTG, ’40 MILILLION!’ Dynamic Contrast Ration, etc..” What Toshiba has here, quite simply, is a well performing Hard Drive. There’s nothing special in storage for gaming. * - Despite my above opening statement (rant), the Toshiba X300 does have 128MB Cache inside of it. A lot of hard drives do, but most entry level company HDDs only sport 64MB Cache. So you’re getting an overall performance boost from that extra cache right off the bat and across the board. Along with this is the 7200 RPM, which is pretty standard now except for some Laptop HDDs. - The X300 clocks in at a reasonable speed, close to its advertised benchmarks. See Other Thoughts for more information on the benchmarks I ran. The X300’s Avg. 4K Random Read is impressive. Its Mixed Sequential Speeds averaged high as well. The temperature when in use was a cool 36 Degrees Celsius mostly. - The X300 sits at a great price point. You can’t beat spending this much for 4TB storage. I remember when 1TB Blacks were this price not too long ago. So it’s a very budget friendly, higher end performing HDD.

Cons: - Unlike other Drive Manufacturers who I will not name (one that happens to be my favorite), Toshiba ships the X300 with only a 2-year warranty as opposed to a 3 to 5-year warranty some competitors provide. - Much like most traditional Hard Drives, the X300 makes noise (more reasons for SSDs), but it isn’t really noisy compared to some other drives I have used. It has the typical ramp up noise and dial noise when reading and writing.

Overall Review: - The X300 can go up to 8TB, which is pretty cool. - After formatting to NTSF (or whatever you’d like), I got around 3.7 TB of free space left on the X300. - If you’re a gamer building a system, I still recommend getting a low storage (128-150GB will do) SSD for your Operating System, and use this X300 for your media files and games’ installations. = Using ATTO Benchmark = - Sequential Read: 148mb/s Write: 146mb/s Mixed: 142mb/s - 4K Read: 2.45mb/s Write: 2.01mb/s Mixed: 0.26mb/s

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Portable Funny Car9/10/2017 4:30:19 PM

Pros: * With the advent of USB 3.1, portable SSDs have become an actual pragmatic solution for blazing fast external storage. As long as you have a USB 3.1 port, you are no longer stuck with extremely slow external HDDs and can now take advantage of fast backup storage, extra phone storage for movies (without having to use an OTG cable like we used to), or even running applications off it. Samsung’s Portable SSD T5 drive is a great solution for cutting edge external storage, no matter your usage scenario. The model I reviewed was a 500GB version. * - The SSD itself has a beautiful metallic speckled finish over anodized aluminum, in a dark blue coloring. It’s small for an external storage device thanks to the SSD standard–about 75mm in width, 58mm in length, and 11mm thickness. It’s also pretty light (1.8 ounces), markedly different from an external HDD of ole. There is a single LED indicator light, with a blue soft power indication. Inside are cables for both USB 3.1 to C and to USB type-A (old school USB found everywhere), so there’s plenty of backwards compatibility here. However, if you aren’t using a USB 3.1 port, you’re bottlenecking the device’s true capabilities. The T5 comes with a 3 year limited warranty right out of the box. It’ll work with your Mac, PC and phone (with USB 3.1 port); although, I only tested it with a PC and Google Pixel XL. The cable isn’t extremely long (12”) but long enough for its portable designation. - Using Samsung’s V-NAND flash memory and USB 3.1 Gen 2 version with updated firmware, the T5 SSD is extremely fast. Samsung advertises speeds up to 540MB/sec, which is on par with internal SSDs. Believe it or not, Samsung isn’t lying to us. Indeed, the T5 is faster than some of the SSDs I have inside my PC via SATA interface. This speaks a lot to the capabilities of USB 3.1 and Samsung’s own quality standards. While in use, the drive stayed cool and silent, as expected from an SSD. The setup is as you’d expect. You can format it the way you’d like and whatever usage scenario you prefer. In Windows, it’s practically plug-n-play. - Naturally, being an SSD, it’s shock resistant, so you don’t have to worry much when carrying this thing around or dropping it, which is much more preferable to the sensitive HDDs. The T5 also has incredible hardware encryption standards (AES 256-bit) through a light-weight software bundled with it, aptly named, “Samsung Portable SSD”. This software will update the T5 to the latest firmware releases and allow password protection for the device, utilizing the AES encryption. Android, OSx and Windows all have a version of the app.

Cons: - I honestly can’t find a con with the T5 portable SSD. It’s nearly everything you’d want in an external SSD. It even comes with different cables, so you won’t have to buy adapters. Obviously, I wouldn’t recommend using any adapters anyhow, but Samsung was even diligent enough to include them.

Overall Review: - Compared to an external traditional HDD, the T5 is about 5 times faster than it and even faster in benchmarking tests. Also, taking the price into account, it’s well within the bang-for-your buck budget range for fast external storage. - Below, I provide the benchmarks I ran. I didn’t include the usual depth of them, but summed them up with overall scores and impressions. All the benchmarks, unless otherwise specified, is megabyte per second. In HD Tune Pro, the first benchmark listed is for access time: - Write Access time: 0.049ms Read Access Time: 0.059ms In HD Tune Pro, this second benchmark is Average Transfer Rate: - Write Transfer: 319MB/s Read Transfer: 310MB/s In CrystalDiskMark, below is 512K Transfer Rate: - Write Transfer: 505MB/s Read Transfer: 502MB/s In ATTODisk Benchmark, with a QD of 6, sequential read & write: - Write 8KB: 203MB/s Read 8KB: 238MB/s - Write 16KB: 342MB/s Read 16KB: 382MB/s - Write 32KB: 418MB/s Read 32KB: 499MB/s - Write 64KB: 481MB/s Read 64KB: 521MB/s - Write 128KB: 501MB/s Read 128KB: 532MB/s - Write 256KB: 515MB/s Read 256KB: 535MB/s - Write 512KB: 521MB/s Read 512KB: 543MB/s - Write 1024KB: 530MB/s Read 1024KB: 545MB/s - Write 2048KB: 533MB/s Read 2048KB: 548MB/s - Write 4096KB: 535MB/s Read 4096KB: 550MB/s - Write 8192KB: 538MB/s Read 8192KB: 551MB/s * As you can see, Samsung wasn’t lying in their advertisements, which is quite a relief. Most companies don’t hesitate to display their most extreme results and not conservative numbers. Samsung, however, showed rather right on speeds and you can expect when buying the T5 that you’ll get these blazing fast speeds, too. All in all, I couldn’t be less disappointed by the T5; it’s a top of the line, quick, light, quality device and, undoubtedly, a de facto choice. *

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Perfect Timing, Massive Storage8/20/2017 4:06:14 PM

Pros: * The Seagate 8TB Game Drive Hub for Xbox One is a massive storage device. It’s a USB 3.0 external HDD drive with two pass-through USB ports on it. Seagate nailed the timing of this product by coinciding it with Xbox’s release of their Game Subcription service “Xbox Game Pass” that allows a huge catalogue of games to be downloaded to your local Xbox and played. And now with Xbox One X taking pre-orders, maybe it’s time to future-proof and store the ever increasing size of games. But is there anything special about the Seagate Game Drive Hub? * - Aesthetically, the Seagate Game Drive Hub is a beautiful looking device, sleek as a sports car. Taking into consideration that the device has a very similar white color to the Xbox One S, they are visually simpatico. The Seagate drive looks right at home next to my white Xbox One S, though the white on the device has more of a matte finish than the Console. Its black undertone also nails it. There’s also plenty of perforated ventilation holes at the top of the device that keep it cool and even while benchmarking, the device doesn’t become warm to the touch. There’s a cool led backlit Seagate logo on the front of the drive and on the back more ventilation holes, power port, and USB data connection. There’s also the certified “Xbox” Logo on the left side of the device, ensuring its compatibility. On the front of the drive, there’s two 3.0 USB pass-through ports. So even though the drive occupies a USB port on your Xbox, it frees up an extra one; in the end providing you with one extra USB port. It’s about 2lbs total and measures 4.6” by 1.6” by 7.8”. It comes with about a 4 foot USB cable and a bunch of international power outlet ports. - Installation of the Seagate Game Drive Hub couldn’t be easier. It involves plugging it in: the Xbox will then immediately recognize it and treat is as expanded storage. You can then start storing movies, music, and games onto the massive drive. As I mentioned in the introduction, this drive is certainly overkill for just a gamer who buys Triple-AAA games and plays them only to move onto the next one. This device is for the Gameaholic and likely someone who is subscribed to Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Gold. You can start downloading any game you’d like to play in the catalogue and have plenty of capacity to do so. Just in case you’re wondering (because I did), you can’t simply subscribe to Game Pass for one month, download all the games you want, and let the subscription lapse. You will lose access to those games until you renew your subscription. Rats! Also, if you use your Xbox as an entertainment center, this will help keep all your media files in one place without worry of filling up anytime soon. I assume this would also be a great pickup for a Xbox “streamer” who wants to store their recordings of games on a local HDD to later be transferred, edited, and uploaded. - The disk reads on my PC as 7.27TB of storage and in Disk management programs, it reads at 7.4TB. All in all, you get about 7.3 TB of usable storage. To see the speed of the hard drive(s) inside, I ran just two CrystalDiskMark Benchmarks on the drive. There’s nothing extremely surprising about the results, but in summary, it’s relatively fast and close to an internal 3.5” hard drive’s speed. See “Other Thoughts” for the data.

Cons: - I don’t find many flaws with the Seagate Game Drive Hub for Xbox One. Really, the only thing I can say is there is nothing special about it. But is that a con? I don’t think so. At least, not for an external storage device. It also has some extra stuff others might not, like the two extra front 3.0 USB ports so you don’t run out of device connections.

