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Michael E.

Michael E.

Joined on 11/22/04

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Product Reviews
product reviews
  • 61
Most Favorable Review

My first $100+ case...mixed emotions

LIAN LI PC-7FN USB 3.0 Black Aluminum ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
LIAN LI PC-7FN USB 3.0 Black Aluminum ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

Pros: - Beautiful looking case with a clean design. - All aluminum case makes it lightweight and good for cooling (although I noticed no change in CPU temps from the previous steel case that I had the same mobo/CPU combo in) - Great fit and finish, no sharp edges, all of the panels fit well - Thumbscrews for both side panels and all of the expansion slot covers were a nice touch - Nice quick reference guide with useful pictures showing you how to disassemble all parts of the case. - Rubber strips underneath the power supply to help isolate any vibration from the power supply. - Decent stock fans (the front fan is LED lit, which might be a pro for some of you, but not for me, I replaced it with a plain black fan).

Cons: None of these cons are dealbreakers, and some of them are really pretty minor, but worth mentioning since this case is over $100. - You need to remove the drive bay cage to remove the front fan (Im not a fan of LED fans so I wanted to swap out the stock fan that came wiht the case, and although you can unscrew the fan, theres not enough room to slide it out from either side of the case, without removing the drive bay case which requires taking out 5 screws) - EZ drive bay retention system doesnt hold the drives very tight. The locking system for the optical drives keeps them from falling out of the case or sliding inside of the case, but they still wiggle. Thankfully there are still screwholes so you can screw them in, but since I had to use screws, whats the point of the system they provide?) - Not entirely sold on the top mount power, reset, and USB connections. What is wrong with them on the front? It seems as though they could get damaged up there, but only time will tell.

Overall Review: I have built well over 30 computers in my life and have never had a need for anything more than a basic case. I dont always look for the absolute cheapest, but I rarely spend more than $50. I have wanted to get a Lian-Li case for years, but could never justify the price for what ultimately is "just a case". I finally took the plunge and bought the PC-7FN case. I immediately was pleased with the look and overall quality of the case. I cant stand the elaborate "gaming cases" with all the crazy plastic and goofy looking fins protruding out. This case has a classic design that will look good many years from now. With that in mind, being I spent around $130 with S&H for this case, there were things like not being able to easily remove the front fan or the drive retention brackets mentioned above that I havent had issues with in cases much cheaper. Overall, not a deal breaker, a solid 4/5 eggs. I guess Im just a little disappointed to have cons after spending 3x what I usually spend.

12/14/2011
Most Critical Review

There are better options

APC Black 10000 mAh Mobile Power Pack M10BK
APC Black 10000 mAh Mobile Power Pack M10BK

Pros: APC Brand Name 10,000 mAh is worth at least a couple charges on most smartphones/tablets Dual charging ports are useful for tablets and phones LEDs indicating charge level

Cons: Large, flat design makes it difficult to store in a pocket if you like to charge on the go Lack of AC charger, only a USB cable is included to charge which takes over 18 hours to charge fully Flimsy construction, while holding it, even the slightest pressure on the flat side makes the case creak LEDs are unnecessarily bright

