Greg Baden’s Year In Review
In my department of CPU Coolers, Cases, and Peripherals 2008 has brought a variety of unique concepts and designs. In 2007 1TB external hard drives and 8GB Flash Drives seemed to be much more costly than what you could find them now. You can easily find an 8GB flash drive for around $20; try finding one for that much last year. Both hard drive enclosures and cases are now coming more often built with built-in eSATA ports along with standard USB ports.
In 2008 I had a complete change when it came to computers. After many years of being an AMD fan I was reluctant to fall into the start of the Intel Quad Core processors with the Q6600 pairing up with an XFX 680i SLI LT motherboard and 4GB of OCZ SLI DDR2 RAM. About halfway through the year I decided to keep one of the first bottom mounted PSU cases I reviewed, the NZXT Tempest. Nearing the end of the year I gave myself some extra space and bought a 500GB hard drive and Installed Vista on it; getting free software through school is quite nice. Ever since the install I haven’t come across any major problems like many people other people have. I guess I was just lucky.
Of the 207 reviews this year put out by ThinkComputers I managed to write 52 reviews, pretty close to 25%. Of the many great products I’ve reviewed this year I narrowed it down to about four of my favorite products that I had the opportunity to review and two products which didn’t turn out so great.
The top product on my list of reviews this year was the Razer Mako, a 2.1 THX Certified Surround Sound Speaker system put out some of the greatest sound that I’ve heard in a while on my computer. The two small speakers and sub put out a full 360 degrees of sound which when gaming is pretty intense. Unfortunately I didn’t get the change to keep this $400 system, but it was well worth it while it lasted. Second on the list of top products is the NZXT Khaos, a $400 full tower case with all of the features you’d need. With plenty of drive bays, support of up to seven fans and a semi-removable hard drive tray there’s no room to go wrong.
The third product on my top list is the Zalman CNSP9300 AT. This was the first chance that I’ve ever gotten to look at a Zalman CPU cooler. I’ve heard the greatness of their coolers before, but never actually got a chance to see one until that review. It also happened to be one of the best overall performers with lowest cooling temperatures we’ve seen on our current test system. Best of all, it’s relatively inexpensive at around $45. The final product on my top products of 2008 to review is the In Win B2 Stealth Bomber Mid Tower case. This case made it to this list mainly because of two reasons: it looked like a B2 Stealth Bomber and it had a mechanical front panel. It’s just one of those sweet cases you’ve got to show off to your friends; it will really get a crowd at LAN parties.
No So Great
While most of the products I reviewed were great products I could only find two that really bugged me. The first of the two bad products is the Titan Cool Idol CPU Cooler. This CPU cooler was way too large and awkward to install. The directions were also lacking as there wasn’t even any manual that came with the cooler, just a picture depicted on the box, expecting you to know what it meant. The other bad product of 2008 that I found was the Silverstone Raven Gaming Mouse. I really think this could have been a great mouse if they just removed the giant ball on the side of the mouse. Silverstone went through the trouble of showing you how to actually hold the mouse properly with this giant ball in the way of your thumb. It became way too uncomfortable to use and really didn’t serve a good purpose to be there. With all the effort that went into this mouse and the promotional backing to it, I sort of feel bad for Silverstone when the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of this mouse is `Fail’.
One memorable moment of this year that I found myself hitting my head for weeks was during the installation for the Cooler Master GeminII S CPU Cooler. To install the bracket there was a double threaded screw, one which attached to the bracket and the other which would attach to the backplate. Silly me spent hours upon hours trying to figure out why the heck I couldn’t get it to attach to the bracket. I thought something was wrong with the cooler so I put it aside and worked on some other reviews. I then came across another Cooler Master product and came across the same problem. I thought to myself “maybe it was a bad batch of brackets”. After some time I finally realized that I was the idiot who didn’t think to turn the screws to the LEFT instead of the right. My mother ended up showing me how much common sense I have by tightening the screws in 10 seconds when it took me days to figure out.
Another memorable moment of this year in somewhat relations to reviews was getting into a car accident this year. I was just leaving from picking up some products to review and I was turning left onto a road. Looking left and right once I realized my vision was blocked by a tree about 500 feet away of which I saw a car at the top of the hill. I pulled up, looked left and right, thinking to myself that I had enough time to turn; I guessed wrong. I guess the guy sped up coming down the hill or I misjudged my clearance to turn, but he ended up turning into me hitting my front left tire. My girlfriend was in the car and we both came out of the car only shaken. The guy who hit me, who I believe drove an older model Chevy Cavalier, wasn’t wearing his seatbelt and smacked his head up on the window. He was coherent, but for safety he was taken away to the hospital. After all that commotion I ended up getting a newer car out of the deal.
Morals of this story: Don’t double stop and always wear your seatbelt.
2009 – What Will it Bring?
In 2009 I hope that we will start to see a lot more development of USB 3.0 and hopefully some products that will be available by then. According to sources I doubt that we’re going to see this happen in 2009, but hopefully instead more case manufacturers can put eSATA ports on their newer cases instead of referring back to Firewire because when it comes to transfer rates for external devices eSATA is your best bet.
I’m also looking forward to seeing more cases with bottom mounted power supplies and strangely unique designs. 2008 was full of unique designs for tons of products. I can only hope that this will continue throughout 2009 because it’s always nice to see a different take on the current product designs. Practice makes perfect even in the computer product industry.
I also hope that 2009 will bring many more follows to ThinkComputers for in-depth reviews and product discussions. ThinkComputers is growing with over 200 reviews this year. 2009 will bring the total to the 1000 benchmark. At the rate we’ve been writing reviews here at ThinkComputers I think we can far surpass the 200 reviews we did this year and hopefully reach to almost a review every day.