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Pros: Bought yet another Gigabyte motherboard (been buying Gigabyte since the Athlon XP days), and once again very happy with it. That said, I usually buy more workstation-oriented motherboards, this was my first motherboard marketed toward gamers, so I figured I would give it a shot.
The two selling points of this motherboard are the Killer E2201 NIC, and the Sound Core3D chip:
The Killer E2201 NIC is cool?... I guess. Wake-on-LAN works (which is all I really needed), and with the driver software you can prioritize certain applications over others. To be honest I can't notice any real difference in performance when you prioritize an online game over every other app on your computer. Is the driver software working? Who knows, I can't tell. Just seems a little gimmicky to me. But it works just as good as the Intel NICs, so who am I to complain?
The Sound Core3D chip, however, is nice. I am by no means an audiophile, but I do work with professional audio engineers on a daily basis, so I like to at least pretend to know what I am talking about. The sound is very good for a consumer-level product, and the software is identical to that found on Sound Blaster's Z/Zx/ZxR series sound cards. The motherboard gives you the ability to swap operational amplifiers, but I have yet to do so. Gigabyte's own Op-Amp kit is hard to find (not sold in the USA?), and I haven't felt the need to look elsewhere for one.
The motherboard itself is *slightly* smaller than ATX, which should give you more room in your case. Because of this, you won't be able to use the right-most mounting holes that you typically have with a standard ATX motherboard. The compensate for this they give you an extra mounting hole on the middle row to help support the motherboard when plugging in DIMMs. But I for the life of me can't figure out which standard uses that mounting hole (it isn't ATX, micro-ATX, or mini-ITX). At any rate, my Define R4 case certainly doesn't support whatever form factor that it was meant for, so I couldn't use that extra mounting hole. But I supported the bottom of the motherboard with my fingers when plugging in my memory and everything went well.
The UEFI/BIOS is essentially the same UEFI that Gigabyte uses with all of their Z87 motherboards, with a green Sniper-themed skin applied to it, a nice touch. Everything else is pretty standard for an overclocking capable high'ish-end motherboard. It all works well, but nothing terribly exciting in my opinion.
Cons: By far my biggest pet peeve is the location of the USB3 header. Instead of along the bottom of the motherboard like every other header, they decided to put it next to the 24-pin power header. Nearly all of Gigabyte's motherboards (maybe all motherboards from every manufacture?) of late put the USB3 header there... and it drives me NUTS because you have to bend that ultra-long, ultra-inflexible USB3 cable to fit into a place that it clearly was not designed to go. Cable management nightmare.
I also don't agree with the configuration they went with for FlexIO. I personally would rather have seen a single PCIe x4 and a single legacy PCI slot while sacrificing the necessary two USB3 ports. Instead they opted to have two PCI slots, six USB3 ports, and an unused PCIe lane. But, just my opinion.
Sound Blaster's driver software leaves a lot to be desired, in my opinion. They aren't BAD drivers, but instead just seem... empty. All of the advertised features are there and work well, but I guess I just expected more.
Beyond that, no real complaints. Gigabyte's AppCenter software (@BIOS, EZ Setup, EasyTune, On/Off Charge, etc) is terrible, but hey--it has always been terrible (like most motherboard software) and I fully expected it to be terrible before I bought it. I will say that the new look for the applications is significantly better, so Gigabyte deserves a gold-star for effort. But all of those applications are simply added-bonuses anyway and truly do not affect my overall opinion of the motherboard. That said, if you are buying the motherboard because of the included Gigabyte software, don't.
Other Thoughts: With the exception of the Killer E2201 NIC, this motherboard is 100% stock Intel Haswell Z87 platform. Not extra USB hubs, no extra SATA controllers, not PCIe controllers, nothing like that. Flex IO is set to six USB 3.0, six SATA III, and six PCIe 2.0 (one of those six lanes seems to be unused). Very much a no frills setup.
