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Matthew H.

Matthew H.

Joined on 04/13/05

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Most Favorable Review

HTPC champ

ZALMAN CNPS8900 Quiet 110mm PWM Fan Long Life Bearing Ultra Quiet Slim CPU Cooler
ZALMAN CNPS8900 Quiet 110mm PWM Fan Long Life Bearing Ultra Quiet Slim CPU Cooler

Pros: -Very quiet operation. Not totally silent but unless you're going fanless it doesn't get much better than this from my experience. -Seems to cool effectively. I'm using this with a 65W AMD A10-7800 so this cooler is clearly overkill and I haven't had any need to monitor temps at all. I wanted something silent and since the HTPC would be slightly confined on a media shelf I also wanted something that would keep me from worrying about heat building up. After a marathon of activity there seems to be barely any heat coming form the case at all. -Beautiful design. I've used Zalman coolers almost exclusively for my CPU needs for years. My first was a CNPS7000 way back almost 10 years ago and this cooler seems almost like a throw back to that design. I've always felt that it was one of their better looking ones. -Low enough profile for very small cases. I'm using the tiny Silverstone MILO ML06B Mini-ITX case and this is just short enough to fit. It's NOT low enough to fit a slim slot load optical drive above it, in fact I had to remove the bracket which would normally allow for that option. I wasn't planning to install one however so it's not a big deal to me. The cooler sits almost perfectly below a fan grill on the top of the case allowing for great airflow.

Cons: -The U-shaped brackets which come with the cooler require it to be installed so that the heat pipes stick out in fixed directions. This can cause compatibility issues with certain motherboards/RAM. If additional brackets were packaged to allow the heatsink to be rotated 90 degrees it would open up a LOT of motherboards for better compatibility.

Overall Review: I selected this cooler based on a motherboard which I eventually discovered wasn't a good choice for my case. When I changed my motherboard selection I forgot to make sure this cooler would be compatible with that one as well. I now know that a GIGABYTE GA-F2A88XN-WIFI is NOT compatible with this. The U-shaped brackets which are needed to fit the cooler with the AM2+ socket require the cooler to be positioned so that the heat pipes bump into the RAM and a motherboard heatsink. I wanted to use this cooler though, so I machined some new brackets which would allow me to rotate it 90 degrees. Basically, they're nearly straight instead of U shaped, but still connect to same points on the cooler as the stock brackets. They work fine but it would have saved a few hours if Zalman made the brackets themselves. I wouldn't recommend these kinds of modifications unless you have the proper machinery and know how. I only bring it up to show that Zalman could make this cooler compatible for more configurations if they create some of these brackets themselves. Overall I'm very pleased with this cooler in my HTPC. The build includes the following: SILVERSTONE MILO Series ML06B Mini-ITX - Fits with about half an inch between the top of the cooler and the grill on the top of this case. GIGABYTE GA-F2A88XN-WIFI - this is NOT compatible with the cooler. I had to create new parts to make it work. AMD Radeon Gamer Series 16GB DDR3 2133 - this RAM is proof that giant heatsinks in high end memory are generally a gimmick. It performs wonderfully and sits cleanly under the edge of this Zalman cooler as long as one of the heat pipe sides isn't bumping into it. SILVERSTONE ST45SF-G 450W SFX12V - this is a little bit quieter than the Zalman cooler, both are very quiet. SAMSUNG 840 Pro SSD 256GB - no noise, basically no heat, and boots to XBMC in about 15 seconds. no complaints whatsoever.

Most Critical Review

Slower Than WIFI, Let Alone 1Gbps

ZyXEL PLA5206KIT HomePlug AV2 AV1000 Powerline Gigabit Ethernet Adapter, Up to 1000 Mbps
ZyXEL PLA5206KIT HomePlug AV2 AV1000 Powerline Gigabit Ethernet Adapter, Up to 1000 Mbps

Pros: -Extremely easy to use. I honestly didn't trust that these would be as easy to set up as they are but I was wrong about that. Simply plug them in and you're connected. -Support for some very high speeds (up to 1Gbps) -Supports the latest technological efforts to utilize standard household wall outlets to transmit Ethernet data; Homeplug AV2 compliant. -128bit AES Encryption is easily configured (in case someone tries to steal data from your walls..) -3 LED's on the devices are intuitive, helpful, and not overly bright. -The connection I managed to establish with these devices was stable. I've used this exclusively for over a week without the connection dropping or becoming otherwise unstable.