Overall Review: - Seagate’s Game Hub Drive is extremely well priced and competitive, considering this thing holds a whopping 7.3TB of space. If you require this much space, I couldn’t think of a better option for you. Primarily, this is for Gameaholics, people who want a large catalogue of games and use Game Pass and Xbox Gold. Also, for people who utilize their Xbox One as an Entertainment center. And lastly, Game recorders who record their gameplay to a local storage device. Personally, I’ve been juggling my 500GB of storage on my Xbox One S for a long time… now, I don’t have to worry! - Also, I didn’t experience the slow speeds that the other EggXpert Reviewer mentioned (you can see the proof in the pudding by my tests below). Maybe I got lucky or he got unlucky with a faulty device. But it’s worth taking into account, nonetheless. Below are the two tests I ran using CrystalDiskMark. I ran only one pass on both. Test : 50 MiB [I: 0.0% (1.4/7451.9 GiB)] (x1) [Interval=5 sec] Sequential Read (Q= 32,T= 1) : 181.237 MB/s Sequential Write (Q= 32,T= 1) : 115.438 MB/s Random Read 4KiB (Q= 32,T= 1) : 30.378 MB/s [ 7416.5 IOPS] Random Write 4KiB (Q= 32,T= 1) : 4.855 MB/s [ 1185.3 IOPS] Sequential Read (T= 1) : 187.692 MB/s Sequential Write (T= 1) : 159.590 MB/s Random Read 4KiB (Q= 1,T= 1) : 14.637 MB/s [ 3573.5 IOPS] Random Write 4KiB (Q= 1,T= 1) : 2.686 MB/s [ 655.8 IOPS] ___________________________________________________________________________ Test : 500 MiB [I: 0.0% (1.4/7451.9 GiB)] (x1) [Interval=5 sec] * MB/s = 1,000,000 bytes/s [SATA/600 = 600,000,000 bytes/s] * KB = 1000 bytes, KiB = 1024 bytes Sequential Read (Q= 32,T= 1) : 181.464 MB/s Sequential Write (Q= 32,T= 1) : 161.122 MB/s Random Read 4KiB (Q= 32,T= 1) : 1.703 MB/s [ 415.8 IOPS] Random Write 4KiB (Q= 32,T= 1) : 8.660 MB/s [ 2114.3 IOPS] Sequential Read (T= 1) : 173.008 MB/s Sequential Write (T= 1) : 143.417 MB/s Random Read 4KiB (Q= 1,T= 1) : 0.805 MB/s [ 196.5 IOPS] Random Write 4KiB (Q= 1,T= 1) : 5.672 MB/s [ 1384.8 IOPS]

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Fantastic-Looking, Beastly RAM4/28/2017 5:31:13 PM

Pros: * Corsair has always been my go-to memory manufacturer for my personal use. I currently use a set of Dominators which I love. I always thought the Dominators, in terms of aesthetics, looked the best. But then I slotted these Corsair Vengeance RGB DDR4-3000Mhz sticks in and I was taken aback. However, these RAM sticks perform just as terrifically as they look. * - Aesthetically, the Vengeance is wicked looking. These sticks are perfect for an over-the-top gaming rig and to show off through a transparent side panel. It’d be a shame to hide these sticks. The LEDs are bright and beautiful. Through the software, these LEDs can be tweaked to any color of your choosing. Even though I have white coolant, and a black/silver theme, the blue LEDs look the best, though the white are pretty slick, too. The black heatsink spreaders are just as nice looking, teamed with the illuminated Corsair ship logo. The great thing about the LED control is that it’s handled by the SMBus, meaning all you need is the corresponding Corsair Software for further tweaking. After installing Corsair Link, you get total control over the LEDs inside the Vengeance: pulse, static, shift, and rainbow modes. Here you can separate the sticks or group them as one unit. Overall, the software was pretty intuitive and easily comprehendible. I used the Beta version and it worked well. - Once I enabled the XMP Profile, the timings were set to 15:17:17:35. I ran it at 3000MHz though it can be overclocked beyond that. I would rather use lower timings than higher frequency. These sticks are great for tweaking with clock speeds and timings, so do it to your hearts content. Or if you want to just get up and running, utilize the XMP 2.0 profile form your motherboard. - The RAM performs very well. On Cinebench, I achieved a score of 900. On AIDA64, the Read was 41222MB/s; Write was 44302MB/s; and Copy was 39905MB/s.

Cons: - Though the Link software does its job, there is some left to be desired. I do not worry though, since Corsair is an active company that will continually update the software and add improvements while squashing bugs. - It's hard to come up with cons for RAM :P . Especially Corsair RAM like this!

Overall Review: - You may need to update your BIOS to the latest version to fully utilize the RGB control and for Corsair Link to work properly with the color modes. There is an update to come, according to Corsair, that’ll give the user control over brightness modes as well as color for the sticks’ LEDs. - 32GBs may be more than you need, of course depending on the software you run, but be sure whether it’s worth the money to sink in Quad channel 32GB or just two sticks of 16GB. * It’s hard to say a lot about RAM because RAM is pretty boring and straightforward. But because of the extra features of this Vengeance RAM, there’s more to talk about and more benefits in the long run. I really like these DIMMS and they perform up to snuff. I highly recommend them for colorful gaming rigs and a showpiece in your rig. *

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Better than the Previous Model3/14/2017 3:01:15 PM

Pros: * Three years ago, I reviewed TP-Link’s first model of their N300 Wi-Fi Range Extender. I gave it a depressing two out of five eggs due to multiple issues of setting up and it working without hiccups. Now, in 2017, it’s definitely better than the previous model, but at the same time, a lot has changed in three years. N300 is on its way out. * - The N300 Extender is simple enough concerning its aesthetics. It looks like a tiny, white robot with malleable, medium-sized antennae. On the right-hand side is a small hard reset button, not a toothpick one, a difference I appreciate. Beside that are two more, larger buttons. An On/Off, which also is nice to have on an extender, and a WPS button. On the bottom, is a dedicated Ethernet port, with plenty of ventilation all around. It also has three LED indicator lights for power, internet, and signal. The extender occupies a power outlet but provides one on the front. If positioned on the button of a two-pronged wall outlet, there should be enough room for a small plug into the top one. On side-by-side power strips, it’s bound to take up at least two outlets due to the size. Inside the box are a tiny resource CD and quick start guides. It also comes with a short Ethernet cable (where all those flat Ethernet cables at?!). - I had to opt to set up the Range Extender using a wired connection (see Cons). Even though it didn’t work for me, a WPS setup is also available. It’s a rather quick and easy setup all in all. Inside the browser configuration page, you can make tweaks and change some settings to personalize the extender for your network and needs. The Settings page is definitely above average, displaying some interesting additional info like Throughput Graphs. - The signal strength is rather strong when nearby. It definitely carries my primary router’s Wi-Fi an additional 50 feet with good strength behind it. The range is decent. Dealing with N300, the speed isn’t anything to fawn over. For the price, it’s a nice addition to a limited network with limited speeds.

Cons: - I couldn’t set up the TP-Link N300 through WPS for the life of me. Admittedly, I have a complicated network setup, but I’ve had other items work just fine. Again, this isn’t too uncommon when it comes to my network for some reason. - The N300 obviously doesn’t have a 5ghz band and only 300mbps on the 2.4ghz channel. This is a known fact when buying this product, hence why it’s affordable. But nowadays, with every modern phone utilizing 5ghz–even AC–I wonder why anyone would purchase an N300 extender. But if that’s all you’re looking for, that’s what you get with the N300. - Nowadays with Powerline Adapters available, Range extenders–in my opinion–are becoming more obsolete. They’re less reliable, flaky, and depend on the router’s signal, which, personally in the past, leads to Wi-Fi drops consistently. My network had a range extender in it (I went through probably 6 of them, being review items) for a couple of years before I ditched them all together for a better solution; their signal was just too inconsistent for any kind of streaming and use in general. I used a few Powerline adapters, which were better until ultimately opting for a second router as a bridge. This is more of a Con of the tech, not the product itself, but I felt the need to include it since I went through a long time of frustration using Wi-Fi range extenders in an abnormally long house.

Overall Review: - Be sure not to bottleneck your network by purchasing this if your router and ISP carries above N300 speeds! Don’t expect to be streaming without buffering by using this extender. At N300, it’s really for merely extending Wi-Fi into an area for internet website browsing capabilities. I recommend if you’re still using the 2.4ghz band and have modern devices (last 3 years), it’s likely time to upgrade to 5GHz band, starting with your router first. * Overall, the N300 Range Extender is a simple, inexpensive device that gets the job done in extending Wi-Fi to previous weak signal spots. Don’t expect amazing speeds or incredible signal strength/reach. But it may be a fine fit for a limited network. The product itself gets the job done as it’s advertised and priced. *

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Buggy App and Desires Left Unfilled2/14/2017 4:02:38 PM

Pros: * I love the idea behind Belkin’s WeMo product line. I’ve reviewed nearly every SKU in the WeMo family. I almost always love them at first, but the other WeMo products I’ve used always have a hard time holding up long-term. In one way or another (I think due to firmware and software), they inevitably fail on me and cause too much of a headache to use. We’ll eventually see if this is the case for the Insight Switch, as well. But for now… * - The physical device is rather attractive. It has a satin white finish that looks good against outlets. It is a little bulky, occupying two outlets on my Belkin Surge Protector. It has a touch sensitive top to toggle its power and it lights up with an attractive LED, displaying an indicator status light. There’s also a reset button, which you may end up using much more than you think. - The setup of the WeMo Insight Switch is frustrating, much like the other WeMo products (see Cons). After finally getting it right, the app guided me through connecting the Switch to my Wi-Fi network, which was another hassle within itself. Once set up, the app is pretty informative. I’m not positive how accurate the stats are with Watt usage and such; it would be hard to calculate without really delving into it. However, the breakdown of stats–like how long the device connected to the Insight has been powered on for, the average amount of time it’s on daily, the cost of electricity estimated monthly used by the device, when and how long it was last on for–can be helpful to determine a slew of different energy-related conclusions. At first glance, without extensive research, I can say the wattage breakdown seems relatively accurate because when I connected a 1500 Watt heat gun to it, the app detected a spike in wattage, recording 963 watts being consumed. The on/off button is extremely responsive, lagging maybe 50ms before toggling power to the connected device. - The IFTTT integration has always been a cool feature of the WeMo products. You can set some interesting and complex Recipes through IFTTT to further enhance the WeMo’s uses. Personally, I can’t find a recipe I actually would use on a daily basis; they seem mostly incidental and extraneous. Nonetheless, they’re flexible, and I’m sure someone would have a use for it. - The WeMo Insight Switch has an inexpensive price tag that makes it extremely attractive to start venturing into converting your home into a smarter one… if, that is, you’re willing to put up with the cons below.

Cons: - One thing I’ve noticed after owning multiple WeMo products is that the app continues to evolve constantly; however, it’s actually devolving, becoming more confusing, not simpler. When I first used the WeMo app years ago, it was much simpler to navigate and setup than it is now. I spent a frustrating amount of time setting up this Insight Switch, much like how all my other Belkin WeMo products won’t allow me to set them up any longer either. Setting it up on my new Google Pixel XL required me to allow the Wi-Fi to stay connected to a signal that had no internet access. It will pop up and ask if you’d like to stay connected. Be sure to select yes. I also had to disable my 4G. It’s a process of elimination and troubleshooting. None of the Demos or videos or scant Quick Setup Guide actually helped. - I have an Echo Dot, but I couldn’t get it connected to the WeMo Insight Switch. Since the Alexa app and skills are rather buggy too, I don’t know whether to blame this on Belkin or Alexa. - While using the app I encountered a few crashes where the app would just stop responding. It also freezes frequently. Multiple restarts were common and this has been common since the dawn of the WeMo app. Another prevalent issue was the loss of connection to the Insight; the app would no longer detect it even though the device itself was on, which again, is another common issue with other WeMo products. I have to unplug the device and then restart the app. This causes unnecessary time delays and frustration that makes me want to unplug it instead of complicating the process using a poorly coded app.

