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StarTech 3 Port 2b 1a 1394 Mini PCI Express FireWire Card Adapter Model MPEX1394B3
  • Verified Owner
  • Owned For: 1 day to 1 week

5 out of 5 eggs Very Nice Firewire Adapter 05/12/2014

This review is from: StarTech 3 Port 2b 1a 1394 Mini PCI Express FireWire Card Adapter Model MPEX1394B3

Pros: Small;
Comes with both a Mini-ITX and full size bracket;
Wiring is long enough for full size enclosure.

Cons: Wiring can be a awkward to handle if installed in smaller Mini-ITX enclosures (See below).

Other Thoughts: I installed this adapter into a M350 Universal Mini-ITX PC enclosure, which is as small as you can go as far as a Mini-ITX enclosure. It was awkward to route the excess wiring because it's long enough to accommodate full size enclosures. Once I figured it out and hit the button, Windows 8.1 immediately recognized it. Driver software was not necessary. I'm using this adapter for a Firewire audio interface. I'm also using it with a GIGABYTE GA-J1800N-D2H Intel Dual-Core Celeron J1800 SoC (2.41 GHz) Mini-ITX Motherboard Combo. I simply had to cut/file holes in the back plate to accommodate it. So far, an excellent adapter.

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GIGABYTE GA-J1800N-D2H Intel Dual-Core Celeron J1800 SoC (2.41 GHz) Mini ITX Motherboard/CPU/VGA Combo
  • Verified Owner
  • Owned For: 1 week to 1 month

Pros: Very cool running.
Small
Good power
Low Watts

The bottom line is that overall this is an excellent board, particularly if you are looking for something small, fanless, with good power. In fact, this board is so cool running that it runs much cooler than my HP Thin Client t5720, which has a single core AMD Geode processor. The Dual-Core Celeron J1800 is impressively fast and cool running and has sufficient on-board video power to easily navigate the Internet and stream videos without lag. Unlike my HP Thin Client, which I upgraded years ago with a Transcend 8GB SSD card and HP’s graphics kit that included an NVIDIA PCI card, the Celeron’s graphics and video are still much faster than the upgraded t5720. Web pages scroll fast and smooth even with high definition resolution of 1920 x 1080. Windows 8.1/64 boots up very fast and navigating Windows is fast enough that lag isn’t an annoying problem. Another pro is that this board uses a minimum amount of power—so little, that I’m able to use my HP Thin Client’s 12-volt 50 watt adapter along with a Mini-Box pico PSU.

Cons: Needs BIOS upgrade in order to run Windows 7
F-Panel is on opposite side of PCI-Express slot

Like others have noted, a BIOS upgrade is necessary in order to run/install Windows 7. It’s silly because Windows 7 is still popular, but for some reason Gigabyte decided to forget about Windows 7 out of the box. Also, the F-Panel, which is where the power wire, hard drive wire, etc. are plugged into, is on the opposite side of the PCI-Express slot. This was a problem for me since I installed this board into the M350 Universal Mini-ITX enclosure, which has panel wires that are too short to reach the top of this motherboard. I know that this is really Mini-ITX’s fault because it designed the enclosure with inadequate length wires. So, I’m not going to remove an egg because of this issue. I’m noting this in case others are looking to buy the M350 enclosure. I solved the short wiring problem by soldering/slicing in about 4 inches of wire I cut from another harness with the exact same wiring that I had lying around.

Other Thoughts: I bought this motherboard and build a fanless rig for surfing the Internet. Being new to mini-ITX boards, I bought Mini-Box’s “picoPSU-160-XT, 160w output” and figured I would need at least a 150-watt power adapter. But I learned that this mini-ITX board does not need anything close to 150 watts to run it basic without using the PCI-Express slot. So, if you plan on buying a Pico PSU and plan on running this board without a separate video card, I would say go for the 80-watt kit or even the 60-watt kit, which includes the proper power adapter. I don’t know if it will turn out that I’m going to have to buy a higher rated power adapter, but so far the 50-watt adapter is working fine. I wouldn’t be surprised if out of the box this little board draws no more than 15-18 watts. The Celeron is rated at 10 watts. The Pico PSU that I purchased needs a 12-volt power adapter. My advice is to buy a Pico PSU kit instead of buying each separately. I bought an overkill Pico PSU separately then struggled to decide which adapter to buy, bearing in mind that I want low power and another overkill situation. I decided to try my 50-watt HP adapter, which is working fine. There are Pico PSU’s that are rated to utilize various voltages of power adapters (e.g., PicoPSU-80-WI-32); however, I don’t see one with a 12-volt/4-pin connector for the processor.

