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Peter Leonard

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Mackie CR4 4 inch Monitor Speakers - Black
Mackie CR4 4 inch Monitor Speakers - Black
Price: £103.95

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clear sound!, 8 Oct. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
To my ears these speakers are very very good. I bought them to use with my PC. In the past I have always used cheap PC speakers from Creative Labs or Logitech, and while they have always been just fine, I decided to go for something better this time around. At first I was considering Creative Gigaworks speakers, but the reviews for these Mackie CR4 speakers seemed to indicate that they would be very good for listening to music and represented good value for money, so I went with them. I don't regret my decision at all.

I'll start with the things I don't like: The green plastic inserts probably looked better in the design sketches than they do in real life. I think they serve to cheapen the look of the speakers. It doesn't help that the glowing light around the volume-knob/power-switch glows green, but thankfully that light isn't overly bright.

Looks aside, the power lead is captive to the powered speaker. This doesn't pose any real problem unless of course the cable gets damaged. Potentially this might make transporting the speakers less simple as the lead/plug stays with the speaker and care will be needed to ensure it doesn't damage the speaker. But I suppose for most people this won't be of any concern.

Also, there is a slight humming sound from the speakers but this is only really noticeable in a otherwise completely quite environment (and obviously when they are not in use).

Finally, still on the negatives, the powered speaker can get quite warm at the lower part of the back. I have seen similar speakers with an included external heatsink on the powered speaker. I only noticed this because I reached around the back to switch off the speakers at the end of the day. There is no noticeable heat at the top or sides of the speaker case.

Now the positives. Setting up the speakers was extremely simple. The powered speaker includes a switch to select it as the "right" or "left" speaker, allowing it to be easily placed close to my PC. The included foam-isolation pads are necessary since the speakers don't have any feet and would otherwise sit directly on the desk. It looks a little strange perhaps, but in a sort of pro/nerd kind of way.

The speakers themselves are very well made, and have a high quality feel. As stated before, the green accents slightly detract from what are otherwise very nicely designed and built speakers.

Now the subjective part. The sound quality. I've compared these to some Creative 245 speakers that I was using before, and as to be expected given that the Mackie speakers are 4 or 5 times the price, there is no contest. I can hear instruments in songs that I wasn't aware were even there before. In one song that I had listened to many times, I just discovered that there is actually a backing singer on the track that was completely inaudible through the Creative speakers, or through our Philips TV speakers, but perfectly clear with the CR4s. On another track, the singer says "How great is our God.", and we were sure he was singing "crate", and thought he had a problem pronouncing the word. Mackie to the rescue. It turns out that he is clearly saying "Great", and cheap speakers we have been using up to now couldn't handle it. This pattern continued track after track. Bass is also very good, but obviously speakers this size aren't going to shake the room.

The sound they produce is very clean and clear, and this leads to a potential problem if you are listening to low quality audio, like mp3s or through Spotify, where you will actually hear the faults in a way that you won't with normal PC speakers.

Conclusion: Are these the best 4" speakers? Probably not. Are they the best speakers for the money? I don't know. But what I do know is that to my ears they sound great, and are well worth the money. My family and I are enjoying our music so much more, and I only regret not buying something of this quality sooner.


1.8M USB 2.0 Data Cable A Male to A Male - Black
1.8M USB 2.0 Data Cable A Male to A Male - Black
Offered by SWEETS++
Price: £1.14

5.0 out of 5 stars Good quality., 2 Oct. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Did the job perfectly. Good quality for the money.


Samsung Notebook Cover for Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 inch - Metallic Black
Samsung Notebook Cover for Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 inch - Metallic Black
Offered by mgxstore
Price: £16.20

4.0 out of 5 stars High quality, 2 Oct. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Perfect fit, and nicely made. Got this at a discount price. At full price it seems way too much for a cover, but the protection and added functionality it brings are probably justifiable when you consider the expense of the tablet and potential damage without it.


Splatoon (Nintendo Wii U)
Splatoon (Nintendo Wii U)
Price: £27.85

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Feeder game to get kids into FPS?, 2 Oct. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Bought for my 10-year-old son. I had read reviews that seems to indicate that this game was something special. But it turns out that this is little more than a first person shooter for kids. From what I understood, I expected the game to be all about painting an area with more of your colour than the other team managed within a set time. However, it turns out that a good strategy is to blast your opponents so they are out of the game for a short time.

If you are looking for a way to ease your kids into the joys of FPS games at an early age, this is probably the game to get. Why anybody might want this for their kids is beyond me.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 30, 2015 12:25 AM GMT


XFX 650w XTR Gold Fully Modular Power Supply Unit
XFX 650w XTR Gold Fully Modular Power Supply Unit
Offered by Bora-Computer GbR
Price: £85.60

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Almost perfect, 2 Oct. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
UPDATE: I've dropped another star because after just 5 weeks my replacement unit has failed. It simply died. I'm now awaiting for a replacement. These things can happen, and Amazon have been very helpful as always.

