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GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming 5 LGA 1150 Intel Z97 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 week to 1 month

5 out of 5 eggs Gigabyte Z97X Gaming 5 Motherboard 08/13/2014

This review is from: GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming 5 LGA 1150 Intel Z97 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

Pros: Nice matte black and red aesthetics
Loud 115db audio output from Realtek ALC 1150 HD Audio
Gold plated audio connectors
Padded backplate
5 x Fan headers
4 x USB 3.0, and 4 x USB 2.0 slots
3 PCIe lanes that supports 3 way Crossfire or 2 way SLI
Killer Network Gigabit Ethernet
M2-SATA and SATA Express slots
Mouse click-able BIOS layout
Right angle SATA ports
Front panel USB 3.0 Header

Cons: Audio Jacks are not color coded
Chipset heatsinks use thermal pads to transfer heat

Other Thoughts: The PCB is a nice matte black finish, which is a nice alternative to the glossy black of other boards.
The board has five fan headers, nicely spaced out to meet your fan placement needs.
I like the added support of M2-SATA and SATA Express granting access to newer SSD tech, I should note that you cannot run both M2 and SATA express simultaneously with this board.
Color coded case pin headers make it easy to get your panel connected.

UEFI BIOS layout is polished and modern looking, and it also includes an optional mouse click-able legacy interface.
Overclocking settings give a full range of advanced voltage controls for the serious overclocker crowd.
For users that don't want to get into advanced voltages and want a quick and easy overclock: the optional install Easy Tune software will meet your needs, allowing you to easily overclock within safe margins.

Although the gold plated audio connectors are great for play back with low signal resistance, they have no color indicators on the backplate making it difficult to tell which jack is correct when connecting audio out or mic in.
I really like the attention given to the onboard Audio in this generation of motherboards. I find the sound quality to be accurate and well reproduced.
The added 115db output pushes my studio headphones at maximum volume with no distortion, be warned the audio output is loud and you probably shouldn't attempt this.
With powered speakers you do need to be careful with louder volume settings, as most were designed for input (PC output) from older generation motherboards with lower volume output.

Had one slight hiccup initially on driver setup: the Killer Network drivers would power on this build with magic packets.
Although the BIOS was set not to wake on by LAN, the Killer Network drivers somehow bypassed this and would power on every morning at 8:30 am.
The cmd line "powercfg lastwake" in windows 7 pointed to the Killer Network driver; I had to uncheck wake on magic packet in the Killer Network driver properties to remedy this.
This was a driver related issue, possibly just a winner of a glitch lottery so I really cant fault the board for this.

This board paired with an i7 4790k, 8GB ddr3, R9-270x and Win7 Pro has been silky smooth fast and reliable.
Its been really hard to find faults with this board, overall I find this board to be a fantastic performer at a impressive price.

I would absolutely recommend this board to anyone looking at motherboards in this price range.

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ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Performance LGA 1150 Intel H97 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s Intel Motherboard
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 week to 1 month

4 out of 5 eggs ASRock H97 Performance Fatal1ty 07/12/2014

This review is from: ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Performance LGA 1150 Intel H97 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s Intel Motherboard

Pros: +
Excellent features for a sub $100 board.
Black PCB with red trim.
Connectors feel sturdy.
CrossFire ready.
4 USB 3.0 and 4 USB 2.0 ports; front panel USB 3.0 and 2.0 headers.
6 SATA 3 6Gb/s connectors.
Plenty of fan headers.
Fatal1ty Gaming Mouse port.

Cons: -
Overclocking results were not discernible inside the Windows 7 environment: bumping up the multiplier in the BIOS showed speed results in the BIOS, but I could not see a difference with CPU-Z or with the Windows Computer property panel. I believe this is likely related to the CPU that I paired with this board: an i7 4790k which is a new to market processor.

During my overclocking test I started out with a bump up to 4.40 GHz, jumped into Windows and there was no way to tell inside the environment if the CPU had higher clocks, both CPU-Z and Windows Computer properties panel reported the default speed of the processor. However; when I went back into the BIOS, and bumped the multiplier up to 4.80 GHz. Windows would then hang or blue-screen before it could fully load, a sign that the CPU was in fact overclocking as the multiplier I applied resulted in an unstable environment. The BIOS was updated to latest available version.