Overall Review: - There’s a firmware update when you first set up the app. Obviously, I recommend updating that. I didn’t notice any big difference in stability but I’m sure it did something. * After having used many WeMo products, my opinion pretty much remains the same after reviewing the Insight Switch as well. I love the idea behind WeMo, and to be honest, they do work as intended, but the unnecessary complications, bugs, and app shortcomings make me prefer to avoid the WeMo products in search of another Smart Home solution or using a mechanical approach instead (like a toggle switch and mechanical outlet timer). The hassle of using them outweighs the intended simplification. Once the app is refined, bugs fixed, and the devices’ occasional communication issues are resolved, I think the WeMo has a great chance of being on the frontline of the consumer’s end of Smart Home technology. But for now, I’d rather leave it unplugged and use traditional, older methods. *

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Seagate's Sanguine Future12/12/2016 2:11:08 PM

Pros: * Seagate seems to be stepping up their game by releasing a slew of new category-specific Hard Drives that are tailored for specific usage environments. Having been a Western Digital fanboy for more than a decade, I am excited by Seagate becoming a worthy competitor for the specialized storage market. I can confidently proclaim that I’m still a WD devotee; however, I have a more open mind when deciding a HDD. It very well may mean that Seagate now isn’t just the cheaper option, but worth considering when implementing a new NAS, Surveillance System, and Gaming PC. It’s an invigorating time for both Seagate and consumers alike. * - The IronWolf is obviously suited for NAS configurations. Since I was only able to test one drive, I couldn’t set up a RAID Array. It’s evidently for RAID configurations or multiple 24/7 drive use situations. Setting it up is as easy as any other bare hard drive. I connected it to a HDD Dock on my desktop and formatted it to GPT and NTSF. With 931GB, I connected to my Linksys 3200ACM router via USB 3.0 and a 2-slotted NAS Bay. The process of moving files is quick enough. Since the benchmarks I ran don’t accurately display the performance of this drive, I did not include them. The IronWolf is noticeably slower than my RAID 1 configuration of WD Red Pro NAS drives, but that’s not accurately comparing the competition as Pro drives are about 50% more expensive than the entry-level 5400 RPM drives. In the price-per-performance comparison, Seagate beats out its competition by offering the same cost of a 5400RPM drive at the IronWolf’s 5900 RPM. Hence, Seagate’s IronWolf is currently the best bang for the buck. - Seagate has implemented Rotational Vibration Sensors which they claim mitigates the common issue of noisy NAS bays. Possibly due to this, the IronWolf is indeed noticeably quieter than other drives, about 3 decibels less. It emits a hushed hum noise and barely vibrates. Temperatures while in use got to a manageable 42 degrees, which will vary depending on your bay. - The IronWolf boasts an impressive one million mean-time-between-failures rate and a three year warranty. Everything about the IronWolf—its specs, firmware, AgileArray software, power management, dual-plane balancing–lends itself to be right at home in a heavy workload, 24/7 usage environment.

Cons: - All of the IronWolf drives up until the 6TB ones spin at 5900 RPM. It would have been nice to have all of them clock at 7200 RPM or have an option for the less spacious drives to spin faster at a higher cost. NAS speed is imperative for my uses, so I was a little disappointed by the slower spin options of the drives less than 6TB. However, it’s worth noting that WD’s directly comparable drives according to price per performance are 5400 RPM. As I mention in the Pros section, Seagate is technically beating out the competition by providing slightly faster 5900 RPM drives. Nonetheless, it would benefit consumers if Seagate would implement a faster RPM SKU for lower storage drives.

Overall Review: - There are two separate IronWolf drive choices: the 5900 RPM from 1TB to 4TB in 1TB increments and the 7200 RPM models that go up from 6TB to 10TB in 2TB increments. It’s great now that there are easily obtainable consumer options of high capacity drives. * Overall, I’m impressed and delighted by Seagate’s new line of hard drives. I look forward to getting my hands on the other versions. Next time I upgrade my NAS or am looking for a HDD, Seagate will be one of the top contenders. *

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Another Rock Star Router11/14/2016 3:22:39 PM

Pros: * The brand new Linksys WRT 3200ACM is a beast of a router and currently provides the fastest 5GHz band. It’s jam-packed full of top-end hardware, great for WRT tweakers, boasting unparalleled Wi-Fi performance. I was blown away by the steadiness and quality of its 5GHz band. Not only does it perform well, it also has some terrific hardware and software features as icing on the cake. I’ve reviewed many routers, and I’m not giving this one up. It has already earned a permanent station in my home’s ever-growing octopus-like network. * - The 3200ACM itself has a rather large horizontal footprint but sports an overall minimalistic design–much like other Linksys models. It came very well packaged, including my heretofore favorite flat Ethernet cable. Why can’t every Ethernet cable be flat and flexible like this? It’s also longer than most, about 5 feet give or take. Aesthetically, the router looks like Linksys’s traditional routers, a pleasant look but not ultra-modern or sleek. Like I said, it’s bulky and relatively large, but it isn’t an eye-sore or anything; this is to be expected considering the hardware inside. The router has a physical power toggle switch, reset button, WPS, 12vdc power, a rarely seen eSATA/USB port, a USB 3.0 port, and the generic WAN/4xLAN. The bottom has highly raised rubber grommet feet with optional mounting holes and plenty of ventilation (there are top ventilation holes as well). Included are four detachable antennae, which are sleek, beefy, and powerful in their own right, so they likely don’t need upgrading. The router gets warm but not hot. Its LED indicator lights are an understated white that flash and blink, but no to the point of annoyance. Pretty much all the indicators you’d like are included, even LAN use Wi-Fi band usage. - The overall performance of the Linksys 3200ACM is really impressive. Prior to setting it up as a mainstay in my home network, I used a “high-end” Wi-Fi powerline extender. Daily, I was frustrated by that extender and it was probably my 7th one I’ve used. I don’t know if it’s a widespread issue or just my home’s layout or whatever, but extenders and repeaters occasionally drop their signal. Needless to say, this started to really get on my nerves. Naturally, I set up this router for reasons of reviewing and testing, unplugging the extender. Having a Linksys WRT1900AC in my family room and after a week of testing, I decided to instead replace my extender for a dedicated router. Using the 3200ACM in its place has made a world of difference. No longer does the Wi-Fi drop out. My 5GHz band is immensely better and it–much more reliably–carries all my NAS hook-ups from the family room now to the rest of the home. I have yet to run into a dead-zone or an area in the house where I cannot at the very least stream iHeartRadio on my phone. In many cases, the signal is passing through multiple walls and a far range due to the length of my home. The 3200ACM’s 160MHz channel, which is double the typical channel width of routers, makes a real-world difference that I’ve noticed. This is likely due to the three streams going into that high channel, hence its MU-MIMO Tri-Stream capabilities. In theory, this virtually achieves to host a mini dedicated network for each device using the Wi-Fi band. In practice, I cannot back up Linksys’s claim 100%, but having streamed multiple HD videos simultaneously on differing devices, I can proclaim that it stood up to the challenge; I believe my only bottleneck in this scenario was my ISP. Which is why I believe the 3200ACM will take anything you can throw at it. It has a plethora of future-proofing tech inside of it and will certainly remove any router bottleneck if that’s your concern. - Setting up the Linksys 3200ACM is quick and easy. I love how easy routers have become to install nowadays and Linksys is no exception. Actually, they may very well be the best at providing a user-friendly installation. The Smart Wi-Fi Browser configuration page makes everything understandable and available at your fingertips. Thank Poseidon we’ve moved away from those arduous and convoluted configuration pages of the past. I configured the router to a Bridge mode and set up its DHCP range with ease. It can also be set up in practically any networking mode you can imagine, such as DHCP, Static, PPPoE, PPTP, L2TP, Bridge, Repeater, and wireless Bridge. I was also able to combine the 5GHz and 2.4GHz band SSIDs, so no more selectively connecting to the Wi-Fi according to the band, simplifying and speeding up the process in the end. Of course, you can (and should) go even deeper by installing WRT and tweaking to your heart’s content. Nonetheless, there are plenty of settings and options made available from the get-go for most users. Pros Section continues into Other Thoughts

Cons: - Within the Media Prioritization (QOS), you can only select three devices for high priority. I’d prefer there to be a list of priority, ranging from top to bottom being the least, to extend to even every device in the house, but you’re limited to three. WRT will give you more options, however. - I know the hardware is impressive and it’s a workhorse, but its size is pretty considerable. It takes up a lot of horizontal desk space so placement may prove a little tricky. Again, it’s understandable when sporting these types of specs. - The 3200ACM is certainly expensive, but you’re paying for what you’re getting and that can be expected.

Overall Review: Pros Continued: - The signal range is far-reaching and noticeably better than even their own AC1900 version, which is essentially a step down from the 3200ACM. The Wi-Fi strength registers strongly in nearly any area of the home, and when testing with NetSurveyor, it blew away all my other devices I use. The Beacon Quality is unmatched with very few fluctuations in stability. As expected, the AC is amazingly fast for my devices that support it. The benchmark results proved all my suppositions that the router was providing exactly what it advertises. The Wi-Fi tops out in the benchmarks pretty much the same as my wired connections, which is impressive but understandable considering the top-of-the-line hardware the 3200ACM sports. - Attaching a Seagate 1TB external hard drive to the Linksys WRT1900AC couldn’t have been easier. The drive popped up on my network instantly, without any configuration to it at all. I could access both USB ports occupied by hard drives, which allowed an instant and easy NAS to be established. This process is so easy that nearly anyone with a spare drive can have some extra network storage. The “personal cloud” configuration has never been easier for an end user and now there’s virtually no reason not to utilize this feature. - The Media Prioritization (QOS) settings within Linksys’s Smart Wi-Fi Browser page are the simplest and easiest bandwidth prioritization settings I’ve ever come across. It’s as simple as dragging and dropping a network device to “High Priority.” Beyond that, you can even select specific applications or online games to receive network speed priority. However, see Cons for one issue I have with it. Pros Ended - Other Thoughts: - If you aren’t using the 5GHz band with your devices, it’d be much wiser to spend your money elsewhere. Since this router is essentially the flagship for 5GHz, you should not buy it if you aren’t intending to use that band. The good news is that most devices now come stock with AC so it still would achieve some future-proofing on your end. * Overall, the 3200ACM is a workhorse of a router. It has great hardware, useful bells-and-whistles, and pretty much anything you could need in a home router. Scratch that, it’s a professional router masquerading as a home router and I think you expect that if you’re willing to lay down this type of money for one. Nevertheless, you won’t be disappointed. *

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Performance Powerhouse10/17/2016 2:25:23 PM

