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Brian D.

Brian D.

Joined on 01/31/08

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Most Favorable Review

Excellent SSD

SAMSUNG 840 EVO 2.5" 500GB SATA III TLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) MZ-7TE500BW
SAMSUNG 840 EVO 2.5" 500GB SATA III TLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) MZ-7TE500BW

Pros: I very much like this drive. Why do we still call it a drive? I went with the 840 EVO 500GB SSD because I felt the price was competitive, the 840 series as a whole has been getting stellar professional reviews, and, although relatively new, the the EVO itself has gotten stellar professional reviews. Samsung has made a name for itself as a quality SSD maker using its own technology. Based on a professional review that performed a long-term and intense stress test using an 840 (not the EVO, but same technology), my concerns about the lifespan of an SSD has been put to rest. The test was to determine if the Samsung’s TLC chips had a shorter lifespan compared to the industry standard of the MLC. That’s the reason for the test, but the results are what’s interesting. Using the calculations from the tests, an average consumer can expect 75 years before the chips begin to fail. Under continuous extreme circumstances it will last about 23 years. I’m certain there will be new technology by then, so I don’t plan on having this SSD that long and I’m not going to tip-toe around this drive. I’m going to use and abuse this like I did my old 10,000 rpm hard drive. I do very much like the Samsung Magician software that manages the drive. It’s polished and user-friendly. I used the one-click OS Optimization feature to apply all of the settings to get the best performance. There are four options for OS optimizations: performance, capacity, reliability, and the advance tab allows you to tweak as you see fit. You can also over-provision using this tool, but since I’ve only used less than 30% of my drive, I’m not going to worry about securing dedicated space for the controller just yet. Another reason why I went with the 500GB drive. I felt it was worth the money to not be constantly concerned with how much space I have left. The sequential read and write speeds are working as advertised, but I’m having an issue with the random read and writes which I mention in the cons, but I’m confident I can get that worked out. I read the professional reviews on performance, lifespan, and the new Rapid mode. I encourage you to do the same… or you can take my word for it and hit the add to cart button. Go ahead. I can see you’re so close to clicking the button. Do it! Do it now!

Cons: I had with the random read/write IOPS (see other thoughts) and I attempted to contact Samsung support about an issue by email from their site, but the product selection form doesn’t display any options after the “Memory & Storage” selection. The same goes for chat. I emailed the webmaster reporting the issue, but it turns out you have to call for SSD support. That’s so 90’s and I hate the press 1, 4, 6, 8, 1 again, and enter the 40 alphanumeric serial number. I’m kidding. I haven’t tried the phone system yet. Phone support can be so time consuming.

Overall Review: I had an issue in which I could not enable Rapid mode. The Samsung Magician software showed that I didn’t meet the minimum CPU requirements of 1.0GHz. It was showing that my CPU was 0.8GHz. It turns out my motherboard BIOS was reporting both the max and min of my Haswell CPU speed as 800MHz instead 3500MHZ for max. Once I updated the BIOS, the maximum speed was corrected and the minimum requirements for Rapid mode was met. I had an issue with achieving the advertised random read and write IOPS. The sequential read and writes performance test exceeded the advertise speed, but the random IOPS were about 30-40% lower than expected. After some forum searching I underestimated the importance of using the right driver. It turns out using the manufacturer’s SATA controller driver instead of Microsoft’s default ACHI driver makes a huge difference. My motherboard’s controller needed the Intel Rapid Storage Technology driver to use its full potential. Once I installed that driver, the sequential read/writes went up a little bit, but the IOPS exceeded the advertised speeds by a huge margin. No matter which SSD you go with, I recommend using the motherboard’s recommended SATA controller driver. I used a popular independent performance testing software to do benchmarking. Using Microsoft’s default ACHI driver, the drive scored on par with comparable SSDs. Using the appropriate Intel RST driver, the SSD exceeding the scores other comparable SSDs. When I enabled Rapid mode, the graph for my EVO dwarfed all of the comparables by a mile. The performance tester isn’t real world and I didn’t really notice the change after Rapid mode. It is already an extremely fast drive with the correct SATA drivers, but the benchmarks sure looked pretty. I’ve read a few professional reviews that stated the Rapid mode does not make everything run faster. There are a few test scenarios that showed it reduce speed, but these are predefined tests and not real world uses either. The caching requires up to 1GB of RAM which is acceptable and a very slight increase in CPU utilization was noted by the reviews. Keep in mind that this is based on what I’ve read and not what I’ve experienced. A 3.5” bracket and screws do not come with this package. It contains the SSD and software disc. I am very happy with this purchase and intend on buying another later. When the time comes to upgrade my wife’s PC, I intend on getting the 1TB version for her. She has so much stuff. I think she catalogs her shoes or something. Intel Core i7-4770K 3.5GHz LGA 1150 Quad-Core CPU Corsair Hydro Series H100i CPU Water Cooler Asus Maximus VI Hero Motherboard G.SKILL Trident X Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3 2400 Memory MSI Gaming GeForce GTX 770 TF 2GD5/OC Video Card Samsung 840 EVO 500GB SSD Cooler Master Silent Pro Gold Series 1000W Power Supply Corsair Obsidian Series 550D Black Case

