cover
Matthew M.

Matthew M.

Joined on 11/20/04

0
0

100%
Top 1000 Reviewer
100%
100 Reviews
Gallery
Product Reviews
Gallery
  • 0
  •  
  • 1
  •  
product reviews
  • 114
Most Favorable Review

The Start of Something Beautiful

AMD A10-6800K Richland 4.1 GHz (4.4GHz Turbo) Socket FM2 100W Quad-Core Desktop Processor - Black Edition AMD Radeon HD 8670D
AMD A10-6800K Richland 4.1 GHz (4.4GHz Turbo) Socket FM2 100W Quad-Core Desktop Processor - Black Edition AMD Radeon HD 8670D

Pros: + Bundles a CPU and GPU together in one "chip" + Console level graphics and performance on the cheap for PCs. + Approximate to FX4100, X4 750k, Phenom II X4 955 CPUs, and 5770/6670/7750, GTS 450/GT 545/GT 640 GPUs + DDR3-2133 memory officially supported but DDR3-2400 speeds should be easily attainable. + Unlocked for easy overclocking. + You may or may not get a stable CPU OC of 4.8-5.0 GHz. I was only able to get up to 4.6 GHz while remaining stable under any sustained load (Prime95, etc.) with the memory at DDR3-2400 speeds. + GPU overclocked to 1169 MHz, a 37% increase. This translates to a 10-25% boost in most games. Which you'll need if you're serious about gaming on this. + Power draw is 175 watts while overclocked under Prime95; idles at 55 watts. At stock settings with memory at 2133 load is 140 watts under Prime95, idles at 45 watts. Now for benchmarks. all results are from 4.6GHz and 1169 MHz OC with 2400 memory speeds: 1. Bioshock Infinite - DX10/11 @1080 Medium to High = 30-40 FPS, @720 High to Ultra 20-30 FPS. Both very playable. However, I should note that this game required me to increase the video memory to 2GBs in order to not get texture filtering problems. This is the only game that I had this issue and I'm not certain as to what is causing it. 2. Skyrim - High preset @1080 = 25-40 FPS playable with minor slowdown, 720 resolution is recommended for flawless playback. 3. Diablo III - @1080 all High with medium shadows = 40-60 FPS, very playable. 4. Just Cause 2 - @1080 Medium to Very High = 30-60 FPS, very playable. 5. Hitman Absolution - @1080 Normal preset = 24-30 FPS, very playable. 6. Sims 3 all expansions - @1080 Medium to High preset = 40-60 FPS, playable. 7. Far Cry Blood Dragon - DX11 @1080 High = 25-34 FPS, playable 8. Sleeping Dogs - @720 Medium to High = 35-65 FPS. Very playable. 9. Civilization V - DX10/11 @1080 High/2xMSAA = 25-30 FPS. DX9 @1080 High = 30-60 FPS. Playable but suffered from slow tile loading. 10. Saints Row The Third - DX10/11 @720 Medium to Ultra = 25-30 FPS, very playable. DX9 @720 Max settings = 40-60 FPS, very playable. 11. Battlefield 3 - @1080 Medium to High = 20-30 FPS, playable. 12. Tomb Raider - @720 Normal = 55-70 FPS, very playable. As you can see, the results put it on par or much better than their console counterparts for most games. Not bad at all for an integrated graphics solution. However, if you're not going to overclock this APU you can expect a loss of 2-12 FPS for most games and 2-10 FPS if you only go with DDR3-2133 memory speeds. + While it's not going to win any medals for CPU intensive applications it isn't going to be the biggest loser, either. It ranks about low to middle of the pack. + I contacted AMD with a few questions and troubleshooting scenarios and the response times were pretty great; Averaging at 1-3 days per response with each one being direct and insightful.

