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ASUS Transformer Mini T102HA-D4-GR Ultrabook Intel Atom x5-Z8350 (1.44 GHz) 128 GB eMMC Intel HD Graphics Shared memory 10.1
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert

Pros: + Excellent portability! The Transformer Mini is very light and compact, yet built very nice. The tablet itself feels very sturdy and is primarily aluminum, other than the plastic on the screen.

+ With magnets in all the right places, the keyboard snaps into place with a satisfying 'clunk' sound and holds itself against the screen to protect it while being transported around. The touchpad does a good job, though since the whole surface of the touchpad *is a touchpad* and clicking requires pushing down the bottom left and right corners. I found myself trying to left click and right click and the cursor would move slightly off whatever I was trying to click (since the area where you have to push down to click is also for mouse movement), which became annoying. It's easier to just use the touchscreen for what it's made for, instead of the touchpad.

+ The keys of the keyboard are good, with a lone exception of the bottom right area, where the right shift is smaller to accomodate fitment of the Up Arrow and fn keys. I'm used to using both shifts on standard size keyboards, so with the Transformer Mini, I've had to re-train myself to mainly use the left shift only which has taken some getting used to. Otherwise though, the keys are very good. They're not mushy, they're not too small, and they have a nice spring/actuation point to them.

+ The included pen is quite nice, especially since Microsoft is putting more and more pen-based tools in Windows 10 with Windows Ink. Over the years I've grown quite fond of the S-Pen with the 2 Samsung Note smartphones that I've owned, and having that type of functionality on a portable computing device will definitely come in handy.

+ Battery life is phenomenal. Based off my initial work with the tablet, I've gotten an average (with average computing usage) of roughly 12-13 hours between charges, from a full charge in the morning, to bringing the device home at night and having it switch over to Eco mode after a few hours of light use around the house, on the couch.

+ Actual tablet performance is exceptional for web/email and Office, with some Hulu/Netflix streaming as well. Despite being an Atom processor, don't let the name fool you - Intel has done wonders with the Atom line since the days of underpowered and underwhelming netbooks. The Transformer Mini has a quad-core Atom processor, and with 4GB of RAM, Windows 10 runs fairly zippy on the device. There's 128GB of usable storage flash memory on board, with 93.2 GB left over after all Windows updates have been applied as of today (with no other apps installed).

+ The screen works pretty well and is bright. Text is fairly clear and readable. Contrast (blacks and whites) show up pretty good on the screen. It is an IPS screen, so viewing angles are very good.

+ Wireless performance connecting to a Linksys WRT-3200ACM router was excellent, both WAN (internet) and LAN-based.

+ It's Windows 10 Home Edition, so if you need to join a domain, you'll have to pay $99 to upgrade to Windows 10 Professional. It does not really have any bloat, which is nice...you won't have to uninstall a bunch of garbage on here to have a working PC (other than maybe all the junk that Microsoft sticks under the Start menu in Windows 10, like Candy Crush Saga and Clash of Clans).

Cons: - Screen is only a maximum of 1280 x 800 pixels, which is a little underwhelming. It works, and maybe that's one of the contentions at this price point that has to be given, but it'd be nice to see a higher resolution display (like 1920 x 1080).

- The pen has no real good place to put it; it does not magnetically attach to the screen like the Surface's does, and the fabric 'loop' on the keyboard doesn't really hold it securely. You can push the pen's clip through it, but then it just dangles and hangs there and is really just "a place to put it".

- I don't know if it's poor USB performance, or poor eMMC storage performance, but it took over 5 hours to make a Windows 10 USB recovery drive using a USB 3.0 Corsair 256GB Voyager Slider X1. At first I tried a different USB thumb drive, but when that one was taking longer, I decided to try again with the Voyager Slider (which I know has good performance). It still took over 5 hours; basically, I started the process, left the tablet charging, and came back in the morning and it was done. Again, I'm not sure if it's poor USB performance, or the eMMC storage that is slow.

Other Thoughts: * This is definitely an alternative at a cheaper price to a Microsoft Surface. You'll have to concede some things, but at several hundred dollars off the price of a Surface 3, most people will find that it's worth it. If you're looking for something small and light, suitable for web/email and Office, then the Transformer Mini is definitely a solid buy. It won't replace a powerful laptop or desktop, but if it fits your needs, you'll definitely be happy with it.

