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MSI Z97 XPOWER AC LGA 1150 Intel Z97 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Extended ATX Intel Motherboard
  • Verified Owner
  • Owned For: 1 week to 1 month

3 out of 5 eggs Don't spend this much on a z97 MB 07/21/2014

This review is from: MSI Z97 XPOWER AC LGA 1150 Intel Z97 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Extended ATX Intel Motherboard

Pros: Good looking matte black PCB and finish.
Lots of space for an air cooled Sli/Crossfire setup.
Dual BIOS and PCIE graphics switches for diagnosing problems
Tons and tons of features.
Probably the best overclocking oriented board on the market.

Cons: Been a long time since I actually struggled with a motherboard install.
First off, wifi module was loose in the box and had clearly been handled by someone.
Wifi module is as hard to install as everyone says. There was another review up here about it, but it got taken down or something.

*Delid die guard does not fit Devil's Canyon*. It fits original Haswell. This is a giant mess. I guess there was no way to know Intel put an extra row of components on the top of the chip compared to a 4770k but they did. Thus, the delid guard is rendered essentially useless. The install was so clunky, when I realized the backplate for the retention bracket wasn't stuck to the motherboard and I was going to have to hold the backplate in with one hand while trying to screw on the delid guard from the top with allen wrench keys I gave up. Not only that but the 3rd center screw doesn't even fit the delid guard itself. You have to have a spare retention bracket screw lying around to fasten it at the front of the cpu. Not good.
Has an onboard super annoying and very bright blue LED that flickers along with the harddrive activity. If you disable it, the rest of the onbaord LEDs, which are subtle and useful go with it. All that is left is the pleasing yellow trail along the sound card PCB separation.
I actually couldn't get the board working properly at all with my MSI 295x2, which doesn't work in crossfire on the ONLY game I wanted to play it with (FFXIV). It was a complete nightmare. Instructions say to install a single card in the 2nd PCIE slot, so I followed them... no video but it did POST. Eventually I swapped the card to the first slot (a pain for a dual GPU that has hoses sticking out of it) and it gave me video. Subsequent issues where half the time the BIOS wou...ld... ru...n... rea...lly... sl...ow after windows got installed led me to actually have to call MSI for customer support. Something I don't like doing. Makes me feel like I'm stupid. It was a nightmare trying to get the BIOS updated on this board. As it turns out that was because I had flipped off legacy USB support while trying everything to get the BIOS to behave. You can ONLY update the BIOS properly on these boards from the BIOS itself. This is common enough, but MSI makes a handy tool to do it from within windows... except it can't update the ME, whatever that is. Some sort of connection between windows and the UEFI BIOS.
MSI CS actually told me to RMA the board. I continued trying to troubleshoot it on my own and got the BIOS and ME updated. Then when the cho....ppy BIOS thing kept happening, (mind you it was p95 stable in windows) I even tried to switch my 295x2 back to the second PCIE slot per the manuals instructions. After that I sent the board back to Newegg, who took care of me like they usually do. I love ordering from Newegg but this was a big mistake to buy on my part.

Other Thoughts: the X lights up white... looks nice but the whole board just has too many colors going on all over it. White leds, red reset button blue hdd flickering LED was really bad and then yellow highlights on the heatsinks. I was not expecting such a complete clashing of aesthetics and what seemed to me to be some sort of issue with my dual gpu graphics card while in the BIOS.

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AOC Q2770PQU Black  27
  • Verified Owner
  • Owned For: 1 day to 1 week

Pros: 4.5 eggs

Samsung Super-PLS: Fantastic colors, very few defects, decent gamma.

100% pixel perfect/Almost no IPS "glow"/100% bleed free.

No Pulse Width Modulation may offer better eye comfort.

Effective controls for a good low light setting. Colors out of the box are not perfect, but they are very pleasing. Calibration with an x-rite i1 display Pro yielded excellent gamma, perfect color distribution, and a good deep black that was *mostly* uniform.

OSD menu is fantastic, very deep, lots of features, but it is functional and fairly easy to navigate, I liked the gamma control. USB/software OSD control is a wonderful feature. Overdrive is worthwhile, but only to a point, the highest setting was too far.

Speed is a possible issue here, but ghosting is absolutely minimal without the Overdrive too high. Dedicated gaming preset has less input lag. For light to moderate gaming this monitor is a fantastic choice.

For office work and general use this is an outstanding value, offering good detail from white to black and without any big surprises anywhere on the massive array of pixels.

The ergonomics are excellent: stand is very sturdy and bottom heavy but the panel itself is lightweight and easy to adjust. Tilt/swivel/height/portrait 90. Unaggressive matte coating did not present much crystalline effect and combined with the fine grain matte bezel (very nice finish) is very resistant to glare and reflection without taking away much clarity.

Cons: Strange dark "stain" in 1 corner on white. It's feint, brownish/yellowish. I guess I would call this PLS "glow". There is a *very* feint but much wider dispersing silver tinted glow to some of the other corners but it is hardly worth mentioning--it might as well just be slight glare.

Contrast is not ideal. After calibration my unit hit 705:1, which surprised me a bit because the low end gamma and shading detail is quite good. I expected closer to 900:1. This is because the peak brightness is not nearly as high as the specifications indicate, while the absolute darkest the unit can go is better but still not ideal. Makes it a little difficult to see detail in content with bad lighting, for example--where a display like a modern AMVA really shines. All IPS derivative technologies suffer slightly from this, but some more than others, this guy is only about average in this respect among other 1440p IPS models.

