Date Joined: 05/22/06
Pros: 3 slot matx board, has enough features to be a decent htpc. Low power but capable.
Cons: OK, the first board was DOA, so I got a second board on RMA. Process worked fine, no complaints. Second board arrived, dead again. So I played with every combination I could think of with the CMOS reset jumper, until the board finally POST-ed. So, if you think the board is out-of-box dead, give it a whirl. Never ever had to try go to those lengths, just to do an otherwise simple build.
Overall Review: I have several low-power Celeron quad core boards, including this one. It seems a bit faster than the older J1900 Celeron boards. Be cautious about memory. I had several speeds/sizes of DDR3 memory that the board didn't like. A couple of sticks from the approved memory list and we're in business, so don't think this board will boot up with just any DDR3. I wish other mobo makers would try to play in this embedded space a little harder.
Pros: I can't believe I found this card. I replaced a 1080p monitor with an older HDTV panel. Intel graphics driver on the basic Celeron/Pentium embedded systems do not handle overscan, so the picture blows out to the edge of the panel. I ended up buying a new board, etc. because my old board only had an x1 slot. This card was the answer that I was seeking. x1 provided plenty of bandwidth to a basic card like this one. I also know it is 100% usable in an x16 slot as I used it to troubleshoot another build. Passive heat sink, instead of a failure-prone buzzy fan. The bracket isn't a shiny chrome but more of a smoked look. Looks subdued and cool with an all-black case I bought.
Cons: Can't think of anything, it wasn't free?
Overall Review: I purchased the x16 version because it was a few bucks cheaper. Needed the same kind of performance in a build that has an x16 slot. For a while I thought about just getting 2 of these x1 because of the flexibility of swapping them into systems with x1 slots. Seems more and more the mini-ITX systems have only x1 slots on them, and I'm into the low-power, lightweight, quiet systems for HTPC.
I'd been looking for a PCIE x1 card for years that wasn't some ridiculous old chipset or was very expensive or a tiny amount of memory. This card is the answer.
Pros: Low profile and standard brackets very helpful. Passive heat-sink. Played HDTV signal for 24 hours straight, no issues. DX12.
Cons: Product description is wrong, it is a physical X16 card. But I have an x16 slot.
Overall Review: I got the PCIe x1 version of this card for a MITX board that only had a x1 slot. A very old 8400GS was having problems in a new build. So, I decided to get this x16 one for a MATX. Zotac seems to be covering a lot of the odd/unusual applications with reasonably priced product. An nVidia based card is an absolute necessity for Win7 media center because it can handle over-scan, which is present on many older HDTV's. Kudos to Zotac for making vid cards that are passive cooled and do the job for the right price. This card was the right price with a passive heat sink and good nvidia drivers. Years ago, I liked the AMD HD4350/4550 for similar reasons, but it seems Zotac stepped up to fill that void in the market.
Pros: Industry standard USB cables/plugs.
Cons: Not a thing.
Overall Review: I wanted my front USB3 on a Think-center to be usable. Unfortunately, I covered over the USB3 motherboard header with a big ol' graphics card. This front panel hub was the right price, and looked in the pictures to be pretty basic without special molded connectors. I de-soldered the USB plugs from the circuit board and put them in the front panel bracket. Straight up industry standard plugs on both ends. Tried various thumb drives and cables - these are in snug. Now I'm waiting for the USB3 to SATA riser card to complete the deal. The cables are long enough to reach all the way through the case. Recommended.
Pros: I replaced a mITX without an x16 slot with this unit because it has an x16 slot and can double as a decent family casual gaming system. The layout is very similar to another board I purchased a few years ago from another mfg. But they don't do that model anymore. I really like this embedded board because the little quad core is so potent for how few watts it pulls. The included driver disc has a little bloat, but it's not excessive, and easy to install just what you want. I like the regular DDR3, I have a lot of it lying around. Lots of video out options if you were running stock - I'm using an 8400GS to handle overscan on an old HDTV.
Cons: OK, no USB 3.0 board header, but I knew that. And if I want 3.0, there are open x1 slots for a riser card, not enough to dock an egg. It's just nice having 3.0 on the front of the case.