First impressions were very good when I received this XFX 650W XTR Gold Modular power supply. I'm listing the model and those details because sometimes these reviews find their way to the wrong product. Anyway, the packaging is very nice, and the PSU is well padded. All the cables are in their own separate accessories box which is handy for keeping any that are not used initially, but may well be needed in the future in case of upgrades to your system.

The PSU looks very nicely finished, and feels solid and weighty, the way a good quality PSU should be. There is one oddity however. There is a switch on the PSU (which will be internal in your case, not the normal power switch) for the hybrid fan mode. Basically this allows you to manually select between normal fan operation and hybrid mode. In hybrid mode the fan kicks in and out, so the PSU fan will be off below a certain temperature. Normal mode will mean that the fan will be constantly spinning. On my unit this switch had a sticker over it to show the hybrid mode positions, but the switch has a 1 and 0 on it (for on and off), and they contradict the logic of on and off for hybrid mode. To further complicate things the sticker includes an instruction to remove it before use, and that reveals "on" and "off" text on the body of the PSU. It isn't a big deal but it seems like something wasn't completely thought through at the design stage. Regardless, this is a nice feature.

You can hear the fan however. And I found the hybrid mode to be more of a distraction, as the fan coming on and off attracted my attention to the noise, while having it constantly running in the background allowed my brain to ignore it. But if you listen for it, the noise is a little unusual. It is quite, but slightly growly. Hard to describe. Actually, at first I thought it was a problem with my unit, but some research shows that this is what it sounds like. That said, it is way way quieter than the Coolermaster it replaced, but if you are looking for the quietest PSU, this probably isn't it.

This is my first time with a fully modular PSU. I decided to go with a modular supply because I'm building in a Mini ITX case and being able to only include the cables that are actually required does simplify cable management, and improve airflow.

Conclusion:
Very solidly put together PSU, with a nice design, good quality cables. 1 star off because I can't give 4 1/2 stars, and 5 would be for perfect. Only let down by weirdness related to the hybrid fan mode switch, and noticeable and slightly unusual fan noise.


Corsair Hydro Series H100i All-In-One 240mm Digital High Performance Rad Liquid Cooler for CPU
Corsair Hydro Series H100i All-In-One 240mm Digital High Performance Rad Liquid Cooler for CPU

3.0 out of 5 stars Probably the best 240mm cooler for the Corsair 250D, 15 Sept. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Update: After just under 5 weeks with this cooler, the green LED has failed, and my white Corsair logo turned pink/purple, as now there is only red and blue light available. RMA time I'm afraid. And with something like a water cooler, this isn't a trivial matter. One of the reasons I went with the Corsair was that they had a good reputation, and I wanted to put the cooler in and forget about it. 5 weeks later, and I'm pretty confident I would have gotten better longevity from a cheaper alternative.

The H100i seems to be just about the best 240mm water cooler to use with the Corsair 250D Mini ITX case. Unfortunately now that the H100i GTX (which is too big for the 250D) has been released, the H100i has become hard to find. After doing a lot of searching I managed to find one on Amazon at a reasonable price (still more than a H100i GTX), so I went for it.

Installation was very very easy. The hardest part of the installation was squeezing it into the 250D. It is a tight fight, and I found it easier to install the the radiator prior to inserting the motherboard. However, there is really no more than 1mm clearance between the fan and the motherboard. The bracket is very easy to install, and once installed and screwed down, everything is very secure. The H100i radiator is 27mm thick, and with the 120 x120 x25mm fans attached, the total thickness is 52mm. The 250D seems to have about 55mm of space to the edge of the motherboard.

The first thing I noticed is that the system was noticeably louder than the stock Intel cooler fan, which was virtually silent. However, after installing the CorsairLINK software and selecting "quiet" mode, it became much quieter. The CorsairLINK software controls the unit, including the fan speeds, led colours etc via the USB connector attached to the pump and directly to the motherboard USB 2.0 header. This works fine for me (in Windows 10), and the settings are "remembered" by the cooler so if you boot into another OS or close the CorsairLINK your settings will remain. The software is a bit clunky, but it does the job.

Now, performance. I'm using an Intel i5-4690K. At stock speed and running with the stock Intel supplied cooler, I observed temperatures ranging from around 34 degrees while at idle, up to 68 degrees at load. With the H100i, again at stock speed (3.5Ghz with 3.9Ghz turbo), the temperatures were 26 degrees at idle and just 45 degrees at load. And, within 2 or 3 seconds after the CPU returns to idle, the temperature has dropped back from 44 or 45 to 26 or 26 degrees. This is perhaps one of the biggest advantages of a liquid cooling solution.

I don't generally run much of an overclock, but given how good a job the H100i was doing I went ahead and cranked the i5-4690K up. At load, and at 4.689Ghz, (1.3v), temperatures reached 64 degrees, and idle temps were below 29 degrees. I didn't want to risk my CPU by running at 1.3v for too long, so after testing I stepped it back to stock speeds, until I have time to OC properly in a way that will keep the CPU voltage a bit lower.

All of these temps were with "quiet" mode in the CorsairLINK. I did try performance mode, but I didn't notice any real difference in temps. This could be to do with the fact that I have set the fans up to pull the air into the case to create positive pressure in the case. Increasing fan speeds might make more difference if the fans were pushing air, but I'm not sure.

