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Pros: When it works, it works.
Cons: It stopped working.
Other Thoughts: Before buying this, I saw the reviews here. I figured it was a small batch of bad cards or a vocal minority. Apparently it's a large batch, and you can add me to what's becoming the vocal majority.
Today, two weeks after purchasing, my computer started crashing randomly, resulting in blue screens, my monitor losing its signal, red artifacts, or any combination of the three. My old card works fine.
Unfortunately I already filed the rebate, so a return was out of the question. I called up EVGA and got an RMA number. They covered the cost of shipping, which was nice of them. I then requested the baseline/inferior/cheaper 680 as a replacement, and they couldn't oblige, which was not nice of them. I'm afraid to even touch my replacement once it arrives. I'd rather sell it and have someone else deal with it.
In summation, stay away from this card. I don't know if there's an inherent flaw in the design, or if there's a large stock of faulty cards, but it doesn't matter. Go for a different EVGA model or a different brand.
Pros: 1. Removable motherboard tray that lets you swap components quickly.
2. Very sturdy construction. I had a HAF 922 in the past, and the side panels were a bit flimsy. No flimsiness here.
3. All black interior that's designed cleanly and easy to work in.
4. Handles on the sides of the case make transporting it very easy.
5. X-Dock is great for swapping hard drives, and the trays for it are the best I've used.
6. Plenty of room on the bottom half to store all of the ugly stuff. Fully assembled, you only see the parts worth showing off, and nothing obstructs airflow.
7. Remove the sides and the top (with six thumb screws), and you have a test bench with fantastic air flow. Put them back on, and you have a well-built and protective case that does not lose much in the way of air flow, due to all of the ventilation holes.
8. The 2.5" cage is removable if you do not need it.
9. Room for two 80mm fans and a 120 on the back, 120s or 140s on the front, and a 200 on top. Also room for radiators for water cooling.
Cons: 1. The fans are extremely noisy. Unless you wear closed headphones, you will want to replace them.
2. The 5.25" cage is not removable. I've no use for it, and it would make working inside the case even easier.
3. There's only room for two 3.5" drives. Not a problem for me, but if you plan on using more, you'll have to get creative.
4. No USB3 to USB2 adapter is included. If your motherboard does not have a USB3 connector, you will not be able to use the front USB ports without an adapter.
5. It's hard to get to the front dust filter. You have to remove the top, both sides, and pop off the front panel, which may result in one of the X-Dock drives coming loose if you're not careful.
6. Would have been nice to have rubber grommet holes between the front of the case and the motherboard tray to hide some unseemly cables.
7. I had difficulties getting my SSD to fit in the X-Dock. After screwing it into the tray, and sliding the tray into the dock, the drive was positioned too low to line up with the connectors. I tried both trays and both slots. I ended up not screwing in the two screws nearest the connectors, which left the drive loose enough to maneuver into the correct position.
Other Thoughts: I know the cons section is hefty, but they are all minor nitpicks that don't take away from the fact that this is a great case. It's unique, stylish (though many people seem to find it ugly), easy to work in, and fun. Normally I hate swapping cases because cabling never turns out the way I wanted, but this turned out great.
All in all, for a hundred bucks, if you have the room for it, and are looking for a test bench or an easily transportable LAN case, or just want something fresh and new to try, give this a go. Cooler Master did a fantastic job, and I plan on using this case for a very long time.
Pros: I managed to snag this when it was $85 after rebate. At that price, and for a board with these features, it really can't be beat.
Overclocking is dead easy. I was able to hit a stable 4.5GHz on my 2500k by changing the multiplier and nothing else. The board automatically increased the voltage and power limits to accommodate.
Cons: There's a bug in newer BIOS' that causes your multiplier to throttle unnecessarily. Stick with the original BIOS from June 2011 if you plan on overclocking.
Having C-States (a power saving feature) enabled causes the board to produce a terrible coil whine. It's nearly inaudible at stock, but when overclocking the noise is so loud that it's ridiculous. Many boards do this, and there's no real harm in disabling C-States, but MSI's main selling point is their military-grade components that supposedly produce no coil whine. So much for that.
Other Thoughts: Unfortunately, since researching and resolving my first con took a few hours and gave me a headache, and the second con gave me an even worse headache, I can't justify giving 5 eggs.
That said, if you stick with the original BIOS and don't mind coil whine or disabling C-States, this is a highly capable Z68 board. I absolutely recommend purchasing it when it's on sale. At full price, though, there are better alternatives from rival companies.
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