Date Joined: 07/03/11
Pros: - The mesh panel in the front gives excellent airflow. I moved the two front fans to the top of the case, put a 280mm AIO in the front, and put two fans in the bottom. (Total of four intake, including the AIO radiator fans, and three exhaust.)
- The case opens up without any thumbscrews, which I think is fantastic. The tempered glass panels and the lower mesh panels are all held on with magnets. Also, the glass panels come off which is great for building.
- It was easy to work in. Everything is well thought-out and there's plenty of room for cable management.
- The HDD cage is really easy to remove for those of us who don't have any HDD's which is great because that area is a good place to store excess cable length.
- I really like the included fan controller. You plug up to six fans into the controller and then plug the controller into one of your motherboard's case fan slots. There is then a switch on the front panel which let's you switch between four fan speeds: low, medium, high, and pwm mode where the speed is controlled by the motherboard.
- There are two removable dust covers for fans and the front panel comes off easily to clean the front fans.
- It feels like high-quality construction. Everything is either aluminum or tempered glass.
Cons: Note: This is mostly just minor stuff but I'm including it in case it helps someone.
- There is a horizontal metal wall that separates the bottom HDD/PSU area from the main portion of the case. On that wall near the front of the case there is a panel which seems to be designed to be removed to facilitate a long AIO. It's nice if you can leave the panel in because with the panel removed you can see into the bottom area below which likely contains a bunch of excess cable length. My 280mm AIO was like 2mm too long to be able to install in the front of the case with the panel included; there just isn't quite enough space between the panel and the front connector.
- It's a little bit lame that the front-panel USB-c connector isn't included. I don't really need a USB-c port on my front panel but it just looks a little silly without it.
- The vertical mount GPU kit isn't included either but this is a more reasonable omission.
- One of the tempered glass panels isn't quite perfect. When it swings closed it doesn't line up completely and needs to be lifted a bit to close completely. There is also a small scratch on the same panel. (This is almost certainly specific to my unit.)
- The HDD cage was bent quite a bit near the metal bracket which holds it in place. It was still functional, though.
- The headphone jack in the front panel is EXTREMELY tight. It takes quite a bit of force to get a plug in there and I have to use pliers to get it out.
Overall Review: This is an excellent case. It's good if you want a large, clean case with great airflow. Here are some build notes:
- If you're installing an AIO in the front of the case (as opposed to the top) be sure to take the front cage out first and attach the radiator while it's outside of the case. Also, be aware that there are several different configurations for the cage and AIO so be sure to think about it a bit before picking one.
- Don't assume that you can put nice RGB fans on the top of the case. I put two 140mm fans there and they had to be off-center so that they didn't interfere with the motherboard; they would have looked strange if they were RGB. (Lian Li has thought of this and there are already holes for mounting fans off-center.)
- If you buy the add-on that puts a USB-c port in the front I/O panel make sure you install it BEFORE the rest of the components. It would be an enormous pain to install after the PC is built.
- If you're using a 360mm AIO you're probably going to have to install it with the tubes at the top of the case. Some people think that's bad and some people don't mind; I'm just letting you know.
- The HDD cage DOES come out. At first it might seem like it doesn't because once you undo the screws and it comes loose it's not clear exactly how to pull it out of the case. It does come out but it really only comes out one way. If you're forcing it then that's not right; if you're pulling it out at the proper angle then it comes out cleanly without any force.
Pros: It's fast and stable for me. Benchmarks, boot times, and load times are bonkers. It's really easy to install and is invisible in the case.
Overall Review: This drive is great all-around but it's unique feature compared to the last generation is that it can use PCIe 4.0. (As far as I know, the only chipsets that can take advantage of Gen 4 PCIe are X570 and B550 for AMD and Z590 for Intel.) If you're not able to take advantage of that then you'll probably get the same performance out of the previous generation of drives. The cost savings is pretty negligible, though.
Pros: It's quiet. It's modular. Plenty of connections.
Cons: None, really. There's no RGB if that's something you want.
Overall Review: I mean, I turned everything on and it powered my PC. Nothing eventful happened, which is exactly what you want from a power supply. I don't personally know enough about PSU's to compare what this one has to what others don't, but it works for my purposes. I'm powering an i7-11700k and 6700xt.
Pros: - I have great temperatures so far on an i7-11700k. (I used the thermal paste that came with it.)
- Easy enough to install. No major issues.
- It's very quiet. I had some slight gurgling when I first turned it on but that went away quickly and since then I haven't heard anything noticeable. (For what it's worth, I installed mine "tubes down.")
- It seems really sturdy and well-made. The fans seem like they're high quality.
- Personally, I really like the way it looks on the motherboard. That's going to be personal preference, though.
Cons: I don't really have any "cons" but maybe I'll list some things to be aware of.
