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Monoprice 5.1 Satellite Home Theater Speaker
By iamApropos in iamApropos 4Select 5.1 Channel Home Theater Satellite Speakers & Subwoofer
I used a Pioneer 700W 5.1 channel Home Theater Receiver when testing these speakers. Arranging the speakers around the room was easy as the satellites are very small.
(Monoprice provided this product free for review purposes.)
I tested the speakers with playing games, music and movies. With the subwoofer I used the single dedicated mono LFW input. When the system first kicked on I was instantly impressed with how clear and bright the satellite speakers were as well as how much punch the subwoofer produced.
30 watts maximum input power3" paper cone woofer with rubber surround0.5" PEI tweeter90Hz ~ 20kHz frequency response8 ohms nominal impedanceSubwoofer Specifications:
Built-in 200-watt power amplifierPorted cabinet with forward firing driver8" paper cone woofer with rubber surround40Hz ~ 1.3kHz frequency response46 ~ 250 Hz variable low pass crossoverPlaying music for the first day included genres of classic rock, 1940's and 50's swing / jitterbug, Blues, Country, R&B, Rap, EDM and Pop. I had a difficult time trying to find a setting on the subwoofer because some music such as Country and Pop the bass was too much and was overbearing making other frequencies muddy yet with other music such as EDM and RAP it was hard hitting and provided a good punch.
Gaming the bass from the subwoofer was intense and gave extra depth to the experience. The satellite speakers provided amazing clarity and soundstage giving me situational awareness I didn't expect.
Movie night gave a good chance to show what these speakers can do. Played Top Gun to get the feel of the surround as the jets flew across and over head. The bass from the subwoofer gave depth to the sound of action movies however it once again needed adjusting for less dramatic movies. I found that as long as the center channel was pointed directly at the listener and the surrounding speakers were placed correctly the sound stage for most movies was shockingly open, spacious, and had you kind of wanting to look around at the different noises happening around the room.
Aside from needing to adjust the subwoofer volume / frequency for each application of audio whether it be gaming, music, movies as well as not maxing out the volume on the subwoofer I couldn't find many things to complain about these speakers. The Satellites provide a bright clear high that isn't harsh or glaring as well as a steady firm mid range in which the subwoofer picks up the lower end of the mid range and all of the bass. The bass of the Subwoofer can be overbearing at times but with tweaking it hits hard with a great punch and full depth of sound.
Satellite speakers are small and easy to conceal.
None descriptive making it easy to blend with nearly any decor
Threaded mount on satellite speakers give extra options for speaker placement
Multiple different jacks for connecting audio to the subwoofer.
Subwoofer bass can muddle and or drown out audio.
Difficult to find a good balance setting for the subwoofer between music, movies, gaming as the bass for one thing may be overbearing for another.
Maxing out the frequency range and volume on the subwoofer caused artifacts with bass heavy audio.
You can find these speakers here:http://www.monoprice.com/product?c_id=109&cp_id=10906&cs_id=1090601&p_id=13773&seq=1&format=2 If you'd like to discuss this review or have any questions about the speakers please join the conversation on the forums here: Here are the photos of the connections on the speakers and the clearance of the subwoofer:
Pull Apart Garlic Cheesy Sourdough Loaf!
By iamApropos in iamApropos 2Over on instagram I saw some photos that Janettwokay had posted of what her daughter made:
as you can see this looks amazing so I had to give it a try!
I started this journey by going to the Central Market here in San Antonio. Locally this market has the biggest selection of cheese and fresh baked breads so I figured it'd be the best place to choose the ingredients I'd need to make this cheesy garlic deliciousness.
With so many cheeses to choose from the selection was difficult but I decided to go simple as its my first time trying this recipe. I ended up getting some fresh mozzarella and mild cheddar I felt the blend would give some contrasting flavors along with the garlic I was going to add.
Picking out the loaf of bread was probably the most difficult part of this selection process because Central market has so many different
types to choose from. Sourdough, durum sourdough, french loaf, italian loaf and many more. I think you can understand my dilemma. After discussing with the baker what I was planning to do with the loaf I was directed into choosing the popular Sourdough loaf as it is sturdy enough to handle the slices I'm preparing to do.
I felt grating my cheese was the best option as I can get smaller bits of grated cheese deeper into the cuts of the bread. I ended up regretting that as I'll cover later.
