Joined on 05/20/09
Fantastic Low-Cost Z97 Gaming Board
Pros: This Z97 Killer Fatal1ty board from ASRock makes a great backbone to any single GPU based gaming build. It's low price point, rich feature set, and nice build quality make it a great choice for those looking to build a powerful gaming system, but don't want to blow the budget on the motherboard. Just becasue this is a low cost board, does not in any way mean it's "cheap". The board still features the Killer E2200 NIC, Purity Sound 2, an M.2 Socket, and a host of other high quality components that add greatly to the boards robustness and value. It's has a couple features I like to see on a motherboard. Such as plenty of fan connectors, including 2 for the CPU. This is great for push/pull or closed loop water cooling options. M.2 card support up to 110mm, this is nice to see even on a less expensive board. The board is also aesthetically pleasing with the red and black color scheme and nice large heatsinks. Having all the SATA connectors in the lower right/back of the board is also nice to see, keeping them out of the way of the primary PCIe expansion slots. The Killer E2200 NIC is nice to have, as it gives you a great deal of control over your network and traffic options. When it comes to actual gameplay, on modern high-end hardware, I really don't see any gameplay or latency differences between it and a quality NIC. Still, I enjoy the Killer NIC just for the level of control it offers.
Cons: None really, but a couple things to point out. The board only has a single PCIe 3.0 X16 lane and a secondary 2.0 X4 lane. This is why the board has no SLI support, only Crossfire. This would only be a hindrance if you plan on running a dual-GPU setup. However, a single dual-GPU card would still work. One of the 4-pin fan headers is (chassis) is wedged right in with the 6 SATA headers, which are split into two banks, one of 4 header, the other six, with the 4-pin fan and SATA Express headers in between. The board does have a few standard (not solid cap) capacitors. However I don't anticipate these being an issue. Just an FYI.
Overall Review: For the purposes of testing the board out, I paired it with an i5-4670K and my Sapphire R9 290 Tri-X OC. As well as 16GB of A-Data DDR3 1866 RAM. I then proceeded to get in some stress testing and gaming under Windows 7 Ultimate 64. There were no problems running the RAM at it's rated speed, or overclocking the CPU. I was easily able to hit 4.4GHz without any voltage adjustments, and my target of 4.5GHz with a slight voltage bump. I know this chip to be stable up to 4.6GHz at 1.26V based on overclocking it on other boards. I ran it at 4.5GHz for the entire time, the same clock I run it at in it's home system. This seems to be a common sweet spot for these chips. For the purposes of testing, I played several different games and ran some hardware benchmarks to see if I ran into any issues. All of the hardware I used on this board was pulled from a tested, working, stable system to try and eliminate it as a problem source, should there be any. I used this system, backed by this board, for the past 5 days. Always on. For the gaming, I played games like Diablo III, Battlefield 4, BF Hardline Beta, Crysis 3, and DayZ. In each and every case, the games played fantastically and as expected based on the hardware. No stability issues or performance problems what so ever. For the sake of stress testing via benchmarks, I ran several of them for quite a long time overall. Star Swarm, Furmark, 3DMark, PCMark 8, AIDA64 Stability Test, AIDA64 Cache and Memory Benchmark, and CrystalDiskMark. In every case, again, no problems what so ever. The system was perfectly stable. All in all this ASRock Z97 Killer board is a fantastic deal for anyone looking for an inexpensive board to build a powerful single GPU gaming system around. It's got a lot a high-end features at a nice low price point. I would, and will, easily recommend it. Now that I have returned all of the hardware I used to test this board back to it's system. I am going to use this board in a new mid-range gaming build based around the new Intel Haswell Pentium G3258 Anniversary Edition Unlocked dual-core processor and see how far I can push it on this board. Since it would be a perfect companion to a board like this for someone looking for a low-cost mid-range gaming build on a budget. As well as giving them a great upgrade path should they choose. Once that day comes, I will do a full followup review.
The Good - The Bad
Pros: The Good. Comfortable. The touch screen is easy to use and responsive. Easy to see in daylight. Decent battery life, more with Bluetooth disabled obviously. It's basic functions such as the watch, barometer, altimeter, pedometer, alarm, calculator calendar, and stopwatch seem to work as intended. Perhaps not the most accurate on some of the information, but they do seem to work. Bluetooth media, phone book, and calling features work as intended. For under $20, the overall quality of the watch is pretty good.