- Out of the box mine was set with the fans to work as exhaust. If you want the radiator in the front of your case working as intake then you'll need to switch them around. (It's really easy; just a few screws.)
- It's very big. Like I said, this isn't a con but it surprised me a little bit. Make sure that the case you're using actually has space for as 280mm radiator because it takes more than just two 140mm fan slots.
Overall Review: This is my first AIO and I have no complaints. I would describe this as a no-nonsense product that does a really great job of what it's designed for: quietly cooling a CPU.
Pros: -Fairly quiet.
-Good temperatures (in a Lian Li Lancool II Mesh Performance case)
-Runs games just fine. I play at 2560x1440 along with an i7-11700k and I have no complaints so far. You can look up benchmarks for the game that you play; I don't have much to add to that.
-3 DisplayPort and 1 HDMI seems like a good mix.
Cons: -It's pretty big. Nothing unusual these days, but make sure that it will fit in your case.
-It's really overpriced.
-I had to buy it in part of a bundle with a motherboard I don't want.
-The ASRock software that you use to control the LEDs is absolute garbage. I just want to set them to "off" and it doesn't seem to want to cooperate with that.
Overall Review: In a normal market it's a 5 star card. It would be a solid mid-budget card. It runs well, has good thermals, and looks nice. I can't give full marks at the given cost, though; I don't care what the market is like.
Pros: Antec is always a good choice. Reliable, clean power.
Cons: I wouldn't recommend trying to swim with this power supply.
Overall Review: We were building an HTPC and wanted a video card that was just a step above the onboard video. This was just enough power for that. I've purchased several of this exact model. Highly recommended.
Pros: I now have 8GB of memory that I can access randomly.
Cons: There is an ongoing feud between Frank (the first stick in this kit) and Toby (my DVD drive) after Frank punched the motherboard. Stewart (the other stick) is trying to smooth things out, but the other components are getting restless. I think Emmanuel (my CPU) is going to take Toby's side and once that happens Frank is going to have to go.
Overall Review: This RAM was the quantity I needed (2x4GB), it looks sharp in the case (black heat spreaders on my black board), and it does its job. Most importantly, it was ON SALE. My hardware loyalty usually goes pretty deep, but I can't bring myself to care all that much about RAM.
Make sure the RAM you buy actually works with the motherboard and CPU before you buy it. This is basic stuff, people.
Pros: It seems like a really solid board. I would buy from ASRock again.
Cons: I don't normally like perpendicular SATA connections because I have a lot of right-angle cables, but I'm not sure edge-mounted SATA connections would have fit in my case anyway.
Overall Review: We bought this because it has the ports and size we needed. That's what you should do, too.
Pros: Everything fit, including an Antec Earthwats 380W PSU.
It looks really nice in a media center with audio hardware, DVD players, DVR, and things like that.
This is a really small case, which is great for an HTPC. It's well-built, though. It just feels like a sturdy, quality case.
Cons: It's pretty cramped in there. We started to put things in at random and soon learned that things need to be installed in a particular order if you want to be able to reach. Just plan it out, though, and it will work out fine.
It was a few years ago now that we put this together. I definitely remember it being one of the more difficult machines I've ever had to assemble because the case was somewhat unpleasant, but we got it all worked out.
My only aesthetic complaint is that the large vent on the right side for the four little fans looks a bit tacky, but that's pretty minor.
Overall Review: Make sure you are aware that any expansion cards need to be half-height. Several wireless cards and cable cards come that way anyway (or have optional plates to switch between half-height and full-height), but most high-powered video cards aren't going to fit.
There's a front panel for an LCD screen, but you've got to buy it separately. We didn't do that. It doesn't look strange from the front without it, though.
Pros: I've had this several of these drives for a long time without failure. I consider this a really reliable drive.
Cons: Not the fastest drive in the world, but it is as fast as any 7200RPM drive.
Overall Review: This is advertised as a SATA 6.0Gb/s drive. However, it is important to realize what that means: it is capable of using 6.0Gb/s SATA slots. However, no mechanical drive at 7200RPM will EVER come even CLOSE to reaching that throughput. There is literally no advantage to a 6.0Gb/s mechanical hard drive over an equivalent 3.0Gb/s drive. (The story changes significantly if we're talking about SSD's, though.)
Pros: These fans really move some air. When all four of them were going at once I think the little case was sliding across the table. (...that was hyperbole.)
Cons: They are really loud. We used them in a small HTPC case and they were too loud. The sound was intrusive and we had to disconnect them.
Overall Review: I didn't try anything to make them quieter like lowering the RPMs or anything.
Pros: Low power, super quick, and the fan is quiet enough.
Cons: It was expensive.
Overall Review: This was used in a machine for my Dad that I haven't used much. However, he hasn't complained, so that's a good thing. It was probably overkill for the particular machine, though, so I don't know that it's been used for anything that would test it.