You want to cut rows approximately half an inch to an inch apart in both directions. This provides you with crisscrossing rows in which you'll stuff your cheese into.
When I mentioned before I ended up regretting that I shredded the cheese well here you can kind of see why. If I would have used thin slices of cheese instead I would have been able to wedge them between the rows far easier than trying to squish shredded cheese into the rows. Even with that minor problem it still went fairly well. Slowly but surely I started from one end of the loaf and gently opened each row and fit as much cheese in as possible.
I melted 1/4 cup butter with minced garlic and drizzled that on top of each row of cheese. Preheat the oven to 350f, wrap the loaf up with tin foil and bake for 20 minutes.
Pull apart Garlic Cheesy Sourdough Loaf!
This stuff is perfect for a gathering where you can put this in the middle of a table and hand everyone little plates to tear off chunks as everyone socializes. You could make a garlic mayo sauce or even a sriracha mayo dipping sauce to go with this but as it is this pull apart garlic cheesy sourdough loaf is amazing!
If you plan on trying this recipe or have any questions about any step to this recipe feel free to join the conversation on our forums here:
Enjoy and I look forward to sharing my next blog with you soon!
Sapphire NITRO R7 370 review
By iamApropos in iamApropos 2Sapphire Nitro R7 370 Radeon Graphics Card. I'm calling it "The Step Up". Just like my previous article about the Sapphire Nitro R7 360 Radeon graphics card I'll be approaching this review differently. I wont be focusing on raw performance rather I'll be discussing my experience, how I used the card and which games I was able to play at settings that allowed for smooth game play. Your mileage may vary but hopefully I'll provide a good understanding of what you can expect from this piece of hardware. I'll also be sharing some tips I was able to get from discussing gaming and graphics cards during my interview I had with Ed Crisler from Sapphire Technologies.
Specs of the system used for this review:
Monitor: BenQ XL2411 24'' 144hz
CPU: AMD FX 9590 Stock Speeds
MB: ASUS ROG Crosshair V Formula Z
Memory: 16gb (2x8gb) 1600mhz
SSD: Samsung 840 240gb
PSU: Fractal Design Newton 1000w
Latest AMD Catalyst Drivers: 15.201.1151-150821a-188665E
Methodology of testing:
I tested each game by using Automated graphics settings when available and ran through roughly an hour or 2 of gaming. When available I'd run the games benchmark and see if the game was playable. More often than not the benchmark would indicate playable frame rates yet settings would need to be adjusted slightly to make it smooth. Just like the previous review of the R7 360 this Sapphire Nitro R7 370 Radeon graphics card is focused towards 1080p 60hz users. Also I used this card for two weeks while I did my live gaming broadcasts on twitch.
One thing I wanted to point out is the SPI - Sapphire Performance Index. Sapphire uses this to index the performance of their cards and this specific card is SPI 2 "The SAPPHIRE NITRO R7 370 has a SPI rating of 2 and offers accessible gaming, allows 1080p performance with reduce detail levels while maintaining a good gaming experience."
SAPPHIRE NITRO R7 370 4G D5
2 Slot 8.31x4.38x1.42 (Inch)
1024 Stream Processors
256 bit Memory Bus
4096 MB GDDR5
Power Consumption: 150W
1 x DVI-I
1 x DVI-D
1 x HDMI
1 x DisplayPort
500 Watt power supply suggested
1 x 6-pin AUX Power Connecter
2 x 6-pin AUX Power Connected is required for CrossFireX
Packaging comes with driver CD (Recommended to download most recent drivers instead of using the CD), VGA to DVI adapter and manual.
That NITRO color scheme is very appealing and some what neutral for most builds.
Showing the 6pin AUX power conneciton.
I went ahead and used the same game line up from testing the Sapphire Nitro R7 360. This'll allow me to indicate some of the differences in settings that "The Step Up" R7 370 will give and still maintain smooth game play. Free to play games first so lets get started.
League of Legends:
Just like previous testing revealed League of Legends is more CPU dependent than GPU but maxing out the settings with the system I'm using:
The game play at maxed settings was enjoyable
Even during massive group team battles I never saw stuttering and never noticed the any major frame drops.
World of Warships:
I've become slightly addicted to this game as I've used this Sapphire Nitro R7 370 Radeon graphics card to go from tier 3 to tier 5 over the last couple weeks.