Pros: * The Linksys CM3016 is a great modem all around. The hardware inside is more than impressive. It has plenty of power to handle nearly anything a network can throw at it. * - Aesthetically, I really like the look of the Linksys CM3016, besides its size (see Cons). It has a sleek, modern, tiled look, which is similar to some Asus routers I’ve seen. It has a bottom vertical stand. There’s plenty of heat dissipation vents all around the modem, acting as functional aesthetics, so overheating should not be an issue. The LED indicators have a soft green glow, for power, receive, send, status, and Ethernet connection. There’s a Reset switch on the rear, a port for power, one outgoing Ethernet, and a coaxial Cable port. - The Linksys CM3016 is practically plug-n-play setup. After inputting the broadband service provider and device identifiers, it’s easily further customizable through the browser configuration page. There you can fine tune the modem further. However, the majority of your configuration will fall upon whatever router the CM3016 is connected to. - The 250mbps connectivity speed should be enough for the majority of users’ ISPs. Unless you’re running a business or something, your ISP will most likely be providing equivalent to or under 50mbps. With 16 simultaneous download channels and 4 upload, the CM3016 is more than enough to power most households. This is thanks to the Intel Puma 6TM chipset inside the CM3016. The processor is really powerful and it is noticeable when heavy bandwidth weight is thrown onto the modem. Its high bandwidth has plenty of room for future compatibility when speeds continue to escalate (hopefully). - The CM3016 performs exactly how I’d figure it would. In my testing, there was no bottleneck or throttling, and I have an extremely extensive network–due to running a business from my home. It’s a performance powerhouse. - Just as it is with most retail Modems, the Linksys CM3016 is a good option to replace the modem you’re paying for and renting from your Internet Service Provider. In most cases, this modem will pay for itself within a year. - Because of its advanced hardware, the CM3016 is especially beneficial if you are a torrenter or P2P user.

Cons: - There’s only one Ethernet port. It would have been nice to have at least two ports for the sake of flexibility and options. This shouldn’t be a deal-breaker for most users, but in my personal situation, I use three of the four on my modem despite having multiple routers and switches. There aren’t many scenarios for this as your network should work like a chain, but for my situation, it makes sense. - I can’t help but think the Modem is taller than it should be. I think there could have been a design change to allow a stouter form factor. It could be due to the impressive hardware inside; nonetheless, you can see through the modem and it looks like the top half is comprised of mostly empty space. But what do I know about product engineering? (Literally nothing.) - The CM3016 is a little expensive, but as I mention in Other Thoughts, the hardware and its future-proofing justifies its price tag.

Overall Review: - The Linksys CM3016 is a Cable modem, so you need a coaxial provided by your ISP. ISPs like AT&T or DSL providers won’t be compatible with this modem. Popular providers like Time Warner, ComCast and COX will be compatible, and likely most other Antenna/Coaxial-based ISPs. - If you’re considering saving a few bucks by buying the CM3008 instead, I recommend you buy this one (CM3016) just for future-proofing. Since you’re looking to save costs in the long run, you might as well throw down a little extra cash and purchase the CM3016 for the sake of its compatibility and upgrading friendliness. Our ISPs should continue to improve their bandwidth, so avoid bottlenecking your network with the lower end model. With 250mbps connectivity, you have plenty of headroom for the ever-changing networking field. * Overall, there’s not much more you can ask for in a modem than what Linksys’s CM3016 provides. I was going to dock one egg for the couple of issues I have with it, but in the end, there’s really no existing flaw with the CM3016. It’s a plenty powerful modem and should fit right at home in your network. *

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A Terrific Light Gaming PC10/15/2016 3:35:25 PM

Pros: * The Acer Aspire E 15 575G is a fantastic machine. It’s eye-dazzling design and solid construction makes it look like a high-priced Ultrabook. There are hardly any hardware sacrifices; all the specs are reasonable and tied in symmetrically with each other. It’s not without some flaws, but its positives vastly outweigh the few drawbacks. * - Aesthetically, the Acer 575G is gorgeous. Its brushed aluminum black is sleek and attractive. It’s relatively thin for a non-Ultrabook, a little shy of 1 inch. It weighs close to 5lbs but isn’t heavy and doesn't bother my thighs over a long period of time on my lap. There’s a noticeable difference from an Ultrabook, but still, being under 5lbs, it is merciful enough to be a lap PC. The LED indicated lights are a soft, understated blue. The silver, metallic border around the touchpad oozes eye-catching elegance. - Overall, the Acer 575G performs pleasantly well. It is quick and nearly every aspect of use is instant. The i5-6200U is certainly beefy enough to provide no bottleneck for most applications. Acer has done a great job tying together well-performing, mid- to high-end hardware to provide an overall smooth experience. I’m pleased that Acer threw away the gimmicky Hybrid SSHD and implemented a dedicated SSD for boot and apps to drastically improve performance. It’s definitely noticeable. The boot times are extremely fast and apps load snappily. With only 106GB usable, there’s not much space there for all data to benefit from SSD performance, but there’s a plenty large 1TB HDD, as well—for personal data like pictures and videos. With how cheap SSDs are currently, you can easily swap out the 120GB factory SSD for a much more sizable one at a thrifty price. The same goes for the RAM. Though in most cases, the default 8GB should do you fine, Acer only put in one stick, so there’s another one empty and available. You can take this up to 32GB if you’d like. It is DDR4, too! - The Acer 575G comes with a dedicated Nvidia GTX 950M GPU. In the “Other Thoughts” section, I cover some benchmarks and test results concerning this GPU. The integrated graphics controller is an Intel HD 520, which runs the general purpose use side of computing. The dedicated GTX will kick in when running full-screen applications that require more horsepower. Most MOBA games, World of Warcraft, Mine Craft, and Indie Games will run above 30FPS and won’t suffer much from lag at all. I ran 3DMark’s Sky Diver Benchmark and was pleasantly surprised at how good it looked for a budget, light gaming laptop. The i5 boosted to a 2.8GHz right away and the GTX 950M took over without issue. Though it will handle light gaming, don’t expect to get 60FPS from Triple-A titles or in most cases, to even run. You’ll need to look for a better GPU; at least a GTX 960. Nonetheless, the 575G handles itself really well whether you’re a light gamer, an everyday user, or just someone who needs a modern, fast laptop. - The 15.6” screen is decent. It isn’t IPS, but for the price you can’t really complain. It is, however, 1080p which makes gaming and general use much better looking. I’m glad Acer also ditched the horrible, ubiquitous 1366x768 resolution. Hopefully, more budget-friendly laptops will adopt the 1080p standard. Since it lacks in-plane switching, the viewing angles aren’t terrific, but aren’t as horrible as a TN, for example. Surprisingly, it does have a great-looking display. I figured without the IPS, the colors would be washed out and the picture wouldn’t pop, but straight on, the screen still is impressive. - The Acer 575G has a great network card. In areas where Wi-Fi are thin for other devices in my home, the Acer 575G’s Qualcomm Atheros QCA9377 WLAN card picked the signal up strongly, both on the 5GHz and 2.4GHz band with AC wireless support. Impressive Wi-Fi performance is a silver-lining with laptops nowadays; it’s essential, and Acer nailed it here. Bluetooth 4.1 and LAN is available as well. - The IO connectivity sports a decent amount of ports: two USB 3.0, one USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, and a combo 3.5mm jack. However, the most noteworthy port is the USB 3.1 Type-C port. This opens up a load of current and future compatibility with new products utilizing such a port. - I appreciate the inclusion of a full-sized Numpad. The keyboard is nonetheless roomy and the typing spread is ideal (see Cons). The keys also feel great and most of the sizing is perfect. - Limited pop-up bloatware, but a good amount of installed bloatware (see Cons). - Acer claims a 12-hour battery life, and believe it or not, with the Intel Skylake CPU, the battery life can last a long time–as long as you aren’t gaming or something on battery. - For what you’re getting, the price is very reasonable. The specs don’t lie and this is a well-priced machine whether for gaming or normal use. Though, for normal use, I’d recommend spending slightly less on a laptop without a dedicated GPU and just an integrated Intel or APU.

Cons: - I know laptops continue to strive to be thinner, which I appreciate greatly. What I don’t appreciate is manufacturers’ putting in the room for an optical drive, with a slot and the look, but no optical drive being there. The Acer 575G does this. It’s annoying. Either include one or don’t; nowadays, I prefer one not to be there in the first place. - I really dislike when a laptop’s power button is on the keyboard, and I’ve seen this frequently with Acer laptops. Please, Acer, go back to the hard power button located separately from the keyboard. This is a real pet peeve of mine. Though the keyboard is responsive and roomy, I never liked the combined up and down arrow. - Acer PCs of late (I’ve purchased many for clients so I’ve had my hands on a plethora of different E 15s) have too thick of screen bezels. The whole PC looks modern, everything is sleek and elegant, but then your eyes go to the thick (1” on all sides, 1.5” bottom) screen bezel, slightly ruining the streamlined appearance. - I’m not in love with the touchpad. It has an appealing appearance, but all too often I find my finger encountering too much friction. Occasionally, my finger will lift and misplace the mouse pointer, interrupting the flow and acceleration of the mouse pointer. - Though there isn’t much pop-up bloatware, besides registration, there is a good amount of third-party and Acer apps installed on the PC. It’s just a nuisance, not a deal-breaker. There are plenty of manufacturers who are far worse than Acer when it comes to Bloatware.

