Joined on 05/25/05
Nice little proc
Pros: Very inexpensive quad; runs at just over 1vt with C&Q enabled; multiplier bump to 20x has it had 4GHZ, with no increase in heat. Great cornerstone for ANY gaming system (see comments below)
Cons: None at all -- I'll start my "other thoughts" here, as I think they'll be helpful for that person who's afraid to buy this as a foundation piece for a gaming machine. This proc is a perfect example of why you need to take reviews with a grain of salt. I can guarantee that EVERY reviewer that says this proc is useless for gaming, acquired that opinion from reading some elitist thread in a PC forum. I have it in a cheap AsRock 970 Extreme 3 (1.40 bios), with 4GB of PC12800, a 60GB OCZ Agility 3, Win7 Pro 64-bit, and an old XFX GTX 285 (quick and dirty PDXLan build) -- and it games perfectly. MW3 at 1920 res, all details maxed. BF3 at 1920 res, with some details reduced (because of the older video card) plays perfectly. I benched these two games for a reason. MW3 uses an older engine that still looks decent, but lacks some of the dazzle of the newer games -- this setup should be able to handle it, and it did just fine.
Overall Review: BF3 has some of the best lighting and shadow effects out there -- very graphically demanding. The GTX 285 struggled with settings maxed out, so I swapped it with a GTX 580 -- ran like butter. My point? There is NO bottleneck with this proc -- NONE. Does it bench like my i7 930 setup? No. Does it bench like my i7 2600k setup? No. BUT there is no difference in gaming. And this was at a bone stock 3.6GHZ. The 400MHZ bump upped the FPS a few, but it was already high enough that there was no stutter or lag. Final thoughts. The SSD, ASRock mobo, and FX4100 cost $263 (not including a $15 rebate for the SSD). There will be those that say you don't pair a high-end GPU with a budget system like this -- but they're wrong. It just shows that gaming is all about the video card, and the more you spend on the rest -- the faster it all runs. Just know that the FX4100 is fast enough to run it all at bone stock. OCing is just a bonus that adds a few FPS. So buy with confidence.
Tough to recommend
Pros: • 2.4 GHZ download speeds on par with a wired connection when you are in the same room with the router. I usually pull about 7MB per/sec on a wired connection when downloading game content from Steam – very similar numbers with both wireless bands • Simple setup within a browser window • After two weeks of constant use – never lost an established connection with any wireless device on my network (laptops, phones, desktop w/Wi-Fi card, smart TV, and Wi-Fi blue ray players) • No power cycles (plug/unplug) in that two weeks of use • Very lightweight design had me concerned about it running too hot – especially while pounding both bands simultaneously. Ran slightly warm, but I attribute that to the warmth of the room that it was operating in. • Printer and file sharing worked flawlessly (just need to install a small application on each machine) • On/off switch for wireless is a cool feature – haven’t seen that on my other routers • Cost after rebate is excellent for a dual-band router that has so many features • Maintained a VPN connection to my place of employment (working from home) for three consecutive days – and never lost the connection, despite me pounding it with downloads and multiple device connections • Bright yellow sticker covering the Ethernet ports (a deterrent for the novice user who doesn't read installation directions first – great idea • Solid explanations of each and every setting within the firmware • All of the security settings that you want to see (usual variety of encryption options, guest network, WPS) • TP-Link website (particularly the download area) is easy to navigate, and find what you need • Firmware update as easy as flashing the bios on a standard motherboard • TP-Link responds with helpful comments to users reviews – very rare to see, and also very cool • Based off my comments above, I would say that this router can be counted on to be reliable for maintaining your connections
Cons: • Setup disk would not run to completion on a Win8 64-bit Pro desktop, nor would it complete on a Win7 64-bit Pro machine. Setup would run part way through, then error out saying that there was no network connection – please verify if you are connected to your network. I figured it was a Win8 issue, so I went to TP-Links website, and downloaded the latest installer. While this worked just fine, your average user would probably have spent wasted time on their hands and knees tracing network cables. I tried the setup on a Win7 desktop – same negative results. Same negative results when attempting to install the printer sharing software, as well • Very large in size (about 6” x 10”) and can’t be mounted vertically. While lightweight, it’s definitely a big boy – one of the largest routers I’ve ever used • Wireless speeds on both bands (especially the 2.4GHZ band) suffered in a huge way as soon as you put one wall between your device and the router • Despite the very large size of the three included antennas, the wireless range was not acceptable. My standard router (Asus N750) is half the size of the WDR4300 + has internal antennas – and tested twice as fast with everything else being equal • LED indicator lights look fine up close, but end up looking like distracting blue blurs once you get a few feet from the router • While the WDR4300 refused to drop a connection from any reasonable spot in our home, connecting from distance was the complete opposite. With the router upstairs in our bonus room, we all took turns sitting downstairs on our living room sofa, trying to connect laptops, phones, blue ray players, and our smart TV. There is one wall between that sofa and room, with about 60 feet of distance. Connection attempt success from that distance with a half-wall in between, was about 75%. Moving another twenty feet to the far corner of the room (where our TV is mounted on the wall), and you could drop that percentage below 50%. • We were only able to connect our smart TV to the network when I walked the router outside the room (with no wall in between devices). Connection was no problem at that point, but as soon as I moved the router back to its normal location (with the wall in between) the speed dropped below 1MB per/sec, and I wasn't able to stream YouTube content without freezing or buffering.