Cons: -Plugged in where I would want to use them I am only able to achieve a maximum network transfer rate of about 5MB/s (40mbps). That is about a quarter the speed I currently manage using WiFi which completely defeats the purpose of me using these devices on that machine. -1Gbps rating seems to be an overly ambitious product bullet. The device itself only indicates up to 80Mbps, anything over that is simply 'green'. I suspect if the manufacturer was confident in the advertised speeds the indicators would operate on a much different scale. Read other thoughts for more testing which seems to confirm this.

Overall Review: -When I first plugged in these devices where I was planning to use them I was hopeful after seeing a 'green' speed indicator (over 80Mbps). I was further taunted by Windows displaying 1Gbps as the link speed. Transferring data revealed the much less optimistic result I mentioned above (less than 5MB/s in either direction). Windows, of course, was merely indicating the speed between the computer and the adapter plugged into the wall. The two adapters communicating with each other are clearly losing almost all of that potential speed. I wasn't expecting a full 1Gbps but was hoping for more than I got. The wiring in my home is from '98, so while not completely new it is not old enough to have a particularly negative impact on these. The outlets I used for testing are in adjacent rooms so they aren't physically far from one another, however they are on different circuit breakers so all of the data is having to travel all the way to the circuit breaker box before coming back to the other outlet. This is undoubtedly slowing things down and will be a common problem when using these. Also, unlike cables designed to transmit data, home electrical wiring is not EMI shielded. Therefore, the data traveling through those wires will be subject to radio interference, induction caused by other wires, and fluctuations in the electricity caused by whatever is plugged in at your home. Honestly I am impressed that data comes out in a recognizable form at all. But being impressed doesn't make them better than the wireless technology we already have. I wanted to see what might be possible in an ideal set of circumstances so I tried plugging in the devices closer to one another. I plugged them into separate outlets about 10 feet apart on the same circuit breaker. Speed tests resulted in a nearly constant 20MB/s (160mbps). This was a much more favorable result but still not even close to 1Gbps. I plugged them into the SAME outlet and oddly this actually decreased speed to around 17MB/s. I'm thinking the devices might actually interfere with one another if they are this close. This technology might be useful if WiFi simply is not an option, but WiFi is otherwise a far superior option when dedicated Ethernet is not available. Do not invest in this if you have hopes of getting network speeds faster than WiFi. Unless you have gold plated electrical wiring and your house is a Faraday cage then speeds will never be even close to 1Gbps.

11/17/2014

Minamalist Silent Paradise

Streacom FC10B-ALPHA FANLESS CHASSIS
Streacom FC10B-ALPHA FANLESS CHASSIS

Pros: + Room for 4 x 3.5" HDD (potentially more if you get creative). + Lots of bonus heat dissipation area - The CPU heatpipes connect to the right side of the case. This leave the left side free to add custom heatpipes to cool other components. Even the right side is more than big enough to cool a low-power CPU and I find it good enough to cool additional components. + Lots of attachment points - There are dozens of holees drilled through each side and the bottom. This allowed me lots of flexibility adding additional heat pipes and other components.

Cons: - Finger prints easily - I did a lot of manual tooling with this case to set it up the way I wanted and there are finger prints that won't seem to come out (used isopropyl). - No built-in PSU - Normally I would consider this a good thing as PSU's are so task specific that it's better to leave it to the end user to get what they need. However... in thee small form factor space there aren't many good options and most of them are trash. I burned through 2 Nano PSU's (both rated appropriately for the build) before going with Streacom's own ZeroFlex 240. That PSU seems to have been built for this case and they go perfectly together. I literally can't find anything else that I would even slightly recommend for this case. I think it would be good if ZeroFlex was packaged with this case - it would at least save people the hassle. - Pricey - This is obviously very niche territory and you pay for that with such a low volume/custom product.

Overall Review: I planned this build for years (it evolved with changes in technology). I wanted zero fans, low power consumption, small form factor, and NAS equivalent storage capabilities. I also wanted it to be super minimalist (no visible ports or vents, no optical drive bay/slot, etc..) Just a clean face with maybe a button and LED. Those limitations very much limited options and it took me a long time to come to terms with the idea that I would have to spend a lot to get exactly that. I'm very happy with this case and if your build needs are similar to what I describe here then give this one some serious consideration. The build quality is excellent and the design is flexible enough to accommodate some creativity.

Good Value

Rosewill 2-in-1 Portable Streaming Tripod with Ring Light and Phone Holder | 3 Light Modes, 10 Brightness Levels, 360 Degree Rotation, USB Powered (RABH-20018)
Rosewill 2-in-1 Portable Streaming Tripod with Ring Light and Phone Holder | 3 Light Modes, 10 Brightness Levels, 360 Degree Rotation, USB Powered (RABH-20018)

Pros: +Inexpensive - this is an entry level product and is well suited at this price. +USB Power - I like being able to power this from a USB battery back to make it truly portable. +Flexible attachment adapters - attach a phone or camera to the tripod using the spring clamp. Use the included ball socket adapter to make the camera mount or the light directional. Very easy to put together and very flexible. +Multiple Modes - Cool, warm, and neutral light color tones in addition to dimming controls.