Cons: The Bad. Other functions don't work so well. BT Notices and BT Camera both require a "BT Notifier" to function. After trying several it was clear none of them worked. We tried several times with a few different Android devices and several different apps, with no luck. The sleep monitor is questionable. While it does keep the time you sleep, since you have to manually start and stop it like a standard stopwatch, the "deep sleep" information was never accurate. In some cases, just while testing in 15 minute intervals before using for long periods. It said we have restful deep sleep, while still wide awake. Overnight it would list only minutes of "deep sleep" or none at all. We tried it on a couple different people. The documentation is virtually nonexistent and setup can be challenging for the novice user. There is no clear direction as to what "BT Notifier" app to use or how to setup the watch. Basically, you're on your own. If the battery dies, it looses all it's data, including the date and time. So keep it charged.
Overall Review: Overall, it not a bad watch for the price. As one other reviewer said, it can do what your 2007 flip phone did, but not much else. This is one of those cases where you get what you pay for. A "smart watch" for under $20. A good idea for the kids, not so much for anyone looking for a "real" smart watch or "Fitbit" style alternative.
Nice RGB RAM!
Pros: Pros: * 16GB, still enough for a vast majority of games and uses. * I normally try and keep RGB to a minimum in my builds, but this kit looks really nice! * iCUE recognized the kit out of the box, running the latest version. (4.28.177) * Was able to OC to the rated speed without any problems. I installed this kit into an AMD Ryzen 3600+, Asus TUF B550 Plus system and had no problems getting it up and running. The kit defaulted to 3200 in the BIOS, but I was able to OC to 3600 with no stability issues. I ran Prime95 for about an hour, as well as played a couple memory heavy games, and everything worked as it should. The system has remained perfectly stable the entire time.
Cons: None really. It worked as expected.
Overall Review: The AMD Optimized, as others have stated, is more marketing than anything else. Most RAM kits will work just fine as long as they fit within the specs of the system youre putting it in, but if you want to play it safe, its always good practice to check the QVL (Qualified Vendors List) for the motherboard you want to install the RAM into. If youre reading this, then you probably already know that anyway. I know this is completely subjective, but I do like the look of this kit. Like I said above, Im not really into the whole RGB thing, but the overall aesthetic of its design and the RGB really do compliment each other and look great. I normally run Team T-Force TUF Vulcan RAM in the system I tested this kit in, the whole build is TUF themed, I like the simple camo look. After I dropped this kit in the system, I can honestly say I liked how it looked. Overall, this is a nice kit of RAM. Theres not much to say other than it works as it was intended and can run at the speeds its advertised to run at. There are cheaper 16GB kits out there, but this kit really does look and perform nicely, and if youre a fan of Corsair products then this kit should definitely be on your consideration list!
Excellent Addition to the K70 Line!
Pros: TLDR Version: The Corsair K70 RGB Pro makes a great addition to the K70 lineup, as a long time K70 LUX user, it obviously feels very similar. The quality seems on par, the features are similar, and it's just an overall nice keyboard to type on. The Cherry Blue switches are exactly what you expect, clicky and responsive. The wrist rest is larger than the one included with the LUX, and it gets the job done, though its too large for my comfort and limited desk space. The braided high quality USB cable is removable on this version and thats a huge plus in my book. I did a bit of research on this keyboard and noticed some people saying there is a noticeable ping sound when typing, that its more noticeable immediately after you stop typing. Personally, I didnt notice any extra noises from the keyboard. I figured if there was a sound there, either my old ears just couldnt hear that range anymore, or maybe because my board uses the already clicky MX Blue switches and that drowns it out. Just to make sure, I had both my wife and daughter type on the K70 Pro, and neither of them could hear a ping either. Overall, its just a great keyboard and I have enjoyed using it over the past several days. Like its predecessors, its comfortable to use, feature rich, and seems to have the same build quality.
Cons: So far, the only real con for me is the wrist rest, but thats just a personal preference. Its too large for my limited desk space and comfort, but your preference may differ. It feels like a good quality rest, and it does its job, its just not for me. Beyond that, I have been very pleased with everything else at the time of this review.