Overall Review: So far 24/7 operation recording shows and watching TV, feels like a champ. I need to get an SSD for this to perk it up, but even with a platter drive, the rig is snappy and responsive. I sort of had a bad feeling about ASRock for a while, but this board really shows they can execute. Hoping those solid caps make this thing last forever. I got a free LCD TV in great shape, but my old board with Intel graphics could not handle the overscan. Certain Intel graphics can, but not on this board or on my previous board. But with an add-in card, I can fix that.
Pros: The layout is perfect for a mITX system. I'm using an embedded board with a CPU power draw of less than 10W, so I took out the fan. All the sheet metal and plastic is a matte black, even the bag of included fasteners are all black, except the brass standoffs for the mobo, nice touch. I barely read the instructions, except for the rubber SSD mounts. This thing can take a combination of 4 drives - HDD and SSD. I'm using 1 of each. The goal for this case is a media center, and even the cooler master switch is pretty understated - no neon on this bit of kit, very classy. Tons of cooling via the perforated metal, not that I really need it. No sharp edges in the case, never felt in danger of giving blood trying to put it together.
Cons: A little box on the back for the PSU. If the case was just a cube all around, it would be really cool. But this is a style point, not functionality related. I can't dock an egg for such a minor thing. The case screws were really tight, I think someone powder coated the holes, but I worked them out with a driver so no big.
Overall Review: Definitely recommend. I think I'm not the target audience, I can see a portable game rig with this case. One weird thing is the USB ports are upside-down so my media center IR dongle looks wrong. But again, for regular devices or cables this is a non-issue. I am happy to get away from the mid-tower for this build and really like the style and value.
Pros: Keyboard and mouse capability in the palm of your hand. My usage model is a media center PC, running WMC and net based applications - mainly Netflix. A WMC remote is only good for Windows Media Center. This little gem is just like have a KB/Mouse for 100% control in all applications. I'm still a little slow with it, but improving.
Cons: None to think of right now. Buttons are small, but that is the price of entrance into a hand held device.
Overall Review: Just about the size of a standard optical disc in your hand. I can't comment on reliability or battery consumption - it is still too new. I'm not good with touch pads, preferring a standard mouse. But it has really been refreshing to be able to control WMC and everything without having a full size keyboard in the living room. Also, the small buttons make lengthy typing a chore - but that is OK. I can still get through a basic youtube search without issues. If I really need to type a document my work computer is just fine for that.
Pros: Well thought out layout. Real motherboard tray, and the side panel bulges a bit to allow for cable management behind the tray. All fasteners are black, and the color accents are nice. Case switches and ports have ribbon cables - and are all black, very snappy. When on, the fans are pretty quiet - I was surprised. The motherboard fasteners were all tapped correctly and I had no issues installing the mobo once I figured out which screws were for the mobo. The HDD/SSD caddy was cool - there was a direct screw-down for a 2.5" SSD AND a removable 3.5" plastic caddy for a platter drive. Enough room for a decent size PSU. The buttons and ports all seem adequate quality.
Cons: Wow, is this thing light. Some plastics seem brittle. I worry about the durability of this case if it was for someone who frequently wrenches on their rig. The sheet metal is thin. Also, there are a few sharp edges here and there. Be cautious when building. My case plastic window came with a small scratch - not going to worry about it. I'm putting lettering over it. No optical drive bay - I installed Ubuntu thru USB stick, so I knew I would not be needing it anyhow.
Overall Review: This computer is for an organization as a door prize/silent auction thing. I populated it with some old but still serviceable parts I had including AMD APPU, 4 Gb RAM, SSD, HDMI cable, USB wifi adapter, and a media center remote KB/mouse. The usage model is a media consumption computer - turn a non-smart TV into one, and do Netflix/Youtube/Hulu, whatever. The case is definitely eye-catching and snappy. I even gave the top of the power supply a purple paint job to match the case. With the organization logo graphics on the plastic side-window, I think the owner might even want it.
I used an old entry gamer PSU with really rigid wires, sheathed in plastic mesh. I could not get the 24-pin connector cable run behind the mobo tray, it was just not flexible and far too big to get the side panel back on. With a smaller, cheaper PSU with ties on the wires, I could see being able to route the 24 pin cable behind the tray and still reinstall the side panel.
The DIYPC case definitely fits the bill. Inexpensive and good enough in the right ways - eye catching and colorful - to be something fun and memorable. Not recommended for builds that will frequently be changed/serviced.