Overall Review: I was a little jaded going into this experience, as I had previously used a TP-Link WR940N, and had constant problems with it needing to be power cycled every other day on the average (put up with that for a few weeks before it was replaced). I never ran into any problems like that with the WDR4300, but it’s range and speed, while maybe adequate for the money spent, would never make the average home user happy enough to continue wanting to use it. All testing was done with a CAT 6 cable from the modem to the router. I ran my initial tests with the stock firmware, and leaving the channel on auto. I was hopeful that current firmware would make a big difference, as well as trying all of the channels – but it was all pretty much the same in terms of range and speed. I would run bandwidth tests from sites like speedtest.net, and while the laptop was in the same room (regardless of the distance from the router) I would pull results on par with my wired connection (usually around 60MB per/sec on a Comcast Blast package). If I moved to the staircase (with the wall between the devices) – speeds would drop to the 16MB per/sec range. Wireless downloads from Steam would drop to 3MB per/sec once I put the wall between the devices, and would drop fluctuate between 1-2MB per/sec at the farther corners of our downstairs living space. We have a very open floor plan in our home, and while I got the expected speed results when I went out into our garage/back patio/bedrooms, I was definitely expecting better range in such an open environment. Frankly speaking, your average user isn't going to care about how fast something is within one room. They’ll want range throughout the house. You buy a wireless router hoping for a good blend of speed and range, and that wasn't happening with this particular unit. While I understand that the router I used for a comparison (Asus N750) usually ranges in price from $117-$149, the WDR4300 is normally priced around $100 – and I consistently saw twice the download speed when making comparisons. The only time they were comparable was when I had 4+ devices downloading a variety of small/large file sizes from the internet, or from a portable hard drive that I had connected to the USB 2.0 port on the back of the router. I think the average consumer would pay a few more dollars for these much better results.
Pros: Cost for what it can do Battery life Reputation of the brand Shower use Feels solid in the hand (easy to hold and use)
Cons: None to speak of
Overall Review: A lot to like for $70. Has a great shape making it easy to handle. Ive never been one to use precision tools in the shower (because I cant see what Im doing), but works as advertised, and the shower makes it easy to rinse the bits of hair out of it too. Doesnt have enough surface area to really qualify as a beard shaver, but gets the job done for me. I like the trimmers that flank the foil area. Once the hair gets beyond an 1/8 the foil just slides over the top doing nothing, but those little trimmers get it short enough for the foil to catch them, shaving them down to nothing. I dont have the thickest beard hair so works great for me, particularly on my neck. The adjustable trimmer is an excellent idea, replacing a handful of size specific combs that come with most trimmers. Great idea, and saves space when storing in the bathroom drawer. No complaints here, only good stuff. The Bodygroom 7000 has effectively replaced two trimmers, a handful of combs and attachments, and the associated charging cables. I share a bathroom with two other people, so space is at a premium, and the Bodygroom 7000 cuts the clutter in that area. Highly recommended!
