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This review is from: ASRock X99 Extreme4 LGA 2011-v3 Intel X99 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
Pros: After a month now of use I come back to leave this review and I see a handful of other reviews that leave me wondering why I didn't have any issues, but nonetheless my experience was mostly non-problematic.
First let me mention a few positives that the board has that I wasn't really able to test.
1. M.2 SSD support
2. 3-Way SLI & 3-Way Crossfire
3. HDD Saver
After working with many boards in the past, you start to appreciate certain aspects of design and look for them in your boards. This board has a bunch of things I look for.
1. 8 Pin CPU Power vs only 4. I like knowing the board is getting all the power it needs at all times.
2. All of the SATA connections are located together in a single double stacked row mounted at the right lower edge of the motherboard and are all oriented at 90°. This is by far the preferred manner of attaching internal SATA devices. This board has 10 of them. For myself that is more than enough, for most anyone at the very least an impressive start.
3. Molex power port for additional power for the PCI-E lanes when using multiple GPUs. There was a time that I was annoyed by the necessity of this on certain boards, where other boards would skip the inclusion of this port. However, after trying a few of those boards with 3-Way Crossfire and then eventually killing the board because of it, I now look for this feature as a core component in board selection. I run 2-Way graphics nearly always at a minimum. At times I dabble in 3-Way. In either case I'm looking for the extra power availability.
4. Front Panel Audio connector is located at the edge of the board and not some where in the middle. This is a pet peeve of mine to have wires running across the middle of the motherboard. With all the great cases available with their purpose built designs surrounding cable management, it really is disappointing when you have to run wires anywhere other than the edge of the motherboard.
5. Dedicated PS2 ports for both keyboard and mouse. This is nice for many reasons. One is for anyone who has a true NKRO keyboard that uses the PS2 port, its fully supported without any multiple device over USB trickery. Secondly, I always keep an extra PS2 keyboard around just so I know I can get into the BIOS with ease. Ever had one of those boards that only has USB and it just won't recognize your USB keyboard in time and you can never get into the BIOS on boot? Sure that's rare, but if you see enough boards you probably know what I"m talking about. Using a PS2 keyboard usually gets you around all that mess.
I didn't push the board into the extremes of overclocking, but a mild test the waters overclock as used during the entire use of the board. I was able to keep a stable 4.2GHz overclock (stock 3.5GHz). 8 Cores at those clocks really isn't anything to complain about. But I'm sure most will go for more, and why not?
The on board audio is pretty good as far as integrated goes also. Still not dedicated quality though, bu
Cons: First let me complain about the aesthetics of this board. I'm not a huge fan of the color scheme. The whole blue thing really doesn't work for me. At least the blue is not the same baby blue once being used by Asus, it's a tad better. And by itself I wouldn't say the board looks bad either. My issue stems more from it being harder to find matching components to keep the color scheme going throughout the rest of your build. Not a real con I suppose and highly subjective also, but I wouldn't be honest if I said I didn't want something else. As it is the color says "budget" board.
The heat sinks again in their design seem to give me that "cheap" feel. That being said, they seem to function fine. There is an argument of these being in the camp of minimalism that other boards seem to trample all over with their big over done strange heat sinks. Still up close the appearance doesn't make you feel like you spent a lot of money on it, which is fine if you don't mind being reminded that you didn't.
So overall the visual side of things seems to point towards a budget board, which is what this board really is at it's price point. Not a bad thing per say, but it's always better when your cheaper item leads people to believe it cost a million bucks (not literally, it's an expression).
In the pros section I mentioned how important it was to have the molex power port for additional PCI-E power for multiple graphics cards. This board has that. I also mentioned above that it's a pet peeve of mine to not have connections at the edge of the board. Well guess where they put this molex connector? Right smack in the middle of the board atop the top most PCI-E slot. It's in the worst possible spot imaginable. To connect to it you have to route a power cord across the top of either the left or right bank of memory slots. It looks terrible and I hate everything about it. Personally ,that alone would be enough for me to stay clear of this board. If aesthetics and cable management aren't your thing, then this probably doesn't matter. But it would have been located at the edge and again speaks to design choices commonly found in cheaper boards.
The board supports 3-Way GPUs. However, it does it in a non-optimal way. The slots allow for 2 cards close together, with only one having some space between for better airflow. I find it nicer to have them either all separated equally or all equally spaced together. They make nice aftermarket SLI bridges that support them all stacked equally together. Finally that last slot for the bottom GPU covers all of the bottom ports when a dual slot GPU is used. So you are forced to smash all of your cable down at 90° bends when the cables aren't intended to do so. It's a poor design that many boards emulate and I'd like to see it change.