Pros: Really small, really cool - specs say it pulls 6W. I touched the heat sink under load, it is just a bit warm. HDMI port means it will display 1080P. Bought a single 4Gb stick of RAM for it (used the recommended chart at Biostar's web site), and it does great with just a single bank filled. USB 3 front and back. My Silverstone Milo has a USB 3 front panel, just plugged the cable right into the board. SATA 6gbps, so that matches the SSD I'm using - this machine boots up really quickly. 14nm processor tech, so it is the most modern CPU in the house, technically a Braswell. Windows 7 64 installed just fine, no funny driver issues. Watching live TV while recording another show works fine.
Cons: I wish it had 3 SATA ports, instead of 2 - boot drive, storage drive, DVD could all be plugged in. Instead I use a SATA riser card in the single PCIe X1 slot 0 - 4 total ports that way. Wish I could have reused the desktop memory I pulled from the previous system. This board uses SO-DIMM. Again, I cannot dock an egg because I knew this going in.
Overall Review: So, I also have a Biostar with a J1900, that is pretty great, a quad core with 2.42 GHz max clock. Well they quit selling those on the egg, so I took a chance with the dual core. So far, for HTPC the quad core is totally unnecessary. Recording TV is just fine, no undue lags, browsing and channel selection is snappy. I got rid of a A4-3300/Hudson motherboard because the sound chip went out, and frankly it was a quite hot in a compact HTPC case. Because there is no CPU fan on the J3060NH, the only fan noise is the power supply. Thinking about trying one of those Pico-PSU's for a zero noise system, but I can't hear the Seasonic fan more than a few feet away anyhow.
Don't try digital TV/HDTV without an HDMI cable. I only had a VGA lying around, but TV picture is disabled without HDMI all the way through.
I was reading recently that Biostar is exiting the enthusiast motherboard arena, and going with embedded products like this. I've tried other vendor's products, for HTPC, and found them lacking. I hope Biostar keeps on making power-sipping, compact solutions like this one.
Pros: Small plug in, fits well in power strip.
Cons: Power connector plugs into the side of the unit, rather than the back. If this was in a location with routers, modems, etc., it could look and be rather untidy for managing cords. Minus 1 egg.
Overall Review: I was using an old router with DHCP disabled so it would act like a switch. It finally quit working, so I got this unit. I am very pleased how much speed I picked up, versus the slowly dying router.
Pros: Speedy (enough) CPU with passive heat sink. Intel HD graphics more than good enough to handle HD through a Silicon Dust Homerun TV tuner in Windows Media Center. 5.1 Sound, not just stereo. Regular DDR3 1.5V memory is on the approved list, not just 'L' variants. Awesome power draw according to specs. This board replaced a mini-ITX, and I am digging the 3 PCIe slots, need one for the SATA card to bump up number of SATA devices I can use. Also, got lots of USB 2.0 headers on board.
UPDATE 8/2/2016: I really wanted to update my A4-3400/FM1 board. Please Biostar, hear my cries, bring back the J1900MH2!! OK, short of that, I just purchased the J3060NH, I sure hope it measures up the this one.
Cons: Two SATA2 ports, come on guys, just one more for SSD boot drive, platter drive for recorded TV, and a SATA DVD drive. I knew this going in, so I can't deduct an egg. Bought a PCIe/SATA card so I'll be able to run 4 SATA devices.
Older ports (SATA2, USB 2.0 headers, etc.) but I don't need the fastest for a HTPC, so again, not really a con.
Overall Review: For years, I've been looking for a replacement for a Core 2 Duo-based PCs that I used with analog TV tuners. I have an AMD Hudson/FM1/A4-3400. It's speedy enough, but pulls lots of Watts, makes the case toasty. And the integrated graphics are just not quite there for HDTV through my tuner setup, so it has an AMD HD4550 card. Next, I bought another integrated motherboard solution about 6 months ago. It has an A4-5000. The Celeron, when at peak, runs almost a GHz faster than the A4-5000. It really shows in all tasks, for example scrolling through Media Center shows has lots of pauses and delays. Celeron makes Media Center a pleasure to use. Oddly enough, both integrated solutions have the memory that I used on their approved memory lists.
So these are my requirements: Low power, integrated graphics powerful enough to run WMC, HD tuner content, enough connectivity, stable. This Biostar board is as close as I've found to being a great HTPC board, without dropping big bucks.
