Date Joined: 03/03/07
Pros: • No problems of any type during the first 742 hours of operation (power on count = 77) with a B450-based motherboard and Windows 10 v1903
• This SSD was tested by the manufacturer before it was shipped; the power on count was 7 when the SSD was first connected (after it was purchased) so it was previously powered on 6 times; this might explain why T-Force seems to have few DOAs
• Reports some (but not all) statistics to CrystalDiskInfo v8.2.0 (the T-Force Vulcan SSD firmware version appears as 02K0S72A)
Cons: • Does *not* report SSD temperature to CrystalDiskInfo (but an Intel SSD in the same system does report temperature to CrystalDiskInfo); the temperature of the T-Force Vulcan SSD appears as all zeros; when other statistics appear as zero in CrystalDiskInfo, how do we know if they are actually zero or if they are not being reported?; FYI, I have *not* installed the manufacturer's "SSD ToolBox" software in Windows 10
• Manufacturer specifications (as of the date this review was written) do *not* include memory type (MLC, TLC, QLC) or endurance (terabytes written); non-zero statistics being reported include "Total TLC Erase Count" so it appears that this is TLC; manufacturer specifications do include "ATTO / Crystal Disk Mark" scores (so why wouldn't this SSD report temperature to CrystalDiskInfo?)
• The metal foil on the front (the logo, T-Force and Vulcan names, and border) was marred before the SSD was touched (before the SSD was removed from the packaging); the SSD functions perfectly but if you are purchasing this for young people who expect the appearance to be perfect then they might be disappointed
Overall Review: T-Force Vulcan T253TV500G3C301 2.5" 500GB SATA III 3D NAND SSD: This SSD has functioned perfectly so far and is being used to store Macrium Reflect system images. After a good experience I have purchased a second one (500GB, the same model). For more demanding applications you would probably want a faster device (PCIe x4 instead of SATA III) and a device which reports temperature.
Pros: • Plug and play - no settings were changed
• Reliable - DOA RAM has never happened in my experience with Crucial
• The brand (Crucial) is owned by the chip maker (Micron) so you always know who the chip maker is
Cons: • No heat spreaders
• Not the least expensive product
Overall Review: Crucial CT2K51264BF186DJ 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 1866 SODIMM: Not all RAM that is *expected* to work with a certain notebook computer actually does work with that notebook (read the reviews and you will see). This RAM *does* work perfectly in an HP 15-f387wm notebook computer (which has an AMD A8-7410 APU). When this low-spec notebook started to behave erratically it was almost certain that the cause was either a RAM failure or an HDD failure. Replacing one or the other without testing both was taking a risk (in my experience the RAM usually fails before the HDD fails). In this case the RAM slots are easily accessible but removing the HDD would require complete disassembly. Replacing the RAM restored this notebook to its normal behavior (thankfully before any Windows 10 user profiles became corrupted).
Pros: • Heat spreaders
• Low profile
• The RAM brand (Ballistix) is owned by the chip maker (Micron) so you always know which company manufactured the chips
Cons: • Not the least expensive product
Overall Review: The RAM manufacturer's web site shows that this RAM will work with an ASRock B450M PRO4 AM4 Micro ATX motherboard and it does work even though this RAM is *not* on the QVL for the ASRock motherboard. Other Ballistix RAM is on the QVL for this motherboard but the Ballistix 8GB 2666 sticks are not.
Pros: • Trouble-free for 7 months with Ryzen 2700, AMD B450, and Windows 10 version 1809
• No problems using this SSD as the boot drive
• M.2 NVMe is much faster than M.2 SATA
• QLC technology (this SSD) is less expensive than TLC
• The brand is the same as the chip maker so you know which company manufactured the chips
Cons: • QLC wears out sooner than TLC (QLC performs fewer erase/write cycles than TLC before wearing out)
• QLC is slower than TLC
• Not the least expensive brand
Overall Review: Intel 660p Series M.2 2280 512GB PCI-Express 3.0 x4 3D2 QLC SSD: Buy this if you want a reliable QLC SSD. Do *not* buy this if your machine has insufficient RAM and uses virtual memory, for temporary files for video rendering, or for temporary files for gaming -- you will burn out the SSD and be mad at Intel when it is not their fault.