Overall Review: The longer version: Old K70 LUX vs. New K70 Pro! I have been using the Corsair K70 LUX since 2016, so as of this review, its been going strong for about 6 years. Its seen a lot of use and abuse, but as you can see from the photos, its held up both cosmetically and functionally. While I know and trust the Corsair name for many of my PC needs, my very positive experience with the K70 LUX really sparked my interest in trying out the new K70 Pro. I have used many keyboards over the years, with my 3 favorites now being the old tried and true Model M, the Logitech G15, and the Corsair K70 LUX. It also pays to note that while I tend to try out different keyboards all the time, my wife and kids are almost exclusively Razer uses, and while they too generally make good quality keyboards, none of them seemed to hold up as well of feel as good to me as this K70 LUX has, and Im not exactly gentle with them. I have always typed with a heavy hand and do far too much gaming, if there is such a thing. Now we have this new version of the K70, and while I obviously cant say if it will hold up as well as my LUX has, if it comes even close, it wouldnt be surprised. The first thing I immediately noticed about the K70 Pro is it feels almost identical to the LUX, just newer, and that makes sense. So, it was very easy for me to get used it quickly. A few other general features I like are keyboards with open designs, and while the K70 is not unique in this way, it does make it very easy to clean and maintain. Detachable cables are a huge plus in my book. Standardized keys and caps, making them easy to find and replace should the need ever arise. Lastly, the heavy duty construction. I like it when my keyboard feels substantial, not like cheap plastic or having a lot of flex. The K70s aluminum construction definitely does just that. There are some notable differences, some could argue their improvements, between the K70 RGB Pro and the older LUX. The most obvious being the Pro has a detachable USB cable, some of the buttons have been moved, and the USB pass-through port has been removed. The USB cable is also thinner and less rigid thanks to the fact it no longer has to carry extra wires, that was one of my few complaints about the LUX. The media keys are in the same position but are now raised higher off the deck to make them easier to access. The indicator lights are also now hidden behind the black plastic inset panel near the Corsair logo, making for a much cleaner design. Another notable design difference is the front of the keyboard and wrist rest. The rest is much larger than on the LUX, so it takes up more desk space, but works exactly as it should. If youre like me and either dont have the space for larger rests or just dont like them, the front part of the aluminum case is designed a bit differently as well. The LUX has an angled front end whereas the Pro is much more squared, personally, I much prefer the tapered front end design vs the squared off style if youre not going to use a rest, but thats a personal opinion. In most other respects, the Pro and LUX are nearly identical. The good build quality, aluminum deck, open design for easy cleaning and maintenance, excellent RGB back lighting, and so on. While it may take up a bit more room on your desk, moving from an older K70 to the Pro should be easy like it was for me. Overall, I can honestly say that I am pleased with the K70 Pro. Its a newer addition to a quality line of keyboards that has already earned fan. A step in the right direction in just about every aspect in my opinion. This one is an easy 5 Eggs for me.
Work as Intended - Understand The Limitations
Pros: Let me start by saying I have used many different powerline adapters over the years, from various manufacturers, and they all have the same basic limitations. Something I have always wished the makers of these devices were more transparent about. If you know all this, you can just read the review of this specific kit below. First, the TLDR section. TLDR Point #1. The closer the adapters are to each other, the better they work. TLDR Point #2: Adapters on different circuits in your home will not work as well, if at all. TLDR Point #3: The age of the wiring, and how your home is wired, will affect performance. TLDR Point #4: Appliances plugged into the same circuit can interfere with the adapters. TLDR Point #5: Dont expect to get the advertised speeds, its almost always MUCH slower. TLDR Point #6: Dont plug these into surge protectors or conditions as they will block the signal. The longer non-TLDR version will be down in Other Thoughts if you care to read it. ** Here is the ACTUAL REVIEW of this devolo Magic 2 LAN Powerline Starter Kit. ** I tested my kit in a more real world situation, meaning the adapters were not the only things plugged into the outlet, and there were other things plugged into the same circuit. I mean, lets be real, most people are not going to dedicate 2 or more outlets in their home for these, nor are they going to unplug everything in-between. My apartment building was built in 1970, so not that old, but definitely not new either. I also have a great deal of electronic devices plugged in throughout the apartment. Such as several Alexa devices, 3 computers, all smart bulbs, 3D and regular printers and a Cricut machine, a router, modem, and various other things that all produce interference. I tested mine on one circuit, going from the front of the apartment to the back bedroom, from the front to the kitchen (closer but more appliances and a circuit jump), and from the front to the basement where the signal had to jump circuits and pass through a neighbors apartment, just to give a comparison. Youll also notice in the photos that I use 6-way adapters on my outlets, this is a must for me, and generally speaking they dont cause much of a problem with these adapters because they are not protected or filtered, just a straight dual plug to 6 plug adapters. When using it on the same circuit, going from the font of the apartment to the back, I actually got good performance, as I expected and have got with many of the other devices I have tested. I was able to reach speeds of up to 160Mbps, making the connected more than good enough for just about anything you would want to do with it. Gaming, Netflix, etc. Moving to the kitchen where the adapters are closer together, but have to jump circuits, and there are more appliances plugged in, the adapter was able to maintain a strong connection with no drops, but at much slower speeds, seeing a max stable transfer speed of 60Mbps. Still good enough for most things. Moving to the basement, the furthest distance, with a circuit jump, and passing through my downstairs neighbors apartment, the performance and stability dropped off considerably. The best speed test I could get was just over 12Mbps, but there was a lot of jitter and connection issues. No where near reliable, and the average speed I seen was closer to 8Mbps. So as you can see, its all about how and where you use these, as is the case with any powerline adapters. Temper your expectations, know your home, and these can work in a lot of situations where WiFi wont for whatever reason. As long as you can get a stable connection at or above your ISP speeds, I call that a win. Especially when running CAT is not an option. While all my primary devices are wired via CAT6, I still keep a set or two of these on hand for use at family and friends homes when they have issues, and I have always liked them. This devolo set is easily on par with others from companies like Netgear and TP-Link that I have used, and I would easily recommend it to anyone!