Overall Review: * I really like this laptop. It performs terrifically with light graphic gaming and even mid graphic benchmarking. It’s fast, snappy, and has an SSD with 1TB for data. It has a generous price tag for the specs and remains budget-friendly. It has a USB 3.1 port, a 1080p screen, and an attractive display. The Acer 575G is perfect for a road warrior who likes to play MOBA games and Steam indie games without the burden of carrying a heavy, bulky high-end gaming laptop. Don’t expect amazing gaming performance, but the 575G definitely holds its own due to its GTX 950m. * _Benchmark for GTX 950M_ =3DMark Sky Diver= Overall Score: 8719 Graphics Score: 10419 Average FPS for test 1 and 2: 45.7 / 49.6 Physics Score: 4575 Combined Score: 10089 with 41.52 FPS CPU Temperature: 70 C GPU Temperature: 77 C _Benchmark For GTX 950M_ =Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0= -Medium Graphics Settings - No AA – Tessellation Disabled FPS: 39.9 Score: 1006 Min FPS: 8.1 Max FPS: 68.6

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Near Perfect MMO Mouse9/27/2016 2:39:55 PM

Pros: * I’ve been a Logitech devotee for at least twelve years. Corsair’s peripherals never just made enough of an impact on me to switch over to their mouse lines, keyboards or headsets, and I’ve tested a good number of them. They were always missing something that I deemed indispensable. Mostly, their mice were aimed at claw grippers. And I never much liked their software, the Corsair Utility Engine, due to its overwhelming settings and often muddying options. However, my opinion now may be different after having spent more than a week with Corsair’s Scimitar RGB MOBO/MMO Gaming mouse. * - First off, the Scimitar is an utterly gorgeous mouse. Aesthetically, it may be one of the best-looking mice I’ve ever laid eyes on. Its undertone, matte black looks clean and sleek, avoiding fingerprints. Its side buttons look fantastic and industrial. The ring finger tactile coating fits despite its rough-plating appearance. The LED that protrudes out of the mouse to highlight the side buttons helps make the mouse congruent. Speaking of the LEDs, they are marvelous. They light up each side button with back-lighting; a spotlight of green in front of the side buttons (see Cons); the Corsair logo is beautifully lit; the mouse wheel has a subtle side glow, and, quite unnecessarily hidden, there’s also a grilled LED on the front of the mouse, sadly rarely to be witnessed. All four of these LEDs can be controlled independently and set to be a solid color, gradient, ripple, or pulse from the CUE software. The Scimitar pulls off its awesome gaming aesthetics; you can’t help but stare at it. - The mouse weighs about 147 grams. For my personal preference, it’s perfectly weighted with easy height lift. The mouse cable is braided, giving very little resistance when moving rapidly. The massive PTFE pads on the bottom instill extremely smooth movement and glide if you prefer. Control over this mouse couldn’t be better. I have very long, wretched fingers, and all of them end up laying perfectly over the top of the mouse. My fingers do not touch each other like they do in the G602’s case. This gives you even more control and comfort. I’ve always used a palm grip, and surprisingly, this mouse fits a palm grip without any drawbacks. Also, trying it with a claw grip results in a good experience as well. So I can honestly proclaim that whether you’re a claw or palm gripper, this mouse should work for you. The main reason for this compatibility is due to what Corsair calls the “Key Slider.” It’s a brilliant feature that enables the 12 side buttons to be repositioned up to eight millimeters in either direction using an Allen key at the bottom of the mouse. I found that I had to reposition the Key Slider all the way to the front for my thumb to be optimally positioned, while a claw gripper or someone with shorter fingers may prefer it closer to the back. Corsair’s attention to detail here deserves lauding. Its exterior coating feels extremely comfortable, with a soft rubber-like tactile feel. - Between the 17 customizable buttons (in reality, 14) and Corsair’s CUE software, the Scimitar is highly customizable. They are indeed right when they brand it as an MMO / MOBA mouse. With the twelve side thumb buttons, you can bind twelve spells or hotkeys, and then some if you use a keyboard combo like Shift. Having essentially 24 different hotkeys at the touch of your thumb is overwhelming. Corsair did a decent job trying to implement a difference in tactile feel for these 12 keys so you can tell the difference of what row you’re on, but I still think they could have made it even better (see Cons). The actual press of the keys aren’t bad but they take a little more force than I would have preferred. However, the mechanical switches of these keys’ click and the haptic response are rewarding. After getting used to the mouse, I rarely made a mistake in which side button I wanted to click, but know that there is a learning curve with it, and accidentally clicking the wrong one could mean death in an MMO or MOBA. - Corsair’s CUE software offers a dizzying amount of customizable options. It isn’t the best software out there (see Cons), but it will give you a plethora of settings to customize and define for your unique use. I found myself hovering around 4k DPI, though the mouse offers up to 12k. On my G602 I have no issues being at 3k, even with three monitors. Just because a mouse can go to 12k makes it no better. But the high ceiling allows for it, so that never hurts. I just can’t imagine someone gaming at 12k DPI, but hey, to each their own. - The middle scroll wheel feels great when scrolling, with a noticeable bump for each level (see Cons).

Cons: - The two main left and right click offer good resistance; however, I like mine slightly softer, more responsive, and less stiff. Nonetheless, possibly after breaking the mouse in for longer than a week or two, and more like a month, the main two buttons may pan out to be more flexible. - Though the lighting options and configurations are astoundingly customizable, Corsair oddly left out the fifth lighting zone on the mouse, one of the most prominent LEDs on the mouse, the one that is situated in front of the 12 side buttons. It stays at Green no matter what you do. It’s hard to complain about it, but it’d be nice to have the option of changing that considering you can change all of the other four lighting zones. - There is a learning curve to the 12 side buttons. If you’re a past Naga user, it may be s much easier transition. But I did get lost often with my thumb. Although, even worse than getting lost was having to focus where on my thumb to press. Instead of it coming to me second hand and instinctively, I had to take a second to control my thumb. This time diminished the longer I used it, but I see the delayed response always being an issue. The other problem: even though Corsair textured the columns of the buttons to know what column you’re on, it’d be better to add a small bump or bar like in Home Row to know which row you’re on. Possibly, situated on the 2 and the 8 or 5 and the 11 key. It would help immensely with guidance. - When reaching over my middle finger to click the middle button, it takes more force than it should, noticeably different from my other mouse. It may be a positioning issue or just a personal, unique anomaly. - Even though the CUE software has tons of options, it isn’t nearly as user-friendly as other peripheral software that’s on the market. A good case in point is Logitech’s Gaming Software, which I find to be much more straightforward and streamlined, easier to use. Corsair has a little while to go for the software to be more digestible as opposed to overwhelming.

Overall Review: * Overall, I think the Scimitar is a great weapon to add to your arsenal if you’re an MMO or MOBA gamer. The branding speaks for itself. It has a ton of awesome feature–some of which like the Key Slider–that can’t be found in other gaming mice (that I know of; excuse me if I’m wrong on that). It sports a wealth of customizable features, awesome LEDs with the gamut of RGB options, amazing aesthetics, 12 side buttons, and terrific build quality. I highly recommend the Scimitar if you’re looking for a plethora of buttons at your disposal. *

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Large Storage, Large Device9/2/2016 4:56:36 PM

Pros: * It’s big and beautiful, but sadly a little disappointing. When I unwrapped it, I was amazed by the quality of packaging and premium build design. No doubt, the Innov8 is a premium product. However, is the performance gain of USB 3.1 really worth it in Innov8’s case? * - Aesthetically, the Innov8 is an industrial-looking device due to the slotted aluminum enclosure. It has a granite black finish; appearing expensive, sleek, but alien simultaneously. Inside the box is a USB 3.1 cable (~18”), a quick start guide, and the device itself. - I just have to mention the packaging and Seagate’s attention to detail concerning it. Molded soft foam lines the entire interior, the box itself is beautiful, and the presentation while opening it lets you know this is a premium product. - The Innov8 comes formatted as exFat and can be reformatted to NTFS. The application on the Innov8 setups up a program to be downloaded and installed, called Seagate Dashboard. It’s optional so you can choose to use it or not. But after following the web browser steps, Seagate offers you 200GB on OneDrive for 2 years for free. Definitely worth taking advantage of that free cloud storage. The software is pretty good. In my opinion it’s an even better backup program than WD Smartware. It’s flexible; you can have your entire PC be backed up to the drive continuously, monthly, weekly, daily, or hourly. The GUI is simple but effective. I think nearly anyone could set up an easy backup. Seagate’s DiskWizard from their website might also be helpful for setting the drive up in the manner you’d prefer. It’s essentially, though, all-in-all, a plug-N-play drive like most external drives nowadays. - The performance of the Innov8 beats practically every USB 3.0 drive I’ve tested and that is out on the market. However, is it really worth it? See “Cons” and “Other Thoughts.” - When in use, the drive gets tepid to the touch (max about 44 degrees C, min/idle about 31 degrees C), but it runs extremely quiet. It is much quieter than those vertical Desktop External HDDs in comparison. - Thanks to the miracle of USB 3.1 / C, this massive storage device doesn’t require a power adapter. It receives sufficient amount of power just through the USB 3.1 port. That’s a good sign for the future of USB 3.1 / C. - The Innov8 comes with a 3-year Limited Warranty according to Seagate, but taking a page from WD and offering a 5-Year would be much more reassuring.

Cons: - I’m not going to lie. The Innov8’s performance was pretty disappointing. Here, with this new amazing technology–with ceiling high transfer potential–the USB 3.1 on the Innov8 just didn’t blow me away. I was expecting extremely fast Read and Writes; I mean, why else put the money down on a USB C drive like this if it isn’t going to perform much better than comparable USB 3.0 drives? It’s certainly not a matter of convenience, considering most PCs don’t sport a USB 3.1 port. See Other Thoughts to look at my own specific benchmarks, but the Innov8 on average performed maybe 30 MB/s better than its 3.0 ancestor. It scored well with Peak R/W performance, but it wasn’t a consistent long-distance runner. Is it faster than USB 3.0? Yes. Does the hardware restriction of USB 3.1 and the hefty price make this mediocre increase in performance worth it? I personally don’t think so. - It may be an issue with all USB 3.1 cables but when plugged into the Innov8, the cable is not seated tightly. It wiggles like a loose tooth. And if I’ve learned anything from decades of using computers is if a port wiggles, it will eventually degrade. This is probably not the case with the Innov8 since you won’t be disconnecting or moving it around constantly, but I thought it worth nitpicking and mentioning. The same goes for the end connected to the PC. - The Innov8 is heavy (3.3lbs). Don’t mistake this thing as a “portable” drive. It’s definitely intended as a Desktop drive. The reason it’s heavy, though, is its construction and because of that it’s durable. I’d rather have it be lighter than look bad***, but still. - The Innov8 is huge, and I mean YUUUGE! You could easily stack four normal 4TB external portable drives in a square like fashion and the Innov8 will still be larger. Contrarily, the cable included, which is about 50cm, is a little short. For a desktop external drive, I’d expect at least a 3-foot long cable, especially since USB 3.1 cables aren’t the easiest and cheapest to get. - The drive reads under CrystalDiskInfo as a 5980RPM drive. Maybe I’m missing something or don’t have enough knowledge of what is exactly under the hood, but I imagine these drives should be 7200RPM to take full use of USB 3.1’s bandwidth. Its performance would have been much more impressive then. Possibly, Seagate should also offer a model with an external power supply, which could increase its performance slightly. I’m not sure if this is possible or not, but personally, I’d opt for a better performing one with an external power adapter. - The Innov8 as far as I know will only work on Windows 8/8.1 and Windows 10. It has Mac support as well. No Windows 7 support is a disappointment but understandable considering the required USB 3.1.

