funkyfresh computers and accessories

NTI Echo 3 Disk Cloning Software Review

Echo 3 from NTI is an easy to use disk cloning application that also includes the ability to select and omit specific files in the cloning process. Echo 3 calls this “Filter Cloning” and it can be handy when you want to clone a drive as fast as possible by eliminating any unnecessary data from the cloning process.

Echo 3 also includes a simple performance utility which will test the read/write capabilities of your HDDs and SSDs before or after you proceed with any drive changes in your PC. It’s helpful to get a perspective on the different performance levels of your drives. We used a system with several Western Digital HDDs and one Corsair SSD.

To test, we simply made a clone of the Corsair SSD to a Western Digital Velociraptor. Normally you would clone an HDD to an SSD or SSD to another SSD for better performance but in this case we’re temporarily replacing the Corsair SSD because the write speeds have become so slow and we didn’t have the new SSD in house yet.

The cloning process just takes a couple of mouse clicks to run. Then it’s a matter of how much data you’re copying. More data = more wait time. But, it really couldn’t be any simpler. Grab a cup of coffee, relax and your clone is complete.

However, it’s important to go into the BIOS before booting with the new drive to make sure it’s now set as the boot drive for the system. Otherwise you may get the following boot manager error. By the way, you’ll get the same error with Acronis, Ghost and other cloning software if the BIOS is confused about which drive is the proper boot drive. So be sure and check this to avoid any frustration.

We created two separate clones of the Corsair SSD. 1 worked and 1 didn’t. Both examples ended with a successful confirmation screen. However, one of the drives would not boot regardless of BIOS settings or simply making it the only drive in the system

Echo 3 is an affordable and extremely easy to use solution for cloning your computer drives. The interface is clean and the process was painless . We still don’t know why the first drive didn’t clone properly because the software did not give us any error messages. However, we experienced no problems with our second attempt. 

Our next order of business is to replace this slow Corsair drive with something much faster. We’ll provide an update with our SSD to SSD clone.

Visit NTI to get more information about Echo 3 and system requirements.

Best PC Case Fans For High Performance Cooling and Low Noise

We’ve been testing a variety of 80mm, 92mm and 120mm fans. The goal was to find the fans that moved the most amount of air while making the least amount of noise. We also only looked at PWM fans so we could dial in cooling performance while minimizing the overall decibel level of the fans. We highly recommend PWM fans if your motherboard supports it. It’s a much better way to dial in the optimal settings to maximize cooling while minimizing noise.

For example, a motherboard may offer 4 classes of cooling performance such as low noise, balanced, performance and full speed. In balanced mode you’ll start hearing the fans but it’s usually unobtrusive. As you ramp up to performance speeds and above it can get very loud, especially with more robust designs that are rated at higher RPMs.

We’ve found that well designed fans that rotate at 2700RPM or lower are generally unobtrusive and quiet. So, if you don’t have the ability to control the fan speed and will be using 3 pin connectors and noise is an issue, you should keep this in mind.

All of the fans we looked at were capable of high RPMs and if not controlled properly will operate at the highest speed. We don’t recommend this approach as it leads to more noise and more airflow than is necessary for proper cooling.

For example, when we boot a Supermicro workstation with a 92mm Delta exhaust fans, 2 Nidec CPU fans and 4 Sanyo Denki mid-case fans it sounds like a small aircraft. However, once the system completes the boot sequence and launches windows it fades into the background as the fans are operating well below the maximum rated output.

If your PC case can accommodate a 120mm fan you’re in luck because the larger the fan, the lower the RPM required to move the same amount of air compared to a smaller fan. So, generally, large 120mm fans are pretty quiet. Even when operating at high RPMs these fans do not produce the whine of smaller fans.

However, not all fans are created equal. There are ball bearing fans and sleeve bearing fans, plus various fin and housing parts that can all be tweaked for maximum performance with the least amount of noise. Ball bearing designs tend to be the most robust whle sleeve bearing designs can be quieter. There are some other design considerations but overall we were happy with the ball bearing designs from our preferred vendors.

When choosing a case fan we recommend the following brands for maximum performance and robust designs: Nidec, Delta, Skythe, Sanyo Denko and Cooljag/Everflow. These are the same suppliers you’ll find in high end workstations and telecommunications gear. The parts cost a little more but it’s worth it. You’ll get better CFM ratings with lower decibel levels and higher MTBF ratings. And that’s what we want. Lots of air, less noise, longer life.

FrozenCPU and SuperBiiz are just a couple of online sellers we’ve had a good experience with. They both offer a wide variety of parts at reasonable prices and SuperBiiz often includes shipping.

Good luck and keep it cool!

Visit Scythe for more information.
Visit Nidec for more information.
Visit Delta for more information.
Vist Sanyo Denki for more information.
Cooljag/Everflow for more information.

TP-LINK TL-WR1043NDT Wireless Router Review

TP-LINK is making a good name for itself as it aspires to be one of the top three networking companies serving the SOHO market. The TL-WR1043NDT is a good example of why the company is so competitive.

The TL-WR1043ND 300Mbps billed as the “Ultimate Wireless N Gigabit Router” offers incredible value and performance in a small footprint that will be equally at home inside or outside a wiring closet. We popped it in a small Leviton box.

We replaced a D-Link DIR-655 Xtreme N Gigabit Router with the TP-LINK TL-WR1043NDT and instantly experienced more reliable performance. The two products resemble each other in design and features and we wouldn’t be surprised if TP-LINK was an OEM for D-Link.

Compared to the DIR-655 the TL-WR1043ND has a cleaner software interface and can be flashed with open source software such as DD-WRT. We tested it streaming media via a Synology NAS to a smart TV and it was noticeably faster than the D-LINK. Web browsing while moving large files via FTP was still pretty snappy. 

Primarily the biggest difference compared to the D-LINK DIR-655 wasn’t peak levels of performance but rather a consistent level of sustained and predictable performance. The TL-WR1043NDT works well and doesn’t randomly drop connections very often. We got kicked offline randomly only once during our testing and found the TL-WR1043NDT to be a very stable router.

With a street price currently hovering about $50 you simply can’t go wrong with the TP-LINK TL-WR1043NDT. It offers outstanding value and upgradability with a straightforward and easy to use design.

Check out all the specs and learn mor about TP-LINK here.

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