Cons: - Richland is virtually identical to Trinity in every way with only slightly better clocks at lower voltages. More refinement instead of evolution. Averages about 10-15% better performance over Trinity. It also has the same graphics core despite having a different name. Which is simply shameless by AMD. Richland is basically what Trinity should have been if AMD didn't rush it out. - I only came across two games that were unplayable: 1. Far Cry 3 - DX10/11 @1080 low = 15-20 FPS. DX9 low @1080 = 29-40 FPS somewhat playable. Turning down the resolution to 720 adds FPS but makes the game so ugly and doesn't really smooth gameplay that it simply isn't worth it. 2. Grand Theft Auto IV - Low to Medium preset @720 = 20-60 FPS, somewhat playable. Medium preset @1080 = 25-30 FPS but constant stuttering and slowdown. GTAIV simply suffers from a bad port and the APU just isn't strong enough in any category to compensate for that. - Dual Graphics do not scale well enough to warrant the extra costs. If you already have a 6670 then it certainly doesn't hurt, but if you're going to intentionally buy one to have dual graphics you're 100% without a doubt better off getting a regular CPU and dedicated graphics card. - The stock cooler is the cheapest of the cheap and the fan makes a high frequency whine when running at "quiet" speeds. Even at stock settings the cooler had trouble keeping the APU cool at full loads. Basically, you'll need a new heatsink if you have ears or plan even modest overclocks, such as running DDR3-2400 memory. At DDR3-2400 speeds the stock cooler couldn't handle the APU at even 50% utilization before throttling due to heat. This is fairly offensive since there's no OEM sku and you are paying for a completely useless heatsink while having to pay for a new, adequate one to replace it. - Temps hovered around 40-60C at various loads both overclocked and at stock settings. It's not hot but also not the coolest. Thermal barrier is 75C according to AMD. - GPU sensor seems to run 10C hotter than the CPU when overclocked. Depending on your monitoring software you may run into trouble by pushing it too hard. 65C could mean 75C for the GPU, which is its limit. - This APU's CPU will bottleneck most medium to high end dedicated graphics cards. So, if you plan to get this with the intention of upgrading later it's important to remember this. - The FM2 platform basically dies with this APU. FM2+ is coming out later this year and it requires two extra pins. So, that means that if you buy this APU now, while only FM2 boards are available, you'll have to upgrade your motherboard if you want to upgrade your APU later. This isn't this APU's problem, obviously, but it is something to be mindful of since the entire point of APUs is to "save" money. - Needing a new heatsink and at least 2133 memory slowly chips away at the savings vs performance levels. - AMD's website is awful, awful, awful if you're trying to find real informatio

Overall Review: You're basically paying for a CPU that competes with $70-$100 CPUs and a GPU that competes with $60-$90 graphics cards. Which makes perfect sense, but that may get lost in all the hype about APUs from both AMD and its fans. It's neither a miracle worker nor an outright disappointment. Its GPU performance is still better than Intel's offerings, including Haswell, but its CPU performance is a good deal worse than Intel's quad core solutions only matching Intel's i3 dual-cores. Its biggest strength is for HTPCs or ITX form factors since you don't have to worry about as much noise, heat or space of an extra graphics card. While my Cons list is large it's more nitpicking and realities than actual flaws with this APU. Overall, this is a fun little chip to play with and I look forward to AMD's future APUs. Depending on your expectations and demands this can make for some really fun and compact builds without sacrificing performance entirely. At the same rate, you can do better for just as much or very close to the price depending on your specific needs and gaming intentions. Test Setup: Windows 7 Professional 64bit ASUS F2A85-M PRO motherboard 8GB G.Skill Ripjaws DDR3-2400 memory with 1GB reserved for graphics AMD 6800k CPU OC'd to 4.6GHz and GPU to 1169MHz Tuniq Universal 120 Heatsink cooler Rosewill ATX Tower Case Sandisk Ultra Plus 128GB SSD Ambient Temperature a constant 20C

Most Critical Review

Perfectly Adequate

Rosewill Apollo - RK-9100xRBR - Mechanical Keyboard with Red Backlit
Rosewill Apollo - RK-9100xRBR - Mechanical Keyboard with Red Backlit

Pros: Semi-Premium keyboard in some places, less than premium in others Standard Cherry MX Brown switches LED lighting has good presets Macro ability is actually pretty good. Could be implemented slightly better but overall pretty good. Has a nice feel but with caveats Nice and sturdy and heavy.

