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Pros: -11" makes this laptop extremely portable. It's ridiculously thin, so you'll have no problem tossing it into your backpack if you're a student and going off to class. It'll go anywhere.
-USB 3.0 really is a night and day difference in this day and age. I have my MacBook connected to an external WD drive that serves as a Time Machine Backup. It's very speedy. See for speeds below
-Flash is fast. Photoshop opens speedily, and exports are no problem. Office and its suite all open in less than a second.
-Ivy Bridge is a huge boost for this laptop. Even under full load, the system barely flinches. Don't be fooled by the 1.7 Ghz, this thing holds its own. Also note, that the i5 inside has hyperthreading enabled, so we're talking 2 physical cores, with 4 logical cores.
-The display is at a higher PPI than that of MacBook Pros (sans Retina ones). It's very bright, very crisp, and you'll never once be bothered by any sort of fuzziness.
-It's nice that keyboard backlighting is standard on all MacBooks these days. I remember when it wasn't.
-Wifi performance is really, really good. Over my Linksys E1200, I see sustained throughput of 10MB/s. Very impressive compared to the MacBooks of yesteryear.
Cons: -Battery life is rather short compared to other MacBooks. It'll still get you through a days work, just realize you're shaving off a good 2 hours of projected battery life by springing for this model over the 13". It'll last me roughly 3.5 - 4 hours under word processing tasks, with photoshop editing and internet usage.
-While idle battery life is nice (~3-5% drop a day), recovering from sleep still takes forever. From when you open the clam shell to when the password screen actually becomes usable is still 3-5 seconds. The Apple quote of "springs instantly to life" should be more of "begrudgingly wakes up".
Other Thoughts: I will make no review of any of the software as that's more subjective in expirience than hardware. I only use the thunderbolt port to expand the display via an DisplayPort to HDMI adapter, so I have no clue how fast it performs. As a side note, yes, it will output audio over that adapter, unlike Macs a couple years back.
Here are the speeds of USB 3.0 ports and the internal SSD stick:
USB 3.0 read: 70MB/s
USB 3.0 write: 53MB/s
Internal SSD write: 139MB/s
Internal SSD read: 400MB/s
This review is from: CORSAIR Flash Voyager 32GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive Model CMFVYA32GB
Pros: -32GB! You never realize you would need a 32GB drive until you have a 32GB drive. It's really convenient to load up a couple of 1080p videos (easily 8GB a piece).
-Durable as hell. You can drop this thing from whatever distance and your files will remain intact!
-Nice read and write speeds (See below)
Cons: -The cap is so freaking easy to loose if you're not careful.
-It's fast for USB 2.0 speeds, but, alas, it's not USB 3.0. Not penalizing it for that though.
Other Thoughts: Read Speeds: 29 MB/s
Write Speeds: 18.4MB/s
Pros: -It's a cheap intro into X79
-Nice overclocking opportunities. Currently have my i7-3820 sitting stable at 4.4GHz @ 1.296v (round it up to 1.3v)
-Two PCI-E slots for taking advantage of one of the key features of X79: 40 PCI-E lanes
-SATA ports that are parallel to the motherboard! I didn't realize how valuable this was until I threw in a graphics card into a motherboard that had the SATA ports sticking straight up. Now, I have 4 drives to connect, so even 90 degree SATA cables didn't cut it.
Cons: -The BIOS can be finicky, not allowing you to change the values of certain fields sometimes. This can be mitigated by using the CLICKBIOSII program that MSI provides.
-Not a con to the motherboard itself, but it doesn't seem to want to supply power to the USB ports while the computer is off. This is really handy for when you have a rechargeable mouse (Logitech G700) and want to plug it in while you go off to school or work.
Other Thoughts: Please please please, I don't understand the bad reviews for this board! Yes, some receive bad batches. That's inherent in any product. My biggest concern is if the motherboard is going to die down the road from something.
It's rock solid. To those worried about their BIOS not supporting the processor, don't worry. I have used two of these boards: one for me, one for a friend. My friend's came with the very first BIOS. We popped in a 3820, and updated the BIOS through a USB stick. Not a huge deal. He was installing Fedora, so BIOS 1.0 gave him some trouble. No problem on the newest revisions.
I love this little board. All the right features to let you take full advantage of what X79 has to offer, and at a really nice price. If you can look past some of what the other reviews are saying, there is some beauty to have in this board.
i7-3820 @ 4.4GHz
EVGA GTX 670 SC 4GB
8GB (2x4GB) Kingston HyperX DDR3 1600RAM (Forgot what it's OC'd to)
128GB Crucial M4 SSD
1TB WD Caviar Black
2TB WD Caviar Green
Windows 7 Home Premium