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  • As you know from the podcast, I do not really believe that the Z68 chipset offers me personally any real advantage in my particular use case. That being said, I did decide to buy one for a recent board replacement.  The main reason I got this board was to change out the P67 Sabertooth in my main system.  Don't get me wrong, the Sabertooth is a great board but in my particular setup, I was running into some difficulties which combined together got the better of me.

     

    The main areas that pushed over the edge in replacing a very good board were some sporadic USB issues, lockups, and most recently wake on lan issues.  Lets start with the USB issues.  I ran into several devices that just would not be recognized or work correctly.  Of late, none of the apple devices would sync correctly, I tried my iPhone, iPad, and iPad 2.  Second, there were the lockups.  As I reported in an earlier podcast, lockups started after the installation of the Vertex 3 and were for the most part where minimized by the removal of the Intel rapid storage drivers.  That being said, the system did still periodically lock up and upon doing research, it seemed to be more of a Vertex 3 issue but I needed to rule out the possibility of it being the Asus board as I was having other issues.  Lastly, and most frustrating, was my inability to use wake on lan.  Despite having an Intel based lan controller which are one of the most compatible and fastest out there, I could not get the system to work with wake on lan.  I even tried a plug in network controller to no avail.  The BIOS would simply block it.  I went through every setting in the BIOS at least a dozen times and tried every combo I could think of and still could not get it to work.  My other 7 systems all worked without fail and without the need to make any adjustments at all.  There were other small things like certain cards not fitting due the armor cover but in the end I decided it was time to go a different direction and part ways with the Sabertooth.  I am very picky when it comes to things working correctly and stability/compatibility are number one followed closely by speed.

     

    Since I use two computers on a daily basis, both of these had been upgraded to sandy bridge at the same time, one using an Asus Sabertooth and the other using a Gigabyte GA-P67A-USB3.  Since that upgrade, the gigabyte has run absolutely solid so I decided to replace the Asus with a Gigabyte board to see if I could resolve some of these issues .  I chose the GA-Z68X-UD4-B3 for the job.  I thought since this board was actually on sale, it would make sense to use the most current chipset, the Z68.

     

    P1010722

     

     

     

    I opted for the UD4 because on this system I have no interest in HDMI output, this board has more sata ports and the board has more USB ports (USB 2 and USB 3)..  All USB 2.0 ports on this board are 3X power so I can charge my iPad, and the rest are USB 3 ports.

     

    Impressions

     

    To cut right to the chase, this board did not disappoint.  It made realize why I have been a Gigabyte fanboy for years now.  The build quality was outstanding but that is expected nowadays, and the system went together smoothly.  When you boot and go into the BIOS, you are quickly reminded that you are not running an Asus board.  Gigabyte uses a hybrid BIOS which runs the same conventional BIOS look and feel of the last 10 years versus the new GUI based EFI BIOS that Asus uses.  Honestly, my initial impression of the Asus BIOS were pretty good however the navigation and novelty quickly wears off to the point that it does not matter which you are running.  Once your BIOS is set, you typically do not go too much into it so having a pretty interface did not matter much.  Don’t get me wrong, it is very cool, but in the end there are other things that are far more important.

     

    The first thing I noticed is that despite having the hybrid BIOS, the Gigabyte board actually booted faster than the Asus did by a few seconds.  The other thing that happened that I did not expect is that the sound quality (especially from headphones) was much better and much cleaner than what I had with the Sabertooth.  This was a surprise as I was almost getting used to the scratchiness of the Asus board.  The differences is noticeable in both speakers and headphones but is more pronounced when playing on my Bose  headphones.  It goes without saying that the wake on lan worked flawlessly without the need for any adjustments.  USB issues seem to be behind me as well and everything seems to work as it should except of course the periodic lock caused by the Vertex 3.

     

    When I saw that I was still having the same lock up issue after the board change, I did more research and contacted OCZ.  It appears there are issues with all Sanforce 2281 6/Gig SSD’s.  OCZ is down playing it however they confirmed they have reproduced the problem and are awaiting a fix from Sanforce so I guess there is hope and I will have to wait it out.  This news did not thrill me as I happen to love the performance of the Vertex 3 however I love stability even more.  Long story short, I put my Vertex 2 back in and the lock up issues went away.