Pros: It reads blu-ray disks.
Cons: This Blu-ray drive hasn't improved the fuel efficiency of my Saturn AT ALL.
Overall Review: This was put in a machine that I built for my dad and he hasn't complained. With optical drives it's basically a no-news-is-good-news situation.
OEM drives don't come with software (which is the point). At the time, Blu-ray software was pretty pathetic, but that isn't the fault of the drive. Make sure you have accounted for the (possible cost of) software to play Blu-rays before you buy this.
Pros: It's an adapter and it...adapts.
Cons: It doesn't clean my house.
Overall Review: I used it with a PS2 and it worked.
Pros: I don't know, none? It does actually play audio, so there's that I guess.
Cons: It just doesn't play audio the way that I expected.
The battery life is bad, the bluetooth connection process is unpleasant, these are uncomfortable, and, as far as I can tell, I can't use these while they charge.
The real deal-breaker for me is the delay. I bought these so that I could sit far away from my computer and watch video without bothering anyone. However, there is a significant delay in the audio; I mean a delay of, like, 1-2 seconds. I tried delaying the video, but the audio delay is not a consistent length and that didn't work. This is totally unacceptable for me and renders them pointless.
Now, there is no delay if you use an audio cable so that's how I use them. But...with the cable I've just got super expensive and uncomfortable regular headphones.
Overall Review: Apparently, according to the internet, audio delay with bluetooth is just a thing we've got to live with sometimes; I'm not sure it's a problem with this particular unit. However...that's nonsense. Any headphones with a delay simply don't work. Even if all bluetooth headphones do this, it's sill enough to give it one egg.
Pros: There are some serious advantages to ChromeOS - especially if you've already sold your soul to Google. I think ChromeOS is perfect as long as your expectations are realistic. You can check out the Chrome Web Store before-hand to make sure it has applications to suit all of your needs.
This thing is really fast and really reliable. While they are overkill most of the time, the i3, 4GB memory, and 32GB SSD are really nice if you need them. (I did, as explained in "other thoughts.")
The battery life is really stellar. It's probably not the absolute best you can do on a chromebook (because of the processor), but I have no complaints at all.
These pros are only really pros for the price range. If I had $550 or more to spend on a computer then I would get something else. For around $350, though, this little guy is extremely functional.
Cons: The external hardware is...really bad. There's no way to sugar coat it. The case is VERY plastic and it has a really...2009 netbook feel to it. The keyboard and trackpad are just awful. I don't mind being a little patient with lost keyboard input and a really flimsy trackpad, but if you value high-quality input hardware then this is not the machine for you.
Note that this is just the reality for a chromebook in this price range. You get to pick between (1) higher internal specs (i3, 4GB memory, and a 32GB SSD) with a flimsy enclosure, (2) weaker internal specs (celeron or...eek...exynos, 2GB memory, and a 16GB SSD) with a nicer enclosure, or (3) lower-quality everything at a lower price point. At the time, this was the best I could do in box (1).
The only ChromeOS con I have is that you can't install printer drivers. If you need to print then you'd better have access to Google Cloud Print or be prepared to get creative.
Overall Review: Bottom line: If you're coming from a traditional operating system (Windows/OSX) and you're looking for a cheap computer that does all the same stuff, then this isn't what you want. However, if you understand the advantages and disadvantages of ChromeOS then you will be happy with this purchase.
I bought this computer for one reason: crouton. Crouton allows you to run Ubuntu (I use xfce but I think unity is possible) on top of ChromeOS (when you want it to do so). It's not a dual-boot situation where you need to shut down to switch; Ubuntu and ChromeOS run simultaneously and you switch between them with a hotkey. Few of my technological adventures work EXACTLY as advertised, but crouton is one of them. The installation isn't as hard as I expected (though, there are some mildly technical parts) and there has not been a single hiccup while using it for months.
There's a bigger learning curve with Ubuntu than with ChromeOS, but once you get comfortable, Ubuntu can do anything that ChromeOS can't (light programming, LaTeX, printing, GIMP, FTP) and vice versa (Netflix and ESPN videos). The only things I can't do are Windows/Mac exclusive software like Office (though there is a free Web Store app for a light version of Office), photoshop, and games.
Crouton uses local storage which is not a chromebook's strong suit, so I highly recommend getting a model with a 32GB SSD. Also, I think that 2GB of memory would be pushing it at times so I recommend 4GB. I was originally worried that the really low-end processors used by some chromebooks would be a problem, but I think any non-ARM processor would do fine.
Pros: It powers my computer and it doesn't make any noise. Can't even tell it was refurbished.
Cons: I guess I wish it had more connections, although I knew what I was getting when I bought it. It's not modular, but that would have just cost more. Some of the cables are a little bit shorter than I'd like.