Being able to max out the settings and have it be very smooth game play the difference now is that with the R7 360 close combat showed a noticeable difference in frame dips but with this Sapphire Nitro R7 370 Radeon graphics card you'll see in the next picture some difference.
In this combat situation taking shells, on fire, and water exploding next to the ship the game play stayed smooth and the frame rate hardly ever dipped drastic enough to be noticeable.
Guild Wars 2:
With HoT being launched I felt this would be a great game to re test as you can see the settings now can be put on High with some set to medium, turning shadows to none and Character Model Limit to Medium as well as Character Model Quality to Medium.
The next shot is me running around doing events and quests:
Doing events around maps this game ran with these settings was enjoyable however places such as Lions Arch or big action packed battles I did notice stuttering and couldn't find any setting that would improve upon that. Even running this card at the same settings I ran the R7 360 those dips still happened however R7 370 still played smoother at higher settings during all other game play.
We've Covered a few of the same Free to play games as I did last time so now lets see if there was any difference in some of the similar AAA titles including the beta of Star Wars Battlefront.
This game has some of the best visuals and I still love jumping in and watching as destruction happens to buildings around me. Here are the settings the R7 370 allowed me to play smoothly:
As you can see the Auto setting turns on the High presets, giving me a little more detail and visual enjoyment.
The explosion is C4 blowing up a car which typically would cause major noticeable frame changes yet as the destruction unfolded around me the game still played smooth and I didn't notice any major dips in performance.
Going down the Battlefield list here are the lettings Auto put the game at:
Once again just like with BF4 I the preset for AUTO has moved the settings to High again giving some extra visual goodness to the game.
Next screen cap is of some action happening as I was a gunner in a helicopter taking small arms fire:
I ended up getting so immersed into the game that I didn't want to stop playing!
Dragon Age Inquisition:
I once again used the automatic settings and this is what it was set to:
Seeing a trend that using the Auto setting with the Sapphire NITRO R7 370 puts the settings on High with Tessellation on Medium. A game play shot reveals some great visuals and the game play was once again overall smooth.
The game looked great though I'd recommend running the game without shadows or tessellation to encourage smoother game play as well as fewer dips in performance.
Checking out this great rally game again Auto presets are once again what I used:
I ran the benchmark in this game to give myself an idea of how it should perform in game races:
Just comparing the benchmark between the R7 360 and this R7 370 the MAX was lower though the minimum and average were significantly higher. What I experienced was a visually more appealing game with the higher settings and very smooth game play during races.
Shadows of Morder:
Now the auto settings are again what I used and this time I was able to play with Tessellation turned on:
There is definitely some noticeable performance improvements going with the R7 370 and this time the benchmark was indicative of the game play:
Though the numbers indicate lower performance with higher settings and more graphic settings enabled if you recall I wasn't able to play the game with Tessellation turned on with the R7 360 however with the R7 370 I can enable Tessellation and have higher graphics settings and still have a very smooth gaming experience with greater noticeable visuals.
This game is very difficult to run and even with this R7 370 I still needed to run the game at low settings however frame rate was higher and some what more stable:
Make sure that Hair works is disabled and shadows are low or turned off will help tremendously in your ability to play this game with the Sapphire NITRO R7 370.
Star Wars Battlefront Beta:
I've been so hyped about this game and so ready to play it that I had to take the time and include this for those of you whom maybe interested. Knowing this was beta and performance may change on launch this can give you a good indication of what to expect.
Auto preset put the settings at Medium and I played all modes available but Hoth seemed to be the most visually aggressive:
Running around as a storm trooper the game played wonderfully smooth even with thermal detonators were exploding near me.
Jumping into an AT-ST to rain down terror and destruction to the rebels the R7 370 never skipped a beat. Next I had to get into the air.
Flying around in a Tie Fighter with no major performance dips. Had to test a few other air vehicles before moving on:
Then I went back to the ground units for further testing:
If the Star Wars Battlefront beta was any indication of performance then rest assured the Sapphire NITRO R7 370 will be able to handle the game wonderfully!
I encourage you to check out the live interview discussion with Sapphire Technologies very own Ed Crisler. We discuss these graphics cards, gaming, and give tips on how to improve your gaming experience:
After having my eyes opened by the R7 360 I was excited to test I was excited to see what this R7 370 had to offer. Going through just the short list of games I provided in this article doesn't do it justice as I played many others and had a great time doing so. I call this "The Step Up" graphics card because it bring that extra raw performance with higher graphics settings step up from the R7 360. Sapphire doesn't over hype the card and in fact with their Sapphire Index Rating they nailed it on the head giving it a rating of 2:
"The SAPPHIRE NITRO R7 370 has a SPI rating of 2 and offers accessible gaming, allow 1080p performance with reduced detail levels while maintaining a good gaming experience."