Overall Review: This is my third 10,000 mAh or higher USB battery pack and its my least favorite of the three. On the plus side, it works as expected. There are dual USB ports on the side, one which is rated at 1A and the other at 2.5A which is more than enough for even the biggest tablets. I was able to simultaneously charge a Samsung Galaxy S3 phone and a Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 tablet at the same time. APC is a trusted name in power surge and battery protection, so you'd think this would be a great product. Compared to the IOGear 11,000 mAh GearPower battery and the FREMO P130 13,000 battery both of which I own, this one has the flimsiest case. Both of other other batterys are very solid and I feel as though if I were to drop them, theyd survive the fall, the APC Im not so sure. Plus both of my other batteries are small enough to fit in my pants or coat pocket so I can keep charging my phone while walking around. The APC battery is huge. Its about the size of a small tablet. It would fit OK in a briefcase or messenger bag, but thats not how I use it. Another complaint, which I also had about the FREMO battery is that it only includes a USB cable for charging the battery itself. It does not include an AC adapter. I tried to charge this using a USB port on my computer and after 18 hours, ti was still charging. If I use a 2.1A AC -> USB charger, I can charge it in about 12 hours. I dont understand why these companies cant spend an extra dollar to include an AC adapter that will actually charge the battery in a useful amount of time. Finally, and once again, this is a common with the other two batteries, even though this is rated at 10,000 mAh, you cant just add up the mAh capacity of your phone or tablet and calculate how many times it can charge your device. I charged my wife's Samsung Galaxy S3 which has a 2100 mAh battery on it, and it charged it fully three times, but almost immediately after connecting it the 4th time, it was dead. So, that means it only has a useful capacity closer to 6000 - 6500 mAh. Its possible that after several full charge/discharge cycles, the capacity could improve, but I can honestly say that no battery I own is capable of the exact number they claim on the packaging. So, in conclusion, this product has a good brand name, has decent capacity, dual ports, and can handle a smartphone and tablet at the same time. The problem is, there are many other options out there that are more portable, have more solid construction, and some that include an AC adapter. For the price, I cannot recommend this product considering the vast number of other options out there.

Even My Wife Likes This

Corsair Vengeance M65 CH-9000022-NA White 8 Buttons USB Wired Laser 8200 dpi Gaming Mouse
Corsair Vengeance M65 CH-9000022-NA White 8 Buttons USB Wired Laser 8200 dpi Gaming Mouse

Pros: Extremely comfortable ergonomics works with both the left and right hands. Excellent weight that can be adjusted, although I prefer leaving all of the weights in Extremely smooth operation that glides with ease over a mousepad Textured sides is easy to grip, without being grippy - if that makes sense. Buttons have very nice "click" to them. My previous mouse was a basic Microsoft Mouse and this definitely has better click-feel. All buttons are programmable Front LED logo can be changed or turned off using software Ease of use in quick selecting the DPI on the mouse without additional software Instantly worked on Windows 10 without any additional software

Cons: I would describe all of these cons as nitpicks as none of them are significant enough for me to dock an egg. The Corsair software is pretty clunky and doesn't pair up with other Corsair utilities like Corsair Link for the H80i water cooler, so I have 2 separate Corsair logos in my system tray at all times. The programming of the buttons isn't intuitive. Although you can turn off the front lights, you have to do it through the software. There is no quick "night mode" for the mouse at night. For this reason, I just leave the lights off. It's gimmicky anyway. I don't use the dedicated 'Sniper Mode" button so I mapped it as my main back button, because I find the default "back/forward" buttons to be a little too small. This is probably the biggest con of the mouse. I think the back/forward buttons could have been positioned a little better.

Overall Review: Although I do some PC gaming, I would not describe myself as a hardcore gamer. Ive always found that a traditional 3 button mouse with a back/foward button to be "good enough". Ive spent extra on gaming keyboards, but never a mouse. Now I know that I've been missing out. This is an excellent lens that really feels high quality in almost every regard. The ergonimcs are great, I can use this both left and right handed, the buttons have the best "click feel" of any mouse Ive used (even better than a Microsoft Mouse). The weight of the mouse is splended and so is the texture. I should point out that while NewEgg sent me the "white M65-W" mouse, mine doesn't look like the picture above. The top shell and L/R buttons are white plastic, but the bottom, sides, and that channel above and below the wheel are black on mine. I actually like the look of mine better than the image above. I assume Corsair has redesigned the mouse, but Newegg just hasn't updated the picture. I've never been a fan of Corsair's software, and this time its no different. I dont care for the Corsair Link software for the H80i water cooler and I dont like the software here. Even more annoying is that Corsair doesnt have one single program that works with all of their hardware. Every program is a separate install which means you see two identical Corsair icons in your system tray. The good news is that if you dont have a need to remap the buttons, create macros, or change the lights, you don't even need to load their software as WIndows 10 not only detected the mouse correctly, but all of the buttons worked in their default mode. I mentioned in my cons above that I wish there was a way to mute the lighting without having to go into the software, but thats a minor quibble. Finally, perhaps the best endorsement I can give this mouse is that my non-gamer/non-geek wife likes it. She rolled her eyes at the gaming keyboard I bought and doesnt get excited about hexa-core processors, DDR4 memory, or SLI videocards, but she said that she really liked the mouse, so getting that endorsement from her is pretty significant! :)

