Thought I’d share some reviews of the hardware I’ve recently bought and been using for a while now.
Saitek Eclipse II
Picked up on a bit of a whim really. I’d managed to knock a hefty engineering book onto my MS Multimeda keyboard, snapping on the legs off. Quick fix with blue tac but still didn’t feel quite right.
Bought partly on the reason of the glowing keys as well. Great to see typing in the dark.
Arrived and I got the keyboard out the eBuyer packaging…Blimey this thing was heavy!
Setup and this is a quality piece of kit. Linux detected it straight away and the multimedia buttons seemed to work as well. (They work better now I’ve configured them in Gnome’s KB shortcuts section). Windows automatically found it and installed drivers as well. Truly plug and play. I put the keyboard up on it’s typing legs and it was a bit low still. Luckily it had an extra section to the legs, flipping that up made it better. I even added the wrist guard and it’s fantastic. Pulled out as far as possible and it’s amazingly nice to type, much better than the MS one I replaced. I’d never used the wrist guard on any keyboard before but this is nice.
The glowing keys…very nice. The letters glow nicely in the dark but during the day only the glow around the edges of the key stand out. being able to change the colours is a nice touch. Blue works nice, red’s OK and the purple is great for night typing or playing a dark gothic game like Diablo or similiar.
OVerall one of the best buys for the PC I’ve ever made!
Coolermaster X-Craft USB HD Caddy
Bought this and teamed it up with a Hitachi Deskstar 250Gb hard drive.
Got it out the box and was impressed with the finish and build quality. Was a bit disappointed that it had shipped with an European cable, considering I bought it from CCL in Bradford.
I did have to folow the instructions to open it and get the hard drive in. It was easy to put the drive into the case and it rest of 4 spring pole type arrangements. Cables inserted. The lid of the thing has a heat pad thing supposed to carry heat away from the disc I assume. Anyhow putting the lid back on was a bit more difficult. The wires seemed to be upside in the case but fitted and the lid fitted on eventually…I was a bit loathe to completey remove the lid again because it was now stuck to the drive but it required a little bit of jiggling to get in but was easily sorted with nothing nasty being done.
Booted up in linux and it wasn’t seen (or more precisely I couldn’t find the disc info section in Ubuntu anymore!)
Stuck into windows who detected it and asked me to format. I declined and booted up partition magic where I formatted it in Ext3. Installing EXT2IFS enabled me to access the drive in Windows. Copying my documents was nice and easy then. Performance wise, I manged to copy my 16Gb documents folder onto it in just over 8 minutes.
It does seem slightly warm to the touch when I picked it up the other day but not overly excessively so and I’m hoping that means the sticky heat pad is working
8/10 - Minus for the slighlty fiddly fact of putting lid back on
Eye-T eCute CAS-22
Bought this case because it seemed small. It IS small but not the same small as a Shuttle. It’s a slightly squat mirco-ATX case. The mobo fits on the bottom of the case. Cooling is provided by a 120mm fan on the read and a power is provided by an attached 420W PSU. Taking the case apart, the top comes off then the sides do to. The mobo section also slides out from the fram to allow easy installtion. The hard drive mounts are mounted sides ways (so the disc are on there sides, shortest side up). This disc bay also slides up. There’s room for 2x 3.5 discs in the disc bay and room for one on the front of the case with 2x 5.25" drive bays as well (which DONT slide out but with everything else slid out, your fine anyhow!)
For the money I paid, this case is fantastic. It cost ~£50 and for what you get it’s great. My mobo fitted nicely once I removed the rear panel and attached the one that came with my mobo.
It even has a nice temperature guage on the front with a sensor already to place. I forgot about this when I was installing and so it’s wedged into the heatsink of the CPU to try and get it as close as possible.
Cable layout inside maybe an issue. I used the flat IDE cables and it can block directly behind the DVD drive. The 120mm is quiet and the temps seems fairly low. My A64 3200+ is showing 43.0 C on the front readout so I assume it’s a bit higher. I’m using a Coolermaster DK8 cooler which is quiet but obviously a bottom of the range cooler as it was £4. Possibly quiter than the original AMD heatsink…I dont know having not used the original fan. There did seem to be room to mount a smaller fan at the front but I think this was room for a 40mm fan…so possibly not much use.
One problem I have had with it, when the PC kicks up to 100% CPU usage, the PSU can make an awful racket. Don’t even think it’s the fans making it. It’s a slighlty pervasive sound but inaudible next door or similiar. Damski also bought the case but has had no trouble from what we’ve talked about so maybe I was unlucky and got a slightly dodgy PSU.
8/10 - Excellent to install hardware, shame about PSU noise.
Belkin 2 Port USB KVM Switch (with Audio support)
Another quality product from Belkin and compared to the other KVM switches I’ve seen about, this was a steal at £25.
Documents say it only works with Windows and Mac OS X but yes, it quite happily works with linux, possibly than it does with windows.
Switching I use the button on the device and going into windows I have to wait about a second before windows recognises it’s connected and working but this little gap isn’t there when I switch into linux. It’s not much but it’s noticable.
Working fine with the aforementioned Eclipse above and a MS Wireless optical mouse. All media buttons work fine still as well. Screen res is quite happy at 1280x1024 screens with no ghosting or noticable lack of quality. perfectly fine to play games with on the Windows box (something I wasn’t sure it would). First time plugged into a windows box and it took a while to first install the belkin drivers, then seperatly installed the keybaord and mouse again. I assume it acts as a hub kinda of thing. I wa worried that it had 2 USB inputs (KB+mouse) and one 1 USB output but thats unfounded.
Audio quality is good, no noticable loss of quality but volume can jump when I change PC’s. This is probably due to a difference in my setting s on the PC’s itself. has the added benefit of allowing me to plug in my headphones with mic to use Skype easier…The usual cable son the headset were to sort to reach the PC and view the screen but because the cables are nicely long on this and the switch is on my desk, there’s no problem now.
10/10 - Works as described, no downsides I can see…yet.
Extra Value 2 Port Switch
Quicky with this one. Nice little product, espcially for the cash. It’s powered by USB so one of the PC’s needs to be on. I heard that PC’s still power USB hubs even whilst off and I think thats true but hey…the PC’s crunching, so it’s not any bother. No drivers needed to be installed. Just plug input into the in cable and then the 2x outputs into the out and plug them into your PC and your off!
Build quality is a bit dubious, it feels cheap but then for a £4, it’s expected. Works fantastic. Had no slowdown on the network from it. Some people on eBuyer said it ran hot but mine’s running nice and cool.
9/10 - Build quality a bit pants but for the money and job, amazing!