Anyway, overall I'm very happy with the performance of the H100i. My system is quiet, and while it isn't completely silent, it is always at the same quiet level, even when the system is at full load. This is preferable to me than hearing the fans get loud when the system is under load.

Why not 5 stars? I think the H100i is very expensive, and even more so now that it is hard to find. Also, I have read that some other coolers have quieter fans. This is an older unit at this stage, and you are probably best to go for a H100i GTX if your case can accommodate it's slightly thicker radiator. Also, there are air coolers that will do a good job for much less. Given the design of the 250D, my options were limited as there isn't enough vertical room to accommodate a tall (quiet) air cooler.


Asus MAXIMUS VII IMPACT LGA1150 Motherboard
Asus MAXIMUS VII IMPACT LGA1150 Motherboard

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great ITX board, 15 Sept. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Now that 6th generation Core-i processors are out and on a new 1151 socket, interest in Z97 boards is probably on the way down. I decided to go with a 4th generation i5-4690K because the price difference more than makes up for the performance difference. And this is before other savings, like the use of cheaper DDR3 memory vs DDR4, are considered. Additionally, I wanted a machine that would be easy to set up as a Hackintosh in case I decided to go down that route.

My first choice was the Gigabyte Z97N-WIFI. However, after two boards both suffered from the same issue, I eventually decided to bite the bullet and go for the Maximus VII Impact (M7I).

This board is expensive, but once you put a value on the included features, it seems worth it when compared to a more basic board, such as the GA-Z97N-WIFI. For example, the M7I comes with 4 SATA cables, one for each of the SATA connectors. The Gigabyte came with just 2. The M7I also comes with a little riser card with 2 additional system fan headers, meaning 1 CPU and 3 system fan headers vs 1 CPU and 1 system fan on the Gigabyte. The sound is supplied via a neat little which sounds very good. Additionally, there are LEDs on the board to show SATA access, and status during initialisation.

Next, there is a M.2 port which supports (the very expensive, but very fast) Gen 3, 4x PCIe standard.

The layout of the board is very good when you consider the amount of features that have been crammed in. The power connectors (24pin and 8pin) are well located and make a tidy build very easy.

Pros:
- Gen 3, 4x PCIe M.2 drive support
- Very good layout
- high quality
- unexpected "extras" packed into the box (they even provide a SATA cable labels, and an adapter for making connecting the case LED and switches super easy)
- excellent OC support
- excellent BIOS
- looks nice (even my wife commented on it)
- thick and detailed manual
- included sound card is very good
- start button (it lights up when the board has power also, which I find a useful feature)

Cons
- price (but only if you don't think you will make use of the features, you get what you pay for)
- extra work while building due to the riser cards
- fitting and replacing m.2 card not as easy as it could have been (requires the motherboard to be removed first?)
- doesn't support 6th generation Intel processors, (Z170 boards are out already)

Conclusion
There are cheaper boards, but if you plan to connect more than two SATA devices, would like M.2, bluetooth and WIFI, high quality sound, and plan to overclock or install OS X, there probably aren't any better Z97 chipset ITX boards than this M7I.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 10, 2015 2:33 PM GMT


ESV Personal Size Reference Bible (TruTone, Charcoal, Crown Design)
ESV Personal Size Reference Bible (TruTone, Charcoal, Crown Design)
by Crossway Bibles
Edition: Imitation Leather

3.0 out of 5 stars Nice bible, but a shame about the translation., 26 Aug. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This Bible is well made and bound and is a nice size for carrying without being too small to read. I would have given it 5 stars, but there are issues with the ESV translation itself that I discovered while reading it, and have since determined that the ESV is not a very good translation of the Bible.

I was reading to my son (9 at the time) and when I read John 7:8-10, he stopped me and said "Jesus lied?" I asked him what he meant, and when he explained to me, I read again and sure enough he was right. In the ESV translation, Jesus told a lie. He said he would not go to the feast, and then he went. In the KJV he said he would not go the the feast "YET", and then later he went. This is just one example, but later I discovered there are many more. Sure, we can live with and work around these kind of problems, but it is better to find a translation that doesn't have such problems.

So, this is a nice bible, but the ESV translation isn't great.


Nintendo Wii U Pro Controller - Black
Nintendo Wii U Pro Controller - Black
Price: £39.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Best controller Nintendo has ever made., 26 Aug. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Nintendo seems to have copied the shape of the hand grips from the XBox controller, and that is a good thing. Very comfortable to hold and equally so for my adult hands, or my 10-year-old son's little hands. Nice and light too, and the battery lasts and lasts and lasts. The buttons and switches all work great. It would have been nice if the lower triggers had been analogue, but apart from that it is all cool. I was a big fan of the Gamecube controller, but I think this has it beat.


Masterplug SWSRG62 2 m 13 A 6-Gang Surge Protected Extension Lead - White
Masterplug SWSRG62 2 m 13 A 6-Gang Surge Protected Extension Lead - White
Price: £13.27

5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing to complain about., 26 Aug. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Sturdy, good switches, bright lights, long lead, works perfectly. Nice.


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