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Pros: Gigabyte really delivered on this board by providing many new to market features. Two USB 3.1 ports, a Type-A and a Type-C, are integrated on the back panel. With the advent of smartphone manufacturers transitioning over to USB3 Type-C connectors, these ports are a welcome addition especially with the added bonus that it supports outputting up to 36 watts of power. Also present is a DisplayPort In connection. Connecting a DisplayPort cable from a video card to the DisplayPort In allows for the use of USB 3.1 Type-C displays.
Although the specs on this site indicate a 128Gb maximum supported memory, the Gigabyte GA-X99-Designare EX rev 1.0 will handle up to 256Gb! To reach this feat, Registered DIMMs must be utilized. Unfortunately, the board won't support ECC resulting in Registered RAM operating in non-ECC mode.
Other bonuses on this motherboard include the generous helping of three PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots (with support for both flavors of multi-video card platforms), a M.2 connector (for those physically tiny SSDs), dual GbE ports with support for teaming, and user controllable lighting.
The BIOS also contains some very flexible settings to allow for fine-grain changes. Overclocking was a breeze and reminded me of the time I spent with a DFI motherboard. The dual BIOS made bringing the device back to life, when I was a little overzealous with the overclocking, a snap!
Cons: Beware! The GA-X99-Designare EX is very picky with RAM. Yes, the order of populating the DIMM slots counts and such but I'm referring to general DIMM overclockability with non-tested memory. I started out with a random set of four matching 2666 DDR4 sticks taken out of another PC. These worked fine at stock motherboard timings on this Gigabyte board but kicking in the XMP profiles for the 2666Mhz speed resulted in a wide range of problems ranging from random app crashes to Windows 10 reboots. Hard coding the timings and frequency did not solve the issue. Luckily, I had ordered a pack of four DDR4 3200 sticks recently and they just so happened to be on the compatibility chart available on Gigabyte's website where my original set wasn't. These performed like a champ even when utilizing the 3200Mhz XMP profile.
If you're looking to run 256Gb of RAM with this Gigabyte motherboard, the Memory Compatibility Chart only has two options as of the writing of this review.
The list of PCI Express slots that will decrease in bandwidth if 'x' is used is longer than most. Robbing one slots bandwidth to use another port is a downside of having a large amount of bandwidth intensive connections and it is made painfully apparent here.
The BIOS was a bit sluggish when navigating or selecting different categories. Although the new beta BIOS available on the Gigabyte website seemed to help, it still has some growing room to fit in with the X99 crowd in this range.
Other Thoughts: I'm impressed with everything Gigabyte was able to add to this motherboard while still retaining stability, less the RAM situation. Hopefully future BIOS updates will further improve the memory compatibility. Gigabyte has several marketing docs showing an add in Thunderbolt card but it doesn't appear to be available as of yet.
i7-5820K @ 4.4ghz
EVGA GTX1080 FE
Samsung 840 Pro 256Gb
Corsair H115i AIO Liquid Cooler
Corsair HX1000i Power Supply
This review is from: ASUS Black ZenFone 2 View Flip Cover Deluxe (ZE551ML) 90AC00F0-BCV006
Pros: Enables access to various apps without having to go through the main menus. Need to check the time, turn on the flashlight, take a picture, etc? The Flip Cover provides quick and easy access to these features and more through its 'Port Hole'.
The cover's texture eliminates the slick feeling of the Zenfone 2’s stock back cover. After adding this cover, I no longer feel as though the phone could rocket out of my hand at the slightest breeze/bump. This texture also prevented the phone from sliding around inside of my vehicle without having to purchase a third party anti-slip mat. With this being said, the cover doesn't go overboard with the grip. It still allows for easy retrieval even out of a pocket on a pair of skinny jeans.
Removes the need to press the power button or tap the screen twice to wake up the phone. Once the Flip Cover is installed, simply flipping open the cover will bring the phone out of sleep. After using this cover, it makes pressing the power button on other phones seem like a chore.
Slight power saving benefits. After installing this cover, I noticed I would have about ~5% more battery power remaining by the end of a standard day. I believe this is due to me being able to see meeting, text, call, clock, and email notifications through the 'Port Hole' quicker than through the standard Android menus.