Being that I stream live on twitch it is a necesity that I'm able to use more than one monitor easily and that is an added bonus this card features as it has DVI-I and DVI-D allowing me to easily connect both monitors I have. I was able to live broadcast for 2 weeks with this graphics card and I'm almost ashamed to say it but nearly didn't miss my main GPU.
Thank you Sapphire Technologies for providing this card for review and if you enjoyed this review!
Join the community on the forms to discuss this article and or if you have any questions leave them on the forums here:
Now That's What's Up!!!
Sapphire Nitro R7 360 Radeon Graphics Card Review
By iamApropos in iamApropos 7Sapphire Nitro R7 360 Radeon Graphics Card is what I'll be covering in this article. Not too many years ago if you were looking for a budget oriented graphics card you had to be aware of which games you could and or couldn't play. I'll be approaching this review a little differently in the sense that I'll be covering which settings I used to be able to make games playable for me. Your mileage may vary but this will give someone a general idea of what they can look forward to when gaming with this graphics card. I ranged the game selection from MOBA league of Legends to triple A titles such as Witcher 3. I'll be including screen shots of settings I used as well as one of either the benchmark results or action screen shot during game play.
The system I used to test:
Monitor: BenQ XL2411 24'' 144hz
CPU: AMD FX 9590 Stock Speeds
MB: ASUS ROG Crosshair V formula Z
Memory: 16gb (2x8gb) 1600mhz
SSD: Samsung 840 240gb SSD
PSU: Fractal Design 1000W Newton
Using the latest AMD Catalyst drivers: 15.7.1
How I tested each game was by using Automated settings for graphics when available and ran about an hour of gaming in each game. When a game had a built in Benchmark I'd test the benchmark at medium or high and then do game play and found sometimes the benchmark would indicate game play would be good yet actual game play under those settings wasn't smooth and needed to be adjusted. My thinking behind this card is that its focused towards 1080p 60hz gaming so that is what I tried to keep in mind when trying to find optimal settings for smooth game play at 60 FPS or lower. Some of the games I tested I wasn't able to reach 60+ frame rate however with some settings changed I was able to maintain a consistent frame rates that made gaming enjoyable for me.
Sapphire Nitro R7 360 Radeon ITX Compact PCI Express 3.0 Dual Slot Single Fan Graphics Card.
Dimensions 8.31(L) x 4.38(H)
2GB DDR5 Vram
Core Clock 1060Mhz
768 Stream Processors
500 Watt or higher power supply is suggested
1 x 6-pin AUX Power connector
2 x 6-pin AUX Power connector is required for Crossfire
External Connectors -
1 x DVI Output
1 x HDMI Output
1 x Display Port Output
With too many games available to test here are a handful of popular free to play and triple A titles I tested.
Keep in mind your mileage may vary as your system may differ from mine. I'll go through the Free to Play games first.
League of Legends
A very popular online game, here is the screen shot of my settings:
The next screen shot is mid battle while playing an ARAM All Random All Mid:
During a battle like this in ARAM the Sapphire Nitro R7 360 was at 90%+ usage and the frame rate barely ever dropped under 170. Do understand League of legends is more CPU dependent so depending on which CPU you pair with this graphics card your performance may vary.
Fast action First Person Shooter Dirty Bomb! Here is the screen shot of the settings I found that allowed me to play the game smoothly:
The next shot even though it is of me a split second after I died it'll indicate that at the settings I used the game hovers just around 60 frames per second and game play was very smooth:
World of Warships:
I've recently been getting into this game so I figured I should let everyone know how well this Sapphire Nitro R7 360 handles it.
Here is the settings screen shot:
The next screen shot shows off one of the games Aircraft Carriers while under attack:
The settings I chose allowed for great game play and only very seldom did frame rate dip bellow 45 when massive close combat and explosions happened. It seems no matter what settings I chose, turned down or off, I couldn't find any way to prevent frame dips during close combat or heavy nearby explosions.
Guild Wars 2:
This game just recently went free to play and is preparing to launch an expansion so I figured I'd throw it in the list as well.