For kicks, I ran an nVidia GTX 550ti in the PCIe X16 (running X1 bandwith). I did a bench of Furmark running 720P. I compared FPS to an old Core 2 Quad with the same nVidia card in it. They were the same FPS. My bet is on mid-low gaming cards an X1 lane isn't really saturated. I could see using my HTPC for Steam game night running casual games with controllers, with the nVidia solution in.
I did some small simple tests, like opening and closing browsers, documents. This solution is good enough for everyday computing in my opinion. Never felt undue pauses and delays in general tasks.
Pros: Small, automatic config in Win 7.
Cons: Can't think of anything.
Overall Review: My HTPC is complete. Bought a J1900 Celeron board with only 2 SATA ports. Really need 3, 1 for SATA DVD ROM, 1 for SSD boot, 1 for big HDD platter drive. I was expecting a slog to get this to work, but other reviewers said PnP in Win7. All the config happened in the background and Win7 immediately recognized my platter drive when I hooked everything up. This was total Cake! I even tried mixing around the drives a bit. Booted every time to Windows without issue (checked BIOS first...to make sure MBR was showing).
Pros: I really like the form factor; ITX fits a standard ATX/mATX pattern, and this board looks dinky in my giant full ATX Antec HTPC. 4 supported monitor connections - dSub, DVI, HDMI, DP. , 7.1 sound capable - I'm running 5.1. USB 3.0 and SATA 3 (6 mbps) are nice. UEFI BIOS, pretty, intuitive. There is an option to load the Ethernet driver from the BIOS and download all the drivers from asrock.com, never tried it, but for anyone without options, that looks like a good option.
Cons: The included CD cannot boot properly. Here is what I did to load drivers - I loaded Win7-64, loaded a wireless USB stick driver I had lying around, went to asrock.com, then to amd.com to get Catalyst. The asrock.com site has an all-in-1 driver suite that gets all the CPU level stuff loaded. Due to an issue - see below - I actually tried different driver install methods and found this to be best. The screw on the board that holds on the wireless antenna was loose and I had to take 2 pair of pliers to tighten it up, noticed other reviews said the same thing. The CPU fan after a couple of weeks is now noisy - more so than a standard AMD APU 80 mm fan would be. The manual is so-so. Board picture is small - yeah small board, but even smaller picture.<br><br>Yes - this is an inexpensive solution, but you can get better solutions for 20-25 more. Big and little things are just not as good as they could be, even considering price.<br><br>Am I happy with the solution - yes, just not happy with some of the initial quality shortcomings. The board works - everything works - it just took a while to get there. Long term I will be putting on a big passive cooler to eliminate the fan noise. Have a machine shop at work where I can get that made.
Update in 2016. This board had problems from the start. The A4-5000 is just not strong enough to run WMC without pauses and delays in pulling up channels. Crashes to Windows, blue screens. I bought another integrated solution and literally transferred everything over (mem, HDD, DVD ROM, PSU, etc.) and reinstalled Win 7, no similar problems. Even if the board was otherwise perfect, the CPU is inadequate for an enjoyable Media Center experience. For example, browsing TV listings, this CPU just kinda plunks them out, the other solution goes like a house on fire, noticeable difference. I don't really even want to try to RMA/replace the board, wouldn't use it anyhow, just too pokey. I don't even want to try to replace my FM1/A4-3400 with this, just giving up too much performance. And the fan noise from this board, it just cuts through everything, even my wife complained. Technically this board had lower power draw that the solution that replaced it, yet my new solution had a passive heat sink. Probably the least happy with this purchase of any IT item I've ever purchased,
Overall Review: I initially set up my HTPC with a 800 Gb WD green @ 5400 RPM that I had lying around. The combo of the CPU and the slow HDD really made the computer unpleasant to use. I purchased a 60Gb Mushkin SSD to pep up the system. This definitely makes the setup usable as a HTPC. The 800 Gb drive is now the recorded TV drive.<br><br>The intended purpose of this board is for HTPC to be a Tivo for digital cable using HDHomerun as a 3-tuner device across my LAN. Because M$ is so worried about Win10 right now, they had some major support gaps in changing guide providers in Windows Media Center. I tried valiantly to get the guide, which makes recording shows possibly in the first place, and tried re-installing Win 7 several times. Finally, time won out and the guide eventually downloaded properly. Look up Zap2It to Rovi transition - lots of unhappy WMC users out there.<br><br>Quad core anything running this slow is actually kind of silly. I wonder if this was cut back to a dual core if there would be any noticeable performance hit just using this as a WMC/HTPC box. The real strength of this system is good graphics system that pulls loads away from the x86/x64 cores.<br><br>This embedded solution is not recommended for anyone who wants to transition to a lower-power desktop solution. It is just not snappy enough for even the least serious user to notice pauses and delays.