This Intel product has a tendency to *not* be DOA (please read the other reviews). There were no problems installing Windows 10 version 1809 onto this SSD using default disk allocation settings. Windows 10 was installed from a USB flash drive (but not from the USB flash drive included in the Windows box because that USB flash drive has a reputation for being unreliable). It was necessary to download a device driver so that the Windows installer could recognize the Intel SSD but everything went smoothly after that. Installed on an ASRock B450M PRO4 AM4 Micro ATX motherboard with a Ryzen 2700 processor and 16GB of RAM, this SSD has been trouble-free for 6 months (100% health after 2106 hours per CrystalDiskInfo). On this motherboard, the NVMe M.2 socket is next to the CPU cooler, and the AMD stock cooler blows air across the motherboard where the SSD is located (SSD temperature 35C per CrystalDiskInfo).
According to conventional wisdom, QLC is a good choice for "mostly read" applications such as a boot SSD, but QLC is *not* a good choice for write-intensive applications. As of this writing, the manufacturer's web site showed that the endurance rating of this 500GB device is 100 TBW (100 terabytes written).
Pros: • XFX hardware has been trouble-free for 6 months with a Ryzen 2700 processor and a motherboard which has AMD B450
• Budget-friendly solution for Ryzen processors which do not have video (since AM4 motherboards do not have onboard video)
• Three output types (HDMI, DisplayPort, and DVI-D) make this card a good choice for general-purpose use
• That "annoying bright blue LED on card" is actually a status indicator (blue=all is well, red=problem) which proved very useful while troubleshooting a new motherboard which was defective
• Relatively quiet
• The length is only 211mm so this card will fit into most cases
Cons: • AMD Radeon software continues to earn its poor reputation (please see the "Overall Review" below)
• If you require two HDMI ports then this is not the card for you
Overall Review: XFX RX-560D4SFG5: If you want a reliable GPU with several output options and you do *not* care about having software with an elaborate user interface to fine tune all of the settings, then buy this card (given those requirements I would buy this product again). If you care much about the software, then read on -- and I suggest that you search for an XFX GPU with GeForce (instead of Radeon).
The AMD software on the included DVD failed to install in Windows 10 version 1809. This can be resolved by downloading the latest version from the AMD website, right? Wrong. The newest version of the AMD software (downloaded from the AMD website) failed to install in Windows 10 version 1809. A few reboots later, Windows 10 had automatically installed a device driver (which appears as RX 460, not RX 560) and there have been no problems since then -- but there is no elaborate user interface to adjust all of the settings.
Pros: • Compatibility
• Heat spreaders
• Low profile
• The RAM brand (Ballistix) is owned by the chip maker (Micron) so you always know which company manufactured the chips
Overall Review: Ballistix is desirable because it is reliable. If you want the prettiest RAM or the cheapest RAM then look elsewhere.
Pros: • Works out of the box with AMD Pinnacle Ridge and Raven Ridge (no UEFI/BIOS update has been done) and Windows 10 version 1809
• Superior layout: The top slot position is shared between the PCI Express x1 slot and the Ultra M.2 socket so that the M.2 card can be cooled by the CPU cooler. The 2nd slot position is PCI Express 3.0 x16 (for the GPU). The 3rd slot position is vacant because a large GPU will cover the 3rd slot position and a small GPU would be suffocated by a card in the 3rd position. The 4th slot position is PCI Express 2.0 x16.
• Heat sinks on the motherboard (please see the picture)
• Four RAM slots, two M.2 sockets, and five fan headers
• No carnival lights on the board (for those who do not want lights)
• In addition to the RGB headers, another header designed specifically for the AMD stock CPU coolers which have LEDs (for those who do want lights)
• Relatively RAM-friendly: Because a previous motherboard from a different manufacturer failed and was RMAd, I had already purchased RAM which is *not* on the ASRock QVL but it worked anyway with this motherboard (the RAM is Ballistix Sport LT 8GBx2 DDR4 2666 BLS2K8G4D26BFSCK)
Cons: • The paper documentation included with the board shows that the highest supported RAM speed is achieved only when the second pair of RAM slots is vacant -- if all four RAM slots are populated then the maximum possible RAM speed is lower
• This board is the maximum size for the Micro ATX spec which means that it will be a tight fit in some cases
• The second M.2 socket supports only SATA, not NVMe
• The RAM slots are the newer (worse) type which have only one release lever per slot -- the older RAM slots which had release levers on both sides (two levers per slot) were much easier to work with
• If you require four PCIe slots then this is not the board for you (it has only three)
• No TPM (only a TPM header)
Overall Review: The combination of reliability, features, and price make this board my choice for both higher-performance (Ryzen 2700) and home-office (Ryzen 2200G) builds. This board has a tendency to *not* fail (please read the other reviews).
