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ASRock Z77 Extreme4-M LGA 1155 Intel Z77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
  • Verified Owner
  • Owned For: more than 1 year

Pros: Great build quality, amazing price for the specs, and ran rock solid for an entire year. Excellent UEFI interface, loads of overclocking features(not that I used them, but they're there), and has dual SATAIII controllers (1 Intel, 1 ASMedia) MOSFET heatsinks are very solid and perform very well.

Cons: After owning the board for about 1 year and everything going swimmingly, I decided to update the BIOS so that I could take advantage of the UEFI RAID capability added in v1.60. I performed the Windows-based version of the update as opposed to Instant Flash. While the update was running(from a fresh install of Windows 7 x64, by the way), the system gave a BSOD, citing error code 0xdeaddead (which was extremely odd in itself..) After powering down, the system refused to ever come back. The system powered up, but that's about it.. No POST, no boot, no response from the system whatsoever. Clearly, a botched BIOS update had bricked my computer. My drives, RAM, and power supply all check out in other systems and I tried the obvious things like clearing the CMOS, so it's not like a failed component caused this crash. A botched BIOS update caused this crash, and ASRock boards have *zero* means of recovering from a bad flash. (No emergency-update mode, no dual BIOS like some Gigabyte boards, etc..)

I contacted ASRock support by phone to see about getting this resolved as quickly as possible, seeing as how a botched BIOS update was really outside of anything I could have controlled. Their support line would not help me whatsoever. One technician claimed that this was "user-induced damage" and would not be covered by warranty. NO. That is incorrect. This is far from the same category of damage as something like bent pins, something physically broken, careless overclocking, etc. They wanted to put the blame on me, and kept saying "We do not recommend updating the BIOS unless you have problems that need to be fixed by an update". I believe I should feel comfortable updating the BIOS to add features that I deem necessary and beneficial to my setup, which was UEFI RAID in this scenario.

After talking to a few customer service reps and even being escalated to a supervisor, they finally agreed to replace the board, but offered no advance replacement. I would have to ship them the board, and only *after* they receive and process it, would then send a new one back. My time is money, I CANNOT be down for over 1-2 weeks. In the end, I had to be out-of-pocket and but a replacement mobo from a brick and mortar store. I'm not up and running thanks to that and Acronis Universal Restore, but not I'll have to RMA this dead board, get the new one, and try to sell it and maybe break even if I'm lucky.

Other Thoughts: The boards are great, but if you expect even the slightest shred of reasonable customer service, then forget it and steer clear of ASRock. I expect that an ASRock support rep will probably pop in here to this review and offer some by-the-book apology and "please contact us at our support email"... As if doing that wouldn't make me experience the above all over again. :/ Pitiful, pitiful support.

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OCZ Vertex 4 VTX4-25SAT3-256G 2.5
  • Verified Owner
  • Owned For: 1 month to 1 year

2 out of 5 eggs Fantastic drive, TERRIBLE support 03/06/2013

This review is from: OCZ Vertex 4 VTX4-25SAT3-256G 2.5" 256GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

Pros: The drive is excellent; Bought one on launch day and it performed as advertised, topping out well above 500MB/s read/write in ATTO. Once upgraded to Windows 8, boot times were hitting 5-6 seconds.

Prompt firmware updates were provided back in the pre-1.5 days to address performance issues and bugs present since launch day. Live USB environment is provided for flashing the drive if you are not running Windows.

The drive's build quality is great. It has a heavy, sturdy chassis that you would expect in a flagship device.

Cons: Failure can happen to any drive of any brand, and I understand that. But if you expect OCZ to provide reasonable, timely warranty service in the event of drive failure, look elsewhere right now.

After about half a year, I started getting kernel crashes and performance had dropped to roughly 280-300MB/s on a good day. I put in an RMA request, and it took several days just to hear back from someone. After a thorough explanation of my issue, including all the steps and diagnostics I had done to reasonably deduce that the SSD was at fault(I am a tech/sysadmin, btw), they still asked me to redundantly re-do diagnostic steps that I already told them I had done. By the time they offered a replacement, it had been well over a week since the RMA was started. Within that amount of time, the drive had suddenly failed completely after one last kernel crash. It's seen in the BIOS but no live environment at all, Knoppix or Hirens even, could mount or access any active partitions.

OCZ does not offer advance replacement by default, they want to receive the defective drive and then ship a new one out. You have to ask for advance replacement, and even then you are still going to be waiting. I was given a poorly-explained reason of why it would take another week just to have a drive sent to me for advance replacement after providing credit card details to secure payment in the event of me not returning the original SSD.

I gave up and bought another drive locally from a brick & mortar store to bring my system from the dead, because I could not afford the downtime that OCZ apparently does not care about.

Other Thoughts: For the price and performance, the drive is top notch. Just hope it doesn't fail on you while you have no spare drives, because you will not get the fast support, advance replacement, etc that you might be used to with other storage brands like Western Digital or Kingston.

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Fractal Design Define Mini Black Micro ATX Silent PC Computer Case w/ USB 3.0 support and 2 x 120mm Fractal Design Silent Fans
  • Verified Owner
  • Owned For: 1 day to 1 week

Pros: * Good price
* Near-silent and stays that way when combined with some additional Antec TrueQuiet 120mm fans.
* Very sturdy; In fact, it is significantly sturdier than its bigger brother, the regular ATX Fractal Define R3.
* This case is probably the closest thing you can get to the beloved Antec P180 mini in terms of quality, size, and quietness. Since the P180 is aging and discontinued
* The case is very tiny but still roomy enough for a full-on gaming rig. I have a Corsair Hydro H70 in a 2-fan push/pull config, a top fan, side fan, and it's still got lots of open air space. Cable management, if you know what you're doing, is a breeze, and the results can be gorgeous: http://i.imgur.com/SAlAs.jpg

Cons: *CPU cutout on the motherboard tray did not line up well with my ASRock Z77 Extreme4-M mobo. The metal came a few centimeters above the bottom holes for the CPU cooler, and I had to take my motherboard out all over again. It kinda defeated the purpose of the cutout. I admit that it wasn't too big a hassle and I should have checked before, but this is a con worth mentioning.

Other Thoughts: USB 3.0 front header does not fit snugly, but that is the fault of the USB 3.0 front connection spec itself. I've done several builds with different combinations of brands between cases and motherboards, and it's the same all-around. With some creative wire-tying and propping the cable against the HDD caddy, you can make it stay securely without leaving it susceptible to popping out when moving the tower.

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Andrew C.'s Profile

Display Name: Andrew C.

Date Joined: 01/20/04

  • Reviews: 26
  • Helpfulness: 13
  • First Review: 01/19/05
  • Last Review: 07/24/13
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