Other Thoughts: So the topic at hand seems to keep coming back to this being a budget, or at least a more affordable board. Which is a noble effort, but in this case I feel like it doesn't have much merit. The reason being that I can't really fill this board with other lower costing parts. The CPUs available for this board are the 5820K, the 5930K and the 5960X, with corresponding prices of $390, $580 and $1050. I don't consider any of those as affordable. If you go with the cheapest CPU, you aren't really using all this board offers either as the 5820K offers far less PCI-E lanes over the 5930K. So I feel pretty strongly about using the 5930K as the bare minimum CPU for the X99 platform. Those lanes will allow you to run SLI/Crossire with full x16. If you're forced to run x8/x8, it brings up a strong concern about using the Z97 platform instead, especially when you consider the very large cost difference. Even if you keep the larger budget, you could at least get a high end Z97 board.
Another huge pitfall of this platform is the need for DDR4. I have to admit it's pretty cool that this is the first platform to make use of it and it does add a bit of intrigue, but it comes at a pretty high cost. Four channel memory support is a feature of the X99 platform. So logically most people would choose memory configurations of 4 sticks. So realistically the starting point of memory for most would be 16GB. Right now of this writing 16GB(4x4GB) of DDR4 goes cheapest at $200 and seems to average around $250 for the good stuff. Comparatively 16GB(2x8GB) of DDR3 goes for $135 give or take. If you are like me and are coming from a previous system that already had 16GB, and when you make your upgrades you feel the need to increase all aspects of your build you might want to go with the 32GB(4x8GB) of DDR4. This is going to set you back approximately $500.
So again, affordable board with an expensive CPU and fairly expensive memory. When you consider why you pick this platform over the Z97, the two biggest reasons are more CPU cores and more PCI-E lanes. Well I can't argue against the need (or at least want) for more CPU cores. The PCI-E lanes however are only needed if you bother use them. I feel like a big reason for choosing this platform is the multiple GPU usage scenario. Which again is another choice that tends to fly in the face of the affordability concern.
So while I won't outright say this board isn't justified in it's existence, it does feel like it might fall a little bit into a niche needs category.
My direct experience with the board was pleasant however. It booted on the first try. Windows 8.1 installed without issue. All the drivers were accessible via AsRock's website. I didn't spend time investigating if their offerings were the most up to date on every component, but at least they all worked. I used an Intel Core i7- 5930K and 32GB of Corsair Dominator Platinum DDR4 memory and GTX 980 SLI.
This review is from: Pantum P3255DN Monochrome Laser Printer
Pros: There was quite a bit to like about this printer.
I found setup to be quite easy. I didn't bother to read a thing. Instead I unpacked, removed the tape holding it together and simply attempted on my own to install the toner, paper and get it all connected and software installed. I was able to accomplish this all in less than 15 minutes without instruction at all. So that is saying a lot about the intuitiveness of the design. Nothing was a mystery.
I like the black color of the printer. Too often you're stuck with the beige/gray type laser printers as your only choices. The physical dimensions of the printers were ideal also. To test this printer I installed into my father in laws office as he does a lot of document printing. However space was limited and I was concerned that it might be a show stopper. Not the case. For a laser printer, it has a pretty reasonably size footprint and fit into the space with room to spare.
We printed many batches of documents (maybe 3000-4000 sheets in total) for his business. Before this he had an ink-jet printer where printing that many documents would take him days. This was a major improvement in terms of speed, taking only a couple of hours to do all the work and have all the documents printed. Not only that, but the detail in the print was much greater. Most of his documents display bar codes on them, and these never looked as crisp as they did this time around. Factor in that this printer's cost is about what he normally spent on ink for his other printer and it's a wonder why anyone needing a good laser document printer wouldn't buy something like this.
None of the documents he prints at any time needed more than a couple hundred sheets of paper, so the paper tray on this accommodated his needs just fine also.
My personal laser printer costs 6 times the amount that the Pantum costs, and despite that, it does on annoying thing. The sheets of paper that come out of my much more expensive printer always end up curving or developing a slight roll. The Pantum could print in simplex or duplex and in either case the sheets of paper came out flat. This is quite desirable that the printer didn't adversely affect the condition of the paper negatively.
A nice bonus was the included USB cable. It is also capable of being connected to a network via Ethernet.
In all I have to say this thing held up beautifully and performed consistently and with quality over a near two month time period.
Cons: Again, when you're happy with a product, it's hard to come up with a lot of negative things to say. So if some of this seems a little nit-picky or inconsiderate of the price, it maybe, but still should provoke some thought into discovering what your needs might be.
