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This review is from: ASRock Z97 Extreme6 LGA 1150 Intel Z97 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
Pros: This board has a lot to offer and will not disappoint with regards to functionality
With regards to packaging and included accessories, it was well packaged with foam endings and placed in an anti-static sleeve. Two SATA data cables were included which is a plus since some mobo's don't even ship with any cables. Your typical I/O rear panel shield was included as well as a HDD saver cable.
This motherboard is good example of fantastic design which as become standard with many top tier boards these days. Ports are well placed and components look to be well secured; over all a quality build. The blue accented heat sinks indicated that this is one of their performance boards and design wise fit well with the overall look of the board. The heat sinks feel sturdy and offers decent cooling of the chipset and VRM.
USB 3.0 and SATA III ports are plentiful and should offer enough room for peripherals and connectivity. Note that physically only 6 x USB 3.0 ports are located on the rear but more can be added from the hubs located on the motherboard. I haven't tested out the SATA express connector and I am currently not sure how it really boosts real world performance in terms of data transfer. It does not seem like a must needed feature for the board and I am fine with just the standard 6 Gb transfer rate.
Two ethernet ports are present (Intel & Realtek) as well as a Mini-PCIe slot for the addition of internal wi-fi cards for you convenience and a high speed "Ultra M2 slot" which is used to connect the latest internal SSDs for internal storage.
Your typical PCI Express 3.0 16x slots are available supporting AMD Crossfire and NVIDIA SLI.
HDMI, Display port and DVI are all present giving you a variety of options for display connectivity.
Technologies such as Purity Sound and use of high quality hardware such as 12k caps have always been selling points for ASRock motherboards. Not sure if they really provide any advantage of competitors.
This a so called "Z" chipset board utilizing Intel's latest Z97 chipset for support of their newer Haswell processors which utilize a 22 nm lithography resulting and lower power consumption and increased performance due to transistor shrinkage. Boards with the moniker "Z" support overclocking on Intel processors that contain the suffix "K" on their processor number.
Installation was a breeze. Installed the board in a Corsair Carbide 400r case with no hitches and all necessary components fit well and functioned with no issues whatsoever. UEFI was easy to navigate and set necessary settings for XMP and boot drives. Specs will be provided further in the review.
Cons: - No Firewire
- No Thunderbolt (to be expected with this board though)
- M2 port utilizes PCIe bandwidth limiting usage
- SATAe and M2 port cant be utilized at the same time
- More USB ports 2.0 or 3.0 are typically present on boards like these
- few fan headers
- only two SATA cables included
Other Thoughts: System specs
- Intel Haswell i7 4770K
- Zalman CNPS9900A Heatsink
- Corsair Dominator 1600 DDR3 RAM - 2 x 8 GB modules
- Samsung EVO SSD 1 TB
- Seasonic Gold 750W PSU
- ASUS GTX 760 graphics card
- Windows 7 Professional
and of course ASRock Z97 Extreme 6 board.
Like I mentioned before the system was an easy build, not problems with physical installation of components. System booted up really quick upon installation of OS to SSD (7 seconds) and ran smoothly. I didn't have the opportunity to push the board with regards to CPU overclocking due to time constraints and the lack of water cooling. My previous build which utilized an Ivy Bridge 3770K, I was able to push the speeds to 4.4 Ghz safely using the same heat sink. Temperatures for my previous build hovered around 45 - 54 C depending on how much load was being placed. This system ran cool at normal clock speeds and stayed around 28-31 C. The heat sinks by the VRM were warm and did not heat up like other heat sinks on older motherboards that I had. Like I mentioned before, construction of the board seems to be top notch which is probably why the heat sink feels warm instead of blazing hot. I feel more external connectivity options could have been added to the I/O ports on the back but keep in mind that complexity of design goes up and as a result so does price to the presence of extra controllers and ports. This is a solid motherboard for your standard performance/gaming build. Granted that there are features missing that you would see typically on a red enthusiast board, price may be an issue for some who are looking for the best bang for their buck. In my opinion this motherboard fits that requirement.