Cons: The satin finish may feel nice but goodness is it a mess in reality. Absolutely any oil on your fingers, even freshly washed, will smudge the keyboard. It makes things look trashy really, really fast. It cleans up well but it's still pretty annoying and almost worst than glossy finishes, but it's right up there. Macro software leaves a lot to be desired but it gets the job done. Wrist bar is indeed warped like others have said and given the height of this keyboard it's almost necessary. It also attaches horribly. I know if I were to remove it and attach it more than say, three times, it would break simply due to the force required to get it to attach. I get phantom keypresses every now and again. Very random but it has happened at least five times now. It'll also have a freakout in which it keeps a keypress going until I hit escape. It's not enough to worry but enough to question the quality and future. Keycaps feel pretty cheap. Like REALLY cheap. This isn't an economy priced keyboard so I find that somewhat unacceptable. There's a step in between super premium and normal, this skips normal and goes for cheapest of the cheap. Very clacky sounding just because of the keycaps used, not the switch.

Overall Review: Overall this is a very nice keyboard with some lazy and cheap shortcuts. Given the price point I don't think those shortcuts are valid. This is just below premium quality at a premium price compared to competitors. Couple that with the quirks and you might be able to do better. As it stands, you can't go wrong with upgrading from a membrane switch or scissor switch keyboard to this. It's absolutely divine and you'll wonder why you put up with those terrible keyboards for so long. If you're already in the mechanical keyboard club you might want to test this before you commit to it.

Truly, Good Enough.

Microsoft Xbox Series S
Microsoft Xbox Series S

Pros: Overpriced MSRP considering it's less powerful than a One X but also not. Great for backwards compatibility. Not as good as One X or Series X, right in between and really, you won't notice much difference here even if you're a 4k snob. It's just how many times the resolution gets increased 100% good enough if not even more than enough. If you're a 4K or FPS snob for Series S/X games, see cons. This is tiny. Barely longer than a Switch OLED. Also quiet. I've yet to hear the fans kick in from 7 feet away.

Cons: The CPU is more powerful than the One X but the GPU is weaker. Why couldn't Microsoft at least put in something equivalent to the One X GPU at this price point? Would that have shown the Series X to be overpriced and underwhelming? Probably. What does this mean? Well, it's closer looking to a One X than One S but it's also a bit underwhelming compared to the Series X. Games almost look the same in most situations outside of resolution and ambient occlusion. One X does 4K at 30 FPS, usually. Series X does 4k at 60 FPS. Series S doesn't do 4k but it does 1440p instead. Most of the time at 60FPS but sometimes 30. (most games let you choose even on Series S) Does this make a difference to you? Maybe. Graphically it's almost the same. The Series X never looks as good as a PC game; since its filtering and shadows and everything are always not as crisp. In that sense most Series X games barely look better than One X or Series S, usually just crisper due to 4K at usually 60 FPS. SO, if you don't need 4K or 60 FPS always, then the Series S will almost look as good as the Series X. Microsoft went cheap on storage. Should have been 1TB without a disc drive or 512GB with a disc drive (mainly for better Backwards Compatibility for when games get pulled from digital) Speaking of Storage...You can only expand externally, not internally like you could even with the PS3. External storage works for storing all games not to play, or to play Backwards Compatible games or unenhanced Xbox One games. You cannot play Series S/X games externally unless you overpay for Seagate's "expansion storage" made specifically for Series S/X. Controller is a slight improvement over previous ones, but Microsoft phoned it in here, especially when compared to Sony and Nintendo.