The H97 chipset has a few issues.
The memory standard is capped at 1600 MHz, meaning if you have faster rated RAM it will not clock higher than 1600 MHz with no way to bump it up to the higher rated speed.
Another limitation of this chipset is that NVIDIA SLI is not supported.
(These are cons of the H97 chipset solely, so I really cannot fault this to the motherboard).

Other Thoughts: ~
ASRock includes a handful of useful tools geared towards gamers such as a macro key manager, overclocking panel, gaming mouse tuning and fan speed controls.
The driver installer disc includes several bundled optional trial-ware softwares, which become subscription based if you would like to continue the services once the trials expire.
These include: ASRock Cloud storage, streaming and remote access service (1 year), and XSplit broadcasting software for twitch (3 Month). I didn't have a use for these applications so I did not test them.
Overall this is an excellent sub $100 board with many features I was surprised to see on a board at this price point, everything looks like it was well thought out in the design and component selection. The PCB has a nice thickness to it and feels rigid with minimal flex. This board even features a Night Light: a back facing amber toned LED. There is plenty of space for a giant CPU air cooler with good clearance of the RAM and the PCI-e slots are nicely spaced out.
Aside from the wonky experience I had with overclocking and the H97 limited reach of 1600MHz RAM, I would recommend this board for mid tier builds at this price.

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SanDisk Ultra Dual 32GB USB OTG Flash Drive Model SDDD-032G-A46
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert
  • Owned For: 1 week to 1 month

4 out of 5 eggs SanDisk 32GB OTG USB 05/29/2014

This review is from: SanDisk Ultra Dual 32GB USB OTG Flash Drive Model SDDD-032G-A46

Pros: +
30 GB usable space
small size
SanDisk reliablity
Decent transfer speeds.
Small size.
SanDisk Memory Zone is a free companion app on Google Play.

Cons: -
Lanyard hole is a bit small, I had a hard time getting a standard lanyard cable through to loop.

The end caps are nice, but the catches that lock them in place when extended out over the USB connectors are a bit flimsy, and may wear out over time.

Not compatible with Android KitKat (4.4.0-4) see other thoughts.

Other Thoughts: ~
This drive met my expectations of a SanDisk USB drive.

The transfer speeds are decent for USB 2.0 and performed well on CrystalDiskMark 3.03 Sequential benchmarking.
Sequential
1000 MB; 5 pass:
Read : 20.68 MB/s
Write : 12.80 MB/s

50 MB; 5 pass:
Read : 20.56 MB/s
Write : 15.40 MB/s

Android:
One important thing to know is that Android KitKat 4.4.0+ Broke all compatibility with external memory sources, memory cards included.
No USB OTG will work natively if you have updated to KitKat.
This device works perfectly with Icecream Sandwich (4.3) and earlier android builds. Google may or may not fix this in the future with KitKat or the next iteration of Android, but for the moment beware of this disruption of compatibility.

The SanDisk Memory Zone app is fairly easy to use, and gives management control of your devices internal memory and allows connectivity management of your online storage as well. It gives a nice overview graphical interface of how the memory is being used on your device, OTG USB, or memory card. SanDisk also bundled their OptiMem software into the Memory Zone app, which allows you to slightly boost access speed by offloading non-essential files to a SD card or USB drive.

Overall this is a very handy drive to have, I like being able to transfer my files without having to use a cloud service, a sync cable, or having to attach a card reader to my PC. OTG really does make transferring between devices painless.
The lanyard hole is painfully small, but I managed to make it work, it might be easier to use a mini keyring through the lanyard hole, but I didn't have one.

I would recommend this drive to anyone looking for an easy way to transfer files to or from their phone or tablet, as long as they are not currently or planning on running Android KitKat.

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Matt G.'s Profile

Display Name: Matt G.

Date Joined: 04/05/06

  • Reviews: 34
  • Helpfulness: 18
  • First Review: 04/07/06
  • Last Review: 08/13/14
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