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Pros: It overclocks decently, has features and controls up the wazoo. Ubuntu runs on it without oddities happening. Build quality is solid, and the WI-FI/BT card it comes with is PCIE, not mini, which is good becuase it lives elsewhere now. Everything a bonkers overclocker wants or needs. Used in a full water-cooled setup with delidded 4770K. By-passable PLX.
Cons: The BIOS is good, but it took a couple updates for OCs to become stable and its capabilities be on par with it's little brother, the Z87 OC (I also own that.)
The reason I dropped two eggs: stock VRM/PLX heatsink reeks of value-add rubbish. If you are not watercooling the board chips then it's decent- but DO NOT try to hook the stock VRM sink to the water loop. Mine had a pinhole leak. (Thankfully, it was a cold test of the loop- I'd already ordered an aftermarket board block.) If you want to water cool your VRMs and PLX, you'll have to get a real water block anyway, so do not use that as a deciding factor. Even if it didn't leak, it's a one piece unit- the fittings are not replaceable.
There was no need to RMA since I had already planned to replace that part. But I'd still strongly suggest considering those fittings to be showpieces. If you're going to put it on, might as well do it right.
Other Thoughts: After I put a proper waterblock on, it worked nicely. After some BIOS updates, it OC'd perfectly.
But if you don't need a PLX chip and feel you can do without some of those power phases, you might as well get this board's little brother (Z87 OC.) Aftermarket water blocks are made for that one too.
If you are not planning to include the VRMs/PLX in your water loop, then the stock sink is actually pretty good. Gigabyte just shouldn't have bothered with the fittings- I might have only dropped one egg then.
Pros: I ordered this for a parent who is a professor.
I'm just going to say that this machine has challenged everything I've come to expect from HP from years of pro and consumer IT work. See the other thoughts section for the things that truly surprised me...
Physically, it's very well built for the price. Comes with Windows 7 (a huge plus) and Haswell i3. It strikes a good balance of looks, durability, and ease of upgrade.
The way the bottom panel is designed makes it very easy to access the internals for cleaning and upgrade. Everything is right there.
Trackpad has texture, and nothing is "glossy" on it. Rubberized lid is nice too.
I'm extremely impressed with the build quality. This is not the same sort of HP laptop I'm used to dealing with- not by a long shot.
Cons: Only a couple, and not worth dropping eggs over:
-Chiclet-y keyboard. I'm not a fan, but everything has those now. It is pretty solid though.
-Some versions of this have a fingerprint reader. This one has a little plastic filler where it would go. A minor cosmetic thing, also not uncommon, and also not worth dropping eggs over.
Other Thoughts: Here's what genuinely surprised me.
IT COMES WITH AN OS DISC. A real, actual, Windows 7 re-install DVD (as well as a driver disc.)
I scarcely believed it myself. There is also a very notable lack of bloatware here. There isn't even a preinstalled trial of crummy, bloated AV software- instead, I was prompted to install MS Security Essentials.
This is simply fantastic. None of the things I have come to hate about HP machines are here. And it comes with an OS disc. The best part is that I won't even have to do a clean Windows install to make it usable.
I bought this because of the specs and the Windows 7, but I never expected to be impressed like this- certainly not at this price point. I can also spend 5 hours of my life doing other things instead of de-bloating it (in the past, I'd just do a clean install out of the box.)
HP has made me very happy today. Here's hoping they keep this up.
Pros: -Fits full ATX motherboards, standard-size ATX PSUs, and standard PCIE brackets.
-You can jam a LOT of stuff in here. Makes for a good htpc build.
-Comes with extra rubber feet for an old-school "desktop." Pretty much the only one in this price range I could find.
-PSU is replaceable without taking mobo out.
-Lot of bays.
Cons: -REALLY tight squeeze. Don't plan on putting a 7950 in here.
-PSU mount is a smart design decision, but the cord that runs to it is a pain. Gets in the way of one of the fan mounts. Speaking of...
-I use a Corsair 120mm closed loop. With the case laid flat "desktop style" you have two choices. Mount it on the removable top panel (but then you will not fit PCIe GPUs) or use the side 120mm mount (in which the power cord becomes an obstruction, and the standard standard 120x25mm fan will not fit with the radiator. I solved this with a 120x15mm fan.
-No USB 3.0, but it has a vestigal "punchout" labeled "superspeed." I covered it with a sticker, but that still doesn't change the fact that there's a little rectangular indent where the USB3 port is supposed to be.
-A modular PSU is a must, and it has to be regular size.
Other Thoughts: Docked an egg for the USB3 "rectangle." That's my only major grievance with this (really, a rotating logo but a redundant non-port?!) The rest of that is to be expected for low-profile cases like this.
That said, this case jam-packs an awful lot of features and mounts, doesn't need any non-standard parts for a basic air-cooled build, and overall was very easy to work with for its type. One does not build in a case this small without doing some fancy hand work.
With the water cooling, this thing is quiet as death. However, if you want to do that, the garden-variety 120mm closed loop is not going to be fun. I'd advise doing a custom loop with a dual-80mm rad and a cpu/pump combo waterlock which won't interfere with anything.
Overall a very solid case for the money, even if I need a sticker for the front panel. It's great for a lay-flat desktop or HTPC build, and does a pretty good job of minimizing the annoyances typical of cases this small (including price.)
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