Overall Review: Overall, it feels like this was purposefully limited with a poorer GPU just so Microsoft could sell the Series X for more and justify its existence more. The lack of a disc drive hurts Backwards Compatibility a tiny bit here. You can play Forza Horizon 1 on the Series S but you need a disc and always will from now on if you didn't already purchase the digital version when it was last available. So that sucks. Thanks for nothing Microsoft. But in a time where shortages and gouging exists....This is certainly good enough for most people even if you're only interested in current games. if you wanted more you're honestly better off spending more money on PC than a series X. There you'll see much bigger differences and better performance without compromise. For consoles, might as well get this for the great BC and a playstation 5 later if they ever get enough exclusives that make it worth it for you.

Terrible

Corsair HS75 XB WIRELESS Gaming Headset for Xbox Series X and Xbox One
Corsair HS75 XB WIRELESS Gaming Headset for Xbox Series X and Xbox One

Pros: Semi-Lightweight, very nice build quality. Mic is indeed pretty good. I wouldn't say it's actually anything special given the size and form, but it's absolutely the best thing about this headset. Battery life is good. I get 16-22 hours of play time before recharging.

Cons: Ridiculously low end, bass heavy. VERY muddy sounding. A lot of detail is lost. Surround sound faking is among the worst I've experienced, even in Dolby's own demos. Some headsets are good at faking it. This headset can barely manage proper stereo spatial separation. Movie and music performance is substandard. Put it this way, Listen to a Nolan/Zimmer collaboration at your own demise. Tenet is virtually impossible to watch and if you watch a classic Star Wars movie you'll hear pretty quickly what I mean about details being lost. Dolby Atmos Access only works while headphones are plugged in. Makes sense but would have been nice if Dolby would be generous for once in their licensing. Only for Xbox and Windows PC. No wired option. Needs an adapter on PC because it uses Microsoft's Xbox wireless technology instead of bluetooth. Which would be worth it if it was...worth it. On Xbox there are still users plagued with issues stemming from this protocol (for what it's worth I haven't experienced this issue yet), that's not Corsair's fault btw. On PC it requires an extra adapter and also makes this headset worthless for anything else. Why are we still doing this? For some reason some games give me issue with spatial audio even when they support Atmos. Ori and Will of Wisps is the biggest offender in which audio cuts in and out when attempting it.

Overall Review: I honestly haven't heard a pair of headphones or headsets sound this poorly in a long, long while. Never this poorly balanced at this price point. Bass heavy? Yeah that's the general problem but honestly never THIS heavy and I actually want a little Bass, especially in a gaming headset. You can make these barely usable if you use a mixer to put a bandaid on the bass problems these have but it by no means fixes it or makes it tolerable; you still will lose detail in the sound and the spatial separation is still bad. It's a real shame.

Fast but know your limits

Corsair MP600 Core M.2 2280 2TB PCIe Gen 4.0 x4, NVMe 1.3 3D QLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) CSSD-F2000GBMP600COR
Corsair MP600 Core M.2 2280 2TB PCIe Gen 4.0 x4, NVMe 1.3 3D QLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) CSSD-F2000GBMP600COR

Pros: Pretty fast and the specs listed on the box nearly match real world performanceIncluded and absolutely necessary heatsink is nice enough looking but you can also remove it easily to use your own or if your motherboard has one with a fan built in. Heatsink Dimensions: 70mm x 24mm x 14.5mm or 2.75" x .94" x .57"Relatively large CacheCorsair still has excellent customer service and RMA process; should you need it and are covered.

Cons: 450 TBW (For the 2 TB MP600 Core model) Endurance is slightly above average for QLC but still worth understanding. Intel's cheap QLC models have 400 TBW for 2TB for reference.With great speeds come great heat. With the stock heatsink this drive still got up to 69C when going fully loaded for only about 3 minutes and this was when it was both exposed on the back of the motherboard, without putting the case panel back on, and on the front of the motherboard where it has a fan near it. This drive is rated up to 70C but I was still surprised it hit it so fast doing a normal operation in a 20C environment.Raw numbers say one thing, real world performance says another and it didn't load games or professional programs much faster and was slower than most other performance drives in real world experiences. Checking with professional reviews this seems to be the case there, too. It's not horrible or anything but if you're already on a PCIe 3.0 drive, you probably won't notice a difference if you use this as a general purpose system drive.

