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Pros: As reference, I upgraded from a 7970 to the 480. Taking that into consideration:
Good performance per dollar spent. Better than I've had in quite a while, despite being a "mainstream" offering.
Excellent thermals and power consumption. This card is quieter than my liquid cooler, and stays below 68 C even when gaming.
Good build quality. A reinforced backplate is something I thought I wouldn't see on a budget offering. Color me happily surprised.
Cons: Very little overclocking, and performance between preset BIOSes was hard to discern.
Issues with DP detection. Every time I boot I've got to unplug and replug one of my monitors to get it to detect properly (Windows 10, 64 bit, 2 DP connections, 2 1920x1080 monitors).
Branding is bizarro. The "devil" symbol is a Star of David. If I were religious I'd be quite angry about that.
Packaging is surprisingly scant. I'm not expecting a lot of extras (dongles, adapters, etc...), but when the only thing securing your card from jostling is folded cardboard it's a bit concerning that you get a free upgrade to a game and mousepad. I don't even want an "upgrade" to Battlefield (note, it isn't the game), and I'd happily sacrifice that for better packaging.
Other Thoughts: Maybe skip out on this card in particular. The 480 is a respectable upgrade in itself, but this card is not what I'd call an ideal offering.
The pricing premium is not justified by the extra features.
The DP detection is frustrating as heck, given that my 7970 never had issues.
Most importantly, the drivers from PowerColor are pretty hit and miss. I clean installed the drivers, and discovered that my cursor bugged out whenever I went onto the second monitor. After removing the PowerColor drivers, I installed the official AMD ones. After about 30 minutes of uninstalling, rebooting, and reinstalling everything finally worked. That frustration alone is reason enough to skip out on this particular card.
Pros: Good 1920x1080 performance for gaming (assuming you turn down the effects).
Excellent temperature and noise when playing video.
Cons: The card itself was slightly overpriced at the time I purchased it. Gaming performance on a "gaming" card is pretty much a requisite, and the 950 just doesn't have the uumph. I don't consider this a problem with MSI, so much as Nvidea positioning the 950 poorly. It was a budget card, that has aspirations to be more than it is.
Other Thoughts: If the price dropped to just a shade below the 100 USD range this card would be good. The performance as it is doesn't exactly warrant its positioning.
If you need a budget card the 950 isn't terrible, but spending just a bit more yields substantially better performance than this card is capable of delivering.
Pros: The cost per GB was the lowest I could find at the time of purchase, with the caveat of requiring a 7200 RPM spindle speed.
The disks initiated, and there wasn't anything odd in the SMART. After a full format, and a complete write via creation of a True Crypt container, there was no appreciable changes to the SMART values (beyond run hours). I can't really expect anything more than that.
Cons: Edit 2: Wow. Thoroughly unimpressed with customer service here. The week to get the drive to them was my fault, and that's a function of having to send it cross country. I can accept that, and was expecting about the same on the return time.
What I got was significantly worse. The drive arrived end of day on a Wednesday, it was processed on Thursday morning, and I was told that the RMA was authorized. I received UPS tracking on a Friday morning. They advised it may be 48 hours before tracking was available, so I checked Friday, Monday, and Tuesday. No dice. At end of day Wednesday I contacted them via their customer service e-mail, because I've yet to speak to anyone there (it's all automated systems).
What I received back (and surprisingly quickly, less than 16 hours later) was that my replacement was being shipped from over seas. It's be 5-7 business days to get to the US, and then UPS tracking should be available.
Let me get this straight. I shipped the drive cross country for testing, when Intel RST and an independent program confirmed the reallocated sector count was nuts. From there I got an automated e-mail, which put simply was a lie. I'll give them the benefit of doubt, and call it an accident. From there I had to contact them to find out that my drive could take 2 weeks (5-7 business days to the US, then 5 business days cross country) to arrive. That's depressing, but I could take it if we were up front about it from the word go. Making me discover this after being patient is just unacceptable. Allow me to make this clear, I would not recommend this product because the customer support is worthless. If you've got a month to wait for a replacement drive maybe it's worth your time, but at this point I could have bought a replacement drive, had the RAID reconstructed, and be happily using my system again for a week. Instead it's cost me another twenty dollars and a month of my time because this drive failed outside of the Newegg replacement window.
Shame on Hitachi. You've officially lost me as a customer. Your service is admirable in responding to issues and processing, but that effort is entirely let down by having zero personal interaction and no transparency in your replacement process. It's sad to think that people are doing so much to make this painless, and their effort is all for naught.
Less than 90 days of usage, and a drive failed already. SMART indicated a problem with the reallocated sectors, and it went from 100 to 2000 inside of 5 days.
Hitachi hasn't got a friendly website or tools. The diagnostic tools are useless to a RAID array (though both Speedfan and Intel RST had no issues). The RMA process is difficult, especially when the serial number is 14 digits in length, but you're only supposed to put in 8. The quoted turn around time is a joke, with 14 days being laughable. If they take what they quote, and do the regular cheap shipping you're out a drive for at least 21 days, not to mention you have to pay for shipping.
If I spend a month without my array because of a defective drive I'm going to recommend you avoid the product. Put simply, poor customer support makes a good product bad, because even the best products occasionally fail. If the turn-around is swift I'll be restoring the egg. The ball is in Hitachi's court, and they've got the opportunity to either make me a repeat customer, or find another vendor.
I'm hoping for the former, but a month without my data is too long to be acceptable. I guess this is why you always have a backup. At least I didn't break that cardinal rule.
My only real con is that write speed dips by 30% as you write to the discs. I started my volume creation at about 30 mB/s constant write (measured ~ 2 hours into the write process), and over the three days of formatting dropped to just above 20 mB/s. While that kind of speed is depressing, it isn't unexpected.
Other Thoughts: These drives are pretty amazing for the price. Don't expect lightning speeds as the discs fill, but even without amazing speeds these things are plenty competent at their jobs. Mechanical drive are really the only way to go when it comes to mass storage.
On a side note, I'd recommend allowing a bit of extra breathing room for these drives. They run a bit hotter (1-4 C) than what other drives I've had do, but a bit of extra cooling and some breathing room seems to be more than enough to keep them appropriately cool.