All in one water cooler

Corsair Hydro Series H80i V2  Water / Liquid CPU Cooler. 120mm CW-9060024-WW
Corsair Hydro Series H80i V2 Water / Liquid CPU Cooler. 120mm CW-9060024-WW

Pros: I find the overall design of the cooler and radiator to be pleasing. Although I am a veteran of building PCs in my lifetime, I've never installed a water cooler before, and I did not find this to be difficult. It's about as involved as installing a large air cooler. You need a backing plate behind the CPU socket, there are some standoffs you need to screw in, and then you mount the cooler to the CPU and screw it down. The radiator and fans caused me a few issues, which I'll cover below. There is also a USB port on the cooler itself that requires a whole USB header free on your motherboard. This shouldn't be an issue for most people as modern motherboards often have way more USB headers than most people need. This cooler is definitely quiet during regular use. Although the DEEPCOOL cooler I had before was extremely quiet due to its rubberized 140mm silent wave fans, the Corsair is almost completely silent under most conditions. I played with the Corsair Link software and changed the settings to Balanced and Performance and it got noticeably louder. In Performance, it was disruptively loud. I would never want to use that setting. This cooler replaced a DEEPCOOL Gamer Storm Lucifer V2 CPU with dual 140mm silent fans in push/pull configuration, so I was able to do a before and after test and in 2 of the 3 tests, I saw an improvement in temps, see the Other section below for specifics.

Cons: In total, not including removing the air cooler, installation took me about half an hour which I consider good because I take my time. Anyone experienced in building PCs shouldn't have a problem with this, but for the novice, I felt the instructions were a little lacking. Corsair takes an approach many PC vendors do and makes instructions with basic drawings and then short directions in a variety of languages. I was installing this on a Socket 2011 motherboard and there was one step where they show you need to use different standoffs to use and the drawings were so poor, I couldn't figure it out based on the drawing. I ended up just picking a set and using trial and error to see which ones fit. So I'll say the instructions were adequate, but as a "premiere" PC Vendor, Corsair could have done a better job here. Another issue I ran into, which might be unique to some people is that the mounting screws for the radiator and fans were too short for my setup. How this works is you get 8 long screws and washers that go into each corner of the two fans and secure it to the radiator which is sandwiched in between. For the front fan (nearest the CPU), its not an issue. The screws are long enough, but the rear fan (nearest the back of the case), the screws were not long enough to go through the thickness of my case, through the fan, and into the radiator. I have a Lian-Li midtower case and the rear fan opening has a removable grille. The removable grill isn't that thick, but it was just thick enough to make it not work. I had to remove the rear grille in order for the screws to reach through everything and grip the radiator. So now, the back of my PC has a large opening with the fan blades directly exposed to the outside of the case. I am going to try and locate some longer screws at a hardware store sometime and see if I can use those so I can put the grille back on. Both of these cons aren't deal breakers, and I understand Corsair cannot predict every possible of the millions of combinations of cases people could use, but how hard could it have been to include a couple of extra sets of screws of varying lengths so the installer can choose which ones best fit. Finally, I found the included 120mm fans to be unacceptably loud in performance mode. I cannot image why anyone would want to use that mode as the fans spin at their max speed. Maybe quieter fans could have brought the noise down, but for what you get in the box, I feel that Quiet and Balanced are your only two real-world options.