Pros: • Worked out of the box with an AMD B450 motherboard and a Ryzen 3 2200G APU
• Has the heaviest heat spreaders that I have seen
• Is included on the QVL for the ASRock B450M PRO4 AM4 AMD Promontory motherboard even though the Patriot packaging shows "Intel"
• Manufacturer website/literature shows that 100% of units are tested before leaving the factory
Cons: • Low density (4GB per stick) -- although better for heat dissipation -- means that you will not be able to max out the memory capacity of your motherboard
• Not the least expensive product
Overall Review: With the low density (4GB per stick) and the thick heat spreaders, I expect these to last a long time. The last time that I checked, Patriot has two factories one of which is in the USA. Four sticks (16GB) should be adequate for most uses except for video production or serious gaming. This is a product which I will be purchasing again.
Pros: • Reliable
• Designed to run 24x7 for years
Cons: • Not completely silent during read/write
• Makes the famous "dying cow" sound as it parks the heads (when the HDD is powered off)
Overall Review: Datacenters run WD enterprise-class HDDs for years and then (if they don't shred the HDDs) sometimes sell them as used HDDs which is why "refurbished" RE2, RE4, etc. drives have been available from Newegg. These drives tend not to fail. Two WD Gold 1TB drives which I purchased from Newegg more than a year ago behave identically and have had no problems.
Pros: • Non-conductive
• Non-capacitive (unlike silver-based thermal paste)
• No burn-in or settling time needed (unlike silver-based thermal paste)
• Tube is easy to use and easy to re-seal
• Documentation clearly tells you what to expect (storage lifetime in tube 2 years; installed lifetime on processor 3 years)
Overall Review: Noctua NT-H1 Thermal Compound: After reading the details about a different product (silver-based thermal paste) which can display capacitance and requires time to settle before it performs at its peak, this product (Noctua NT-H1) was chosen because it has neither of those issues. The ease of use was a pleasant surprise. Cleaning surfaces and then re-applying thermal paste was not part of my plan, but a defective motherboard forced me to do so. The processor temperature appears to be stable after using this product.
Pros: • Single 12V rail
• Almost inaudible at idle
• Sufficient connectors for a machine using less than 500W
• Exterior finish (paint) did not scuff during a not-so-easy installation
Cons: • Does not have flat black cables (all cables are K&M in black sheaths)
Overall Review: Cooler Master MWE Bronze 500: In my experience Cooler Master PSUs tend not to fail. Reliability is more important to me than a fancy paint job (hint: do not buy a power supply painted green which is marketed by one of the other manufacturers).
Here is a list of the connectors:
20+4 pin for motherboard
4+4 pin for processor
2 x 6+2 pin PCIE
5 x SATA (3 one one cable and 2 on another cable)
3 x Molex (very helpful for those of us who use extra fans)
1 x floppy (still needed for front panel add-ons such as USB hubs)
All cables are ketchup & mustard in black sheaths. If you need more connectors then you probably also need more power (FYI there is a 600W version of this PSU).
Pros: • 4 RAM slots supporting up to 64 GB
• PCIe 3.0 slot is reinforced with metal to make it more rugged
• M.2 slot with standoff and screw included
• 6 SATA ports if you do *not* install an M.2 card (4 SATA ports if you do install an M.2 card)
• Modest RGB built in on the board plus RGB headers for RGB accessories
• Accepts a Ryzen 7 2700 out of the box
• The unit I received *did* have a header for a system speaker
• Newegg customer support was excellent
Cons: • Failed immediately (see below)
• Layout is flawed; has 3 PCIe slots + 1 M.2 slot, but the PCIe 2.0 x1 slot is adjacent to (just south of) the PCIe 3.0 x16 slot, so the PCIe 2.0 x1 slot is essentially useless because it will be covered by the GPU (this is a gaming board so very few owners will install a processor with built-in graphics)
• No TPM; only has a header for a TPM (some "budget" boards, which are not intended for gaming, marketed by other manufacturers do have TPMs)
• The documentation could be somewhat better; for example, the front panel header pin layout is printed only on the board, not in the manual
Overall Review: This board failed to POST approximately 30 times and POSTed approximately 5 times using only 1) the motherboard, 2) a power supply, 3) a new Ryzen 7 2700 CPU, 4) Ballistix Sport DDR4 2666 RAM, and 5) a Radeon RX 560 GPU.