     

    The install of the Vertex 2 along with my new motherboard has returned me to a happy place.  I have regained the stability that we all strive for in our systems and so far it has been a great experience.  As for the Z68 upgrade, I have not changed my mind as if offers very little, and in my case  absolutely nothing.  The SSD caching sounds cool but I am running 3 SSD drives in the system so the entire system is operating on SSD’s except for a backup drive I use for Acronis backups, so the SSD caching will not help me. In a nut shell I am very happy I bought this board and in the future will most likely stay with Gigabyte.  As pretty as the Sabertooth was, the outside armor proved to be more trouble than it was worth and the small quirks it exhibited just did not meet my expectations.  The performance, stability, and hopefully reliability of the new UD4 will keep me happy for quite some time (or least till my next upgrade).  As for my decision to get Z68 over the P67, I feel I made the right choice but only because the pricing was right and who knows if might be useful in the future..  In closing I want to reiterate that I am not Asus bashing and that there are 1000’s of people running there product without any issues, so just because I had some annoyances does not mean you should not consider them in your final choice.  Let’s face it, we all have brand loyalty but for me, the minor issues I had with the Asus board will cause me to think twice before my next purchase.   As for the Vertex 3, I will keep you posted as I am waiting for the official OCZ ruling/RMA pending the release of the new firmware to address these issues.

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  • Our picks

    • I throw this out every once in a while.  Is anyone interested in writing up "semi-formal" reviews here on the forums?  I say semi-formal because they don't have to be pro level, just a good attempt at telling the story about the gear.  Something you have purchased lately.  You don't have to go buy stuff, just incorporate what you have already have purchased.  Hit me up with any questions.  You never know where it will lead!
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      • 3 replies
    • D-Link has dropped a couple of new products and additions to their lineup of smart home gear.  Hold on because there is a lot of gear!
      Let's start with cameras.  D-Link has new Wi-Fi cameras, the Full HD Pan and Tilt Pro Wi-Fi Camera (DCS-8302LH) and Full HD Indoor and Outdoor Pro Wi-Fi Camera (DCS-8526LH).  These are not just new, and good looking cams, they can now perform people detection and glass break detection.  The new cameras also feature expanded ways for customers to save video, including ONVIF Profile S, which enables custom storage and streaming options to personal NAS devices, built-in storage microSD capacity up to 256 GB, as well as free and paid cloud storage options. 
       

       
      This year's camera models include both an indoor and an outdoor model. The outdoor model features a spotlight and siren that can be triggered when motion is detected, deterring potential intruders. The indoor model pans around to give a full 360-degree view of any room and tracks motion. Both include two-way audio. 
      Full HD Pan and Tilt Pro Wi-Fi Camera is the model (DCS-8302LH), available in Q2, 2020, and retail pricing will be $99.99.
      Full HD Indoor and Outdoor Pro Wi-Fi Camera is the model (DCS-8526LH), available in Q3, 2020, and retail pricing will be $119.99.
      One of my favorite products is Wi-Fi.  D-Link has a whole lot of new products coming including Wi-Fi 6, Mesh, Alexa and Google Assistant integration, IFTTT, Parental Controls, and more!
       

       
      There are so many new SKU's that I can't make heads or tails of them!  I'm going to be speaking with D-Link more this week and will sort all of these out. I do want you to see all they are offering and what the release date and projected retail pricing will be.

      AC1900 Scalable Mesh Wi-Fi Router (COVR-1900-US), Q1 2020, $119.99
      AC1750 Mesh Wi-Fi Router (DIR-1750-US), Q1 2020, $99.99
      AC1900 Mesh Wi-Fi Router (DIR-1950-US), Q1 2020, $119.99
      AC1750 Mesh Wi-Fi Range Extender (DAP-1755-US), Q1 2020, $99.99
      AC1950 Mesh Wi-Fi Range Extender (DAP-1955-US), Q1 2020, $109.99
      Smart AX1500 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 Router (DIR-X1560-US), Q1 2020, $119.99
      Smart AX1800 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 Router (DIR-X1870-US), Q2 2020, $139.99
      Smart AX2400 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 Router (DIR-X2460-US), Q3 2020, $159.99
      Smart AX5400 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 Router (DIR-X5460-US), Q1 2020, $279.99
      AX1800 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 Range Extender (DAP-X1870-US), Q2 2020, $129.99
      AX1800 Whole Home Mesh System (COVR-X1872-US), QX22020, $269.99
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      • 0 replies
    • RESET Merch Shop
      Get ya Merch here!  I've created a T-Shirt shop with the famous RESET paperclip. I've pasted that clip on just about everything so you can wear it around town!  Cable bags, Coffee Mugs, T-Shirts, and more. 
       
      https://reset.threadless.com/
       
      or you can get it it via
       
      https://reset.fm/store
       
      Here is the main design.
       

       
      Below is a part of the order that I put in!  
       