11/18/2013
Most Critical Review

Didn't work for me

BYTECC HMSP104K 3D Splitter Resolutions Up to 4K2K
BYTECC HMSP104K 3D Splitter Resolutions Up to 4K2K

Pros: Small. Solid construction.

Cons: This splitter did not work for me. Occasionally,the screen would jitter after turning on my equipment (receiver, media player, TV and/or projector). I would have to turn off the splitter and turn it back on to fix it. My assumption is that the receiver was not able to determine the correct refresh rate when connected to the splitter. I was using this more as a switch box between my TV and projector. Most of the time, only one was on, but both have the same acceptable resolution and refresh rates. It may not necessarily be a defect; but, rather, a slight incompatibility with my equipment. Either way, it should have a means to compensate. I know this is possible since I was able to find one that works with my equipment.

Overall Review: The light position is a weird: "4 - 3 - IN - 2 - 1". I haven't figured out how that seems logical. I would think something like "IN - 1 - 2 - 3 - 4" would make more sense.

Works in my DS1618+

Synology D4NS2133-4G RAM DDR4-2133 SO-DIMM 4GB
Synology D4NS2133-4G RAM DDR4-2133 SO-DIMM 4GB

Pros: This module matches the one that came with my DS1618+ and works perfectly.

Cons: None

Overall Review: The module available on the Synology website is a faster RAM module and more expensive. My DS1618+ came with a pre-installed DDR4-2133 which matches this module. And cheaper than the newer faster module. I upgraded the RAM so that I could run the Virtual Machine Manager and a DSM VM without risk to the performance of NAS. Synology is discontinuing the Docker DSM.

Great budget laptop

ASUS VivoBook 15.6" FHD Laptop, Quad-Core Ryzen 5 2500U Processor (up to 3.6 GHz) with Radeon Vega 8 Graphics, 8 GB DDR4, 256 GB M.2 SSD, 802.11ac Wi-Fi - F505ZA-DH51
ASUS VivoBook 15.6" FHD Laptop, Quad-Core Ryzen 5 2500U Processor (up to 3.6 GHz) with Radeon Vega 8 Graphics, 8 GB DDR4, 256 GB M.2 SSD, 802.11ac Wi-Fi - F505ZA-DH51