Rock Solid Bling-Free Gaming Headset
Pros: Sturdy built with quality materials Cost is comparable to peers Removable microphone is good for traveling Tension on headband feels a little less than on the original HS70 model (a good thing) USB charging is fast USB-C cable is plenty long for most setups
Cons: Software feels incomplete No way of telling how much battery life you have left Only real software setting it to disable the obnoxious voice that tells when youre connected Have to be connected with the USB-C cable, or the device doesnt show up in the software Only other software setting you can change is a selection of EQ presets (very little difference in sound)
Overall Review: I own the original HS70 as a backup headset for my Lan bag. I made the mistake of buying it as a refurb, and paid the price with poor battery life (roughly 6 hours). Outside of the battery life, Ive always liked the clean simple design of the HS70. No RGB (runs the battery down + I cant see it anyway), reasonably comfortable, and the RF always connects without issue. Also shows up in Discord with the proper outputs every time. My regular headset is a really expensive Steeleseries Arctis 7, and while the sound quality and comfort are a hair better, the connectivity and volume levels in Discord are always a box of chocolates very annoying. So I was excited to give the HS70 BT a try. Im not a Bluetooth fan. I always get weaker volume levels, and inconsistent connectivity with BT headsets. I see reviews on this model that say the same thing. My experience the past couple of weeks has been excellent. The included USB-C cable is plenty long enough to use as corded, but I dont see the need. I have about 30 hours of game time on the HS70 BT, and not a single Bluetooth issue. No drops, volume issues, nothing like that. I will also say that I run a larger external antenna off the Ryzen X570 board my system is built around, so maybe that helps. The fit of the HS70 BT feels better to me than the original. Slightly looser band doesnt crunch my glasses/ears nearly as much feels great. Sound quality is solid, and I had zero issues with pairing. Ive also had no issues with the device losing its pairing to the machine so far. It has that same great removable mic (though the foam mic diffuser really needs a dot of glue, as it just falls off really easily), and Corsair includes a USB-C cable, and a 3.5MM cable, as well. The software isnt great at all. Ive never been a fan of iCue, and that hasnt changed with the implementation on the HS70 BT. I really see no reason to run it, or even install it. First off, you have no access to the headset settings unless connected via the USB-C cable. Forgivable, but when running the software without the cable, your headset doesnt even show up. Instead, you see a small piece of temp/CPU frequency monitoring software in the upper-left corner. Looks half-baked and incomplete, like theyre still working on it. When you connect the cable, you see your headset, but outside of some EQ settings, and the ability to set profiles, you really don't have nothing else to see/do. The most glaring for me is that they dont have a battery life indicator. I must be blind as I just dont see it. Not on wireless (nothing to see) or plugged in. Theres a Home and Dashboard view, and the Dashboard view is just a black screen. So thats a big whiff for me. Better bring the charging cable at all times. Regarding the battery life, it seems fine. I gamed for nearly 12 consecutive hours with the HS70 BT, and no issues. However, I have no idea how much juice is left, so Im inclined to just plug it in when not using it. The manual says that it doesnt have a trainable battery, so no need to let it run down to nothing all of the time. Overall, the HS70 feels like a quality headset, and is priced comparably to what you see out there in the gaming sphere. The lack of a battery life indicator makes no sense to me, and is a huge detractor, and the EQ settings all sound similar enough to me that I wouldnt even bother installing the iCue software unless they added a battery life indicator to it. No need right now, as its an easy Bluetooth pairing, and basically just plug-n-play. Your results may be different than mine regarding BT connectivity on the PC, but Im impressed so far. Recommended buy, but dont waste time with the software.
Solid but costly
Pros: Clean looking black design 5-year warranty Plenty of SATA/Molex connections Stealth sleeved black cables Gold certified
Cons: Every SATA string terminates with a molex end (hard to hide this if you have no molex devices) Expensive due to Covid pricing
Overall Review: Nice looking 650w with 54 amps on the single 12v rail. Enough for most single card setups, so long as you arent running huge system overclocks. The stealth cables are nice for this setup as this isnt a PSU that you would be re-sleeving, so ease of hiding is better. And you want to hide these, as the SATA cables terminate with a molex on each string. Nice to have the molex option, but not too many devices use that tech these days. Ive used a few Rosewill PSUs, and they have all been rock solid from the Hive series on up. Only thing not to like here is the near $100 price tag. You can thank the miners/parts shortage/Covid for that. Less than two years ago, this PSU would have cost you around $65 on sale, but the PMG650 is normally $125, on sale for $98. At the time of this review, Newegg is running a 10% off promo code, so that eases the sting a little bit. Solid PSU overall. I had zero issues with any of the connections, and the system botted up fine when I hit the power button (Ryzen 2600/GTX 1080 build). Recommended for a clean basic build, so long as you can stomach the price.