Pros: Decent sized, simple and looks good. Saves you space and extra wiring buy combining a cable modem with a router.
Installation was pretty quick. Just connect coax cable, power and configure wireless settings via Ethernet attached device and you are good to go.
With regards to wired connectivity, the router features gigabit Ethernet which is 1000 Mbps or 125 MBps. Not necessary for broadband internet unless your cable internet provider supports speeds > 100 Mbps but great for file transfers via home networking. Remember that attached devices must be Gigabit Ethernet compliant as well. File transfers were pretty quick when testing. Streaming 1080p and 4k video was easy and seamless and did not require any buffering. File transfers of large files (>500 MB) took only a few seconds.
Wireless connectivity is great. Not the fastest on the market but definitely better than having just plain Wireless G. Most of my wireless devices do not support 3x3 wireless configuration which requires you to set up channel bonding so I was not able to maximize the full capabilities of the wireless speed. Theoretical max according to product specifications is 450 Mbps but you will be lucky to get half that speed. Unfortunately I was limited to 150 Mbps and max speeds via network hovered around 70-80 Mbps. Pretty decent speeds but not enough if again your cable speeds are > 100 Mbps.
Range is typical of a Wireless N device. I tested speeds and range with the cable modem router in my basement. Using my laptop I was able to get 5 bars in my basement and 4-5 on the main floor. In the attic I was able to get a solid 3 bars with minimal impact to speeds. Overall range is pretty good and is what I expected to see from this device.
Wi-Fi can easily be turned off restricting it to a wired networking modem.
Cons: Unfortunately it doesn't support Wireless N in the 5 Ghz band which supports higher throughput of data but with lower range.
No Wireless AC
I personally like having the choice of choosing a router to attach to my standalone cable modem instead of an all-in-one like the N450. While having a device like this helps to minimize clutter and extra wires, there are much faster standalone routers which offer better range and higher data throughput.
Other Thoughts: Devices like these offer all-in-one benefits but offer limited choice with regards to wireless connectivity. Sure you can buy another wireless router and attach it to this device but that does not come without extra cost. Verizon Fios Actiontec modem/routers function the same but provide FTTP internet services rather than DOCSIS 3.0 which is currently the standard for cable providers. The two look similar but are not compatible with each other due to the different formats.READ FULL REVIEW
This review is from: Prime Graphing Calculator
Pros: Great design overall. Nice brushed aluminum front with a click wheel on the top. Buttons are responsive, depress easy and feel nice. The touchscreen is bright, vibrant and looks great. The fact that it is backlit adds a bit more functionality to the calculator. The USB port on the top is actually a Micro USB A port which is compatible with your standard Micro USB B cables. Just like most portable devices today, it charges the calculator's built in rechargeable battery and transfers data between the pc.
Graphing is extremely fast and I was quite pleased with the responsiveness of the calculator. It is much quicker to utilize the touchscreen rather than to use the physical keys. Navigation and scrolling with the touchscreen is very similar to today's touch screen devices. The fact that the calculator displays color makes it easier to track multiple graphs. Multiple graphs are now color coded making it easier to know which graphs belong to what equation. Another nice thing is the support for RPN mode on top of CAS, starting to become standard for all calculators today to include both formats. The added help system is great for beginners and helps out with equations an general use. Included apps seems to be standard nowerdays and of course is great to have in a calculator like this.
Cons: Battery life is significantly lower due to the color backlit display but that is to be expected and there really isn't an option to change the level backlighting. No expansion compared to the HP 50G as well.
Other Thoughts: Solid calculator and much more advanced compared to graphing calculators several years ago. The unique interface along with the color touch screen are the biggest reasons to get this calculator. It is decently priced considering all the features that are included and is definitely a top choice for those looking for a new calculator or those looking to replace their old black and white monochrome dinosaurs of the past.READ FULL REVIEW