Overall Review: - The Hard Drives inside of the Innov8 are Seagate’s Archive 8TB Sata III drives, with six SMR, 1.33TB platters, spinning at 5980RPM (as mentioned above), running under extremely low power requirements; hence the lack of an external power supply adapter. * Overall, I expected more from the Innov8. It’s a beautifully designed product, but its performance wasn’t as good as I expected. The 8TB in one package is a vast amount of storage; I just wish the USB 3.1 had performed better with the Innov8. Maybe we’ve got some more time before we can expect external drives to catch up with the potentiality of new technology. * -_- Below are Benchmarks I used to test the Innov8. Unless otherwise specified, the scores are represented in MB/per Second. Included in the testing are two programs: ATTO Disk Benchmark and CrystalDiskMark. -_- All on Windows 10 64-bit Test : 1024 MiB [E: 1.1% (83.2/7451.7 GiB)] (x5) [Interval=5 sec] Sequential Read (Q= 32,T= 1) : 195.969 MB/s Sequential Write (Q= 32,T= 1) : 201.359 MB/s Random Read 4KiB (Q= 32,T= 1) : 0.609 MB/s [ 148.7 IOPS] Random Write 4KiB (Q= 32,T= 1) : 5.745 MB/s [ 1402.6 IOPS] Sequential Read (T= 1) : 102.960 MB/s Sequential Write (T= 1) : 97.938 MB/s Random Read 4KiB (Q= 1,T= 1) : 0.182 MB/s [ 44.4 IOPS] Random Write 4KiB (Q= 1,T= 1) : 1.673 MB/s [ 408.4 IOPS] ______________________________________________________ Test : 32768 MiB [E: 2.3% (175.1/7451.7 GiB)] (x3) [Interval=5 sec] Sequential Read (Q= 32,T= 1) : 100.068 MB/s Sequential Write (Q= 32,T= 1) : 98.354 MB/s Random Read 4KiB (Q= 32,T= 1) : 0.481 MB/s [ 117.4 IOPS] Random Write 4KiB (Q= 32,T= 1) : 6.150 MB/s [ 1501.5 IOPS] Sequential Read (T= 1) : 87.452 MB/s Sequential Write (T= 1) : 64.802 MB/s Random Read 4KiB (Q= 1,T= 1) : 0.350 MB/s [ 85.4 IOPS] Random Write 4KiB (Q= 1,T= 1) : 5.862 MB/s [ 1431.2 IOPS] ATTO Disk Benchmark Test: 512B to 64MB – Length: 512MB – Que Depth: 4 512B Write: 696KB | Read: 801KB 1KB Write: 1.4MB | Read: 1.2 MB 2KB Write: 1.3MB | Read: 1.9MB 4KB Write: 3.3MB | Read: 4.5MB 8KB Write: 5.8MB | Read: 10.6MB 16KB Write: 14.9MB | Read: 28.1MB 32KB Write: 43.5MB | Read: 39MB 64KB Write: 54.2MB | Read: 56.7MB 128KB Write: 67.3MB | Read: 86.3MB 256KB Write: 41.9MB | Read: 71.8MB 512KB Write: 88.1MB | Read: 97.9MB 1MB Write: 124.7MB | Read: 118.7MB 2MB Write: 122.3MB | Read: 156.5MB 4MB Write: 168.8MB | Read: 164.4MB 8MB Write: 190.0MB | Read: 179.3MB 12MB Write: 173.8MB | Read: 197.6MB 16MB Write: 194.5MB | Read: 123.4MB 24MB Write: 200.3MB | Read: 176.3MB 32MB Write: 195.9MB | Read: 195.5MB 48MB Write: 201.6MB | Read: 190.9MB 64MB Write: 202.8MB | Read: 195.2MB

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Mobo for the Intel Cutting Edge8/25/2016 5:01:13 PM

Pros: * If I had to fancy a guess, the reason Gigabyte named these motherboards “Designare” is simply because they are motherboards aimed at designers, working professionals, workstation enthusiasts, and software creators who require horsepower and flexibility. Though I run my own business and do a lot of work on my PC, my PC is built for gaming (thank Posiden that gaming components can facilitate most users). I mention this because I would avoid using this motherboard as my primary board in my gaming PC; in fact, I opted to continue using my Asus M6F for many reasons. That’s not to say that you can’t, but it’s obviously a motherboard that will suit power users and enthusiasts more than gamers. If you’re a graphic “designare” (get it?), the Designare will provide you with what you need on a Z170 chipset without having to necessarily invest in an X99 board. It is loaded with features and cutting edge tech built right into it. * - The Designare comes with that musky new motherboard smell, an easy front panel connector port (G Connector), 4x SATA Data cables, 2x Velcro straps, clean IO cover panel, thick manual, wide spaced SLI connector, cable sticker labels, Drivers CD, case sticker, and onboard RGB lighting extender. And now let’s quickly cover the included IO ports on the board: Dual Intel Gigabit LAN (Yes, two ports for teaming and 2gbps), PS/2 Port, Mini DisplayPort, 2x USB 3.1, 4x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, 4k 1.4 HDMI port, Full DisplayPort, and 5x Audio & S/PDIF ports. - Aesthetically, the Designare has a metallic black cover with accents of blue all around the PCB. It has a ULTRA DURABLE logo block over the rear IO which makes the build look a lot cleaner. Its PCIx16 slots are plated in a silver finish that looks fantastic, but also reinforces heavy GPUs that reduce sagging. There’s plenty of aesthetic covers over all areas of the board, making the PCB show a lot less, hence an overall much cleaner, sleeker look. I won’t mention all of the internal I/O ports that are ubiquitous, but on top of the normal ports, the Designare has an optional water-cooling pump header (really cool), a U.2 connector, an M.2 Socket 3 connector, RGB LED extension header, a TPM header, a future Thunderbolt card connector, and a one-press overclock button. The most glaring feature is the Designare’s LEDs scattered around the board, illuminating it in RGB glory. It can be customized to any color using Gigabyte software and can even be synchronized with other four pin RGB LEDs you may have as case lighting. There’s also a dual-BIOS switch to ensure that even if your UEFI becomes corrupted, you have a backup. I didn’t have a single gripe with the placement of headers or ports. They’re all conveniently accessible and ideally positioned. - The features that the Designare sports are nearly boundless. Pretty much any technology that has come out recently can be used in conjunction with this motherboard. With two USB C ports, products like the Seagate Innov8 can be used and other cutting edge USB 3.1 products. The external storage transfer speeds through the Designare’s USB 3.1 are astoundingly quick. Nearby the SATA 6gbps ports lies a U.2 port for hyper-speed SSDs like Intel 750 series that exceed read and write speeds of 2.5GBps and 1.2GBps respectively. M.2 22110 is also onboard and triple NVMe PCIe gen3 slots that can support SSDs, even in RAID config, which is incredible. Overall, the vast amount of storage options (up to 32 Gb/s on PCIe) on this motherboard can fulfill anyone’s pipe-dream of storage heaven. - The RAM slots are DDR4 which can clock up to a whopping 4000MHz. I couldn’t push it that high, but there are a lot of factors involved with that, including CPU clock. Over 100Watts can be provided through the USB 3.1 ports using their Power Delivery 2.0 Support for charging and powering of devices. The onboard sound is stellar as well. Built in is Realtek ALC1150. - The BIOS is Gigabyte’s latest UEFI. It has a lot of great tweaks and features like the RGB LED control and easy control of the 4-pin fan connectors. Easy options for updating BIOS are included, and a beautiful looking GUI for digestible settings tweaking.

Cons: - I wouldn’t say there are many cons with the Designare. The cons may be its overwhelming features. A lot of the features go away with other supported options. Like if you use SLI, the NVMe PCIe Gen3 SSDs options kind of go out the window. That’d be true with practically any board, but it’s still worth mentioning. There’s nothing that the Designare faults with really. There’s no Wi-Fi, but hey, come on. There’s no back CMOS reset switch. But again, these are such minor nit-picks that I don’t feel like it takes away from the feature-packed motherboard this is.

Overall Review: * Overall, the Designare is an Intel wet dream. It practically supports all of Intel’s latest and greatest technology. This is where I recommend a board like this. If you’ll be using USB 3.1 type devices, piddling in NVMe RAID for SSD PCIe storage, utilizing two LAN ports for network transfer, and flexible overclocking features, then the Designare is for you. If you don’t intend to utilize these features or don’t even know what they are, then the Designare isn’t for you. Purchase a simpler board with features you know you’ll use. The price of the Designare is reflected by the many cutting-edge features it comes packed with, so it’s easy to look elsewhere if you don’t have the devices that this board supports. The Designare is a cutting edge motherboard that is obviously aimed at workstation users and hardcore enthusiasts. The overwhelming majority of users will not utilize a quarter of the features on this board, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing… is it? *

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Good Price, Decent Performance7/21/2016 2:45:24 PM

Pros: * The Silicon Power 64GB Elite MicroSD Card is a class 10 flash storage card with a great price and above par performance. It’s perfect for cameras and will provide smooth streaming for mobile devices with OTG for watching HD movies and shows. The SP Elite is a great option for add-on storage with phones and tablets that have the coveted add-on MicroSD storage slot. * - There’s not much to say about a MicroSD flash card. They all look the same and just vary in storage options. What matters most, I guess, is the benchmarks and read/write speeds. The Silicon Power 64GB has a micro adapter with it. - Decent price for the amount of storage, but a little bit of a different story when it comes to its performance (see Cons). See Other Thoughts for benchmarks.

Cons: - Even though it’s a class 10 and its advertised speeds are up to 85MB/s, in real world performance, at least in my testing scenarios, the SP Elite didn’t score anywhere near that. It’s a decent performer, but not as good as other brands. My USB Card Reader may be a little bit of a bottleneck, slowing it down, but nonetheless, it isn’t a top of the line performer.

