Date Joined: 09/02/01
Pros: I've bought maybe 6 of these over the last few years. For my purposes, we kept WiFi disabled for maximum security, so I can mainly say the wired capabilities work as expected.
Cons: I've had three of these fail when I was unplugging the Ethernet cables to do some reconfiguration. The RJ45 jacks are recessed a bit, so when trying to squeeze the plugs to disengage them, I guess I flex the jacks enough to break something in there. No lights, no power, another dead WNR1000.
Overall Review: Still a solid value for a budget router. Just take your time and use care if your Ethernet cables take a lot of squeeze force to compress the tang enough to unplug them. Use a small implement to compress the tang without flexing the RJ45 jack and circuit board.
Pros: This is a value board with three types of video connectors (remember that your CPU itself must have on-CPU video to use these outputs). Solid capacitors, no stability problems under serious 24/7 loads in my surveillance server.
It also has a UEFI BIOS with SecureBoot support for prevention of bootkit malware (very dangerous stuff), although you must first enable SecureBoot in the BIOS, have it load the default SecureBoot keys, and make sure the board is booting in UEFI-only mode _before_ installing Win8. If you do it right, and run a PowerShell prompt using Run As Administrator, the command Confirm-SecureBootUEFI should result in "True."
Cons: No SATA III (not a big con since my stuff is all network-bottlenecked in the end), and in retrospect I wish I'd opted for a board with more SATA connectors overall. But you know this stuff up front if you've read the specs.
Overall Review: Core i3-3225 @ stock
Crucial 1.35V DDR3
2 x 3TB WD Red (storage)
Sandisk Extreme II SSD (boot)
Seasonic SSR-360GP 80Plus Gold
Typical system power draw ~30-35 watts (no monitor)
Pros: The construction is very good, this isn't one of those flimsy-feeling cases. Even the side panels have surprising stiffness. The motherboard tray is ported out so you can access both sides of your CPU/heatsink area with the side panels removed.
I liked the layout for several reasons. The PSU isn't breathing hot exhaust from the CPU (it draws fresh air through a filtered vent in the floor), and having the motherboard in the upper section of the case means that, for once, you can actually see what you're doing when working with the front-panel connections. Your SATA connectors also aren't trapped in a cramped space between your video card and the floor of the case.
In the front, I moved the intake fan down so it's blowing at the HDD rack. You can run dual 120s up front if you want. The stock fans are pretty quiet; I can easily hear a stock Intel CPU fan over the dual 120s.
I may be behind the times, but this is the first case I've had that comes with SSD racks. Nice touch.
Bezel looks classy.
Cons: The HDD rack maxes out at two HDDs, and it's held in place with six screws, four of which you must unscrew from the underside of the case.
Another nitpick: the front panel has only one USB 3.0 connector; two would've been nice, since the motherboard's socket provides a pinout for two USB 3.0 ports.
Overall Review: This build was a surveillance server emphasizing performance-per-watt (which means longer runtimes on battery power during an outage). Seasonic G360 PSU, H77 board, Core i3-3225, DVD burner, an SSD and a 3TB drive. Under load, it's pulling only about 45 watts and 25% CPU use, down from about 110W and 70% CPU on a Phenom II X4 with three HDDs.
Pros: Looks nice, comes with software, has useful info on the display. I like the wattage consumption readout.
Cons: I own two recent-model APCs, this one and a 700. Both of them have occasionally begun emitting double-beeps at ~2-second intervals. APC's tech support couldn't tell me what this signified, but it appears to be the dreaded Internal Fault.
These episodes occur at random and can result in the unit eventually dropping power to whatever you've got plugged in. When the UPS is doing this stunt, Windows was showing it on AC power, charging, but the battery level was going *down!* Unplugging it in this condition results in a non-stop alarm and error code F05, along with the loss of power to my equipment. Wait, what's "UPS" stand for, again?
APC's tech support thinks this has something to do with bad electrical contact between the batteries and the unit.
Overall Review: This is a sad story to be writing about APC, their stuff is usually reliable.
Pros: As expected, it's an inexpensive illuminated keyboard. I got this for a server that's stationed where we sometimes have to work without much room lighting.
Cons: My main complaint is that the spacebar lies low enough, and requires enough downward travel, that it's a drag to do much actual typing on it because my thumbs are bottoming on the wrist rest when I try to use the spacebar. Fortunately, we're mostly typing log-in passwords on our server, but I took two eggs off because some of you will find this a functional shortcoming.
