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Pros: Lightweight computer with a impressively response processor, decent stock system memory, respectable hard drive, built-in DVD R/W drive, and comfortable keyboard/track pad.
I really can't stress enough how nice it is to have a laptop with a keyboard that actually registers when I press the keys again. For the past 2 years I've used an Asus laptop with a similar 'chiclet' keyboard that you had to hammer on to get anything to register, so it's a huge relief for me. While I still use my Pok3r mechanical keyboard for most of my typing at home, it's nice to know that I can count on the laptop's built in keyboard and trackpad on the road.
The PC is also pretty responsive when opening and running various programs, even on the stock 4GB of memory. Granted, this sits at what I would consider to be the higher end of the "budget" category, but it's roughly $130 cheaper than the similar i7/6GB RAM model I tried in the store and it feels every bit as fast in every day actions.
The front facing speakers are also quite loud and sound very nice. Although I really only use them to listen to music in the home office, on many laptops I've found that unless you get a high end model the sound isn't very good. So it's sort of surprising to get some decent ones in this price range. Sure, bass isn't amazing, but everything else is crystal clear and easy to hear even at 50% volume or less.
Cons: Color accuracy and viewing angle of screen could be better, it would be nice to have a glass plate covering screen, no drive activity indicator, power supply feels dated and cheap.
My only real complaint about this laptop is that the viewing angle and color accuracy of the screen could be better for the price. I realize that a lot of other laptops in this price range don't have the most amazing screens either, and given that I'm mostly using this for school/office work it won't affect me too much, but keep this in mind if you plan on using this to watch movies on the go or do some light (and I mean light, it's only an i3 after all) gaming on it.
As for my other complaints, I would have preferred that the touch screen use a glass plate like other touch laptops simply because it's easier to clean and less likely to scratch. I don't use touchscreens much myself, but when everyone else in my house can't seem to resist the urge to touch LCD screens, it's nice to have that protective layer.
The activity indicator and power supply are both minor complaints as well. I do miss the right angle style of jack my old Asus supply had, along with the way it kept the power "brick" at the plug itself and not in the middle, under my feet, like the Dell charger. I also miss not being able to tell if the computer is just hanging because it's waiting on the drive or if it's actually frozen, which I used to use my activity LED to gauge, but that's gone now.
Other Thoughts: Overall this is a really nice laptop to consider if you're doing school/office work a lot and need something light and portable. It lacks the aluminum accents of similar Asus models, but I strongly feel that despite the casing being all plastic the overall build quality is superior. Now, one last thing, as far as the RAM issue mentioned in a couple of the other reviews, this laptop uses one 4GB stick of SK hynix DDR3 SODIMM PC3L-12800S-11-13-B4 memory, with room for one more RAM stick on the board. So if you're looking to double your RAM, hypothetically any other 4GB stick that runs at the same speed and 1.3v as this one should be compatible, but you can always order an exact twin of the current ram from a *ahem* different online retailer for around $20.
I only mention this because I've had compatibility issues with other laptops and "high performance" RAM from companies like Corsair, and I have yet to see the RAM timings posted anywhere else online.
This review is from: ZALMAN CNPS9900MAX-B 135mm Long life bearing CPU Cooler Blue LED
Pros: Great cooling capability, has held up incredibly well over the years, looks fantastic, still works just as well as the day I bought it, keeps an FX-8350 at 35c in a 22c room at stock speeds during full-load stress testing.
Cons: The fan can be a little loud at higher RPMs, although it may just be because it's old. It's also pretty big, so it can be a pain to install depending on how much space you have to work with. The thermal compound that it ships with isn't that great either. I'd recommend AS 5.
Other Thoughts: I've been using this heatsink in my main computer since I bought it back in 2011 and I still couldn't be happier with it. To me it really says something about the quality of this product that I've either replaced or upgraded literally every other part of my PC aside from this in that amount of time. If you need better cooling I'd definitely recommend giving one of these a shot.
At the current price I've even been kicking around the idea of picking up an extra one, just in case. Seriously.
Great job Zalman!
This review is from: MSI 990FXA-GD80 V2 AM3+ AMD 990FX + SB950 6 x SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard
Pros: Looks very lovely, quality of components is high, runs cool.
Cons: UEFI BIOS is horrible to work with,no pcie 3.0, BIOS updates from MSI are few and far between and don't address extremely common issues with the FX series processors, cannot overclock anything due to erratic voltages, board has become extremely unstable over the past year, MSI RMA process is the stuff of nightmares.
Other Thoughts: I've been using MSI boards for every AMD build I've done in the past four years and loved them, so naturally I picked up the 990FXA-GD80 to use with my FX-8350. I wish I never had. Problems started from day one with cores erroring out under load, random bluescreens, issues with memory compatibility, etc. The UEFI BIOS is also an unresponsive, horrid mess, and it's impossible for the board to supply an accurate voltage to your chip regardless of what you select. I couldn't accomplish ANY overclocking using this board, even on my older Phenom II 970 BE that was running at 3.8GHz at stock voltages on my older MSI 890FXA-GD70. Any voltage or multiplier that is over or under exactly what stock should have been would cause a BSOD or the machine to completely lock up. More importantly, over the past couple months the board has become increasingly unstable at the stock settings and is throwing other strange errors like losing about five min per week from the system clock (yes the CMOS battery was changed). BIOS updates from MSI are useless in solving any of these issues as well. Overall I'm extremely disappointed in the quality of this board and will likely replace it with an ASUS 990FX Sabertooth, since MSI's RMA service s laughably awful and in previous experiences their replacements were often worse than the original defective hardware I RMA'd. Don't buy.READ FULL REVIEW