Overall Review: - The SP Elite has about 58GB that’s usable of the 64GB card. - Below are benchmarks conducted through a USB 3.0 Targus Card Reader. There may be a little bit of a bottleneck there due to the Card Reader device itself, but the benchmarking data should relatively reflect what is expected of SP Elite’s performance. OS : Windows 10 Professional [10.0 Build 10586] (x64). Almost everything below is rated as Megabytes per second unless otherwise specified. * Moving 5GB of Files onto SP Elite from 7200RPM HDD * Time: 7 min 2 sec | Average MB/s: 12.3 MB/s | Peak MB/s: 14 MB/s * Moving 5GB of Files from SP Elite to 7200RPM HDD * Time: 4 min 45 sec | Average MB/s: 18.4 MB/s | Peak MB/s: 18.5 MB/s * Below are CrystalDiskMark Test Results for Silicon Power Elite* ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Test : 50 MiB [G: 0.0% (0.0/58.2 GiB)] (x2) [Interval=5 sec] Sequential Read (Q= 32,T= 1) : 19.214 MB/s Sequential Write (Q= 32,T= 1) : 10.249 MB/s Random Read 4KiB (Q= 32,T= 1) : 2.865 MB/s [ 699.5 IOPS] Random Write 4KiB (Q= 32,T= 1) : 0.267 MB/s [ 65.2 IOPS] Sequential Read (T= 1) : 19.083 MB/s Sequential Write (T= 1) : 10.485 MB/s Random Read 4KiB (Q= 1,T= 1) : 2.568 MB/s [ 627.0 IOPS] Random Write 4KiB (Q= 1,T= 1) : 0.270 MB/s [ 65.9 IOPS] ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Test : 1000 MB [G: 0.0% (0.0/58.2 GB)] (x1) Sequential Read : 19.151 MB/s Sequential Write : 12.660 MB/s Random Read 512KB : 18.259 MB/s Random Write 512KB : 0.397 MB/s Random Read 4KB (QD=1) : 2.608 MB/s [ 636.7 IOPS] Random Write 4KB (QD=1) : 0.645 MB/s [ 157.5 IOPS] Random Read 4KB (QD=32) : 2.757 MB/s [ 673.2 IOPS] Random Write 4KB (QD=32) : 0.253 MB/s [ 61.7 IOPS] ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Test : 8192 MB [G: 0.0% (0.0/58.2 GiB)] (x2) [Interval=5 sec] Sequential Read (Q= 32,T= 1) : 19.188 MB/s Sequential Write (Q= 32,T= 1) : 8.230 MB/s Random Read 4KiB (Q= 32,T= 1) : 2.595 MB/s [ 633.5 IOPS] Random Write 4KiB (Q= 32,T= 1) : 0.959 MB/s [ 234.1 IOPS] Sequential Read (T= 1) : 19.083 MB/s Sequential Write (T= 1) : 8.178 MB/s Random Read 4KiB (Q= 1,T= 1) : 2.353 MB/s [ 574.5 IOPS] Random Write 4KiB (Q= 1,T= 1) : 0.963 MB/s [ 235.1 IOPS]

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Workhorse of a Router7/20/2016 5:21:25 PM

Pros: * The Linksys WRT1900AC is an all-around workhorse of a router. Its hardware is unmatched and very few users will push this beast to its limits. It performs very well, has good features, and sports WRT functionality. It isn’t perfect, but I’d say it’s close. * - All around minimalistic but well packaged router. I love the flat Ethernet cables that are starting to be included in higher end networking products, and Linksys includes a long one with this. The router has a physical power toggle switch, reset button, WPS, 12vdc power, a rarely seen eSATA/USB port, a USB 3.0 port and the generic WAN/4xLAN. There are also four detachable antennae. The included antennae are sleek, beefy, and powerful. The bottom of the router has rubber grommet feet to stay in place and optional mounting holes. Aesthetically, the router isn’t as modern or stealthy as Google’s OnHub router or anything, but it does resemble the Millennium Falcon in black and blue, so that’s pretty cool. Speaking of which, it’s pretty big and bulky, but it still isn’t an eyesore. The antennae aren’t nearly as ugly as most on the market. It certainly is sleeker than Linksys’s older router models. It has impressive ventilation, getting warm but not hot. The LED indicator lights are a shy white that wouldn’t pop up or annoy any eye. They’re just subtle enough to be nice and visible enough to be helpful. - The speed that the Linksys WRT1900AC provides is pretty much as advertised. There are no hardware bottlenecks within this beast of a router which is to be expected when spending as much as this on a networking device. The Wi-Fi strength registers very strong, and using a Wi-Fi Analyzer program, being within the same room results in -37dBm, which is strong. The AC band is amazingly fast at streaming HD videos if you have the device compatibility for AC/5GHz. On Wi-Fi, my network speeds benchmark exactly what I pay for, and score about the same as a wired connection, which is quite impressive. Moving farther away doesn’t diminish the WRT1900AC’s power much. The four external antennae provide strong coverage and link speeds rather consistently. There was one bottleneck I ran into, however; check the Cons section. - Setting up the Linksys WRT1900AC is simple and quick. I didn’t use the included CD, but you can if you’d like. Linksys had made it convenient by using their Smart Wi-Fi browser page, where you create an account to manage all your networking devices. If all you own are Linksys networking devices, the Smart portal is a hub to access all the devices within seconds. Nonetheless, you can just as easily use one device and set it up within mere minutes. It’s nice to see manufacturers competing to create the simplest and quickest setup method, and as time goes on, routers are getting to the point of Plug-N-Play - Attaching a Seagate 1TB external hard drive to the Linksys WRT1900AC couldn’t have been easier. The drive popped up on my network instantly, without any configuration to it at all. I could access both USB ports occupied by hard drives, which allowed an instant NAS to be set up. This is perfect for nearly anyone looking to have their own network cloud. Store personal data on one and high storage files like movies and TV shows on another. You can always set up a DLNA server using these USB ports and easily stream media to any device in your home. Linksys has made NAS addition, which used to be a complex method of adding to a network, easy and Plug-N-Play. - The Media Prioritization settings within Linksys’s Smart Wi-Fi Browser page are about the simplest and easiest Bandwidth Prioritization settings I’ve ever come across. It’s as simple as dragging and dropping a network device to “High Priority.” Beyond that, you can even select specific applications or online games to receive network speed priority. - Honestly, I don’t use WRT or open-source firmware to tweak routers. On a list of things to hack for personalization, a router is near bottom of my list. But I do recognize a lot of people love to tweak their routers and Linksys’s WRT1900AC will allow the OpenWRT firmware, hence its name. I’d argue that this would be a good router to do such this on since its hardware is beefy and near limitless.

Cons: - The watershed moment for router testing in my home is the master bedroom; with nearly three walls and an easy 100 feet out of the way, it tasks the best of routers. In WRT1900AC’s case, its Wi-Fi signal held up and I could see the SSID broadcast, which isn’t the case with many of the routers I test. I streamed iHeartRadio since it’s much less of a bandwidth eater than say YouTube. It was able to play most of the stream but would break up for half a minute at a time intermittently. I can’t say I’m disappointed, but I was hoping it’d be able to hold its own. - I know the hardware is impressive and that the WRT1900AC is more of a workhorse than anything else, but its size is pretty considerable. It takes up a lot of horizontal desk space so placement may prove a little tricky. Again, it’s understandable when sporting these types of specs. - The router is a little expensive, but that can also be expected.

Overall Review: - I won’t include my network benchmarking tests since it is a relative statistic, varying from ISPs and bandwidth plans. However, I can say that when routing through my existing Netgear Centria 4700 router and the Linksys, the Ethernet wired speeds compared nearly identical. Wireless speeds were also fantastic. Using Wi-Fi when near the WRT1900AC, the benchmarks scored about identical to the wired connection speeds, bestowing the limit of the speed provided by my ISP. The AC band is extremely strong and even the N band performed at incredible speeds, above average. * Overall, I was very pleased with the Linksys’s WRT1900AC. It pushes the boundary of Wi-Fi speeds and wireless performance. Its hardware is impressive and it doesn’t sag in performance nearly anywhere. *

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Great Bang for your Buck SSD5/14/2016 2:47:45 PM

Pros: * It’s truly astounding how much the price of SSDs has dropped. Just a mere three years ago, buying a SSD for $1 per GB was expected. Now, especially with the OCZ Trion 150, you’re looking at less than 25 cents a gig. I don’t have a great track record with OCZ, though most of my experience with them was before they were bought out by Toshiba. It’s hard to judge an SSD, or really any hardware product, within a few days instead of months and months–in these cases benchmarks are really what a reviewer relies on; however, I have hope for the OCZ Trion 150, and so far the time I spent with it has been encouraging. * - The OCZ Trion 150, like most SSDs, isn’t bundled with a bunch of accessories or surprises. You pretty much get the box, a plastic enclosure, and warranty/guide booklets. I must say, though, it surely is an attractive SSD, despite the fact that in most configurations it will be hidden. Its setup was like any other internal storage drive: SATA power/data hookup, disk initialization, and formatting of partition; ready to roll. - The Trion 150 doesn’t perform as well as some of my higher end SSDs in my system, but those SSDs were purchased or marked at a much higher price. The Trion 150 is a bang for the buck product, if there ever has been. The Trion 150 960gb model sports an amazing price. I’d dare to proclaim that the Trion 150 is likely the most budget friendly SSD for its performance. See “Other Thoughts” for the benchmarks I ran on the Trion 150. Its real-world Windows performance is hardly noticeable up against a better performing SSD, so you’re unlikely to notice an immense difference when comparing the smoothness of Operating System use. The boot speed will be just as fast and drastically different against a traditional hard drive.

Cons: - Though the Trion 150 does very well with Reading operations, its Writing performance is not as up to par. The biggest drawback I could find with the Trion’s performance was its higher file sized Write operations. See below for Benchmark results.

Overall Review: - The OCZ Trion 150’s Sequential Read and Write is definitely comparable to high performing SSDs that are on the market. Considering this, the Trion is definitely a bang for your buck. However, its IOPS score lags behind with Random Read and Write compared to higher-performing, more expensive SSDs. Also, its Sequential Write suffers drastically as the file size is increased. Its inability to stay competitive when writing large files is the Trion 150’s largest drawback. However, taking all of this into account, OCZ’s Trion 150 is a great budget SSD. You really can’t beat spending less than 25 cents a gig for an SSD. If you aren’t terribly concerned about the SSDs’ raw performance (trust me, it’ll be much faster than a traditional HDD), then the Trion is a great pickup. * Below are benchmarks I performed on the OCZ Trion 150 960GB SSD. All numerals are defined as Megabytes Per Second unless otherwise specified. The “Other 500GB” SSD I tested with the Trion is a much more expensive SSD; however, it is 66% occupied. * – Moving 20GB onto Trion 150 – Avg: 112mbps - Peak: 130mbps - Time: 4 min – Moving 20GB off of Trion 150 – Avg: 100mbps - Peak: 230mbps - Time: 3 min 56 sec – Moving 20GB onto other 500GB SSD – Avg: 85mbps - Peak: 112mbps - Time 3 min 56 sec – Moving 20GB off of other 500GB SSD – Avg: 95mbps - Peak: 215mbps - Time: 4 min * Below are CrystalDiskMark Test Results for OCZ Trion * ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 100MB Test : OCZ Trion 150 - 100 MiB [D: 3.9% (35.3/894.1 GiB)] Sequential Read (Q= 32,T= 1) : 562.766 MB/s Sequential Write (Q= 32,T= 1) : 534.774 MB/s Random Read 4KiB (Q= 32,T= 1) : 362.392 MB/s [ 88474.6 IOPS] Random Write 4KiB (Q= 32,T= 1) : 337.091 MB/s [ 82297.6 IOPS] Sequential Read (T= 1) : 543.329 MB/s Sequential Write (T= 1) : 516.902 MB/s Random Read 4KiB (Q= 1,T= 1) : 33.897 MB/s [ 8275.6 IOPS] Random Write 4KiB (Q= 1,T= 1) : 118.973 MB/s [ 29046.1 IOPS] ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 16GB Test : OCZ Trion 150 - 16384 MiB [D: 3.9% (35.3/894.1 GiB)] Sequential Read (Q= 32,T= 1) : 558.291 MB/s Sequential Write (Q= 32,T= 1) : 313.534 MB/s Random Read 4KiB (Q= 32,T= 1) : 85.693 MB/s [ 20763.8 IOPS] Random Write 4KiB (Q= 32,T= 1) : 311.081 MB/s [ 75947.5 IOPS] Sequential Read (T= 1) : 531.192 MB/s Sequential Write (T= 1) : 216.206 MB/s Random Read 4KiB (Q= 1,T= 1) : 32.978 MB/s [ 2680.2 IOPS] Random Write 4KiB (Q= 1,T= 1) : 122.277 MB/s [ 27655.5 IOPS] * Below are CrystalDiskMark Test Results for Other 500GB SSD * ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 100 MB Test : Other 500GB SSD - 100 MiB [A: 66.5% (309.4/465.6 GiB)] Sequential Read (Q= 32,T= 1) : 550.512 MB/s Sequential Write (Q= 32,T= 1) : 519.769 MB/s Random Read 4KiB (Q= 32,T= 1) : 394.082 MB/s [ 96211.4 IOPS] Random Write 4KiB (Q= 32,T= 1) : 363.443 MB/s [ 88731.2 IOPS] Sequential Read (T= 1) : 528.857 MB/s Sequential Write (T= 1) : 507.258 MB/s Random Read 4KiB (Q= 1,T= 1) : 46.129 MB/s [ 11262.0 IOPS] Random Write 4KiB (Q= 1,T= 1) : 143.510 MB/s [ 35036.6 IOPS] ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 16GB Test : Other 500GB SSD - 16384 MiB [A: 66.5% (309.4/465.6 GiB)] Sequential Read (Q= 32,T= 1) : 550.344 MB/s Sequential Write (Q= 32,T= 1) : 520.105 MB/s Random Read 4KiB (Q= 32,T= 1) : 393.617 MB/s [ 96097.9 IOPS] Random Write 4KiB (Q= 32,T= 1) : 350.137 MB/s [ 85482.7 IOPS] Sequential Read (T= 1) : 529.698 MB/s Sequential Write (T= 1) : 503.698 MB/s Random Read 4KiB (Q= 1,T= 1) : 41.398 MB/s [ 10106.9 IOPS] Random Write 4KiB (Q= 1,T= 1) : 146.660 MB/s [ 35805.7 IOPS]

