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James O.

James O.

Joined on 05/09/07

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Product Reviews
product reviews
  • 8
Most Favorable Review

Seems decent.

MSI Z370M GAMING PRO AC LGA 1151 (300 Series) Intel Z370 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.1 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
MSI Z370M GAMING PRO AC LGA 1151 (300 Series) Intel Z370 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.1 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard

Pros: So far all the tested ports seem to work. Overclocks well.

Cons: The manual seems way too short (it's thick, but the English portion is short). Every BIOS option should be explained in detail, lots of detail, but that being said MSI explains more than Gigabyte does, at least compared to my Z97 Gigabyte motherboard. It seems like these motherboard manufactures are missing a great opportunity to separate themselves from other manufactures by making very detailed explanations of the options in their BIOS. Reltek should make audio jack remapping much clearer in there utility. Actually their utility doesn't show it at all. It matters for 7.1 surround sound because there is no default side speaker jack, and the line-in jack is the only jack that can even be remapped to the side speaker jack (at least according to Windows 10, maybe you have more options if you manually edit the registry). And Windows 10 made this remapping confusing because at first I didn't see the scroll bar on the Windows 10 popup that appears when you plug something into an audio jack, and you have to scroll down to see side speaker as an option. If Reltek is going to drop the ball, then MSI should explain audio jack remapping in their manual. Also, after a fresh install of Windows 10 the microphone was being ignored at low and even medium input volume levels. If I said "1 2 3" it might only pickup the 3. It was super stupid. I don't know if it was the default behavior of Reltek's driver or some stupid feature of a new Windows 10 release, but it was just terrible. I did fix it, although the fix only seemed to take effect after a reboot. It was confusing and terrible.

Most Critical Review

***WARNING*** Single Rank Sticks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 32GB (2 x 16GB) 260-Pin DDR4 SO-DIMM DDR4 3200 (PC4 25600) Laptop Memory Model F4-3200C22D-32GRS
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 32GB (2 x 16GB) 260-Pin DDR4 SO-DIMM DDR4 3200 (PC4 25600) Laptop Memory Model F4-3200C22D-32GRS

Cons: Unfortunately I noticed that other people were getting a mix of single rank and double rank sticks only after I ordered these. I expected double rank sticks since that's what these used to be. But no, of course I had to get the single rank sticks. Even though memory modules are on both sides of the sticks, these 16GB sticks are single rank!!! What that means is only half the data pins on the sticks are used. Even though the memory controller only uses half of the data pins on a stick at any instant, it could use the data pins on the second half while it waits for data on the first half and vise-versa. But these sticks have no second half. In memory bandwidth heavy multi-threaded applications this makes a difference. This includes many newer games (weather they be legitimately bandwidth heavy or become bandwidth heavy due many cache misses from lack of optimization). Also the single rank version of these sticks have worse sub-timings than the original dual rank version. I think someone here posted a screenshot where the number of cycles used to recharge memory cells during a refresh was higher for example.

Overall Review: This honestly should be illegal. With many newer games seeing a 10% performance difference from 2 dual rank sticks over 2 single rank sticks (and some applications being impacted even more than that) this should be considered a different product. For example, if this RAM was actually DDR4-3000 but sold as DDR4-3200, that would probably be illegal, but that would actually have a smaller performance difference in some applications than going from dual rank to single rank on only 2 sticks of memory. Thanks a lot G.SKILL for letting half the data pins on my sticks do literally nothing. This would be fine on a desktop with 4 RAM slots as it could use the data pins on a different stick while it waits for data on another stick on the same channel. I would just simply need to populate all 4 slots. But obviously the overwhelming majority of these are going into laptops with only 2 RAM slots.

12/23/2021

Okay product. Good warranty.

ASRock Z590M Phantom Gaming 4 LGA 1200 Intel Z590 SATA 6Gb/s Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
ASRock Z590M Phantom Gaming 4 LGA 1200 Intel Z590 SATA 6Gb/s Micro ATX Intel Motherboard

Pros: Seems well manufactured. ASRock Warranty was easy with a semi-fast turnaround.