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Rosewill CULLINAN ATX Mid Tower Gaming Case With Tempered Glass Panels
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert

5 out of 5 eggs Depending on price, a steal of a beautiful case 11/28/2016

This review is from: Rosewill CULLINAN ATX Mid Tower Gaming Case With Tempered Glass Panels

Pros: + This case is gorgeous. Having been a PC builder for 20 years, I've built in everything from a $20 beige no-name box with a 300w power supply to a $300 Lian Li fully aluminum case. It's rare that a case surprises me, pleasantly or not pleasantly, and the Cullinan is a pleasant surprise. Just gorgeous. I love minimalist cases; I'm less a fan of windows and LED's and more a fan of a classy, flat, unassuming computer case. The Cullinan gives you the best of both worlds if you're like me...the glass is tinted and dark enough that it's not exactly see through, and the LED fans can be tamed (and the LED's turned off) if you run them on Low speed

+ The glass is very nice. I didn't know how I'd like it, and was slightly concerned on thickness and how sturdy it could be, but...it's fine. Each side panel is just under 1/4" thick (in glass) and feels as sturdy as the Cooler Master ATCS 840 I've owned before (which had very thick aluminum side panels).

+ The included fans are very quiet, and you're getting 4 of them! I don't have a sound meter to test actual dB ratings, but after connecting the rear exhaust fan to the built-in fan hub and running all the included Rosewill LED fans on High, they were barely audible over general room noise which is supposedly around 35 dB or so (with no other sounds, such as TV or music playing). They do move an acceptable amount of air; since they're so quiet, I can accept some loss on airflow. They'll do the job without really being noticeable, that's for sure. If you run them on Low, you're not going to hear them (or see them) at all, but I can't say I'd run them on Low while gaming or running a system on mid-to-high CPU load, but that depends on other factors too (like CPU make, overclock, and HSF). They are very bright, but due to the tint on the glass, it's subdued more than you'd think and actually looks very nice.

+ Speaking of which, the Cullinan had no issues keeping my OC'd i7 4790K w/Hyper 212 Evo / OC'd GTX 980 system cool. Load temps during gaming and running Intel Burn Test never went above mid-60's on CPU and GPU both. (Identical in performance to my S340, mentioned below.)

+ Before getting the Cullinan, my current case "flavor of the month" has been the NZXT S340. It has a window, but inside is very clean, and it's (again) a nice, unassuming PC that can house a weak little web/email system, or a 4K gaming rig. The S340 is definitely one of the better clean inside/cable management cases that I've owned, and the Cullinan for the most part steals all the positives of the S340. The cable "tunnel", hidden PSU/HD areas, easy to remove and clean fan dust filters, and plenty of cable management loops and zip tie spots all hit the nail right on the head with both the S340 and now the Cullinan. The Cullinan also has room for 1 more SSD and 1 more 3.5" HD as well, plus the built-in fan controller, so it's head and shoulders above the S340 for me now.

+ This bears repeating - dust filters, dust filters everywhere! EASILY REMOVABLE dust filters! Thank you!!!

+ Even though I'm an 'air cooled' guy, the Cullinan has forward-compatibility to run 2x 360mm radiators internally, and has the punch outs to run a loop outside of the case as well.

+ The cable "tunnel" does have 3 grooves for extra long graphics cards to be supported and not slant downwards so much. My EVGA GTX 980 ACX 2.0 card did not reach far enough to really take advantage of the groove, but obviously longer graphics cards will.

Cons: - The expansion card "slider" holder piece really has to be removed to install a graphics card or other expansion card easily. Luckily, it's just 1 thumbscrew, and it pivots and comes out the back of the case. You could try to wedge a card in there without taking that out, but I wouldn't recommend it. The manual even says to remove it, then install your card, screw the card down, then put the "slider" back in place for extra protection/stability.

- The fans only light up on High speed, and are only blue in color. That may or may not be a 'con' to you. They do have a LOT of LED's in each fan, in a neat pattern. Most LED fans that I've had in the past only had a 4-5 LED per fan so they didn't light up as much.

- Since the right panel is also the tinted glass, your cable spaghetti behind the motherboard and where your PSU/HD's are does show up a bit over there, even if you keep it nice and neat. It's not too terribly bad though.

- Fully loaded, it is a bit on the heavy side (due to all the glass).

Other Thoughts: * Minor quibbles aside, I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending this case to anyone looking for a classy, understated case. The glass and the design is just beautiful. There is a Rosewill logo etched in white at the bottom of the front panel, but it barely shows up with the case fan LED's fully lit.

* The only possible fly in the ointment is a competitor's case - the Corsair 460X RGB. Currently, the Corsair is priced more than the Rosewill, but the Rosewill is on sale and has a higher MSRP. Keep this in mind. Both cases are very nice; I don't own a 460X RGB but from what I've seen, it's very similar (internally) to the Cullinan, except it has 3 full RGB fans instead of 4 blue LED only fans, and the right side panel (behind the motherboard) is a blank steel panel instead of glass. If you wanted glass throughout, there's the Corsair 570X RGB, but that one has a bit of a higher price over both the Cullinan and the 460X RGB. I do think the Cullinan offers better internal cable management than the 460X RGB, so if a cleaner inside is more important to you than "other than blue colored" fans, well, the Cullinan is definitely a better choice. Again, I don't hesitate to recommend the Cullinan, but, compare it to the 460X RGB and see which is more preferable for you.