Overall Review: My computer had a random restart problem and I thought it was my PSU (I turned out to be right) so I bought this as a temporary replacement for diagnostic purposes. It did the job just fine.
The unit only has one PCIe connector (as described). However, my video card needs two and so I tried an adapter which converts two molex connectors to one PCIe connector. To my surprise, that actually worked fine. My video card recommends at least a 500W PSU and this little guy pulled through, which suggests to me that it has a pretty solid +12V rail.
Pros: This card is really fast, it stays plenty cool (I haven't broken 70C yet), and the fan is not loud at all. It's really everything I expected.
Cons: This is a really good card but I took off one egg because it's not really worth the extra money over the 1GB version. If you look at benchmarks and reviews there's not any performance advantage to the 2GB in almost every area. Since this card cannot be unlocked to a 6970 (to my knowledge), it's not worth the extra money.
This card is heavy and the PCB has warped a little with the weight. This is the first double-slot card I've owned, though, so this might be normal.
Overall Review: I play Crysis 2 at 1600x900 resolution. With everything cranked all the way up (tessellation, dx11, ultra settings, everything) the game is playable but just barely. I almost always stay just over 30fps (the magic number for me) but every once in a while I dip under 20fps. It doesn't happen enough for me to lower the settings but it does happen.
It took a really long time to get my free game but I did get it.
I have not tried to overclock.
Pros: It's made of sturdy metal and has a thermal pad for the hotter laptop drives. The two drives I have fit snugly but I didn't have to force them.
Cons: The whole point of this mounting kit is to fit two 2.5" drive in a 3.5" drive bay. The screws that mount the 2.5" drives into the adapter work fine. But then there are four screw holes used to mount the adapter into the case. The screws that come with the adapter work fine but the screws are threaded differently than the standard holes in 3.5" drives. If you're using the screws that come with the adapter this doesn't matter, but most cases have a special mounting procedure and if you need to use screws that are designed to fit in a standard 3.5" drive to mount this adapter then they're not going to fit. This is a huge and unacceptable flaw.
Overall Review: There are several mounting kits available that fit two 2.5" drives in a 3.5" bay. Considering the flaw in this one, you should just buy a different one.
Pros: Works great with Windows Media Player and it was a good price. I put the card in an x1 slot and installed the driver and WMP had no trouble finding the device and recognizing all of my channels. It records great and the signal has been fine since day one.
Cons: Only one channel, but this is by design. For more channels you'll have to get an upgrade.
Overall Review: Low profile bracket is nice for HTPC's.
Pros: This drive is extremely fast. "Fast" doesn't do it justice. Once my boot sequence gets past the bios it takes about 5 seconds to get to a fully functional desktop. The prices are pretty high compared to HDD's but for the price there is no single upgrade that will give you the same increase in overall system performance than an SSD.
My last SSD was from a company with a questionable reputation for SSD's and I was having BSOD's every ten days or so. The Crucial M4 is faster than the old drive and has never had a single hiccup.
As of right now this is easily the best drive for the price.
Cons: The only cons are aesthetics.
The packaging is very plain and it gets shipped in a plain brown envelope. This is not a problem except that it's not extremely comfortable to have an expensive part shipped with such a lack of security. My drive was fine but the box was a little crushed.
Also the Crucial label sticker is on the same side as the mounting screws, so when you put it in a bay you can't see the label. Obviously not a big deal, but it doesn't really make sense.
Overall Review: Note: I did not upgrade the firmware.
AS SSD Benchmark Results
Seq Read - 500.95 MB/s
4K Read - 25.97
4K-64Thrd Read - 286.59 MB/s
Acc. time Read - 0.079 ms
Seq Write - 199.06 MB/s
4K Write - 69.09 MB/s
4K-64Thrd Write - 161.37 MB/s
Acc. time Write - 0.198 ms
Read - 363
Write - 250
Total - 792
Complete System Specs for reference:
*ASUS P8Z68-V Deluxe
*MSI Twin Frozr II HD 6950
*G.Skill Ripjaw 16GB
*Crucial M4 128GB
*2x2TB Seagate RAID1
Pros: Windows 7 is much better than Vista in almost every respect. OEM is cheaper.
Cons: Only works on one motherboard.
Pros: Lowers temps better than most stock thermal compound.
Pros: I've used this product several times and it gets the chip about as clean as it's going to get.
Cons: none except for price.
Pros: It's very thin which is hard to find but it still moves a lot of air.
Cons: It's a little loud and pretty expensive.
Overall Review: I put this fan as an intake on the bottom of the case. The cables that come out of the back of my PSU are too low to fit a standard fan but this fan fits fine. If you can fit a standard fan then you should do that but this little guy will fit into tighter places.