I’m using Crucial 8GB Notebook Kit (2 sticks 4GB) DDR3-1333 (PC3 10600) SODIMM 1.35V 204 PIN (Only 1.35-volt RAM can be used). This RAM was immediately recognized. I’m also using a Kingston 240GB SSDNow, V300, SATA 3. This SSD was also immediately recognized.

Final Comments: For those who are eliminating this motherboard because of the Windows 7 BIOS compatibility issue, please note that Windows 8 isn’t as bad as some claim as far as the tiles, etc. Actually, Windows 8 has both tiles or you can use the traditional Window 7 desktop—both you can easily toggle back and forth. Otherwise, flash the BIOS so you can use Windows 7—the board is that good of a bang for the buck that you might want to put up with the hassle of flashing the BIOS.

Documentation: The setup instructions are typical, as I don’t find them to be any better or worse than what typically accompanies a new motherboard.

BIOS: The individual,Jan V (who gave 3 eggs) and in the Con section was critical of what is described as a “Standard and gross text bios”, is misleading. This motherboard has a typical graphic BIOS that is navigated by using the arrow keys. The “text bios” looks to be a command line program that will show up if the “DEL” (Delete) key is not pressed upon boot-up, which will bring you into a typical looking graphic BIOS. So the BIOS of this motherboard is typical.

Rating: I dropped an egg since the BIOS must be flashed/upgraded in order to be compatible with Windows 7. Otherwise, I would have given this motherboard 5 eggs.

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GIGABYTE GA-990XA-UD3 AM3+ AMD 990X + SB950 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard
  • Verified Owner
  • Owned For: 1 month to 1 year

Pros: Plenty of USB ports.
Good configuration with 2 PCI slots for use with older cards.
Good enough for gaming.

Cons: In less than one year this board has developed the following problems:

1. One USB port no longer works;
2. One PCI slot no longer works; and
3. One RAM slot no longer works.

Regarding #1, when I plug the mouse into the defective USB port the laser diode does not light; however, when I plug it into another port, the laser works, which means the mouse works. Hence, I have one defective port. Before writing this review, I again checked the port and it's not working.

Regarding #2, the bottom PCI slot does not work, which I determined by inserting my sound card into this slot but Windows 7 will not recognize the card. However, the card is recognized when the card is inserted in the upper PCI slot.

Regarding #3, about a month ago I started experiencing blue screens, which progressively became worse over the last few weeks to the point that at times my PC would blue screen on boot-up. At first I thought maybe there was a driver problem or one of the cards wasn't seated correctly. So I reinstalled the sound driver and updated the video driver and also reinserted all cards with emphasis on making sure they were seated correctly, to no avail. I then determined that there is a possibility that one or more sticks of RAM (G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 16GB (4 x 4GB)) may have went bad. I first ran a diagnostic check, which came up clean. Then I removed one stick at a time beginning with the fourth (most outer) slot. When I removed the stick in the third slot there were no more blue screens. So I ran 8GB of RAM for a few days with no blue screens. Then I decided to reinstall a stick into the third slot just to see if I would experience blue screens. When I booted into Windows about 2 minutes later everything froze, including the mouse. I had no choice but to shutdown by pressing the button. Then I put a stick into the forth slot to see what happens and all is good. I also swapped sticks between the third and forth slots in order to confirm whether blue screens could be related to defective RAM. It turns out that both sticks work in slot 4 without a problem. However, put either one into slot 3 and the blue screens/freezing will start again. So currently I'm running on 12GB using slots 1, 2, & 4. At this point, it appears that slot 3 is not working and is the cause of all the blue screens/freezing.

Other Thoughts: Will I ever buy from Gigabyte again? Maybe, but I will pay closer attention to the 1 and 2-star reviews. I have never run into so many problems with a motherboard before, even when I bought boards selling for under $100. This board could have been a 5-star board if not for quality problems. To bad! My board is under a year old.

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Michael C.'s Profile

Display Name: Michael C.

Date Joined: 05/15/07

  • Reviews: 6
  • Helpfulness: 4
  • First Review: 03/17/08
  • Last Review: 05/12/14
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