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Technology Today - Building Your Own Computer and EnGenius Mesh Update

By Robert Sanborn

Asus Prime Mainboard

For many years, building your own computer was pretty easy. You decide on a processor, then find out how many pins it uses, select nearly any motherboard that holds that processor, pick your memory based on DDR2, or DDR3 and be sure that nearly anything you select will work.

Not any more. In my years of building computers, I would always use Intel Mainboards and processors. Intel processors because of their higher reliability over the AMD options; and the Intel mainboards because they were very stable and reliable. I cannot recall ever needing to send one or the other back because of a problem.  Intel gave up the mainboard business to my disappointment and so now I have settled on Asus as my number one brand. Again, reliability and the quality of features and updates.

But now it gets more complicated. My latest project, I select a motherboard based on the features and size; in this case a micro-atx form factor. It tells me that the socket for the processor has 1151 pins.  Lots of Intel processors have 1151 pins and the first snag is that you need to go to the Asus product page site to see which processor is supported. With or without graphics is one issue; and what I have come to find out is that the particular board I selected will support the 8th generation Intel processor but not the 9th. The distribution I use has about 50 of the 8th generation processors left in stock but thousands of the 9th.  And I won’t go into whether I am looking for a i3, i5, i7, or i9 processor. So, now I need to look for a motherboard that supports the 9th Generation processor and they have a ton of them.

Intel 9th Generation Processors

Kingston DDR Memory

Finally, the memory. There is DDR4 memory and then there is DDR4 memory and then there is DDR4 memory. Different speeds, different designs, different capacities, and with or without cyclic redundancy checks. Take a look at Kingston’s page here.  So whether you like Kingston Memory or Crucial; you better head over to their compatibility pages to see which one is right for your system.

Final big decision is the storage; go with the traditional Western Digital Black hard drives which have 5 year warranties or go with something new and super fast. A solid state drive like this 1TB drive from Crucial for about $20+ more than the WD drive. It also has a five year warranty.  Crucial SSD PCIX

Fractal Design Case

Ok, to round it out, my favorite cases are from Fractal Designs. They are super quiet but expensive. Probably you should also pick up an external USB DVD drive just in case you still have software that needs to be installed. Happy hunting.

I am still working on one of my long term projects and that is to get the church I attend completely covered with WIFI. It is a large concrete block building and so the easy paths to different areas, rooms, and parts of the church are difficult but with the help of EnGenius, I am making progress.

I first started with their ESR530 Two Pack at home and discovered that it did a very nice job and you can read the review here.  They then released the ESR580 and I thought, I have the perfect place to test it out.  The new units look just like the earlier ones so it can be confusing which is which. Like the earlier units, you first need to download their App to your smartphone before you can begin the set up process and here is where I wish they had included a quick start guide with them.

Once you have the first unit set up directly connected to your internet gateway, you need to set the other units close to the first to get them connected and then once that is done, you can move them to where you want them to be installed but you need to take your time and do them one at a time and wait till they all reconnect to each other. The app does a terrific job of telling you whether the units are too close, too far, or just right in setting up the distances but what you need to watch out for is that you should do them one at a time.

EnGenius Mesh Network
EnGenius Ports Mesh

Because I don’t go to the church every day, it would be nice to be able to check into the App remotely to see how things are going and EnGenius tells me that it is something they are working on. Another issue is that if you need technical support, you have to submit an online ticket and they will respond.  This is more geared to business users and not home consumers. Not too helpful if you are stumped and need an answer right away. They do have a forum for questions but I found it a bit stale as far as the new products are concerned.

One problem we ran into was we could not connect a Xerox Copy/Printer machine. Seems they use a proprietary WIFI connector to the printer (shame on them) that would not connect to the 5Ghz band of the router. But the Mesh network supports also the 2.4Ghz band and it would also not see it!  Dig into the Mesh and I discovered that the 2.4Ghz band can be set to 20mh, 40mhz, or 20/40mhz and had the default at 20. I change it to the 20/40 and was able to connect.

So, I have two of the ESR580 devices and two of the ESR530 devices set up and all seems to be working just fine. The ESR530 Two Pack is $130 and the ESR580 Tri-band Two Pack is $250.

I will have more news later.

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Robert Sanborn

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