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This review is from: DELL Alienware AW17R3-1675SLV Gaming Laptop 6th Generation Intel Core i7 6700HQ (2.60 GHz) 8 GB Memory 1 TB HDD NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M 3 GB GDDR5 17.3" FHD 1920 x 1080 Windows 10 Home 64-Bit
Pros: The exact model I bought was the 17", 1080p, 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD model. This model comes with the i7-6700HQ CPU and GTX 970M GPU.
Price - I feel this model is a great value versus similarly priced machines from Gigabyte, MSI, or ASUS.
Game Performance - I have tried out a few games such as Mechwarrior Online, Diablo 3, CS:GO, Grim Dawn, Dark Souls, and Stellaris. All have performed very well with smooth framerates and higher detail levels enabled than possible on my Geforce 650 Ti Boost desktop card.
Chassis - A combination of metal and plastic surfaces which all have a nice tactile feel to them. It's not especially rugged, but doesn't feel flimsy either. The hand rest area is plastic, slightly rubbery, and is very comfortable. Lighting effects are configurable and add some style without making the machine look like a toy.
Cooling - During gaming it will get warm and the fans will spin up. The fan noise can be noticed but is not loud or annoying. I have been using it without a cooling pad and it seems not to need one.
Keyboard - Very pleasant feel overall, full size keys, slighty mushy feel versus Cherry or other high quality switches but good versus other laptop keyboards.
Trackpad - Works well and can be disabled with a function key on the keyboard. I use a mouse most of the time so the latter is a great feature for me. Backlight is unique and cool.
Sound - On my Bose IE2 earbuds, music sounds fuller on this laptop versus my custom desktop with Gigabyte motherboard and integrated Realtek audio. I don't know if the SoundBlaster audio chip is behind it or what. I feel the low frequency response is better and the amplifier is definitely more powerful. The SoundBlaster control panel software is nice and easy to understand. I haven't tried the built-in speakers much but they seem OK so far.
Internals - From the bottom panel you can easily access the battery disconnect, wifi card, 1x SATA connector/2.5" bay, 2x SODIMM slots, and 2x NGFF/M.2 slots. The first thing I did was pop the HDD out to get a copy of the factory image, and transfer some Steam backups to it. Then I cloned the HDD to a M.2 SATA SSD and removed the HDD. These processes were pretty painless so I am happy about that. Note that I did not test an M.2 NVMe drive.
Cons: The biggest performance factor on this machine is the lack of an included SSD. This can be fixed easily by buying one separately. The cost of buying a higher model of this laptop is too high in my opinion, just to get the included, small, NVMe SSD. The HDD impacts performance as far as loading times go, and you will notice some stuttering in most games especially during the first few minutes of gameplay as all the assets get loaded from disk. Once everything gets cached to memory the effects are much less. Installing an upgrade SSD alleviates this issue completely.
Keyboard - The extra function keys so far are throwing off my reaching for the Esc key, and the editing keys are squeezed into non-standard locations in favor of a standard numpad layout. There are no media playback keys for controling music apps, and the volume controls require pressing the "Fn" button.
HDMI Output - The built-in HDMI-out port works OK but there is a noticeable color washout when displayed on any monitor. I have done some comparison testing and it's definitely a problem with the HDMI out and not the monitor or cable. I plan on contacting support about this once I get a chance. The issue does not affect the builtin display which is beautiful. You can get around this color washout by purchasing a USB-C to HDMI adapter which runs DisplayPort over USB-C to an HDMI connector. I did this and it works fine.
Size/Weight - For the performance level this laptop is compact, but it is by no means a small machine. I had a hard time finding a laptop bag from a 3rd party (don't like the Dell bags) that was large enough for it. I ended up getting a large size Timbuk2 laptop messenger bag, and that is barely big enough.
The battery is sealed inside the laptop. At least it can be disconnected easily.
Other Thoughts: This computer comes off as very refined right out of the box and I am very happy about my purchase. Performance is just great, and with an added SSD it is essentially flawless. Based on my first few months with it I would recommend this machine 100%.READ FULL REVIEW
This review is from: ASUS P8H77-V LE LGA 1155 Intel H77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
Pros: -Intel H77 Chipset and all the features that come with it (4x USB 3, 2x SATA 3, builtin RAID, etc)
Cons: -Board depth only allows 6 ATX mounting screws to be installed. The board hangs about 1.5" over the front of the mounting screws so you need to support it from the back with your hands when installing RAM, the main power connector, and to a lesser extent, SATA cables.
-Only one case fan connector.
-Only 4x USB 2 and 2x USB 3 connectors on main I/O panel. I would have liked to see at least 6x USB 2.
-If you want a coaxial S/PDIF digital audio output you need to buy a separate connector bracket that fits in an expansion slot (there is a pin header included on the board but no connector).
Other Thoughts: There are a few drawbacks to this board, which is to be expected since it is not a "deluxe" model, but it is at a great price point and has performed nicely for me so far. If you are thinking of buying this board, just make sure none of the trade-offs listed above will be a problem for your particular project.READ FULL REVIEW
This review is from: Corsair Carbide Series 200R Black Steel / Plastic compact ATX Mid Tower Case
Pros: -The case is covered on all surfaces inside and out with a nice flat black color. I think the finish is powder coated but not sure about the exact method. It seems like it will be resistant to scratches.
-Included hardware is also colored black to match, includes zip ties, is organized nicely into little baggies, and put in a convenient size box you can save for later.
-The design is very spacious with plenty of room for large graphics cards, extra drives, large heatsinks, etc.
-There are ventilation holes and fan mounting positions on 5 out of 6 sides of the case, so you have many options for fan or open air cooling.
-Tool-less and bracket-less drive mounting for 5.25", 3.5" and 2.5" drives is well designed and easy to use.
-Removable side under system board tray makes it easy to route cables and/or install CPU cooler backer plates under the system board tray.
Cons: -Front bezel and drive bay covers are made of somewhat cheap looking plastic with a faux brushed metal finish and a squarish design that is a little too basic in my opinion.
Other Thoughts: For those that claimed no "power supply screws" were included, you are incorrect. You can use the same type of screw as you use to secure the motherboard. They are the pan head screws with the coarser threading. There are no traditional hex head screws included so I think that may be where the confusion comes from.READ FULL REVIEW