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This review is from: ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Killer LGA 1150 Intel H97 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s Intel Motherboard
Pros: ASRock added back in some features most H97 boards are missing (Overclocking, Crossfire compatibility), good board layout, high quality on-board audio (Realtek ALC1150), very clean power delivery, great looking board - setup was a breeze, I was up and running within a few minutes of installing components - UEFI BIOS is extremely easy to get around in and everything in it makes perfect sense. Free XSplit license!
Cons: 24 pin power connector is on an unsupported part of the board, be VERY careful when connecting it and support it from the bottom with your hand if at all possible - they should move that to the top of the board with the 8 pin - NO SLI SUPPORT - I do NOT know why ASRock continues to do this, but this is why I dropped 1 egg off the review - H97 technically only has 1x16 support for PCIe, so I'm not sure what kind of magic ASRock has in play here, but my GTX770 worked just fine by itself, obviously a second would not be supported, only 2 PCIe x1 slots, instead there's 2 legacy PCI slots... which is puzzling - why not add an extra PCIe x4 slot?
Other Thoughts: Ok, so the 800 lb Gorilla in the room - the Killer NIC... I personally saw no difference in the ping times or throughput on LAN or WAN using this NIC and the provided software vs. an Intel NIC on another ASRock board (Z97 Pro4). I'm guessing it's a lot of marketing hype, but if you think it helps you then awesome, maybe they should rename it the Placebo NIC? Anyway, this board is confusing - H97 is a business/mainstream chipset, it's a stripped down Z97 completely NOT targeted towards gaming or performance, yet here we have this board, directly targeted at gamers. My opinion would be to spend the few extra bucks and get ASRock's Z97 board, especially if you really want that Killer NIC. This did include a free XSplit license, which is nice - this would make a great board for a streaming PC, but I just don't see why ASRock went with the H97, it's not that much cheaper than it's Z97 brother and the features you're losing are really what a gamer is looking for.READ FULL REVIEW
This review is from: ASRock Z97 Pro4 LGA 1150 Intel Z97 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
Pros: Very solid PCB, great board layout, very attractive black PCB with blue accents. Amazing features for a very low price. 6 SATA ports, SATA Express (!!!) PLUS an M.2 slot. Very clean power delivery with almost no fluctuation in voltage. Integrated INTEL Gigabit LAN (not the cheap Realtek stuff). Very solid shipping - first board I've ever received fully wrapped in shock absorbing material INSIDE the static bag! Setup is a breeze, you're up and running in minutes. No weird components, Windows picked pretty much everything up automatically. 3 year warranty.
Cons: Only 2 PCIe x16/x4 slots. Second PCIe slot drops to x4 in Crossfire/SLI, second slot is NOT PCIe 3.0. Audio quality isn't as great as advertised, should have used the Realtek ALC898 instead of the 892, but it gets the job done just fine. Doesn't advertise SLI support (couldn't test this, may want to check with ASRock if you're planning on using 2 nVidia cards!). Accessories included were kind of sparse. This is the shorter ATX form factor, so if your case doesn't have posts for the 8"-9" boards you'll want to be careful connecting ATV 12-pin, USB 3.0 and the other outer connectors as to not flex the board too much.
Other Thoughts: This board really surprised me. Usually lower priced boards like this are stripped down, bare-bones boards that take a CPU and some memory and that's it. ASRock really knocked it out of the park with a board at a low price that doesn't skimp on any features. It may not have all the overclocking bells and whistles of some of the Asus boards or the thick PCB of a Gigabyte, but ASRock really nailed what you can get at this sub $150 price point. I fully plan on using this as the heart of my Home Theater PC for many, many years to come. If this is a sign of things to come for ASRock, they're going to be a serious contender for all of my future purchases.
ASRock Z97 Pro4
Intel Core i5 4570S
2x4GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3-1600
Intel 530 Series 180 GB SSD
650 watt Rosewill PSU
This review is from: GIGABYTE GA-J1900N-D3V Intel Celeron J1900 Mini ITX Motherboard/CPU/VGA Combo
Pros: Small form factor, quad core, dual gigabit LAN, low power use, serial port, decent graphics
Cons: Only 2 SATA ports, getting Win7 64 bit to install was complicated, no on-board HDMI, Gigabyte "drivers" disc is useless, download the latest from their site
Other Thoughts: Since a lot of people have asked, here's the process to upgrade the F3 BIOS...
Follow STEP 1 on this guide: http://www.gigabytenordic.com/wordpress/update-bios-gigabyte-brix/
Download the latest BIOS (as of 5/28/2014 it's F3: http://download.gigabyte.us/FileList/BIOS/mb_bios_ga-j1900n-d3v_f3.zip
Copy ALL the files to the newly created bootable USB drive (INCLUDING AUTOEXEC.BAT!)
Go into BIOS and set CSM to UEFI and Legacy (in the Advanced tab) - Set network to DISABLED, Storage to Legacy First, Video to UEFI First and the last one to UEFI first.
Reboot with no DVD in your system, hit F12 and boot off your USB drive - the autoexec file will automatically flash the BIOS for you. Trying to run EFIFlash manually will result in an error code that it can't read the BIOS file - you HAVE to do it AUTOMATICALLY. Very odd.
After that you can boot off your Win7 64-bit installer (DVD or USB, whatever you chose) and it should work just fine.
One one of the systems I built I had to restart the Win7 install before it loaded into setup, worked just fine the second time.
Good luck - hope this helps!
My one egg was deducted for having to deal with support on a brand new board and it being a bit of a run around to sort it out.
Gaming Graphics: 5.8
Primary hard disk: 7.8
GA-J1900D3V Rev 1.0
Intel 180GB 530 Series SSD
2x4GB Crucial DDR3-1333
Inwin BP671.FH200B Case