Pros: The good stuff... + Good performance + Great looking screen at 1920x1080 + Strong and thin case + Touchpad has a good feel + Textured keys + Battery life + Asus Battery Health Charging software + Small wall adapter The Ryzen 5 2500U is a mid-range CPU from 2017 with an integrated Radeon Vega 8 graphics. PassMark's average for this CPU is 7,358. My tests returned a slightly higher CPU mark at 7,472. This VivoBook won't win any awards for graphics performance, but the screen does look very nice and it doesn't have any issues with productivity software, pictures or movies. See benchmarks in other thoughts. The screen is really nice looking. Its vibrant with an anti-glare coating. The screen actually being 1080p is a big deal in my opinion, opposed to 1920 x 800 or something like that. Quite a few laptops have screens less than 1080p. So kudos on the screen. Pictures look great and movies in both full screen or windowed mode look great too. The VivoBook is pretty thin and lightweight. It's made of plastic with aluminum plating on top of the lid and on the top of the body. The texture has a nice brushed metal feel and does not have an issue with fingerprints. The gold is a subtle hue. It can look gunmetal in some light and gold-ish in other light. I really like the touchpad feel and sensitivity. I use the two-finger slide for scrolling and it only takes a light touch for it to recognize my finger movement. The light tap for a left-click works well. My personal preference is to turn off the Windows feature of the "lower right corner is the right-click" and I use the two-finger click as the right-click. Settings -> Devices -> Touchpad -> uncheck "Press the lower right corner of the touchpad to right-click". The keys on the keyboard have a texture that feels nice and repels fingerprints. The VivoBook battery life performance during the writing of this review went as expected. Writing this review in Google Docs and light browsing for 2 hours reduced the battery from 100% to 78%. It could be better, but I have definitely seen worse. Miles will vary based on tasks and temperature. The "Asus Battery Health Charging" software was a welcome surprise in the added software. It provides three modes on how the battery charging should be managed: full capacity, balanced, and maximum lifespan. The full capacity (100%) mode is for those running on battery frequently, but the battery lifespan is shortened. The maximum lifespan mode is for those that are able to charge the laptop frequently which, as it states, extends the battery life by only charging up to 60%. The balanced mode charges up to 80%. If you do decide to do a Windows "Fresh Start" or otherwise reinstall, the "Asus Battery Health Charging" utility does appear to be available for download from Asus at the time of this review. The wall adapter is about the size of a tablet's and not the typical laptop brick.

Cons: Issues during my experience... - Keyboard is not backlit - Camera is low quality - Usual bloatware - Speakers on the bottom The keyboard is not backlit which can make it difficult to see in dim lighting, but the light from the screen should be enough for most settings. I'm not surprised that the camera is grainy. You're not going to get stunning pictures from a laptop lid camera. It will pass for video chat, but the video does look a tad blurry. It has the usual bloatware that ends up taking up space. The Windows "Fresh Start" feature to reset Windows to a "near" fresh Windows install, if you're unsatisfied with uninstalling the software. I did a fresh start on a VivoBook Pro and it worked well with the exception for one Asus software that remained. A few of the software you may want to consider if you intend on doing a Windows "Fresh Start" or reinstall are "Asus Battery Health Charging" for charging style, "Asus Splendid Technology" for screen configuration, "Asus Sync" to connect your phone, and "Asus Smart Audio" for your speakers. These should be downloadable from the Asus support page. The speakers are in the front bottom of the laptop. The sound bounces off of the surface the laptop is sitting on, so it can affect the sound. They are basic speakers, so I wasn't expecting fantastic sound. I think the sound would have sounded better if the speakers were above the keyboard. At the end of the day, nothing to crack an egg over since the price at the time of this review was less than $500.