Cons: Finger oils build up on the 'Port Hole' quickly. When taking pictures using the main camera, the Asus team indicates the cover should be flipped back behind the phone. In this orientation, the main camera takes pictures through the window of the cover. Image quality of the phone suffers due to having to take the picture through an often smudgy window. When I take the approach of holding the flip cover at a 90 degree angle from the phone, pictures are clearer but become awkward to take.
The Flip Cover's hinge has a slight memory effect. If the cover is flipped back for any longer than checking an email, the flap will not want to close completely at first. I work around this by either holding the cover shut for several seconds or closing the cover and flipping the phone over as so that the weight of the phone corrects the issue. This isn't a big deal but it is a minor annoyance.
Other Thoughts: While this cover does flip over the display, it will not protect it from more than minor scratches and dings. On this same note, it has protected my phone from the various keys and such that have resided in the same jean pocket as the phone. Even with these sharp points actively sliding against the phone almost every day, both the cover and phone underneath have remained scratch free.
I was taken aback by the need to remove the stock back cover of the Zenfone 2 as this was the first time I had seen an accessory replace the back cover. Realizing this is a cover and not a case clarified the reasoning behind this.
When I first started using the Zenfone 2, I felt as though something was missing. My previous phone allowed for seeing the time, date, and notifications simply by holding my hand over the display. After installing the View Flip Cover, the Zenfone 2 finally felt complete to me. To me, the Zenfone 2 really shines once it is paired with the View Flip Cover.
This review is from: Asus Zenfone 2 Unlocked Smart Phone, 5.5" Silver, 64GB Storage 4GB RAM, US Warranty
Pros: Asus made a sleek high quality phone with a fast 2.3 Ghz Intel processor, plenty of RAM, and lots of storage. This phone powers through everything I throw at it and hasn't bogged down.
Even with all of this processing power, the phones battery out shines many others. My phone environment consists of my work exchange email, personal Gmail, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter all running with Push notifications enabled. While utilizing the phone for apps approximately 10 minutes out of every hour of the work day with many phone conversations sprinkled between, I have been consistently able to go two days without recharging. The quick charge function provided by the included power adapter came in real handy for those times when I forgot to plug the phone in overnight after two days of use. I was able to plug in the phone before my morning shower/shave and have over a 50% charge by the time I was ready to leave for work. Due to the efficiencies in the platform, this was plenty to last through the day.
The call quality of the Zenfone 2 has been crystal clear over the ATT network. Voices through the speaker phone are actually quite clear and the microphone has been great at providing the person at the other end of the call with an understandable audio compared to the mumbling most phones seem to translate audio into.
I would have preferred a dedicated camera button for this phone. With the photo function being pushed with this phone, and the Flip Cover accessory, a dedicated camera button would have made taking images more comfortable. While on the subject of dedicated buttons, the volume rocker rests below the camera lens on the back of the phone. In my time using this phone, utilizing the volume rocker never felt natural.
The Bluetooth stack in Lollipop never functioned correctly with music (I tested with multiple audio sources and Bluetooth devices). The area of greatest concern was in my 2012 Mazda vehicle. Music playing via Bluetooth would skip for brief moments of time. These skips were subtle enough that it made the music sound as though the tempo had simply increased for an instant then returned to normal.
Aside from the Bluetooth oddities, I have been unable to set different sounds for email and text messages. The sound titled New Message is played for both of these scenarios which has actually increased my need to check the phone in order to confirm whether it was to indicate a text or email. Through research, both of these issues seem to be due to the Lollipop version of Android and hopefully will be corrected soon with an OTA update (I did apply an available firmware update but this didn't rectify these issues).
Other Thoughts: I’m using this phone through ATT in a large market. I attempted to utilize Verizon as the second SIM only to discover this phone is meant for GSM phone carriers (ATT and T-Mobile here in the USA).
Experiences migrating from a Windows Phone 8 Nokia 1020:
Asus included many Apps that allowed for a seemless transfer of my contacts from my Nokia. This process simply needed a Bluetooth connection to be established between the two devices and within a couple of minutes, all of my contacts were on the Zenfone 2. One big concern I have is the lack an integrated feature that allows for text messages to be read to the user over Bluetooth and provide a response, if desired, to said message. With the ever increasing ‘Hands Free’ laws, this should be a must. Yes, calls can be made and accepted over Bluetooth. Yes, there may be an android app that provides this but it isn't a feature of the phone out of the box. If this feature were to be added through either the Android OS or a preinstalled Asus App, I wouldn't have even a sliver of a thought to go back to my Windows Phone.