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This review is from: ASUS Z97-A LGA 1150 Intel Z97 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
Pros: Works as advertised with no headaches.
One-touch overclocking is stable.
Easy low power configuration.
Cons: None that I can see.READ FULL REVIEW
Pros: Basically a netbook in a micro-ATX form factor.
- Plenty of computing power for a server/HTPC type of box.
- Can run AMD Stream if you're into OpenCL and such
- Incredibly low power. Core speed can vary from 800MHz to 1.6GHz, configurable through Catalyst Control Center.
- Idles at 32C, 2xSuperPI is 45C without the fan in an Antec NSK2480 with both stock fans installed on their lowest speed.
- No Audio/Video stuttering with anything I could throw at it (DXVA-enabled drivers, tested h264, Mpeg-4, Mpeg-2, Youtube HD)
- Cheaper to buy this and run it for 2 years compared to my old hot computer for 2 years.
- Installed Windows 7 on fresh disks with no hand-holding.
Cons: - Windows drivers are not yet available through Windows update. This will surely change. Until then, you have to use the install CD, at least to get online.
- The installation DVD has a goofy GUI. I'd rather just have a list of things I can install, and not submenus or anything. The DVD file layout is quite nice though, in that you can easily find all the drivers in /Drivers with no particular searching required.
- There's a scuff protector on the heatsink that needs to be removed on first use; I almost missed it and stunk up my apartment.
- The BIOS boot order icons are a bit useless with multiple drives, as it only lets you select "hard disks" or CD/DVD. The actual boot order configuration menu lets you sequence the individual disks too.
Other Thoughts: It comes with a goofy little fan. It looks like you just screw it into the heatsink, and then you can apparently overclock a bit. I'm not entirely sure why Asus included it; I don't think the low power PC market is the type to overclock. The folks that do overclock probably won't use the little fan.
There's a tiny little enable/disable switch for "TurboKey" but it isn't particularly well documented. Mine came with it switched to "disabled" but apparently the default is "enabled."
It's got UEFI, which I find a bit jarring being used to the old ugly BIOS's of yesteryear. Because it's UEFI, I don't know how easy it would be to get Windows XP on this. I'm using Windows 7 Professional, 64-bit and it works great.
It's a new system. If you deviate from the QVL for RAM, who knows what you'll get. I got some Kingston HyperX and it works flawlessly.
It doesn't have "fake" RAID or a real RAID controller. I suspect it wasn't included because Windows software RAID is now very mature.
Pros: Cooling - Very effective. It's no tornado, but it's kept my P4 Northwood 2.66 at the same temperature as if the case were open. This is probably directly the result of the inclusion of the side air duct.
Noise - Very little. Well dampened, the 80mm front fan does not whine as is typically characteristic of small fans, and the stock 120mm fan is very good and quiet. For me, the case fans are not the loudest part of the computer system; that task is strictly relegated to my graphics card.
Features - Front access peripherals are useful. It's nice to see Firewire on the front. Screw-free 5.25 drive mounting is sturdy; I couldn't push drives out with all of my force when they are locked. The PCI expansion slot locks are also sturdy.
Build quality - Case is reasonably sturdy and not terribly heavy. Front 5.25 slots don't bend in very easily. Power button and reset button are very easy to press. Rolled metal edges are present in some places, however you still may scratch yourself.
Cons: The case will bend/skew a little if you force it while a panel is off the side.
The power supply slot is very easy to scratch yourself on.
It is a bit difficult to pick up off of the floor as there are no real grips on the case, and there are no posts on the bottom.
The front peripheral attachments are at the bottom of the case and not the top, restricting their use unless the case is on a desk.
Other Thoughts: I would call this the t-shirt of cases; they're reasonably cheap and comfortable, and they last a long time. Sure, you don't look like James Bond or somesuch if you're hauling these around, but this case absolutely gets the job done. I've recommended them to friends and they've thanked me for the recommendation.
Protip; Newegg puts these on sale frequently, so try to avoid paying full price.
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