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Pros: This laptop is well-built and durable. It has a spacious backlit keyboard with all the keys you're accustomed to and good action (for a laptop) that's easy to type with, and there's a nice trackpad that can be toggled off with fn+f9 or with software while some other pointing device is hooked up or while you're typing.
The Haswell 4-core with all the virtualization bells and whistles means your modern operating system sees no fewer than eight logical CPUs. There is plenty of RAM, and really good sound and video (for a laptop).
You have space in the easily disassembled case (single screw on the bottom, right in the middle under a little flap) for a second SATA drive, and you can get at the first SATA drive and two of four DIMM slots there too. Making modifications here will not void your warranty - unless you're clumsy about it.
The overall design is very nice. This laptop stays cool and dead silent until you start doing whatever you do to make it heat up, and it will readily do whatever you tell it to, and then it starts venting out the back. (Try to remember not to obstruct the space behind this laptop.) Your mouse hand, left or right, stays cool, and so do the keyboard and touchpad. The screen does not fasten or snap down, but it stays down when you close it. None of the moving parts or receptacles are flimsy.
Cons: This laptop is somewhat heavy and bulky. You'll want something to carry it with.
When the laptop is disconnected from an AC power source, the CPU clock throttles down noticeably, which to me is as much of a power-saving pro as it may be a performance con. I think there's a firmware release at support.asus.com that changes this behavior, which I have not installed. The battery will last a couple of hours while you're not doing much, or not long at all while you're killing zombies.
There is very limited support prior to Windows 8.0 (offered by chipset manufacturers or by Asus or by third-party vendors including Microsoft) for many of the hardware components installed. This will likely change in the future, but for now if you're going to use a Microsoft operating system, you are effectively "persuaded" to use Windows 8.0 or 8.1. Even Windows Server (my candidate was 2k8r2) is not an option.
Other Thoughts: Echoing the consensus of all the consumers on all the forums, Windows 8 is awful. This thing came with 8.1, but it's all the same in my opinion: unusable spyware riddled with annoyance and restriction.
The BIOS on this laptop doesn't let you "turn off" EFI, per se, but it lets you use something called CSM (Compatibility Support Module), and then each and every time (!) you go to use a bootdisk you can hold f12 and delete all the EFI boot options and that way whatever you boot up will think you've got a legacy BIOS. The 5400-rpm 1-TiB disk has a GPT (GUID Partition Table) which you may or may not require and you may or may not change.
If you're willing (eager?) to use GNU/Linux, you'll be pleased to know that everything works wonderfully with the exception of the ethernet module 'alx', which, at the time of this writing (circa kernel version 3.12.1), will break everything when you try to wake up from suspend, leaving you no option but to hard-reboot. It is a known bug and should be resolved momentarily, and in the mean-time there are simple hacks to unload and reload the module as necessary. When your laptop is not in a suspended state, the Qualcomm Atheros QCA8171 ethernet chip works fine, and so does the Broadcom BCM4352 802.11ac wireless chip (using the module 'wl'). Everything else can be made to work just the way you want it to with suprisingly little tinker time.
Pros: This motherboard has many many settings and extra features. It is fast and well laid out.
Cons: This motherboard runs hot. As others have lamented, the northbridge controller specifically has hit temperatures as high as 98 C in my build - without any overclocking, even with memory and video running well below spec this thing will run hot. By itself heat is not a huge problem to me (although 98 C may be pushing it) - but several onboard components regularly swing well more than 25 C and that kind of expansion / contraction will surely destroy this board in short order. The case is sitting in a well ventilated area, air cooled with stock fans and three additional 120mm's, pulling cool air over one platter drive, one optical drive, one PCI-e card, 4 dimms, and an 8120 with stock heatsink - really a barebones build, at most 450 watts.
There is some heresay online about re-mounting heatsinks with aftermarket thermal paste, and liquid cooling and other options, but if you haven't made your purchase yet, don't.
Pros: Affordability: if this card had worked as intended, price for performance would have been impressive.
Cons: Reliability: this card has not worked as intended.
Lackluster Support from manufacturer.
Other Thoughts: Purchased as part of a build for a family member who lives a long drive away. Within days there were complaints about freezing. Had a hard time finding any cause, troublshooting remotely. Spent several frustrating days walking people through OS re-install, Memtest86+, and BIOS tweaking, in addition to what I could do over RDP ... concluded that this card was defective.
Setup an RMA with Sapphire (rma+AT+althonmicro-DOT-com) as packaging and driver CD etc were thrown away, and shipped the card out for replacement at my expense. A week and a half later a replacement arrived (open-box, not new). This time around the fans turned but got no LED and no video. Went out and purchased another PCIe card, and so far so good.
What a pain it has been to deal with this, and at the end of it all to have to call the whole thing a loss. I am not a fanboy of this brand or that, and I usually keep my shopping experiences to my self ... but in this case I recommend NOT PURCHASING FROM THIS MANUFACTU
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