I "side-graded" to this motherboard from a GA-Z87X-UD4H. I was having issues with my Razer mouse and keyboard, which I had (incorrectly) assumed was caused by some of those extra frills in the UD4H. The goal was to get a super simple, yet capable motherboard while having the added bonus of freeing up some case space by ditching my old sound card. Combined this with a 4770K, 16gb of RAM, a Radeon R9 290, and a simple water cooling setup and I ended up with a fully capable gaming system with decent overclocking potential. Couldn't be happier.
I've noticed a lot of people have complained about the positioning of the SATA ports. I don't really know why, they seem fine to me. Perhaps there are issues with some cases that I didn't encounter with my Define R4, who knows.
This review is from: RAZER Taipan USB Gaming Mouse - Black
Pros: Mouse worked great when it worked... until it doesn't. When it does work, I absolutely love it.
It utilizes Razer's Synaspe software, the same driver software common across all of their devices as of late. Some love the software, others hate it. Personally, I don't absolutely despise it, but it certainly isn't my favorite piece of software in the world. The software allows you to do all of the common gaming-mouse related tasks... customizable buttons, DPI adjustments, surface calibration, etc.
Since this is only my second gaming mouse (my first being the Razer Diamondback 3G), I can't truly comment on how it compares to other gaming mice out there. But I will say that it preforms well compared to my old Diamondback 3G. It isn't quite as comfortable as my old mouse, but this was to be expected—I used the Diamondback for over 5 years and I knew it would be tough for me to accept a different feel.
Cons: The mouse has tons of problems with my Z87 systems. No deal-breakers, but tons of nagging, super annoying issues to deal with. Most of these issues seem to be fairly common problems (but not universal problems) just based on other reviews.
After a cold boot, the mouse tracking is terrible. Almost like someone turned the polling rate to 0.5 Hz. It takes 15-20 minutes for the mouse to "warm up" to begin to function correctly. Disconnecting and reconnecting the mouse seems to speed up the "warm up" time to 2-5 minutes, but it doesn't solve the problem. Same issue occurs after waking the computer from sleep. Takes at least 5 minutes for it to work properly. The issue isn't limited to the Taipan, I also have a Razer keyboard that doesn't work properly with Z87 systems.
Doesn't matter if I use different drivers, no drivers, different operating system (Win7/8), etc. the issue still occurs. So it appears to be an issue with the hardware itself. Razer support seems just as clueless as I am. The last time I tried contacting them they simply stopped responding.
Other Thoughts: I mentioned in the "Cons" section that the issues only occurs with my Z87 systems. I've tried three different Z87 motherboards, all with the same results. Just annoying problems left and right. For now I have gone back to using my Diamondback 3G (which works flawlessly, by the way) until my new mouse from a will-not-be-named different manufacturer arrives.
THAT SAID, prior to Z87, I used both the Razer Taipan and another Razer peripheral on an AMD 990FX system for nearly a year and both devices worked flawlessly. I have a feeling it has something to do with how Haswell handles power savings, but I cannot confirm this since I cannot seem to get any help with the issue.
I do like the mouse when it functions properly, but unfortunately the issues I have encountered prevent me from recommending it—particularly if you have a new Haswell system. Disappointing to say the least... I had such a great experience with my Diamondback 3G and I was hoping the Taipan would be equally as great.
Pros: Bought four of these drives for my Synology NAS. Set them up in a RAID-5 and they have been running fine for the last 8 months.
The drives aren't as fast as the previous drives that were installed in my NAS, but I didn't expect them to be. They are fast enough to do everything I want to do, including running a media server capable of streaming 1080 10mbps video.
Cons: One of the four drives I ordered was DOA. To be honest I'm not sure if it is Western Digital's fault or NewEgg's packaging. But NewEgg's RMA process was nearly painless, so I can't complain.
Other Thoughts: Several reviewers have reported high failure rates. I personally haven't had that experience (other than the DOA), but I am a little nervous.
I will say that the drives have been spinning for ~18 hours a day every day for the last 8 months and I haven't had a failure yet. So far so good!
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