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This review is from: DEEPCOOL STEAM CASTLE (YELLOW) Unique Steam Punk Style With Side Window 200mm Fan(Front) Micro ATX / Mini-ITX+120mm Fan(Rear)+4 Magic Controllable LED Lights (Top) SGCC+PLASTIC (ABS)
Pros: Very unique looking, maintains low temps, plenty of drive mounting options and fairly sturdy. Everything opens up for fairly easy access, but still awkard with this layout. 2.5" drive bays and 3.5" drives for whatever SSD/HDD combination you desire. Plenty of space to fit my 780 without issue. Big front intake fan keeps positive case pressure and air can be felt exiting the light ports up top, with a filter (not included) this will really keep dust buildup down.
Cons: The first thing I noticed when I pulled the case out of the box is that the plastic and the yellow paint didn't match. There was a pretty significant difference between the two, not even an "if you look really closely you can see" difference. While the flat motherboard mounting was one of the things that initially interested me most when I was asked to review this case, it wound up being one of the biggest headaches. Both sides come off easily for access to mounting screws, but cable management is a whole new issue. The only openings to hide cables are towards the front of the case down towards the PSU housing and with an ITX board like I was using, that's a lot of cable just flopping about. The tinted window makes it pretty hard to see, but it was still annoying. The SSD/HDD cages are on the bottom which leaves plenty of space for components above, but the wiring again left me a bit frustrated.
Another major annoyance for me was the front panel connectors being on the right side of the case. There's a huge 200mm fan on the front that plays a major role in cooling but eliminates actual front panel connectors. I'd even prefer having them up top. It's really strange to me that they're on the opposite side of the case compared to the window. You'll either have the window facing you and have to reach to the other side to turn it on and plug things in or have the connectors facing you and have the window pointing away. The fan controller dial with the LED control in the middle is nice to have, but it doesn't seem to alter the fan speeds much, just make an electronic buzzing noise.
Other Thoughts: It's a pretty interesting case and I can see its appeal for certain people. It keeps components cool and has space for some pretty decent hardware. I wound up painting which dealt with the color matching issue and so far kids really love it when they see it. Maybe a good case for a console alternative for your young'ns!READ FULL REVIEW
This review is from: ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Performance LGA 1150 Intel H97 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s Intel Motherboard
Pros: This is a solid board with a very accessible price point. Sub $100 gets you a fairly extensive feature set considering. The board does have support for AMD Crossfire (more on this later), all digital power management circuitry, 4 USB 3.0 ports on the back and another 4 2.0, a pretty nice integrated audio system with a built-in headphone amp, and a high-end look with an attractive color scheme.
While I would normally prefer the 90 degree, front facing SATA and 24 pin connectors, these "flat" connectors will lend themselves quite nicely to a smaller mid tower where the others could be difficult to use.
The UEFI BIOS is easy enough to navigate and adjust to your liking and looks very nice with the HD option.
Cons: There were a couple of issues I found that really turned me off from this board.
First off there's this dual-gpu limitation that seems to be on all the H97 boards. The 4th and 5th gen Intel Core series processors all provide 16 PCIe 3.0 lanes. Both the Z and H97 chipsets provide another 8 PCIe 2.0 lanes. This board (and from the looks of it, all other H97 boards) routes all 16 lanes from the CPU to the top GPU slot and then shares the chipset lanes among the rest of the board's features. Ultimately you're left with 4 lanes for the second x16 slot. This is why SLI isn't supported, Nvidia requires 8 lanes per GPU. Benchmarks of x16/x4 Crossfire vs x8/x8 are pretty easy to find and there's a significant penalty to pay for this setup. I'm fairly confident this is a restriction from Intel for this chipset, but it is certainly worth noting if you are considering a dual GPU setup. Another thing to note regarding the PCIe lanes: should you occupy one of the x1 slots, 2 lanes are directed to those slots dropping the x16 further to only 2 lanes.
The other main issue I had was with regards to overclocking. The BIOS provides all the adjustments necessary (multiplier, voltage, etc) and even shows that my 4770k is at 4000MHz on the main page, but when running CPU-Z to validate the speeds it always reports the stock CPU speeds. I waited to see what other reviewers had to say and if their overclock attempts were successful. I know the H series chipset isn't supposed to support overclocking, but with all the options available I wasn't sure what to expect.
The only other issues I'd bother pointing out had to do with board layout. The front panel audio is at the far bottom, rear corner. It could be a real stretch to connect on some cases.
The clear CMOS jumper is right below the top x16 slot as is the BIOS selection jumper so performing either of these tasks will require removing your graphics card (if you have a single-slot card you should be able to get at the selection jumper).
Other Thoughts: Ultimately I had to consider this board and its target market. In the sub-$100 category I think it fits in just fine and is quite comparable to other H97 boards.
I would advise against this board if you are seriously considering a dual GPU system, you really won't be getting the everything you paid for from the cards.
I really like the audio on this board. The headset amp drives my Sennheiser HD558s quite nicely (50 Ohms) and the Realtek 1150 surprised me with its capabilities (along with available software for fine-tuning). I wouldn't bother with one of my beloved Xonars on this board.
This review is from: Yamaha RX-V375 5.1 Channel 3D AV Receiver
Pros: Low price, lots of features, adjustable EQ per speaker, on-screen menus make adjustments easy, 4k and 3d passthrough, HDMI control (for supported components), and again THE PRICE
Cons: For a sub-$200 receiver I can't complain about anything. Power isn't incredibly high, but if your speakers require more you shouldn't even be looking in this range. The only thing I didn't like was the YPAO setup. I manually configured everything to my liking and then tried the YPAO to see what it came up with. I followed the instructions to the letter and the result was increasing the surround speakers and subwoofer to the maximum and decrease the fronts and center channel significantly. Pretty strange results but I manually reconfigured and everything is just right.
The only other minor thing is the overall EQ is pretty weak. Just treble and bass adjustments. Like I said before, there are EQ settings for each channel that have a fair amount more adjustment, but the addition of even just a midrange adjustment would be nice for a quick adjustment.
Other Thoughts: I replaced a trusty old receiver that's served me for decades. It only had a single analog (6 RCA jacks) 5.1 input which I fed from a HTPC (3.5mm to RCA cables) so it served alright. I was just looking to remove some wire clutter and have something I can control via remote but didn't want to spend a lot of money.
I have this thing powering a pair of Polk Monitor 50 fronts, CS1 center, Monitor 40 rears and the sub-out to a PSW505. It has enough power to make listening uncomfortably loud while remaining clarity so normal movie-watching levels are no problem whatsoever. Setting custom input labels and