My first con is the some what annoying manner in how it prints. My Brother MFC, once it starts a document, will continue to printer each page/sheet of the document without pause or interruption. This printer would also take long pauses and seem hesitant at times middle way through a document. I'd often think while listening to it print that it was done, only for it to then start up again after a few seconds.
The paper tray supports multiple sizes of paper. While it was quite clear how to adjust the tray to hold the size of paper I needed to print, the actual execution of it was slightly cumbersome. Given how often anyone may change paper size though may make this slight annoyance virtually unnoticeable and completely excusable.
I was hoping that it would be a little faster at printing also. Maybe I'm expecting too much for the price, but the pauses between pages certainly didn't help speed.
I'd be happy if it included a WIFI connection. Charge a few bucks more and include that option and suddenly this device is so much more capable in terms of placement and convenience.
It's just a printer and doesn't include any added functionality such as scanning, copying, faxing. Not really a con as it isn't marketed as such, but just something to consider.
Other Thoughts: I was pretty impressed by this little printer. It did a lot of things right and made me question why I spent $600 for a big Brother MFC Color Laser printer. I hardly ever do any printing whatsoever. My wife is a teach however and she prints often. 90% of the time she printers documents, usually monochrome. My Brother MFC is faster at printing, I will say that. But it's a giant machine that requires a special stand of it's own just to host it's presence, it creates roll or curvature in the paper as it prints also, and it costs a fortune by comparison to this printer. Granted, it has WIFI as well as Ethernet and USB. It can do scanning and copying. It can print in color. But most of the time I don't need any of that.
So my point is if you know your needs, you'd be a fool not to grab this machine. For the cost and quality of product, it's a no-brainer.
I'm not a huge printer guru, I will admit. I hadn't ever heard of the brand Pantum prior actually and was skeptical of what new name low quality junk I'd be testing here. I have to say that never really became the case. It held up for 2 months and is still going strong now even. I'd love to be able to post back in a year and let everyone know what my thoughts on Pantum are. But for now I'll just have to go off of the longest time I could muster before Newegg started complaining that I was taking too long to post my review. Initial indications point to a good product from a good company.
So to wrap up, if you need to print quality documents in a reasonable amount of time at a low cost, you'd be a fool not to buy this printer. If there's competition out there, I don't know about it. The Pantum P3255DN has run the gamut and passed with flying colors.
Pros: I ran this board now for over a month. I've been using it heavily for gaming and productivity. It has run well the entire time.
It's got the latest chipset which is Intel's Z97. Its got native support for anything Broadwell. I however only had a 4770K to use. This supports Haswell just fine though and it's what I ran for the last month. I wish I could have tested out the newer 4790K, but it simply wasn't available to me.
The layout of the board was pretty good. Everything in the expect place. SATA have 90° turned plug-ins at the side of the board. Aside from that, every cable connection on the board is located on the side of the board. So no worries about running cables across.
On-board power, reset and clear CMOS buttons are becoming quite standard affair on boards as of late, and in keeping with that this board has that also.
2-Way SLI/Crossfire is supported, as is 3-Way (at least in theory, I'll explain later). For 2-Way there is a slot of separation as to not starve any double slot cooled GPUs of airflow.
The color scheme is nice in that the board is mostly black. The gold heat sinks on the other hand would be anyone's personal preference. I personally don't care for them, but I could see how someone might.
I've never found a use for double NICs, but I know people who are looking for that feature. This board has 2 NICs. One from Intel and the other a Killer NIC (intent is gaming purposed, again in theory).
So much of the pros on this board however are not unique to this one board and much of what I've said can be found on many models.
Stability was paramount however, and while that should simply be an expected part of any released product, I've owned Gigabyte boards in the past that were full of unique features, boasted really impressive benchmarks and were simply gorgeous to look at, but at the end of the day often were quirky in terms of stability. I'd get strange unexplainable blue screens that I could never track down, or weird start-up issues, or just any type of strangeness that would often force me in to replacing the board with something else. I can't say that about this board. It simply was something I could run every day without issue and forget it was even there. That's what I'm looking for in any motherboard and I will say this board has it. It's also the reason why I decided I wouldn't post a review on this board until I had ran it for nearly 2 months.
So it's a really impressive board just on the recognition that it was 100% problem free. With it's price well below $200, even more impressive.
Cons: When a board doesn't give me any issues, it's hard to find a lot negative to say. So if this section is a bit brief, then take that as an indication of what kind of board this really is.
