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Pros: * Great GPU Performance
* Low Power
* Low Heat
Cons: * CPU can't keep up with (much more expensive) Core i5/i7 processors)
Other Thoughts: CPU performance may be behind more expensive Intel chips, but the difference is narrow enough that things which feel slow (compiling source code, transcoding media) might go a little faster on an i5 or i7 but will still feel slow there too.
I use a lot of virtual machines, and the 4 cores provided by this cheap chip means my system and my virtual systems all remain responsive no matter what is going on.
I'm even able to leave my virtual machines for work running while I do some gaming, and everything runs smooth.
I was hoping the GPU would be enough to run Minecraft. Turns out it can do that and a whole lot more. I have another machine with a dedicated GT450 and was surprised how little a step down this GPU was. It vastly outperforms the GT450 at mining bitcoins (70Mh/s vs 35Mh/s).
The included heatsink+fan combo is very quiet. The low power and heat has allowed me to take out all but one case fan in my system, for a nearly silent system that still stays plenty cool.
This review is from: ASRock 970 EXTREME3 AM3+ AMD 970 + SB950 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard
Pros: Checked off all the boxes on my list: 4 RAM slots, 6Gb/s SATA, USB 3, Optical S/PDIF, and support for the latest FX chips.
Probably more board than I need. Exceeded all my expectations and setup was simple. No problems, yet.
Cons: Ethernet doesn't work in Windows 7 without drivers, so you HAVE to use the included CD.
Other Thoughts: Since I had to use the included CD to get the Ethernet working in Windows I checked out their monitoring and tweak utilities. Some of the included software is actually useful and worth keeping around, which was a nice surprise. Usually I don't bother, but the XFast USB utility and their OC/Tuner/Monitor utilities are both pretty great.
Some boards have trouble with 4 DDR3 modules installed. Installed 4x 4GB DDR3 1600 modules (16GB total). Worked flawlessly at rated speed and CAS settings.
Everything on this board appears to have great support in recent versions of Linux. Ubuntu 12.04 installed and runs without any problems.
Pros: Fantastic price/performance ratio. 4+GHz quad core, with overclocking headroom, for under $140? Yes please. Enormous upgrade from the Athlon 64 X2 5000+ BE (2.6GHz) I was running before.
Cons: Might be twice as fast as my last processor, but also draws twice the wattage. Ouch.
Under extended load the included fan gets really loud. Might want to consider a quieter heatsink/fan combo. Won't consider overclocking until I get a better and quieter cooling solution.
Other Thoughts: With AMD all but giving up on the desktop performance race against Intel, this chip may represent the end of an era. This may be one of the last chips that makes any sense for an enthusiast desktop builder to use over Intel, and even then it only makes sense because its way way cheaper than any comparable Intel parts.
AMD FX chips seem to thrive on memory bandwidth, so get some DDR3 1600 or faster to go with this if you want to get the most out of it.