Here are the settings I found the game to be most playable at:
Lions Arch is one of the places in Guild Wars 2 that typically gives any computer a difficult time with Frame Rate.
In the next screen shot I ran around doing some events as well:
I was able to maintain smooth enough frame rate with good enough graphics settings to enjoy Guild Wars 2 leveling about doing events and taking in the beauty of the game.
At the settings I used the frame rate stayed around 55-60fps and very seldom fluctuated lower than that unless giant battles took place that make even higher end systems have problems.
Now that we've covered a handful of Free to Play games lets look at some of the AAA titles that you maybe wondering how this little Sapphire Nitro R7 360 graphics card will fair.
I'll start with one of my favorites and then go into more recently released games.
I really love the look of this game and enjoy playing the multiplayer so here are the settings I used that made it enjoyable to play multiplayer for me:
This next screen shot is just after jumping out of a helicopter and emptying my weapons clip into an enemy:
I tried playing Battlefield 4 with higher graphic video settings but it became choppy and made game play not as enjoyable. When using the settings I've shown I was able to get lost into game play and found myself needing to cut my testing time so I could get more games tested.
This is the most recent Battlefield release and I find it quite fun to play cops n robbers!
Here are the settings I use for this game:
Jumping into Battlefield Hardline with these settings allowed me the smooth game play I need to enjoy this game. Once again found myself respawning as I wanted just another couple minutes of play time before moving to the next game. The frame rate with these settings stayed upwards of 60FPS only dipping slightly during heavy battles and explosions.
Dragon Age Inquisition:
When this game launched it was one of my absolute favorites and I could spend countless hours playing it so I figured I needed to add this to the review.
I found using the automatic selection is what I needed to use in order to play the game smoothly:
As I continued testing different games such as this one the Sapphire Nitro R7 360 kept surprising me:
With the automatic settings selected the frame rate was smooth enough for me to get lost in Dragon Age Inquisition!
Some of you may really enjoy racing games and Dirt Rally being the latest release I had to add it.
Auto presets is what I needed to use in order to enjoy Dirt Rally because when I went in and tried to change individual settings the game play became un playable to me.
The benchmark as you can see shows a really high average frame rate but also very low minimum. When I used the same settings and went into actual game play I did not ever notice the minimum dips in frame rate. If they did happen it was so quick I didn't catch it.
Shadows of Mordor:
For those of you that love this genre and I being one of them I had to add this game to my list.
When I chose Auto Config for video settings the game bench marked well enough which made me think it should be playable in actual game play however it wasn't. All I needed to change in order to make it playable was disable Tesselation:
Once I disabled Tessellation the benchmark improved as well did the game play:
What happened when disabling tessellation was it kept the frame rate from drastically dropping during battle scenes. I could probably have turned off or lowered something else but I liked the way the game looked and played at these settings.
Last but not least this game has been known for how amazing it looks and how difficult it is to run. I tried it on Medium graphics settings first and it was absolutely unplayable for me.
However it was very playable and enjoyable when I switched it to low settings with hair works off:
Even on low settings I found the game absolutely beautiful and caught myself getting swept away into wanting to spend hours enjoying the game:
With low settings and hair works off the frame rate was the lowest of all the games I tested averaging around 30-35fps however as I mentioned before it was playable.
As I hinted at in the beginning of this article there use to be a time when you had to worry about which games a budget oriented card wasn't going to be able to play. Those times are gone. I spent many hours playing a wide range of games using this Sapphire R7 360 and even though I had to turn down settings to medium or lower in some instances, I was still able to find settings that would allow me to play the game and get sucked into game play rather than trying to look for graphic details. I could have tested countless other games and or hand picked only games that only showed performing with high frame rate. What I wanted to show was how surprised I was that not only did this graphics card handle any free to play game I wanted to play but it allowed me to step into nearly any AAA title game. The small form factor of this card will allow someone to build a budget oriented gaming system and enjoy gaming without any frills or gimmicks usually associated with "gaming" products. This card has opened my eyes and I hope it has yours too. If you're looking for a small form factor budget oriented 1080p graphics card to push your 60hz monitor than this may be the card you want to look at.
Thank you to Sapphire for providing this card for review and look forward to my next article reviewing the Sapphire Nitro R7 370 Radeon Graphics Card.
Let me know what you thought of this review by joining the discussion on our forums here:
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