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This review is from: ZALMAN Z7 Plus Black Steel / Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
Pros: Looks professional. Nice fit and finish except for toolless (see cons). 5 HD bays. Lots of fan mounting positions. Fan controller for 2 side fans. Lots of included screws that came in handy. Air filters up front. Dual HD LEDs look nifty :) Zalman logo is not too bright. Headphone, mic, USB and ESATA port up top where I like them.
Solid case. I replaced the back fan with a Thermalright running over 2000rpm and the case doesn't rattle like a flimsy one would.
Dampening washers for the harddives. Got rid of HD whine coming from an old Seagate drive.
Cons: In order to install or remove a hard drive you have to remove the drive cage entirely.
Included 4 fans but they are weak. Not a problem if you plan on replacing them anyways. My computer is in a hot room so strong fans are needed. If you have a cool room the included fans should be fine.
No filter for the side intake.
I thought the included side fans were making noise. But after replacing with 900rpm 140mm fans the noise remained. It has to be the mesh making the noise as running the replacement fans in free air are virtually silent. Bigger side intake holes probably would impove air flow and reduce noise. And maybe some dimples at the mounting points to get the fan a little bit away from the sidepanel.
The toolfree release is ok for the slots. But holds some cards loosely. The ones for the optical drive is junk. Removed them all and used regular mounting screws. That took care of CD/DVD rattling.
No regular slot covers included.
Other Thoughts: I moved the hard drive cage to the bottom and the 3.5" adapter up top. Now I can reach my cardreader better. Plus this makes room for a 2nd fan.
The HD cage holds 1 120mm fan or 1 140mm fan. But if you keep the 120mm fan you can mount a 2nd 120mm fan. The fan mounting holes on the drive cage seem to be about the same threading as ordinary case screws. So take 1 120mm fan (it has to be open frame, included fans are closed frame), 2 case screws and 1 skinny screwdriver. Then mount it in the 2 top holes at the top edge of the drive cage. It will have serious overhang but works for me. Now I have 2 120mm fans up front. It dropped my cpu and northbridges temps 2c idle 2c-4c load vs. 1 fan up front. This setup leaves only 2 drive bays open. But that's all I use.
This review is from: ASRock 880G EXTREME3 AM3 AMD 880G SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard
Pros: Looks and feels like a quality made board. 3 PCIE 2.0, SATA III, USB 3.0 and 6 core ready. Makes it future proof.
The UCC feature is a breaze to use. Unlocked my 555 to 4 cores. OC is easy with the OC Tuner. Just set the multiplier to where I wanted it at 4Ghz. When it crashed it rebooted with the bios settings. I kept upping the voltage until I found a stable vCore (1.5) I entered bios and locked it in. Sure beats the old days of switching out crystals or changing jumper settings.
Intelligent Energy Saver keeps things nice and cool. Runs the cpu at 800Mhz and .96v when cpu demand is low. Keeps my temps around 33C in a hot room. But still ramps up to my OC settings when things get busy.
Cons: I got the instant boot feature to work (Just remember to click [Apply]). But I had to uninstall my keyboard/mouse drivers. Even if that wasn't a problem I don't like how it shuts down-reboots-shuts down every time. To me it's not worth it. Boot up is 10-15 seconds. But then my Wireless card doesn't work and I have to unplug and plug back in my keyboard/mouse to get it to work again. Too buggy in my opinion. Not worth an egg. I'll just boot normally.
The built in video is almost there for me. I don't game but I do Hulu and Youtube. It crashes after about an hour or two. I think it gets hot. Instead of trying to underclock/overclock I'll just goto plan b and save up for a 5570. Not worth an egg.
The onboard fan controller can be adjusted to lower settings but that's it. No fan speedup if temp threshold is hit. Not worth an egg.
No IDE but I knew that.
The X1 slot is somewhat blocked by the northbridge cooler. Still not worth an egg.
Other Thoughts: If you OC get bios v1.70 at the ASRock website. It allows you to set the multiplier for each core individually. For example, you can have core 0 at 3Ghz core1 at 3.2Ghz core2 at 3.4Ghz and core3 at 3.6Ghz. How fun is that?! Well, I liked it. :P Still playing around with it to find some good settings.
Zalman Z7 Plus
Corsair HX 400
ASRock 880G Extreme3
Phenom II 555
Patriot Gamer 1600 2x2GB
WD 320GB Blue
Samsung DVD Burner
Windows XP MCE
Pros: 4 Cores! Everything runs like it's supposed to. (I upgraded from an old P4. Got used to everything being slow.) OK. I ran it as a dual core first. Stock settings all around. It ran like a dream. Then I tried the UCC feature of my ASRock 880G Extreme3 and it unlocked the 2 hidden cores. And I was like "Really? that's all there is to do?" I had to run CPU-Z to make sure. Yup 4.
Cons: Had to run ASRock IES to get the AMD Cool'N'Quiet feature to work. My wife has a P55 system. It seems drivers take care of her energy saving features instead of having to run a utility like I do. Maybe that's just a quirk of my motherboard. Dunno.
The core temps are not displayed when hidden cores are unlocked. But the overall CPU temp is still displayed.
Noisy cooler. It's good enough with the Cool'N'Quiet/ASRock IES going but heats up quickly when stressed.
People who dock an egg because they can't unlock.
People who have problems but don't list any system components.
Other Thoughts: I was going to get an H55 motherboard and 661 processor. I don't game so onboard graphics is enough for me. But after adding everything up I figured an AMD system would be cheaper.
My initial plan was to overclock if it was not as fast as I wanted. That's why I purchased a BE processor. But since I have 4 cores I'll keep it at the stock 3.2Ghz speed. That's enough for me.
I tried running just 3 cores but it wouldn't get past post. It's 2 or 4 cores.
Zalman Z7 Plus
ASRock 880G Extreme3
AMD 555 (love it even w/2 cores)
Patriot Gamer Series 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1600
WD Blue 320GB
Windows XP MCE
Did I say "4 Cores!"?