Cons: None as of this review. They works as expected and on par with other units.
Overall Review: ** The longer version of TLDR. ** These devices work by transmitting your Ethernet signal over your homes electrical wiring at a much higher frequency (almost always in the MHz range) than the 50Hz or 60Hz of your AC power. Thus they can share the same line and not interfere with each other, similar to how cable TV/internet and DSL over phone lines work. The power lines in your home are not shielded like your cable TV/internet lines, and the copper quality is likely different as well. Along with the fact the high frequency signals the adapter is sending out over the lines is significantly weaker in terms of power, this means signal degradation occurs very rapidly as the distance the signal travels increases. Basically, your power lines were never designed or intended for data transmission. So while it does work, it rapidly looses steam compared to actual cables designed for data transmission. Secondly, the signals lose a lot of power if they must travel through a breaker or fuse box before reaching their destination. Meaning if the signal has to jump from one circuit to another in your home, you may see significant loss in speed and stability. The age of the wiring in your home can impact performance as well, as can how your home is wired, and these devices are subject to outside interference like anything else. Like appliances plugged into the same line as the adapter for example. Thats why many of the included examples show the adapters plugged in by themselves for optimum performance. You also shouldnt plug these adapters into surge protectors, line conditioners, UPS backup devices, and things of that nature. Many people do this and dont realize that these devices are often designed to filter the power going through them and may filter out the frequencies being used by the adapters, rendering them useless. Surge protectors and UPS are common things people plug these into thinking it will protect them, and make keep their local LAN operating in a power outage, when in reality it will likely cause them to not work at all. In my experience, using multi-tap outlets that plug directly into the outlet, have two plugs split into six, NOT one plug into six, and have no built in protection, filters, or switches dont really hinder these adapters by any noticeable amount. However, power strips do hinder them as most of them have switches and/or breakers in them, so I dont suggest plugging these into power strips. Lastly, the rated speeds almost all manufactures list in their ads are theoretical. These are the max speeds the hardware can achieve in a perfect situation. However, most of us dont live in a perfect world, so dont expect to see those speeds. In all reality, the average speed youll see in most situations is closer to 100Mbps, not the 2000Mbps listed. That all being said, 100Mbs is still good enough for most all uses, and latency using powerline adapters is often still better than using WiFi, as is stability. As long as you know the limitations, and accept them, these adapters can come in really handy, and you may even be able to get better performance out of them, depending on your situation.
Solid Gen 4 NVME Drive
Pros: I dropped this drive into my ASUS AM4 TUF Gaming X570-Plus, Ryzen 5600X, 32GB DDR4 3200 based build, running Windows 10 Pro, and had no issues with setup or detection. This drive was installed and setup to store some of the Steam and EA games I play the most. Such as Battlefield 4, ARK, Valheim, and the Borderlands games. A quick CDM test shows the P5 Plus is not intended to be the absolute fastest Gen 4 drive currently available, as it is outperformed by other offerings, but it's no slouch either. As you can see from the numbers, it still delivers great Gen 4 NVME performance. My sequential read/write results seem to be on par with others, using CDM 8.0.4. Sequential Reads: Q8T1 1M: ~ 6718MB/s Q1T1 1M: ~ 4445MB/s Sequential Writes: Q8T1 1M: ~ 4694MB/s Q1T1 1M: ~ 4681MB/s In all the aforementioned games, there was no noticeable difference in load times when compared to my WD Black SN850, even though the P5 Plus is an overall slower drive. Honestly, at these speeds, it's hard to notice much difference outside of benchmarks. Crucial also offers it's own storage software package, Storage Executive, that includes a feature called "Momentum Cache" specifically for their drives. Basically, it's a DRAM caching tool similar to Samsung's "Rapid", where you utilize some of your system RAM as cache, then it dumps to the NVME drive afterwords, giving you a boost in performance. How much of a boost you see will differ based on your configuration of course and a feature worth playing with to see what you can squeeze out of it. The Storage Executive package also contains all the features and utilities you expect, including drive monitoring and diagnostics, firmware updating, formatting and sanitizing, over-provisioning, etc.
Cons: None at the time of review.
Overall Review: Overall, I think the P5 Plus is a good drive to have on the market, even without being anything super special. It gives shoppers another choice when searching for NVME storage, and that's always a good thing in my opinion. In closing, I could not feel any difference in performance between this drive and my WD Black after using it for several days, even though the WD drive is clearly faster. So I have no problems recommending this Crucial P5 Plus.