Gaming mode is limited in color/brightness controls (sadly it's *way* to bright).

It's oretty good and heavy. Could use a handle built into the stand. Not fun or comfortable to move or set up.

Other Thoughts: USB hub, nice. Lots and lots of extras, but... it's just not fast enough to satisfy a gamer coming from a display like the Eizo Foris FG2421. For good colors and fast response and 120Hz it's that (with a lot of ghosting and weird uniformity quirks) or an imported bargain brand overclockable monitor. Well, at least Newegg sells those, as well.

In short, if you want a 4.5 egg monitor with a little less oomph (speed), this is it. It's a nearly glow free, very high quality panel and the chassis is very well built. But if you are looking for fast pixel response and low input lag, there are some monitors that come direct from Korea that will be better for your (and my) needs.

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CTL MTDD27010 27
  • Verified Owner
  • Owned For: 1 day to 1 week

4 out of 5 eggs Rugged Import 04/16/2014

This review is from: CTL MTDD27010 27" LCD Monitor

Pros: IPS color. Eye popping.

This unit arrived 100% pixel perfect. Zero dead or stuck pixels. Tested very thoroughly.

Gorgeous Housing. Understated black Apple Cinema Display look. The screen has a glass-type panel covering it, which gives it a classy and shimmering quality. There is a coating between the glass and the screen that keeps internal reflections from getting out of hand. It's glossy (and thus very clear) but not in an overly distracting way (unlike the expensive monitors I just mentioned).

The stand is fantastic. It weighs a lot and it is very, very sturdy. You are not going to accidentally tip the monitor over. You'd have to push it over and keep pushing til the tilting mechanism stopped to knock it off your desk. It tilts, it swivels, can go up high (FIVE inches of height on a telescoping riser) and it can even do portrait. Portrait is a little nuts, though, because this monitor is HUGE.

DangerDen is an awesome company run by real people from the Northwest. They used to make cases and a lot of cooling parts. Their logo is a neat double D and it's distinctive but understated in light chrome at the center of the bottom bezel. The overall aesthetic of the monitor is pretty pleasing--especially for the price.

Cons: So this is the not so fun part. I picked this monitor out hoping it would be like the Robin Hood of South Korean import monitors. What got me so excited apart from the novelty of having Danger Den make a 1440p monitor?

Well, it was supposed to be 120Hz. The online manual in PDF you can download from the CTL website states it's 120Hz and that the preferred input is Display Port. This would make this monitor very special indeed, and it is not true--it's also too good to be true, and I should have known better. As I understand it, DD ordered what they thought were 120Hz native IPS panels and ended up with panels that will overclock to 120Hz but drop frames to do it. In fact, if you try to Overclock this monitor to 76Hz it will completely flip out (major display corruption). So what do we really have here? If they had just never mentioned 120Hz in the manual to begin with I probably would have passed. But since I have the monitor here, let's poke at it some more.

I am not taking any eggs for the refresh rate issue because Newegg didn't make any claims about specifications for this model and the pricing certainly does not reflect the big splash a native 120Hz IPS monitor would have in the gaming community. It's such a niche interest at the moment, most people still think their "480 Hz" TVs are actually running at 480Hz. Yes, and my XBOX 360 can output at 4k.

Which leads me to inflated numbers. 1000:1 contrast ratio being the standard that all IPS variant monitors are listed as is pretty misleading. I don't have a good reading for this unit, but it isn't 1000:1 and it wouldn't help THAT much if it was because such a small portion of the screen is left untouched by pretty significant IPS GLOW. It makes all 4 corners of this unit turn grey on a pure black screen. This is a standard IPS issue but in this case it's severe enough to reach an off-white color in one of the corners--this was the deal breaker for me.

Another symptom of the import confusion is that these panels do not have proper brightness controls. The on screen menu is logical and easy to use, but the brightness control is simply not very effective, the monitor is far too bright and the level makes next to no difference until you reach below 20 or so (out of 100). I expect I would use brightness level of about 13 in dim lighting.

Other Thoughts: The reason a multi input 120Hz IPS monitor would be such a big deal is that people could play console games on them and use them for TV's as well as for their computers. In 120Hz land right now it's a TN with ugly colors and backlight bleed, an overpriced MVA with every possible defect you could think of but nice deep blacks, or a gamble on Overclockable import monitors with bad warranties and ONLY DVI inputs so no consoles and no Cable. Whoever cracks the first 120Hz native IPS/PLS will be rolling in dough, but they really need to figure out a way to keep the glow and backlight bleeding to a minimum.

For a 60Hz 1440p monitor under $500, I think this is an excellent option to have. Some will have more glow than others, and the glow is not an issue unless dark colors are being displayed in or around the corners. Considering this same issue exists with all the other reasonably priced IPS options, I think 4 eggs is totally reasonable. I like the monitor a lot, but not when dark scenes are up, for office work, it's outstanding. For bright games it would be fantastic, but for a dungeon crawl it might be a bit of a stretch.

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David L.'s Profile

Display Name: David L.

Date Joined: 12/03/11

  • Reviews: 6
  • Helpfulness: 1
  • First Review: 04/05/14
  • Last Review: 05/30/14
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