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This review is from: SUPERMICRO MBD-X10SL7-F-O Micro ATX Server Motherboard LGA 1150 Intel C222 DDR3 1600
Pros: 8 port LSI 2308 SAS Controller onboard
Sufficient PCI-E slots for connectivity expansion or adding a second controller
Out of band management capabilities
Rock solid stability
Cons: Isn't always on sale
Other Thoughts: Supermicro has a fantastic reputation for providing quality and stable products at very affordable prices. Prior to acquisition of this board as part of a slightly over-the-top FreeNAS build, I procured a SYS-5019-L server for virtualization capabilities and was thoroughly impressed with the capabilites of the iKVM and overall system stability. The experience had sold me on Supermicro for more critical computing needs. This board stood out for a number of reasons that justified the purchase, which include:
1.) Socket 1150 - I had a Xeon E3-1225 v3 on hand, as well as 32GB ECC DDR3 memory. These components would be plug-and-play with this board and provide an exceptional amount of compute for the intended purpose.
2.) Integrated LSI 2308 SAS Controller - LSI Logic controller cards in IT mode are the de facto community recommendation for FreeNAS. Having this solution integrated was a significant benefit, and helped keeps the costs of the NAS under control.
3.) iKVM - the functionality Supermicro provides out of the box matches or exceeds what other Tier 1 vendors offer ONLY AFTER you drop a few hundred dollars more to license the functionality.
4.) Perfect form factor - pairing this with the 825TQ-563LPB 2U rackmount case was a perfect match after making two minor tweaks inside of the case. Cable lengths line up perfectly for using the included power supply.
The cost of this motherboard (when it's on sale) was LESS than the cost of an LSI 2308-based HBA (new, not used). This sealed the deal. The documentation included consisted of a poster and a QA sheet, which is perfect for the intended purpose. The only additional component I installed was an Intel i340-T4 NIC to enable segregation and provide dedicated links for iSCSI traffic as the NAS pulls double-duty as a target for my virtualized workloads. Firmware was a bit out of date, but didn't present any significant challenges to update. The system built upon this motherboard has been rock solid and exceeded my expectations for performance.
Cooling for onboard SAS controllers is a legitimate concern that I accounted for with the case selection. The aforementioned server chassis included an air shroud and ample fans with the appropriate pressure to ensure the controller stays cool. If you have experience or read the reviews on comparable Extended Mini-ITX boards with the same SAS controller, you'll note that cooling for this component is critical for reliable and stable operations. The proper planning to address cooling if you opt for an enclosure that doesn't have adequate airflow needs to be accounted for. I'm very happy with this board and look forward to maintaining the service its providing for years to come.
Pros: Intel NIC
USB 3.1 Ports (A and C)
3 PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots
NVMe SSD Boot DIsk Support
SATA Port Layout
Included SLI Bridge
Easy-to-update UEFI BIOS
Easy-to-access TPM Header
Cons: Only 2 chassis fan headers and 1 CPU fan header
Single-latch DIMM slots
Other Thoughts: It's been a few years since I last owned a system that was built around a Micro-ATX motherboard. I had selected my case before looking into motherboard options, and had a great experience with my last ASRock motherboard (Z97 Killer). I found this motherboard and perused the mostly positive reviews before deciding to stick with ASRock on this latest upgrade cycle. The specifications section of Newegg's site helped me determine that the "deficiencies" I had experienced with the outgoing board were accounted for and remediated with the Z170M Extreme4.
Visually, this is a beautiful motherboard that begs to be displayed in a windowed case. The photos don't do it justice. The color scheme and layout of the caps is visually appealing and well thought out. The SATA ports on the side are a feature that's taken for granted until you don't have it. The cable management for a storage array is much easier to execute upon when you're not implementing bends off of ports that are flush with the motherboard. Slot spacing is adequate for the majority of potential configurations. The caps that are closes to the CPU socket _may_ present an issue with some of the more extreme coolers. The Arctic Cooling solution I used for this system fit perfectly and had enough clearance.
The subtle yet appreciated improvements to the BIOS made the update process a walk in the park. While the Basic Mode presents some of the configuration items that may require adjustment, the prior experience with the Advanced Mode makes it preferrable. Once you enter Advanced Mode, it's easy enough to set it to be the default. The Intel RAID utility worked just as it did on the outgoing board, with no surprises encountered. After all drivers and applications were installed, the system has been rock solid. The TPM header existing at the bottom of the board goes a long way toward avoiding the manual dexterity acrobatics of installing a TPM module into a fully loaded system when the port is placed in a suboptimal location (e.g. next to the I/O ports).
The two cons don't impact the viability of the board, but need to be called out and addressed. The singular fan header works fine with the stock Intel cooler or any single-fan aftermarket cooler. If you're focused on overclocking, you'll most likely pair this with a liquid cooling solution which would negate the need for two headers. Use of quality air-cooled solutions that support more than one fan would benefit from the second header. Equal applicability exists for ventilation within the case. My selected case came with three fans, which would have been an issue had it not been for the fan controller that was built into the system. Solutions such as a Corsair SPEC-01 or something similar that may only have two fans by default won't be impeded by the limited number of chassis fan headers on the board.
Overall, ASRock did an excellent job on the layout and design of this motherboard. There are enough slots and USB ports to build a very potent system around this motherboard. I don't believe there's a better value available in this form factor at this point in time.
This review is from: ASUS USB 2.0 / USB 3.0 External 12X Blu-Ray Writer Model BW-12D1S-U LITE/BLK/G/AS
Solid build with ample weight
Includes everything required to use it
USB 3.0 Support
Cons: Use of non-matte plastics on the enclosure will make it a dust and fingerprint magnet
A little too much bling for this type of device
Eject button requires more-than-normal pressure
Other Thoughts: The price that Newegg is selling this drive for is a veritable bargain. I've had great luck with prior ASUS optical drives, but also noted some of the less-than-stellar feedback posted on this unit. A few main notes as it's just been unboxed and is already in use:
1.) The on-off switch is trapezoidal in nature and requires quite a bit of force to engage the drive in the on or off position. I find this to be a benefit as it will prevent an inadvertent power down of the unit. It's clearly labelled on the back, and doesn't require much explanation in the documentation. It's either on. Or off.
2.) Very fast performance. It's definitely not quiet, but I've had internal 5.25" optical drives that are noisier than this external unit. Connected via USB 3.0 with no major surprises.
3.) The eject button on the side can easily be pressed without obstructing the path of the tray. Prior reviews stating otherwise lead to questions about how big one's thumb or finger may be. Pressure needs to be applied to the upper section of the button to trigger ejects and loads respectively.
4.) The "fire and ice" blue crystal near the top may or may not appeal to your taste. It's not blinding, but not everyone is a fan of excessive bling. As it doesn't improve the drive's function in any way, the electrical tape method would be effective in permanently hiding it if it bothers you.
I've already converted much of my legacy media to ISO files using the disk. No odd odors detected, and the media is cool to the touch after use. For the current price, you really can't do much better than this drive!