Date Joined: 02/11/08
Pros: Small, very light weight
very little heat output
long battery life
great CPU, good enough graphics
Cons: none major (linux support for GPU isn't there yet)
Dual-booting requries forethought!
Overall Review: I teach Computer Science courses and I cycle to campus. I usually present by using live demos. I also wanted something that could support light gaming while I travel, and that I could dual-boot.
This lap-top has been perfect. It's much smaller and lighter, so it's way less of a hassle to cycle with and walk around campus. It has a much better battery (6+ hours under normal use) which makes it much less irritating to present with. The SSD is also extremely fast, which is nice, and it has enough horse-power to run Visual Studio fluidly.
I dual-booted it. Hardware support under Linux - both Fedora 23 and Ubuntu Gnome 15.10 - has been excellent, with one single exception. The system uses a hybrid GPU lay-out, with both an integrated GPU on the CPU die and an discrete GPU. That set-up did not work correctly with either OS. On Fedora, the system recognized the discrete GPU and used it with a GL3 profile, but it locked the display resolution at 800x600; I couldn't figure out how to change it. Ubuntu Gnome 15.10, if glxinfo is any indication, does not correctly recognize the discrete GPU. However, it has not limited the display resolution: the display works at full resolution, and it still has GL3 acceleration (through the on-die GPU). Perhaps more annoyingly, with Ubuntu's older kernel, power management cannot turn of the discrete GPU, which impacts battery life - I get about 3 hours under Ubuntu, as opposed to 6+ on Windows.
I went through this with my last lap-top, which also used a hybrid set-up. It took about a year before the whole thing was correctly supported, I'm assuming that the next round of releases will support this set-up correctly.
UI scaling is still a little dodgy, both in Windows and with Gnome. Gnome apps work great, but non-Gnome apps don't scale correctly - which means they're tiny. (I also had to prevent some Java class-files that were part of the Accessability system from loading, because they were crashing Java Swing applications.) Windows UI scaling works a little better - and the scale is adjustable, unlike Gnome's, which is locked at 2x. However, apps that do custom painting can still break - steam looks horrible, and the MechWarrior on-line GUI breaks if UI scaling is on.
Finally, if you're going to dual-boot, know that Windows 10 license work differently. They don't have product keys, they're locked to a key associated with your UEFI loader. Before you re-install, in Windows, you need to create installation media so you can restore from that. I stupidly didn't think the re-installation process through and wound up buying a new copy of Windows 10, herp-derp.
Pros: good sound quality (despite being cordless)
decent battery life (4-ish hours)
can charge while in use (edit: or not, as it turns out)
good noise isolation
Cons: Several features (surround-sound and the function-key specifically) are not available without installing the "Logitech gamins software". The Logitech Gaming Software is an atrocious monster, it's a textbook example of bloatware: it does a whole bunch of other stuff besides enabling 7.1 surround sound, and it gets it hooks all throughout my system to do so. The license also includes a provision about monitoring my running applications without telling me under what conditions that's going to happen, and that's a flat-out no-go. If Logitech would do a bare driver that enabled 7.1 surround without needing to contract with the horrid demon that is LGS, this headset'd be perfect.
About five months after buying the head-set, something has started to go wrong. It now powers off for about 30 seconds every half-hour or so. I think this is because, when the battery ran down, I would leave it on and continue to use it while it was plugged in to charge; I assume this caused some kind of battery damage. If you can't use the head-set while it's charging without damaging it, that makes it a /lot/ less useful.
Pros: Comfortable, good sound quality.
Mute-button on cord was handy
Cons: The mute button broke after maybe four months. It is stuck in the muted position, so the mic is useless.
Pros: Got the system after the Ars Technica review to connect to my TV. I've been extremely satisfied with the unit so far. Installed Linux Mint 16 on it, almost everything has worked perfectly, with the singular exception of the graphics card; using the OSS drivers in the kernel, audio output over HDMI wouldn't work. However, the closed-source ATI driver works, and the kernel version in Mint 17 works "out of the box" (3D acceleration, working HDMI audio output). Hardware has worked fine under lots of use; I've done a lot of torrenting and media playback, and it's held up so far. Unit is small, quiet and unobtrusive; the fan is quiet enough when it's on (quieter than my PS3's disk drive ;).
Assembly was easy and went off without a hitch; unscrew the back, pop it off, slide the ram and SDD in, put the back on. The drive and RAM I got worked just fine without issue.
The Ars review reported UEFI issues, but I didn't encounter those; Mint 16 installed and booted without me having to do anything. I had no other software or hardware issues, besides getting HDMI audio to work.
Easily supports 1080p playback of all of my media that I've tried. Using full-screen projectM visualization and listening to Feedly right now. :)
Cons: Getting HDMI audio working in Linux was frustrating; the in-kernel drivers for the kernel used in Linux Mint 16 don't support audio over HDMI. The closed source driver (the update one, not the current one) supports both audio and graphics over HDMI, but is a little twitchy. Fortunately, the open-source driver for the kernel version used in Mint 17 appears to support both audio and video over HDMI out of the box, and is much more cooperative with the rest of the system.
Doesn't include SPDIF output; I've had to buy an external USB sound card for that.
Overall Review: Using wired USB keyboard and mouse was annoying, I eventually got a wireless keyboard/touchpad combo.