Overall Review: If someone asked for a recommendation for a $500 productivity laptop, this would be my choice. I think it performs well, its durable, and it looks nice. I do not think it will do well for gaming. It would perform well enough for Minecraft, Hearthstone or something similar, but not so much for heavy graphics or first person games, but I did not test any games on this VivoBook. That is just my gut feeling. PassMark Rating: 2732 59th Percentile CPU Mark: 7472 2D Mark: 511 3D Mark: 1151 Memory Mark: 1506 Disk Mark: 3869 ----------------------------------------------------------------------- CrystalDiskMark 6.0.2 x64 (C) 2007-2018 hiyohiyo Crystal Dew World : https://crystalmark.info/ ----------------------------------------------------------------------- * 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) : 455.554 MB/s Sequential Write (Q= 32,T= 1) : 438.320 MB/s Random Read 4KiB (Q= 8,T= 8) : 236.569 MB/s [ 57756.1 IOPS] Random Write 4KiB (Q= 8,T= 8) : 198.182 MB/s [ 48384.3 IOPS] Random Read 4KiB (Q= 32,T= 1) : 234.943 MB/s [ 57359.1 IOPS] Random Write 4KiB (Q= 32,T= 1) : 206.086 MB/s [ 50314.0 IOPS] Random Read 4KiB (Q= 1,T= 1) : 22.228 MB/s [ 5426.8 IOPS] Random Write 4KiB (Q= 1,T= 1) : 69.827 MB/s [ 17047.6 IOPS] Test : 1024 MiB [C: 15.6% (37.0/237.4 GiB)] (x5) [Interval=5 sec] Date : 2019/08/10 11:54:45 OS : Windows 10 [10.0 Build 17134] (x64) ----------------------------------------------------------------------- If you found this review helpful, please let me know with a 'yes' below.

Worth It

Newegg Premier 12 Month Membership
Newegg Premier 12 Month Membership

Pros: The free shipping and the return benefits (not often needed) paid for the membership fee in no time.

Cons: None

Overall Review: This is my 3rd year.

Stable and quiet

WD Red Plus 4TB NAS Hard Disk Drive - 5400 RPM Class SATA 6Gb/s, CMR, 64MB Cache, 3.5 Inch - WD40EFRX
WD Red Plus 4TB NAS Hard Disk Drive - 5400 RPM Class SATA 6Gb/s, CMR, 64MB Cache, 3.5 Inch - WD40EFRX

Pros: + Stable data protection + Quiet + Energy efficient I have five of these drives and I have frequently tested them using both the quick and extended SMART tests over a course of heavy usage. All tests have been successful on all five drives. I have had no other issue that would suggest these drives have a problem and I am confident that my data is safe. The WD Red is pretty quiet as far as mechanical drives go. I have used a competitor's equivalent NAS drive recently and the WD is noticeably quieter. If you do have a noise concern, then I think you would be happy with the WD Reds. For something that is running steady 24/7 like a NAS, I think the best performance would be a balance between speed and energy efficiency. If you do the math on expected wattages for idle and operation for this drive and compare it to the competitors, this drive is pretty efficient. So what does that mean? Maybe nothing. Its food for thought. The savings of wattage and heat may be negligible on your electric bill or it may save you some money over a year.

Cons: None

Overall Review: EDIT: I just purchased two more drives, so I updated my "other thoughts" with current information, but my opinion of the drive has not changed. I have six of the WD Red 4TB drives installed in my Synology DS1618+ that is configured to use the SHR (Synology Hybrid RAID) 2 disk fault-tolerance, Btrfs file system, and one drive as a hot spare. Each drive is formatted to have 3.64TB available (this is file system specific results). Two drives are set aside for fault-tolerance leaving three drives available for data: (3.64 * 3) - [OS space] = 10.47TB of data space available. This is all specific to my Synology, RAID configuration, and file system selections. Your results will probably be different, but I wanted to share my specs. I highly recommend the Synology and WD combination. The WD Red drives are my go to drives for my NAS systems. I have had 3TB Red drives in my Synology DS413j for several years now and they are still healthy and going strong. I have no reason to suspect that these 4TB Reds will be any less stellar. The one of the two WD Red 4TB drives I recently purchased replaced an old failing Seagate drive in my DS413j and the second Red went into my DS1618+ as a hot spare. Both drives were tested with the SMART quick and extended tests as well as Synology's battery of tests when a new drive is installed. All were successful. The WD Red drives are the only drives I feel comfortable relying upon in my Synology NAS'. If you found this review helpful, let me know.