Overall Review: TBW endurance; on my gaming PC and boot drive I average about 10 TBW a year. So, there, this will last 45 years before starting to fail, in theory. But on my work PC I average 40 TBW a year and well, this drive will only last about 11 years.Certainly not deal breakers and while I can say most other technology I use is replaced, easily, within 10 years; I still have a lot of old hard drives. So, I wouldn't entirely dismiss it, either. Especially if you have a history of using a lot of TBW (check your smart settings or manufacturer tools to see what you're hitting)In the end, this is a solid QLC drive and the packaging is exactly as advertised but since you're going for a premium drive here I'd seriously consider going up another notch to Corsair's Pro or Force series. There, absolutely everything is better, especially TBW endurance, but also raw and real world performance.Normally I post Crystal Disk Benchmark numbers here but it's literally within 1% of what the box says, so no point this time.

SIlence Good for 1440p, Not Just 1080p

SAPPHIRE PULSE Radeon RX 5600 XT 6GB GDDR6 PCI Express 4.0 ATX Video Card 100419P6GL
SAPPHIRE PULSE Radeon RX 5600 XT 6GB GDDR6 PCI Express 4.0 ATX Video Card 100419P6GL

Pros: - The quietest card I've had under load and I've had 3 slot cards.... - While slightly bigger than 2 slots it still may work in your ITX case. I have maybe a quarter inch of clearance before it touches the PSU grill that has holes but not a lot for air and it still stays very cool and near silent. - AMD cards have heat issues, this generation especially. So imagine my surprise that I never hear this card's fans ramp up. EVER. I've never had a card that I couldn't at least hear ramp up ever so slightly over long gaming sessions. Sapphire did an awesome job with this cooler. Dare I say, it's witchcraft given that this is the highest factory clocked card, too. -I think the 5600XT is the perfect price/performance/heat balance. It's nearly as good as a 5700 and a 5700XT simply is not worth the price premium. Let alone above it. It seems 5700 and on cards tend to get toastier so if you need a solid mini ITX card that can handle 2 and 1/4 slots, this is perfect. - I get solid 70-100 average FPS at 1440p. People say this is a 1080p card and maybe once next generation consoles kick things off it will be. But if you're looking to play today's games and yesterday's, you can't beat this price to performance ration. If you're satisfied with 60 FPS, this card delivers easily at 1440p for most games at max settings. Should be good for 120+ FPS at 1080p too.

Cons: - AMD Drivers. Yes, they're still awful. Yes they still give mixed results. Yes, you have to deal with this fact. To be fair they control panel is less insufferable now and I have had less issues (none in gaming so far) but issues I still have. - AMD Freesync works pretty poorly on this card for some reason. I assume it's drivers since my monitor is freesync and approved for gsync use and works great there. An old RX480 also works fine in every freesync mode as well. This card, for whatever AMD silly reason, will do it but it will give issues -like black screening when alt-tabbing or not working at all (black screen) when in ultimate engine mode. No doubt, this is a driver issue fighting my configuration somehow and not the card itself, but I promise you AMD WILL welcome you to the party, pal with some driver issue. For me, I am always lucky it's something different every time I go back to them. At least this time it isn't game performance anomalies. - 6GB memory. AMD had to do something to artificially differentiate this card. Still, even at 1440p it'll get you through most games at high res textures. Easily at 1080 resolution.

Overall Review: AMD has always been a mixed bag (I miss ATI...) but I needed a card that would perform well in a mini-ITX case without sounding like a jet engine. This card performs a lot better than I expected for AMD taxes (driver issues) and known heat for this series of cards. It had a rough launch but now things are smooth so I highly recommend it. Particularly when it goes on sale. Just hope you don't run into weird issues unique to AMD. But good news if you do, there'll be tons of reddit threads to help you!