Overall Review: You'll have to pick your favorite backlight color each time the keyboard loses power. It defaults to blue.
Pros: It functions, although it sometimes refuses to POST with four sticks of G.Skill running at stock clockspeed. The Z68 chipset allows Virtu to accelerate some types of video-transcoding work when teamed with a Sandy Bridge that has the onboard GPU option. SLI is working well with two GTX460s.
Cons: MSI refuses to honor my rebate, falsely claiming that my motherboard isn't included in the rebate even though their own rebate form lists it. No response back from MSI, after I pointed this out on our third email exchange.
Bottom line: if you buy an MSI, be warned that your rebate claim may not be honored.
Pros: The fans are quiet and the front fan blows right through the HDD rack to keep the drives from heating eachother up. You can add more fans on the side panel if you have a jam-packed SLI/Crossfire config to cool.
Everything fit fine, although I fastened the drives in with screws rather than using the plastic "keepers."
Cons: The front port unit's eSATA jack connects to the motherboard via a SATA cable, which is great since it's an off-the-shelf item, but the one that came with the case doesn't latch and was a very loose fit. I used a latching 90-degree SATA cable instead, don't need that getting bumped loose.
Since the front jacks are at the top, your optical drive's tray will come out under the front cables and flash drives/etc.
The metal mesh bezel will show dust.
Overall Review: If you're looking to crank up the airflow with a powerful rear fan, the relatively small holes in the case metal will restrict airflow and increase noise from turbulence. You can mod the case to remove the metal and use a wire grille.
Front USB 3.0 ports would've been useful. But overall, hey it's a $40 case, so I'll give it five eggs despite the nitpicks. If you want cutting-edge everything, Newegg has a case for that too :)
Pros: Full-system backups and validations are much faster with our new USB 3.0 drive and this card. Probably about twice as fast (yeah, some credit can go to the drive too). That means I get to go home sooner, and the card's probably already paid for itself by letting me clock out sooner.
Cons: No cons to report. Just make sure your system has a vacant PCI-E slot.
Overall Review: I'll take an NEC or Texas Instruments chipset over the second-tier brands.
Pros: I like the key feel. No operational problems.
Cons: ROSEWILL, Y U NO USE NORMAL-SHAPED ENTER KEY? All your budget keyboards have this stupid L-shaped Enter key. Make at least one with a normal key, please! One egg deducted!
Pros: Huge seat-of-the-pants improvement in editing HD video compared to my 3GHz Core 2 Duo, both in final rendering speed and when working in video-editing software (Adobe Premiere Elements mostly). The lag in the video previews was more than just annoying, it was like having >1000ms ping in multiplayer. Counterproductive. The i5 keeps its head above water very nicely where the C2D was drowning.
Cons: The heatsink's fan is a bit more audible than my C2D's was.
Overall Review: I considered the i7 as well, but review benchmarks don't show a ton of improvement from the additional 2MB of cache or the hyperthreading in most scenarios, so I decided to blow the extra money on another 8GB of RAM instead.
Pros: I installed this on an A785GM-LE/128M and installed Win7 Pro on it, and it coughed up two cores. It performs like a champ for desktop work on a low budget.
Overall Review: This replaced an AthlonXP 2500+ on nForce2, running WinXP (slowly). Besides the speed upgrade, the Sempron also gets me hardware support for Data Execution Prevention, which is a useful security enhancement for WinXP/Vista/7, particularly if you max it out. One easy way to max out DEP, is to download Microsoft's freebie EMET utility, and set your system to the Recommended Security Settings using the "Configure system" button.
Pros: The photo gallery doesn't show it, but mine came with a disc that included a firmware-updating utility and a labelling utility that can design both LightScribe labels and jewel-case labels, among other things. Working great in 64-bit Win7 Ultimate so far.
Cons: None so far.
Overall Review: If you're not already aware: go to Lightscribe dot com and get the latest Lightscribe core system software. Among other things, it will allow you the Enhanced Contrast option (slower LS burns, but better contrast). They've also got their own freebie label software and templates for download.
You probably will want to disable the firmware updater after doing your update, or it'll run every time you start Windows.
Pros: Stable mainstream memory. I used two of these 2x2GB kits for 8GB on my Core 2 Duo build, then later split them up. They've been completely solid at default voltages, even in the 4-module setup. No special pampering required.
Cons: They have that "plain vanilla" look. No heatspreaders, no LEDs. Function, not flash.
Overall Review: Crucial usually isn't your least expensive option, but they tend to be consistent. Newegg rocks, as always.