• The new 500W power supply tested OK; the new power supply was then replaced with an older power supply known to be working borrowed from another machine (so all of the power connectors were reseated)
• New Ballistix Sport DDR4 2666 2 x 8GB was tested (with MemTest) and used extensively in another machine; the new RAM was tried two cards at a time in the gray slots on the ASUS TUF B450M-PLUS, then tried one card at a time in each of the gray slots, then an older Ballistix Sport DDR4 2666 1 x 8GB known to be working borrowed from another machine was installed on the ASUS TUF B450M-PLUS (so the RAM cards were reseated multiple times)
• The new XFX Radeon RX 560 GPU was tested in another machine and functioned well; the new GPU was reseated in the PCIe 3.0 x16 slot on the ASUS TUF B450M-PLUS but that did not resolve the failure to POST; the LED on the GPU glowed blue = all is well (instead of red = trouble) and the GPU fan operated as normal
• The ASUS TUF B450M-PLUS failed to POST (most times) with both the new power supply & RAM and the older power supply & RAM; the ASUS TUF B450M-PLUS POSTed (a few times) with both the new power supply & RAM and the older power supply & RAM
• The new Ryzen 7 2700 CPU works perfectly on a different motherboard
• The only part left which could be faulty is the ASUS TUF B450M-PLUS
ASUS is a top-tier motherboard manufacturer, so of course it was disappointing to receive a defective motherboard. The failure took away all confidence in this product, so the ASUS TUF B450M-PLUS was RMAd back to Newegg for a refund. A motherboard from a different manufacturer was ordered from Newegg and is working perfectly (POSTing on every attempt) with the same new power supply, same new CPU, same new RAM, and same new GPU which were tried with the ASUS board.
Pros: • It worked perfectly out of the box with a Ryzen 3 1300X and an NVIDIA GeForce GT 710 (a BIOS/UEFI update has *not* been done)
• The small form factor (somewhat smaller than a full-size Micro-ATX) causes this board to be easy to install; it should fit easily into any Micro-ATX case (if this board does not fit then there is something wrong with the case)
• Sufficient connectors:
The rear panel includes 2 x USB 2.0, 2 x USB 3.1Gen1, and 2 x PS/2
Headers include 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x USB 3.1Gen1, 2 x fan
There are 4 SATA connectors
Cons: • Only 2 RAM slots (but having 4 slots would make the board larger and eliminate one of the pros)
• It is a tight fit for the RAM card nearest the processor if you use the stock cooler that comes with a Ryzen 3 1300X
• No onboard video capability (the video connectors function only if you install an APU)
Overall Review: • Only certain RAM cards are supported per the Biostar documentation. Using a single Ballistix Sport LT 8GB DDR4 2666 MT/s (PC4-21300) DIMM (and a 620W power supply because it was on sale for a lower price than the 520W power supply), performance has been ideal for 10 months with no issues (except that using a single RAM card does not take advantage of this board's dual-channel capability).
• The PCI-E 3.0 slot functions at x16 only with a Ryzen CPU per the documentation. If you install an APU (and there is nothing wrong with using one of the older AMD A-series APUs) then the PCI-E 3.0 slot will function at x8 (not x16).
• If you are planning to use a Ryzen APU (the G series with video capability on the Ryzen chip), then please read the reviews of the Ryzen G series APUs -- and you might need to update the BIOS/UEFI on this Biostar board. If the BOIS/UEFI needs to be updated then you will probably need to install a Ryzen 3 CPU (not a G series APU) or older processor (such as an AMD A-series processor), update the BIOS/UEFI on the Biostar board, then remove the older processor and install the Ryzen APU (G series).
• Since I have not attempted to use a Ryzen 5 CPU, I cannot say whether or not the Biostar board I received needs a BIOS/UEFI update to function with a Ryzen 5 CPU.