Overall Review: My testing setup: ASRock X99 Extreme4 LGA 2011-v3 Intel X99 motherboard Intel Core i7-5820K Haswell-E 6-Core 3.3 GHz CPU Overclocked to 4.0 GHz LIAN LI PC-7FN Black Aluminum ATX Mid Tower Case DEEPCOOL Gamer Storm Lucifer V2 CPU with dual 140mm silent fans in push/pull configuration I used Open Hardware Monitor to monitor the CPU Package temps and ran 3 tests: Idle 10 minutes of the Unigine DirectX11 Valley Benchmark 1.0 on Ultra quality running at 1920x1080 with sound enabled 10 minutes of Prime95 running with 12 threads simultaneously I used the Valley Benchmark to mimic high GPU gaming. This should be close to what the CPU would experience while playing a modern PC game such as GTA V, Dyling Light, or Witcher III (all of which I have). And of course Prime95 is a tried and true CPU torture test, although it recreates conditions unrealistic for regular PC usage. All of these tests were run with the Corsair Link software set to Quiet. Here are my results: Idle Air Cooler: 103 - 104 degrees F Idle Water: 98 - 102 degrees F DirectX11 Air: 120-126 degrees F DirectX11 Water: 108-112 degrees F Prime95 Air: 172-176 degrees F Prime95 Water: 168-176 degrees F It is interesting I saw a few degrees improvement at idle temps, and about 12-14 degrees improvement in the DirectX test, but nothing in the Prime95 test. My theory with this is that my overclocked CPU is being pushed to the thermal limit of the chip. I believe that the CPU is throttling itself at that point and neither cooler is able to keep the temps below whatever point that is. While it would make sense that the water cooler should have shown better results in the Prime95 test, I think that in both cases, the air and water coolers were interrupted by the CPU's own thermal protection. In hindsight, I should have done this test again with the CPU at a stock clock, so maybe I'll do that again later and update this review. Frankly, the Prime95 test isn't really all that useful anyway, since no one runs it for anything other than these kinds of tests. I mainly use this PC for general Internet use and gaming, so the DirectX11 test is the one that's most useful for me. So, in conclusion, yes, the Corsair bested one of the best air coolers you can buy. For $100, you do get a few degrees improvement at idle, and about a 10% improvement in gaming. I doubt there is any other all in one product in this range that can beat that. I still can't feel a bit underwhelmed though. Maybe if I was coming from a stock cooler, or a low end cooler, or maybe even with a different CPU, I would have been more impressed. My advice is that if you are building a new PC and have $100 in your budget, this is a great buy. If you already have a really nice air cooler and want to see what this product will do, its probably not the best use of $100. I also feel that Corsair could have done a little better of a job in the instructions. Sure, its fine for a veteran, but a novice could really struggle with the instructions, and I know that Corsair cannot predict every possible case that this would be installed into, but it would have cost them maybe 5 cents extra include a couple sets of screws of varying lengths to accommodate thicker cases. For these reasons, I give this product a 4 out of 5 rating.

High End Features, but Midrage Performance

BUFFALO WXR-1900DHP AirStation Extreme AC 1900 Gigabit Dual Band Wireless Router
BUFFALO WXR-1900DHP AirStation Extreme AC 1900 Gigabit Dual Band Wireless Router

