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This review is from: MSI Z97 PC Mate LGA 1150 Intel Z97 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
Pros: It's a cheap motherboard for having one of the upper tier LGA1150 chipsets. It's also fairly well laid out and easy to work with.
Cons: Two of the four RAM slots died completely several days after the new machine was assembled.
The first sign of trouble happened right after the machine was delivered to the customer as random BSODs in Windows. This further progressed into spontaneous reboots and then finally the machine wouldn't POST and would just endlessly power cycle.
Moving the RAM module from slot 1 to slot 3 or slot 4 made the machine work again, but I'm not in the business of pushing faulty merchandise to my customers.
Further internet research into the issue has lead to the bleak discovery that it's a fairly common problem on this motherboard model, which I dread since the bad board was sent back for a replacement board of the same type. I really hope I don't get a second bad board because I already have an irate customer that has gone a week and a half without their new machine because of this.
Other Thoughts: I've been using MSI motherboards for about 15 years and this is the first ever board from them I've gotten which was bad, which is a bit of a disappointment. I won't stop using them, but it will make me think twice before I get another.
Even more irritating is that there are apparently 2 or 3 different motherboards with the exact same model name (but not model number), which the MSI website doesn't even attempt to differentiate between.
While sifting through drivers is a trivial task, getting a BIOS update is just a tad hazardous because the different boards use different BIOS versions that are not inter-compatible and could result in a bricked board. You pretty much need to update the BIOS as soon as you get the machine up and running too since these boards usually ship with a really old BIOS version.
This review is from: MASSCOOL 8W553B1M3 90mm Ball CPU Cooler
Pros: This cooler has more airflow than a stock LGA775 cooler and has less restricted airflow as well (fins aren't as narrow.)
And while it isn't silent by a long shot, it is considerably less annoying than the stock Intel cooler. The Intel cooler has a very annoying whine at full throttle from the un-ducted fan.
Cons: First, this cooler cannot cool the TDP it's rated for. The specs don't give a concrete TDP limit, but it does say it will cool a "Prescott Pentium 4 3.6 GHz" which is 115W. This cooler absolutely will not do that, in fact it has trouble with anything over 65W. I have it on a Pentium 4 524 (3.06 GHz, 84W) and it will go over TCase while idle and near 80C under load.
Second, the mounting system is extremely hazardous. The screw bolts are made with an extremely poor quality metal and are anodized with an extremely thin layer of expensive metal to give it the chrome look.
The problem with this is that when you start screwing the bolts into the mounting bracket, metal shavings start flying everywhere. If you aren't very careful about protecting the motherboard, some metal shaving will inevitably go somewhere it shouldn't and destroy the motherboard. I had to learn this the hard way.
The way I found to stop this is to pinch a slightly damp cloth around each bolt as it's fastened to the bracket to catch any metal bits that come off. You have to do this every time you install or remove the cooler.
Other Thoughts: This is just your average LGA775 cooler, it's about as bad as the stock Intel cooler, but trades blows with it in different areas. They're both awful coolers but I'd pick this over an Intel cooler even with the metal shavings problem due to the annoying screaming of stock Intel coolers.
But at this price, you can get a much better cooler so you should only get one on sale.
Pros: - Cheap.
- One of the smallest MicroATX motherboards you can buy.
- Easy to install.
Cons: The two biggest issues I had were that first, the UEFI was corrupt and I couldn't boot to any device until I re-flashed with the latest UEFI version for this board.
Second, the Driver CD that was included with this motherboard was a coaster, no optical drive I owned could read it without making terrible noises. Luckily I had a similar MSI motherboard that used the same drivers.
Anemic selection of accessories. MSI included at least a manual on other models of their boards at the same price point, all this one had was a poor quality install guide on a single sheet of folded paper.
Other Thoughts: I bought this board because it was the only board that I could find that would fit the size constraints of the project I was working on.
Basically I'm gutting a 2001 Compaq iPaq Desktop and installing this board, 8 GB of RAM and an A8-6500. It's been a challenging project so far but it's nearly done.