2 NICs. As I stated in the Pros is nice for those who can use it. Most can't. So it's an added expense that doesn't seem justified. One could argue that because of the two different types it gives the consumer the option of using either the Intel NIC or the Killer. Having used both extensively myself, I don't know why anyone would care for the Killer. It's supposed to be better for gaming, but I've yet to ever see any evidence of that. When you look latency in games, I never see a difference. They say, "Oh, well the differences really can't be measured. It's more of a subjective thing.", but like I said, I've used both on many different boards and products, I even used each NIC for half the time on this board, and I could not tell any difference.
The key difference for me was that with the Intel NIC, the drivers are installed and you never really deal with them again. With the Killer, they more frequently are updating their drivers, which are needed to make use of some of the Killer supposed features. I don't really care to keep updating my NIC drivers, especially when I can't garner any tangible difference after doing so. If I just use the Intel NIC, I forget about it entirely and simply use my machine without concern of how it's connected to any network or internet.
To justify the double NICs, I think they should make them both Intel's and give some added bonus feature like the ability to team them. Until then, save me the money and just put the Intel NIC on the board and call it a day.
3-Way SLI/Crossfire support is there, with a couple of caveats. The least unique issue is the number of PCI-E lanes give to each card when 3 are plugged in. Not a failing the board so much as the design of the Z97 chipset. Any Z97 board is going to have this issue, barring the addition of a PLX chip. Those themselves have their pros and cons. They work great for multi-GPU, and less so for just a single GPU. Some board are designed to switch effortlessly between single and multi where it either uses or bypasses the PLX chip. But you have to remember that it only adds more cost; cost for the PLX chip, and cost for the added circuitry and design.
Secondly, GPUs 2 & 3 don't have any space between them when the GPU's are using double slot coolers (which aren't aren't these days?) and therefore will often starve GPU 2 of adequate air flow.
Thirdly, there is no additional power plug to provide more power to the PCI-E lanes. I see this as an issue very worth mentioning as I've had boards fail me running 3-Way that didn't have this. It should work fine for 2-Way, for 3, look for a better board.
OK, so maybe this section wasn't that brief, but that's mostly because I talked in depth about a few very minor issues, most of which are hardly unique to this board alone.
Other Thoughts: I see quite a few others mentioning the BIOS as being confusing. Personally I didn't take much issue with it. This might be because I have used a couple of boards now with Gigabyte UEFI bios's and this one is very like those previous bios's in how they are laid out. I will say though that it could be better. Asus and MSI both have better UEFI layouts. But unless you are someone who keeps going in to make changes, ask yourself how much it matters to have a perfectly laid out BIOS. I'd suggest you look past the issue, deal with some immediate confusion and then simply use the board.
This board given to me for review was a bit of a downgrade for me. I was sporting an Asus Maximus VI Formula prior, a much pricier board. In that board I was running a XFX R9 295X2 with a MSI Gaming R9 290X for 3-Way Crossfire. I decided to do the same for this board, despite the fact that this board did not provide the additional power plug for multi-GPU configurations. In addition to the 3-Way GPUs, I ran with a 4770K overclocked to 4.7GHz, 16GB of DDR3-2133 and a Samsung 840 Pro SSD. Cooling was done with a Corsair H110. I ran Windows 8.1 Update 1.
Now that I'm done reviewing, I'm going to go back to the Asus. You maybe asking, "But why go through all that trouble to go back to Z87 when you couldn't tell a difference between the two boards?". The reason is that this is essentially the 3rd build with all the same components for me now. The first was a MSI Z87 M-Power Max that also did not have the additional power plug for multiple-GPUs. The board ran 3-Way for awhile, until it didn't. The Asus board having the power plug has allowed me to run without issue for a long time now. So I fear that if I keep up using 3-Way that this board will simply succumb to the same fate as my MSI. I will state that one keep difference here is that prior I was using 3 reference 290X cards instead of the 295X2 + 290X. So with there having been 3 physical cards as opposed to 2 now, that might have made a difference also. Still I don't want to take any chances and that is the only reason I'll be giving up this otherwise very stable and impressive board.
Now I touched on the appearance of this board already where I stated that I didn't care for the gold coloring. I also did not like the heat sinks themselves in that they simply aren't attractive despite their color. They look cheap and dated, like something you'd find on a board from 10 years ago.
Fortunately they have a BK (black) model that gets rid of the gold. The design of the heat sinks are still bad, but because of them being black don't look at all terrible. Too bad though if you want what is otherwise essentially the same board despite the color change, they are asking an additional $25. I'd go for the extra cost personally, but I can understand why some might take offence to that.
In the end, if you are looking for a new Z97 board to run brand new CPU with either 1 or 2 GPUs, this board is awesome for the price.