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This review is from: nMEDIAPC Red Wood Wood/Steel HTPC 8000 ATX Media Center / HTPC Case
Pros: The photo shows this case's biggest draw -- its unusual appearance. If you prefer to have a faux antique radio sitting in your AV stack than any of the numerous faux modern stereo receiver boxes, then this one is for you. Beyond that, the case seems to be basically sturdily built (note exceptions below). It's got moderately good accessibility; it's possible to remove smaller cards from a motherboard without removing the disk tray, but long or tall cards may require removing the disk tray. The front bezel comes with lots of attachments for miscellaneous media.
Cons: The front bezel is plastic painted to look like metal -- it's a bit cheesy. The optical disc flap folds down neatly when ejecting a disc, but the tray on my player (a Pioneer BDR-209DBK) gets caught when retracting, necessitating holding down the case's disc flap. The disk tray spans most of the width of the case and is held in place by two wood screws. I'm concerned that this will eventually cause problems, since removing and re-inserting those screws will no doubt damage the wood threads.
Other Thoughts: There's a space for an LCD readout on the front panel, but the unit I got didn't have an actual display; that's an extra purchase. I can't think of a truly compelling use for such a display so I'm not buying it, but if you want one, be sure to factor in the extra cost.READ FULL REVIEW
Pros: Good set of slots and I/O ports; firmware with lots of options, including mouse-over GUI with information on installed components
Cons: Linux kernels starting with 3.13.0, through at least 3.16.0-rc3, cause the board to reboot late in the boot process, at least with Ubuntu and related distributions. I've therefore had to downgrade my Mythbuntu installation to a locally-compiled 3.12.23 kernel. I haven't been able to get the S/PDIF port to work. Maybe that's a problem with the Linux drivers, or maybe my hardware is defective. As the board has 6-channel analog audio output, it wasn't worth the bother to return it to find out if it was a sample defect; I just hooked up the analog cables. The board can't remember its EFI boot options; I've had to install my EFI boot loader as EFI\BOOT\bootx64.efi on the EFI System Partition. This type of problem was common 2-3 years ago, but it's appalling to see it on a modern board. (I have upgraded to the latest firmware.)
Other Thoughts: I bought this board to upgrade an aging MythTV box, and overall it's been quite a disappointment. It does provide a significant speed boost, but its numerous problems have me frustrated and worried -- especially if the kernel version issue continues, I may need to replace this board relatively soon. Overall, I'd have to recommend that Linux users avoid this board.READ FULL REVIEW
This review is from: ASUS P8H77-I LGA 1155 Intel H77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Mini ITX Intel Motherboard
Pros: Better-than-average UEFI implementation; stable board once booted; socketed EEPROM; good mix of features
Cons: Manual is incomplete in describing Secure Boot features. Occasionally fails when booting Linux via an EFI stub loader. After a little more than a year, the board failed to boot (probably because of a failed firmware update). ASUS offers a 3-year warranty, but they refused service because my board doesn't have a valid serial number sticker on it. I don't know if it was never there or fell off somewhere along the line. So beware: Be sure you've got your serial number (cut it off the box and keep it with the manual, if necessary)!READ FULL REVIEW