Cons: -Flimsy Tripod - For the price this doesn't bother me, it does what it needs to do. Just don't expect extruded anodized aluminum or anything else high end.

Overall Review: This isn't pro level equipment. You should consider this if you photograph small settings where a simple tripod and ring lighting could up your game. If photography is your job you should probably aim a bit higher, but this is fine for a hobbyist. I'm happy with it. I sell items online regularly and this helps my photo lighting noticeably without requiring a full pro photography setup. If that is your type of use this will work fine for you.

Failure

CORSAIR DARK CORE RGB SE Performance Wired / Wireless Gaming Mouse with Qi Wireless Charging, Black, Backlit RGB LED, 16000 dpi, Optical
CORSAIR DARK CORE RGB SE Performance Wired / Wireless Gaming Mouse with Qi Wireless Charging, Black, Backlit RGB LED, 16000 dpi, Optical

Pros: + True Wireless Mouse - No need for wires at all has a lot of potential, and I honestly believe this will be the norm after the kinks get worked out of the technology. + Good overall button placement and feel - Not any better than other good mice I've used but worth saying that it's not bad in this regard. + Looks nice - It has a nice combination of textures and lights. Corsair never seems to mess up the RGB implementation. + DPI visualization LED's - This is a must for me - too many computer mice assign colors to the DPI settings. I'm never going to remember that green = higher DPI than yellow. I need to know at a glance what setting is selected and this mouse does it well using a set of 3 small LED's as indicators.

Cons: - Awful Reliability - Sometimes it will just stop working. Lights still on, but the mouse cursor is completely unresponsive and the mouse itself appears frozen as DPI settings won't even change. Fixing it isn't even as easy as turning it off and back on again either. Sometimes I have to turn it off and place it on the wireless charging pad and then turn it back on. Sometimes I have to unplug the wireless transmitter/receiver from the USB port. Every time it happens (at least weekly) it's a guessing game to figure out how to get it working again. - Poor battery time - When using this mouse and Corsair VOID wireless headset the mouse is always the first thing to die, and it dies without warning and doesn't want to come back to life until it's been plugged in to a usb cable for a while. Only seems reliable for a few hours of heavy gaming. - Wireless Charging While Turned On Breaks the Mouse - This is one sure-fire way I've found to make the mouse unresponsive for a while. If a forget to switch it off before placing it over the charging spot - or worse - if I accidentally use that part of the pad while actually using the mouse, it becomes unresponsive until I go through the game of turning off and on, unplugging the dongle, doing a rain dance, etc... - Very particular charging position - Center the mouse on the charging circle? Nope. Place the front end over it? Nope. The back has to be over the charging spot, and it has to be just right. I figure there's roughly a centimeter of tolerance for the mouse to actually accept a charge. And of course it's a slippery mouse on a slippery surface, so don't bump the desk...and hope your cat doesn't bump it... If the whole mouse pad was a wireless charger and it just charged while you're using it then that might be awesome, but as it stands it's a very finicky chore.

Overall Review: I really wanted this mouse to be great, and it was pricey so I had assumed I was getting something reliable and high quality. It's been one of my more disappointing PC hardware purchases and I definitely regret it. Save your money and look elsewhere unless Corsair releases a much better revision.

Great Balance of Looks, Airflow, and Price

Corsair AF Series AF140 LED (2018) CO-9050086-WW 140mm Red LED Case Fan, Single Pack
Corsair AF Series AF140 LED (2018) CO-9050086-WW 140mm Red LED Case Fan, Single Pack

Pros: + Great light diffusion - The matte semi-opaque plastic fan blades spread the color out evenly and it looks great. Corsair seems to do fan lighting better than anyone else at the moment. + Good airflow - Not the best airflow you'll find but the best fans also won't have LED's. + Reasonable acoustics - Again, not the very best available in terms of being quiet, but it does a good enough job for most builds.

Cons: - No vibration pads - A small strip of rubber on each corner (as I have on some old Cougar 120's) would be a welcome addition. They're already pretty quiet and it's easy enough to add vibration pads after the fact, so not a big deal at all.

Overall Review: In case it's not clear, CorsaIr's "AF" series of fans is optimized for air flow, not static pressure. Static pressure fans are important when the air must be forced through a heat sink or radiator, so these fans wouldn't be great in those roles. AF fans are intended for low restriction intake or exhaust. As long as they're used in the correct way these fans are great.