Great value for the money
Pros: • Great 60hz panel • Best Chiclet style keyboard I’ve typed on • Capable gamer when on AC power • Plays Destiny 2 at all medium settings @60 FPS • Add another 8GB stick of RAM = Destiny 2 at medium settings with high textures + low FPS dips improved by 7-10 frames • Minimal bloatware (Office 365 trial and McAfee trial are the standouts) • Nice even backlighting • Great performance for the price • Sound decent for laptop speakers • Handles up to 32GB of RAM • Additional internal slot for 2.5” SSD/HD
Cons: • Battery only = no gaming • Battery life while attempting to play Destiny 2 = just under 20 minutes • Dual fan setup is loud with any kind of load • Light on storage and RAM (cost saving measures for sure) • Pretty plasticky felling overall • All of the ports are on one side (makes wired peripheral connections tricky) • AC power plug is “L” shaped (always puts strain on the plug unless the brick is sitting on the table) • Left-side fan makes a “crinkling” sound (like a spindle hard drive under load)
Overall Review: Very solid offering from Asus. Overall build quality feels solid, but a little on the light/cheap side. I’m used to dealing with Dell Latitude machines, and they have a sturdy feel to them that the Asus doesn’t come close to matching. At the same time, that tough feeling might not impact the long-term reliability, so we’ll have to see. Something going for the Tuf Gaming is screw length and placement around the rear edges/hinges. I’ve seen a lot of laptops this size fail badly in that area because of short anchoring screws in those critical use areas. The plastic around them weakens over time, and the next thing you know, you have a loose corner around the hinge, and things start falling apart. After removing the back, and checking that area out, I don’t have any fear of that happening with the Tuf Gaming – looks good. Keyboard is excellent. I’m not normally a fan of Chiclet keys, but these sit a little higher than your average Chiclet keys, making them easy to hit and control in FPS games. A dedicated keyboard is always going to be better, but these work well in a pinch, and are generally nice to type on for every day use. Only real qualms on my part are having all of the ports on the left side of the laptop. When connecting a mouse, keyboard, power, and Ethernet, makes for a lot coming out of one side, especially if you want to use an add-on keyboard (like a Logitech G13) that actually lives on the left side of all of that (right-handed user). I’m also not a fan of L-shaped power plugs, as there is always strain on the port unless the brick sits up on your desk. Small qualms that might just bother me, but worth noting. Gaming experience on battery is a no go, as I couldn’t find any Win10 power settings that would get me better than 20 FPS, and more than 23 minutes of battery life playing Destiny 2 (most resource demanding of the games I tried out on the Tuf Gaming). That last sentence was for the few out there that thought they might be gaming without cables. Plugged in is a different story, as I was able to play Destiny 2, CS:GO, and Dishonored at a blend of medium and high settings, with D2 the only one of the three showing any real frame dips. Adding another 8GB stick of RAM was definitely a difference maker, and well worth the $40. The IPS panel is nice, though I found out quickly that I’m really used to playing on a 144hz panel running off a fast desktop. Colors on the panel were solid, with very little tweaking needed. I installed a lightweight editing application (Luminar 3), and output colors were similar to my calibrated screens. The Ryzen 3550H is a nice little quad, and keeping expectations realistic, I was totally happy with how it performed in Luminar 3, and it was clearly fast enough for 1080p gaming. The 560x is a decent midrange GPU that was helped out a lot by adding the 8GB stick of RAM. I’ve never used an actual Freesync setup (use nVidia cards in desktops) and I was impressed with its ability to smooth out gameplay when there were frame dips. One area of note is the fan noise – intense. You get solid temps with that fan power, but the silent profile in the Gaming Crate application allowed too much heat. You either tune the noise out, or you wear headphones. It’s a trade-off for a gaming capable machine in a small laptop chassis. To go along with that fan noise, the fan on the left side makes a ticking noise (like a spindle hard drive under load). I removed the back, didn’t see any obstructions, and flicked it a few times with my finger. The ticking sound always came back after a couple minutes. We’ll have to see if I end up going through Asus for a replacement. It’s very audible, but is drowned out by the fan roar while gaming. Overall, I’m really happy with the Tuf Gaming, and while it will be used primarily for on-the-go photo editing. It’s nice to know that I could do a lot worse for the form factor as a reliable gamer. Really nice performance for the money, and recommended by me.