* This is the first Rosewill case I've used; I've had many other Rosewill products in the past and have always been happy. I'm very impressed with the build quality and design of this case, and will definitely keep Rosewill cases in mind in the future if and when I'm wanting a new case (or recommending one). Very happy with the Cullinan though...a definite 'home run' of a case - absolutely beautiful, and at a pretty good price.

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Linksys AC3200 WRT3200ACM Open Source Ready Smart Wi-Fi Gigabit Router Supported by DD-WRT, eSATA / USB 3.0
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert

Pros: + Wow, this router is a substantial piece of hardware. Since it’s so powerful (CPU and memory), it has a very large heatsink on the inside which adds to the weight. It feels very well built, almost like I could run it over with my truck and it wouldn’t damage it at all.

+ Having 4 wireless antennas, this thing has great WiFi signal coverage in my home. Compared to my old router (Buffalo WZR-1750DHPD), the WRT3200ACM is 27 dB louder in signal strength so it goes much farther. All of my devices, no matter where they were located, had full bars on signal strength/quality. It was surprising to see devices roughly 40-50’ away (and through several walls) from the router have the same performance as devices sitting unobstructed and <12’ away.

+ Wired Gigabit performance is excellent. Using LAN Speed Test (Lite) to test throughput, my average result was 713 Mbps writing (upload) speed, and 902 Mbps reading (download) speed. In terms of this router compared to my old one, the writing (upload) speed was just slightly worse with the WRT3200ACM (compared to 766 Mbps with the Buffalo), however the reading (download) speed is almost double (compared to 490 Mbps with the Buffalo)!

+ Wireless performance is pretty good. With our household having many wireless devices including 2 Roku’s, 2 laptops, 1 laser printer, 3 Android smartphones, 1 Android tablet, a Playstation 3 and a Wii, we did not have any issues with all devices being able to use the WiFi of the WRT3200ACM and have excellent speed and bandwidth, all simultaneously. Was very easy to get up and running on our Charter 100/4 connection. The router had no issues keeping up with all the network traffic, and did not freeze or lock up at any time.

+ The stock firmware is put together very well. The menus are all laid out from left to right and expand out and collapse in a very organized manner. This is arguably the nicest stock firmware layout I’ve ever seen in the 12 or so years that I’ve used routers (dating back to the Linksys BEFSR41, followed by the daddy of them all, the WRT54G).

+ Having the built-in Guest WiFi is great as a tech support person, because I can put PC’s and laptops that friends and relatives have me “fix” on the Guest WiFi network to get Windows Updates and so on, without having the devices being able to access or possibly infect my own personal devices.

+ Had no issues adjusting the firewall and opening ports so my app servers (SSH, VNC, SFTP, Plex) have access to the outside world without letting any unwanted traffic in. Also had no issues using PnP and being able to play games online with Steam, the Playstation Network, and Xbox Live.

+ All of the antennae are removable so you can use larger/higher gain antennae if you need them (though I don't know how you would). The ones that come with the WRT3200ACM are very powerful, in my experience.

Cons: - I do wish that Linksys offered an “official” build of DD-WRT or OpenWRT on their site. The WRT3200ACM does support open firmware including DD-WRT and OpenWRT; however, you are on your own with both of them because neither is offered as a download direct from Linksys. There are builds of both firmware on their respective sites, but judging from posts on both sites (and their forums), there are some issues with them both. Even though I prefer DD-WRT personally, I’m leaving the stock firmware on the WRT3200ACM for now.

- The LAN lights on front leave a little to be desired. I kinda wish they’d put numbers (1-4) instead of dots for each of the LAN port lights on the front of the router, but it’s really not that big of a deal, just a minor nitpick obviously.

Other Thoughts: * Unfortunately I do not have any AC3200 devices to fully test the performance of the WRT3200ACM with. In my testing, I was using AC1750 compatible WiFi hardware. Despite this, my performance results were very good, so I would expect that the AC3200 performance.would be even better due to the increased bandwidth available.

* I do not have any use for the ESATA or USB ports (to use a portable HDD as a pseudo-NAS, or for connecting a printer and sharing it) but having those options for the future is obviously a nice thing.

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Nick C.'s Profile

Display Name: Nick C.

Date Joined: 08/08/01

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  • First Review: 07/31/07
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