Pros: I have an AMD Phenom 9850 Black edition. On stock cooling, it would reach 60 C after running at 100% usage for more than a few minutes (with 60 C being the high-end of the CPU's thermal envelope). With this fan, The CPU reaches about 52 C, even after being left on full CPU usage for extended periods.
It's also extremely quiet, at least by comparison: I can only barely hear it over my ceiling fan's rattle. (But I don't really care about noise output, so I'm not sure if it's quiet enough for the ultra-quiet-PC enthusiests.)
Cons: The only minor gripe is that it took me a while to install the thing, both because it wasn't immediately obvious how it was supposed to install, and because it was physically extremely difficult to apply enough force to the clip to get it to catch, at the awkward angle to it that I was. But the agony of installing the thing is temporary, and the joy of being able to use your CPU to its fullest without worrying about melting it is long-lasting. :)
Overall Review: One thing that's neither a clear plus nor a clear minus is that it has a little speed-adjustment nob that you hook up between the Fan and the plug-in on the board, and run outside your case. I've set it to maximum cool and left it: that thing might be a plus to anyone who *wants* to be able to turn the fan down for quieter operation, but for me, it's just extra hassle, and one more loose wire to watch. I suspect you could omit it and wire the fan directly to the board, but I haven't tried.
I would strongly recommend this fan to anyone having heat problems with a Phenom CPU -- I can't be the only one. It completely solved my thermal problems, and it was pretty cheap to boot. And it's quiet, if that's important to you.
Pros: Great power supply. It can easily handle my two Radeon 3850s in CrossFire, my Phenom 9850 Black Edition, my 4 gigs of RAM, my two hard drives and my DVD drive - which may not be a lot, but it's not nothing either. Runs cool and quite. Long enough cables, plenty of connectors for everything, in cable wraps (which was nice).
Cons: There's a little more cabling than I need, so it can be a little tricky to find a place to stow everything. The rigidity of the mesh cable wraps can make finding a place to tuck them all the trickier.
Overall Review: My one "con" is also kind of a benefit, since all those long cables also mean that you'll more than likely have a connector available for whatever you want to hook up. It's not even much of a con, it's just a little annoying to stow the cables you didn't use. Even though it's listed as a con, on balance, it's probably more of a reason to get the drive than it is a reason not too.
Pros: Great speed, great capacity, low price. Functioning perfectly and as-advertised a little more than a week in. Very happy.
Overall Review: If I recall correctly, this is the most capacity you can get in the <$70 price range. So far, the drive's been perfectly reliable, and I haven't seen any disadvantage to explain why it's so cheap. Really, truly and literally flawless.
Dawn of War: Soulstorm loads several times as fast as it did on my old machine, and I attribute a large part of that to these excellent drives.
Pros: Absolutely excellent performance/price ratio. Games run awesome, and the card wasn't even $150. I have two in CrossFire, and it "just worked" in both Windows and Suse 11.0 without any special set-up at all - just installed the driver and bingo - at least, I assume it just worked in Suse 11.0: my X is working and I have acceleration, whether it's actually combining both cards in CrossFire I don't really know for sure.
Overall Review: I defy nVidia fans to match this thing's performance *at it's price*. You just can't. Oh, yeah, also to nVidia fans: all four monitor outs are enabled in CrossFire. SLI only supports one monitor at a time.
It's great for SLI precisely because it's so powerful but also so cheap. You can buy two, Crossfire them, and get way more power than $250 would usually net you.
Pros: A solid quad-core design offering you a lot of modern features at a pretty cheap price. I've had no problems, and the performance has been great.
Cons: Runs a little hot, but not much (I hit 51 C too, but I don't think that's so bad: a friend of mine with a Core 2 can boil water on his, under high load). Slightly slower than Core 2 quads, and without as much cache.
These weren't huge deterants: it's probably within 5% of the performance of Intel's best part in the price range, and I don't have to sell my soul, so I like it.
Overall Review: Running both Vista Home Premium 64-bit and OpenSuse 11.0 (also 64-bit) with no problems and great performance. I can see all 4 gigs of RAM, and apps run fast. I will be racing against a friend of mine's Core 2 quad at Dawn of War: Soulstorm soon. I have a good feeling about it.
I usually don't overclock my hardware, so I can't really speak to that.
Also note that the errata that effected earlier phenoms has been fixed for the 9x50 chips, including this one.
Pros: This RAM is going strong at a week in, with no problems. Great performance, great price. Pretty happy.
Overall Review: I think I'd recommend it. I must admit, I don't really know that much about how rate RAM, so all I can really say is "working perfectly as advertised, was cheap, can recommend".
Pros: Feature-rich board with support for a lot of modern candy, and at a pretty reasonable price. It's running great more than a week in, and it supports all the new stuff I've plugged into it perfectly. I am quite happy with it.
Cons: Runs very hot. AsusProbe's reported motherboard temperature, at idle, is around 48 C, and I hit 51 or 52 C when under a load (like playing games, like F.E.A.R.). Notice that I didn't say "heavy load", just "load": F.E.A.R. is two years old, and I decidedly don't have the settings maxed, and I'm still hitting 51 C. I've called Asus and they say it's nothing to worry about... but I can't say that's an entirely satisfying answer.
Overall Review: Be aware that there are two very similar versions of this board - one with integrated WiFi, and one without. This is the one without. Do not get confused.
An amusing little note: I have a Phenom 9850 and two Radeon 3850s in SLI on this board. A friend of mine built a machine around a Core 2 quad and two 8800 GTs in SLI. We both chose Asus boards. There is a reason.