Cons: This motherboard *appears* to have a software issue with the BIOS's ability to communicate with GPUs. Once you get past the BIOS, Windows has no problem. The board I sent off for warranty behaves exactly the same as the board I received from warranty (I confirmed it was a different board). There was no manufacturing defect as it turns out, more likely a software issue. When the computer powers on, it will beep 5 times because the BIOS cannot communicate with GPUs, but Windows somehow loads correctly. This even includes the iGPU on an 11700K, however despite the 5 beeps on the iGPU eventually the BIOS will start working with it. The only way I can make changes in the BIOS is using the iGPU. By default the iGPU is only enabled if there is no discrete GPU present. Oddly a couple of 1080 TI's I tested with did not do the 5 beeps initially, and they did work with the BIOS initially. I think that this is a BIOS software problem and ASRock should be able to fix this.

Overall Review: If the ASRock warranty experience was bad I would have a given this 1 out of 5. But I was happy enough with it to bump this up to a 4. I don't need to go into the BIOS very often, so I just listen to the 5 beeps and continue on.

12/19/2021

I Like It

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-SOC (rev. 1.0) LGA 1150 Intel Z97 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-SOC (rev. 1.0) LGA 1150 Intel Z97 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

Pros: Works good.

Cons: Uses a bit more power at idle than other motherboards. Since PCI-e slot 1 is close to the CPU, there might be narrow clearance for your heat sink. A fan retainer on the Noctua D-14 (I think its the D-14) had to be bent slightly to make enough clearance, but it was not a big deal. Now the BIG CON with this board: I had the same cold boot issue that so many others are having. I also had the exact same cold boot issue on a Gigabyte Z87 OC Force. The problem is a Windows feature called "Hybrid Shutdown" (or maybe it has been renamed). If I turn it off all problems go away! I don't understand the point of this Windows feature, and I would not want it even if it worked right. The fact that a pointless feature is breaking these boards is funny. But that's not the BIG CON. The BIG CON is that Gigabyte support was COMPLETELY unaware of the issue. I look at the dates of some of these reports, and I find it IMPOSSIBLE that Gigabyte did not know about the problem or the solution. There is no way I was the first person to report the solution to Gigabyte (of course I had to find the solution myself, their support department had me doing the basics). Gigabyte HAD to know about the solution. But NO ONE at Gigabyte thought it prudent to inform their support department about this?!?!?!?. And it must be a rampant problem because it happens on BOTH of my Gigabyte motherboards. The fact that a simple piece of critical information about a rampant problem went uncommunicated to their support department is literally incomprehensible. Once hybrid shutdown is turned off, I like both boards a lot. They can design complex motherboards, yet they can't operate at a kindergarten level. I don't understand it and it scares me. I'm done with Gigabyte.

Everything Seems To Work

BIOSTAR H81MHV3 LGA 1150 Intel H81 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
BIOSTAR H81MHV3 LGA 1150 Intel H81 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard

Pros: All the ports I've tested work. Includes all rear USB and all internal SATA III ports. Haven't tested the front panel USB 2.0 or SATA II or the PCIe ports, but they probably work too. The BIOS and driver CD are very clean. Shipped with most recent BIOS. Supports XMP memory profiles and 1.65V DDR3 (as well as 1.5V and 1.35V)

Cons: No USB 3.0 front panel connector. This is going to be a deal breaker for a lot of people.

Overall Review: Paired with a G1820 Celeron. Intel states the G1820 memory standard is 1333. BIOSTAR seems to respect this number. I selected the XMP 1600 profile on my RAM, and the motherboard ran it at 1333 anyways, albeit with appropriately scaled timings. A Z97 board has allowed the G1820 to use 2133 memory so it can be done. However by changing the memory multipliers I got the RAM to run at 1400 on this motherboard, faster than the 1333 that I thought would be the limit. With excellent timings to boot. Also added a small amount of voltage bump to the System Agent Voltage since I'm using 1.65V RAM.

Super Nice.

Xigmatek ASGARD II B/B CPC-T45UC-U01 Black / Black 0.8 mm SECC / Aluminum and Aluminum Mesh Bezel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
Xigmatek ASGARD II B/B CPC-T45UC-U01 Black / Black 0.8 mm SECC / Aluminum and Aluminum Mesh Bezel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

Pros: Looks excellent. Easy to use hard drive and DVD drive mounts. My favorite case I've owned.

Cons: The PCI slot cover system is really nice, however, removing the slot covers for the first time required pliers.