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Truly Mini4/22/2016 3:04:31 PM

Pros: * The EZVIZ Mini Camera isn’t groundbreaking in anyway when compared to what is already on the market. There are plenty of small cameras out there for you to place anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection. Despite the lack of anything truly intuitive, the camera does its job and works as expected. * - The EZVIZ Camera itself is indeed “mini” as its name alludes. It is even smaller in footprint than my Logitech C930 webcam, which is quite a feat for a fully functioning camera. It covers almost an entire 120 degree span and has quite a lot of flexibility to it with the ball bearing stand, allowing it to be placed or hidden nearly anywhere. It is powered by a single cord to a wall wart USB outlet. There is an indicator light located on the front of the camera that may give away its position if not covered up. The indicator light informs you of various light patterns and colors to report the status of the camera. There is also an IR light for night vision recording and a hard reset button. The EZVIZ Included with the EZVIZ Camera is a magnet that you can attach to the bottom of the camera’s stand to allow mounting, along with double-sided adhesive. Also packaged with it are two screws and corresponding mollys for wall mounting; as well as a comprehensive quick start guide. - The EZVIZ Camera sports an extremely easy setup that most of us have become accustomed to concerning Wi-Fi smart devices such as this. It pretty much consists of downloading an app, creating an account, scanning a QR code, and adding the camera to the network. Using the app, you can utilize all of the EZVIZ camera’s functions. - Within the EZVIZ app, there are up to four cameras that can be connected and controlled from one hub, and this easy expansion to four different views at the touch of the finger is a welcome addition. You can mute the mic on the camera (see Cons), flip the video playback, make it full screen, or zoom (which quickly pixelates, understandably). You can also begin recording the camera’s image, which will save on the SD card you inserted into the device, change the resolution from basic to standard to high-def, and snap a quick picture that’ll save as a gallery, viewable right from the phone or later on when the SD card is retrieved. The pictures are pretty good quality, just like the video recording. - The 720p Camera looks good enough. There’s a slight lag but not as a drastic of a delay that other devices tend to produce. Text on shirts can be clearly read, the light level is rather admirable, and it focuses pretty well. The mic picks up nearby sounds just as well too (See Cons).

Cons: - Though the camera resolution and clarity is above par, it doesn’t necessarily look like 720p. The footage can be grainy and the fish eye, though understandable, can be a turn off. However, if you’re using this to keep an eye on an area of your home like your office or what have you, it will more than suffice, as peoples’ faces are easily seen. Although, setting up the EZVIZ camera to overlook outside of a window is not a good idea. Screen frames over windows blur the camera’s focus and clarity, and distance and light rapidly diminishes the picture quality. Also, occasionally the camera will lag during an entire 10 second block and then will speed across the frames to catch up to real-time. - The lack of included rubber mounts for the bottom of the stand is kind of disappointing. It slides around easily and you will have to either buy standoffs for the bottom or make up your own in order to keep it in place. - The EVZIZ isn’t the most budget friendly camera. There are other alternatives for cheaper prices, but the 720p integration is nice. - An SD Card will be required, as it doesn’t come with one. For the price, the least EZVIZ could have done was include a small 4GB SD Card for quick setup and install. - The camera’s mic will not mute no matter how many times I try to mute the sound. It seems like my fingerprint just doesn’t register. The sound playback is there, but it’s also very tinny. Don’t expect spectacular audio playback and to be able to listen in on conversations; it just isn’t happening with the EZVIZ.

Overall Review: - Overall, the EZVIZ Camera is a simple device. It doesn’t have many bells or whistles, and a consumer will know whether they need something like this or not. It isn’t for everyone as a must have device, but may be for consumers who want to keep an extra eye on their office, bedroom, or an area where a safe is located. The EZVIZ is definitely NOT a home solution for security and monitoring; if you’re looking for security and home monitoring, look elsewhere. But if you need a cheap solution for monitoring a small area of your home or elsewhere, the EZVIZ may be just for you, and I can say that it will certainly do its job well. From its simple setup to its small form factor and its bare-knuckle design, it will serve its purpose well.

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Manufacturer Response:
Hello Benjamin, Thanks for the review! We always appreciate when our customers take the time to leave feedback about our products and share their experience with other customers. We do have an update for the iOS and android mobile app, please visit your app store and download the update. Also please make sure your device is running the version of the firmware. The new firmware update, improves the device performance and improves the overall user experience Best Regards, EZVIZ Tech Team
Corsair has Done It Again3/24/2016 3:57:49 PM

Pros: * I’ll blatantly admit to having a bias toward Corsair when it comes to power supplies; I unabashedly love them. In my personal rigs, I’ve only used Corsair and have never regretted it. In all honesty, I don’t think I’d ever consider another manufacturer when it comes to PSUs due to the simple fact of how well Corsair manages to constantly improve and deliver their PSUs. The Corsair RM1000i is no exception to this rule. Pushing a 1000 watts and 83.3A on the 12V Rail, pretty much any SLI config and rig will be supported with room thereafter. The RM1000i is a beastly PSU. * - The Corsair RM1000i comes in a packed-full box with a bunch of goodies and a few extras. Besides the huge brick that is the PSU, included is a bag of cable ties, a case badge, and rear mounting screws. I always love the felt-like bag that shrouds the PSU inside the box. It’s completely unnecessary from a manufacturer’s standpoint but makes the difference from a consumers’ view. It adds that taste and touch of the gold standard, assuring that you’ve bought the best the market has to offer. All the cables come in a nice large canvas bag with a Velcro strap. Again, not necessary, but its Corsair’s attention to detail that matters. - The PSU itself is aesthetically pleasing, minimalistic with matte black overtones. It’s sized at 150mm W x 86mm H x 180mm D. The quiet cooling fan is 135mm and has an attractive military gray color that fits well with the overall unit’s design. There’s a fat power toggle switch on the back surrounded by a generous honeycomb ventilation grill. On the front, there are 6 peripheral/SATA connectors, 6 PCI-E & CPU connectors, the obligatory 24-pin ATX power connector, and a fan test button. All the aforementioned connectors are paired with cables, as well as floppy adapters, a USB mobo cable to mini-USB, and a Corsair Link cable. A long power cable is also included. The cables are much better than the ones included in the older HX series as they are fully black with no eyesore rainbow colored wires showing. They still aren’t individually sleeved (hopefully, one day), so I would recommend the more attractive single-braided extension cables. There are plenty of options out there, BitFenix being my personal favorite. But for a quick and dirty build, these cables are more than suitable. - The included Corsair Link technology essentially allows the user to link multiple modern Corsair hardware, like RAM and the closed-loop CPU coolers. The hardware is then bundled in software for monitoring the hardwares’ temperature, fan speeds, current and voltages. - The fully modular design allows efficient cable management, allowing the builder to use only the necessary cables that the rig requires, which eliminates an excess rat’s nest of cables. - The RM1000i comes with a 7 year warranty. That’s a generous warranty, speaking to the assured quality of Corsair’s PSUs. - The fan doesn’t turn on until about 560 watts are being used. Cutting down on noise and dust intake, the fan will remain off most of the time since you will only reach that amount of power when/if your dedicated GPUs kick in. Even past 560 watts, the fan is hardly audible. It becomes much louder when the PSU exceeds 800 watts, but the sound is negligible when inside your rig. - The RM1000i is rated at 80 Plus Gold but performs even better in actuality and exceeds efficiency testing standards. The - The RM1000i came with a beastly instruction manual that nowadays are rarely included with products. Possibly just for nostalgic reasons, I love a beefy instruction manual. Even though it’s mostly comprised of many different languages, this one outlines all the specifications and intricacies belonging to the RM1000i; including the cables provided, the length, and the PSU’s power efficiency graph.

Cons: - Like most Power Supplies, the RM1000i has extremely strange cable pin outs. I’m not an electrical engineer but I figure there has to be a better and cleaner method to mapping pin outs and wires. - The RM1000i isn’t the cheapest Power Supply on the market, but you do get what you pay for. It will likely be overkill for most rigs not using more than one GPU, but you couldn’t go wrong with picking it up if you’re looking for both quality and power.

Overall Review: * The Corsair RM1000i isn’t for everyone’s build as it’s mostly made for enthusiasts. Corsair has made a great many of improvements over their previous generation of PSUs, namely in component quality and build quality. I recommend it if you’re going with an SLI rig or something that needs a plethora of power with high amperage on the 12V rail. It runs quiet, the stock cables are more than decent, has plenty of extras, fully modular, integrated Corsair Link technology, silent fan operation, 80 Plus Gold, pushes 1,000 Watts, and is made up to snuff. Overall, it’s a fantastic PSU. *

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