       

       
      The Heather Grey above is the Extra Soft version and it is awesome.  I highly recommend the softness!    The "Chili Red" is the Tri-Blend and probably my favorite feel and color.

       
      This is the Zip-Up Hoody, Heather Indigo, Sponge Fleece, Men's, Large.  In my podcast I couldn't remember what style it was but it is Sponge Fleece. It's REALLY soft on the inside. Soft outside as well. The only problem is with the zip up hoody the logo is on the back. Regular hoody, it will be on the front.
       
      https://reset.threadless.com/
       
      or you can get it it via
       
      https://reset.fm/store
       
      Thank you for supporting this community. Everything you purchase will help keep the lights on the hard drives spinning.
       
      • 0 replies
    • OneDrive Personal Vault and expandable storage
      Microsoft's OneDrive has a few new features and options worth pointing out.  Personal Vault and Expandable Storage.
       
      Personal Vault is a protected area in OneDrive that can only be accessed with a strong authentication method or a second step of identity verification, such as your fingerprint, face, PIN, or a code sent to you via email or SMS. 
       
      Personal Vault gives you an added layer of protection for your most important files, photos, and videos—for example, copies of documents such as your passport, driver’s license, or insurance information—should someone gain access to your account or device.
      Plus, this added security won’t slow you down. You can quickly access your important documents, photos, and files with confidence wherever you are, on your PC, OneDrive.com, or your mobile device.

       
      Beyond a second layer of identity verification, Personal Vault also includes the following security measures:
       
      Scan and shoot—Using the OneDrive app, you can scan documents or shoot photos directly into your Personal Vault, keeping them off less secure areas of your device, like your camera roll.
      Automatic locking—No need to worry about whether you left your Personal Vault or your files open—both will close and lock automatically after a period of inactivity.
      BitLocker encryption—On Windows 10 PCs, OneDrive automatically syncs your Personal Vault files to a BitLocker-encrypted area of your local hard drive.
      Restricted sharing—To prevent accidental sharing, files in Personal Vault and shared items moved into Personal Vault cannot be shared.
       
      Taken together, these security measures help ensure that Personal Vault files are not stored unprotected on your PC, and your files have additional protection, even if your Windows 10 PC or mobile device is lost, stolen, or someone gains access to it or to your account.
       
      Expandable Storage
       
      If you are and Office 365 Subscriber you get 1 TB of OneDrive storage space with all the other Office goodies like Word, Excel, etc.  I know personally that I have gone over the 1TB limit and have always wanted to be able to add additional storage to my account.  Now you can!

       
      Pick and option and keep on hoarding, errr, I mean saving! Cancel anytime, upgrade at any moment.
      • 1 reply
    • Ubiquiti adds new items to the Unifi Line including UAP Flex HD and the Unifi Dream machine
      Ubiquiti has been busy.  There area ton of new items to recently released and I'm going to share two of my favorites.
       
      The UAP Flex HD and the Unifi Dream machine. The Flex HD is a mouthful of descriptors like most of UI gear is.  It's a 2Ghz 2x2 MIMO, 5GHz 4x4 MU-MIMO, POE, Indoor/Outdoor, multi mount, mesh point that is no bigger than a can of Coke.

       
      You will still need the Unifi controller although you can configure it with basic functionality with the Unifi App.  I've always found it's best to configure with your controller and then use the app as an add-on.  There are several mounting options that include sitting it on a shelf! That is something that Unifi has not had before unless you count the ceiling AP I have awkwardly mounted placed on top of a few books.  It can be found on the Unifi store for $179.
       
      https://store.ui.com/collections/wireless/products/unifi-flexhd
       
      The Dream Machine is an altogether different beast that I hope lives up to its naming.  This is the gateway drug, for lack of a better term, to the Unifi world.  The starter kit.  It is an Access Point, Gigabit Switch, Security Gateway, and the Cloud Key all in one package.  The latter being the most significant as this is something that has deterred new users from getting started with Unifi.  Requiring new users to purchase a $100 item just to run the AP's has been somewhat of a roadblock in the past.  Granted, that is improving every year with the ability to run it in the cloud, on a NAS, a Pi, Docker, MacOS, and of course Windows, it is still a barricade to getting up and running when manufacturers such as Eero offer simplicity in an app.
       

       
      The switch includes 4 LAN Ports and 1 WAN port.  All of which are Gigabit and security services such as IPS are rated at Gigabit speed. It's $299 in the Unifi store but I'm unsure how nicely it will play with other Unifi gear.  This may be a nice "first AP" with its built in Cloud Key if you can add additional units or other Unifi access points.
       
      https://store.ui.com/collections/routing-switching/products/unifi-dream-machine
      • 4 replies
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