Pros: EDIT 2/5/2016: As things turns out, a previous router died on me around the time I reviewed this item and I decided to make it my main router. I figured I could use it for a while until I got around to buying a new main router, but that never happened. In the past 6 months of using the Buffalo WXR-1900DHP as my primary router, I can say that it is rock solid stable. I have only needed to reboot it maybe once or twice. Performance has been good this entire time and it routs several ports to my Windows 2008 web and mail server without any issue. While I still think that this router wasn't worth it's original price, it currently sells for $119.99 which I think is a much better value. Adding to the fact that I have over half a year of stability, I am very happy with this router. I've had this router installed in my environment for about a month and can comment on several of its pros and cons. For pros, it has quite a bit of advanced features in the setup. My favorite feature is the manual switch on the bottom of the router that allows you to easily switch between a regular router and access point. If you have a large network and just want something to expand your network, this makes it as easy as can possibly be. Although I am accustomed to loading DD-WRT on most of my routers, I found the stock UI to be good enough for most advanced tweakers. I was able to setup port forwarding for a Wordpress blog, FTP site, and RDP into my network. I was able to manually assign IP addresses while still keeping DHCP on with ease, and I was able to setup a guest network without any drama. Most of these features are unavailable or not as easy to find on other stock router setups. I still prefer the layout of DD-WRT and despite there being other Buffalo routers that come with DD-WRT from the factory, I was not able to find any evidence that this router is compatible (although I did not try). This router replaced a TP-LINK TL-WDR3600 and althought hat router does not support AC wireless, it compares favorably to this router in terms of wired Gigabit speeds and Wireless N transfer rates. Finally, the triple external antennas are a nice feature for people who want to fine tune their routers signal and help boost it in specific directions.

Cons: The cons, however are really where this router falters. Despite the nice web UI and the solid wireless N and gigabit speeds, the signal dropoff was more severe in all areas of my house compared to my original TP-LINK router. I left both routers connected simultaeously and used a WI-FI detection tool to measure signal strength in various locations throughout my house. My house is a single floor house built in the 1950s. I completed this test on the 2.4 GHz band with both routers on the same channel (11) and one on 11, and one on 1. I did not test 5 GHz since I use the majority of my devices on 2.4 GHz. Signal strength in the same room was pretty much the same. As soon as I left the living room and went into the bedrooms, kitchen, laundry room, and outside on the back porch, the TP-LINK maintained a stronger signal strength in all locations. In my backyard where the TP-LINK was a weak -70db, the Buffalo had disappeared altogether. I tried moving the 3 antennas in a variety of orientations and no amount of movement improved the signal strength enough to notice. <br><br>This is not acceptable in my opinion for an upper end router. I dont care how many great features the router has, or how funky the antennas are, or how fast the maximum throughput claims to be, if signal strength is not up to par with a several year old router that you can now find for $60, I cannot really recommend this router.

Overall Review: I really wanted to like this router. The triple external antennas, the manual switch to choose access point and the nice web UI really made me want to keep this router. Its possible this router is more favorable on the AC band or at 5 GHz, but for the majority of people who still use wireless N on the 2.4 GHz band, this router is just not acceptable and certainly not worth the price. If this was a lower end router, I could look past the signal dropoff in other areas of my house, but if I had spent $169.99 (MSRP $229.99) on this router, I would have returned it immediately. <br><br>In conclusion, nice feature set, easy UI, good throughput, but only when you have a good signal. If range is a priority for you, you should buy something else.

DOA

ETopSell PC Wireless Controller Gaming Receiver For Microsoft XBOX 360
ETopSell PC Wireless Controller Gaming Receiver For Microsoft XBOX 360

Pros: The seller was great. When I emailed them that this adapter was dead, they offered to refund my money immediately and didn't even ask that I mail it back to them. I am giving 5 stars to the seller and 1 for the product.

Cons: Dead on Arrival

Overall Review: I followed every set of instructions online and was able to load the correct Xbox 360 Wireless Adapter driver. The driver installed correctly, but the problem was the device would not pair. The green LED would not light up at all. I tried all 8 of the USB ports (2.0 and 3.0) on my motherboard and none of them would power this device on. I ended up buying a genuine Microsoft adapter and that device not only automatically detected and installed the correct driver, but the green LED lit up immediately and I was able to pair both of my Xbox 360 controllers. I had read many of the reviews on here about these knock-off adapters and knew there was a chance it might work. Looks like the house won this time. But if you look hard enough, you can find the genuine Microsoft one for about $15 online.