Pros: See other thoughts. Many pro's:
1) Case big enough for an aftermarket power supply.
2) Mobo accepts standard ATX 24 pin and P4 4 pin connections. Other very similar specs-wise PC's at this price have custom PSU and mobo connections.
3) PCIe area is big enough for a double-height graphics card.
4) Ran Prime95 for several hours - no errors!
5) The i5-2400 actually has a turbo of 3.4 GHz, usually runs 3.2 under load.
6) Cosmetics on the case are more than acceptable.
7) Like other reviewers, Win7 Pro 64 was not chock full of bloat. Uninstalled 1 anti-virus program and that was about it.
8) I've always like Lenovo's approach to design for the Thinkcentre's - the louvers, push-button side panel release, etc.
9) 4 memory slots, with only 1 populated - memory upgrades without chucking a stick, yeah!
10) Pretty standard looking CPU heat sink/fan, none of that goofy air duct stuff.
Cons: Can't really think of any...really got what I wanted.
Overall Review: I've always had the idea of using a refurb PC to update older hardware. What I wanted to do was find a PC that had decent specs that could support a PSU with enough wattage to power a mid-level gaming card - a GTX 550ti (or any other 6-pin power card). Didn't want to go down the route of a used mobo/CPU/memory and try to get everything to work together. I'm sure for the price I could have found a combo that would have been great. But factor in Windows $, not having to tweak to get everything to work together, this is a pretty good way to go.
After receiving, I ran the stress test to be sure everything is good. HWM tells me the system pulls like 78 Watts at full blast - gotta love 2nd gen Core iX stuff.
Then I pulled the power supply, put in a 80+/400W that supports a 20Amp/12V rail that can push a decent card. Ran FurMark for a while. Checked all the voltages - everything was fine.
I'm speculating, but I bet games will get a few more FPS because of the CPU upgrade, and the CPU will hold back the graphics card less.
As always, Newegg is a great vendor.
Pros: Inexpensive, right size, right capacity, quiet. I also like the idea of some USA content in my purchases.
Overall Review: I set up an HTPC system using a QC5000-ITX/Wifi from ASrock. Initially I tried a WD 800 Gb 5400 Green drive to run the whole system. The combination of the embedded solution and the slow drive really made the computer almost unusable in terms of pauses and delays. Using the Mushkin as the Win 7 drive, and the 800 Green drive as recorded TV storage really works great. The 800 Gb drive is good for low power and continous data streaming when watching recorded shows. The Mushkin just makes the system snappy to use in general. Access to Windows programs like WMC is quick, boot up is quick (quicker than mainstream mechanical drives), zero complaints.
In fact, I just bought another Mushkin to clone another HTPC operating system from a mechanical drive. I'll wipe the mechanical drive and it will be the storage drive. Instant, noticeable perforance boost for less than a family movie at the theaters.
Pros: Was on the list of approved memory for my new mobo. Worked from the word go at rated speeds. But hey it's memory - how could it be better? The heat sinks are understated, no spikes or ridges - perfect.
Cons: None, solid product.
Overall Review: When I got it, the sticks were in a see-through plastic clam-shell, similar to other suppliers' packaging. But this just popped open, didn't have to get a box cutter to get the packaging open - how great is that? And there is a shiny little enthusiast sticker that comes with it - similar to CPU and GPU stickers to dress up cases. I don't really think it works on my HTPC case - going for the stereo component vibe, not pwn all noobs.
Pros: good little device
Cons: can't think of a thing
Overall Review: Came in a padded envelope, I think a little more quickly than the shipping notes might say. Damage free, nice trinket for charging all the USB devices.
Pros: Only 4 eggs because we've not owned it very long. Got this for my 6th grader for her birthday. She's had an iPod til now and the iPads, even the mini, were out of the price range we wanted to spend.
Screen is bright. 10" size is nice at this price range. Resolution is adequate for driving Android. External sound is decent.
This, like other Android tablets, is for Google Play and other services. My daughter very easily downloaded some games.
We also hit YouTube for some videos. They streamed just fine without lag over WiFi.
Cons: Viewing angle is a bit narrow. It is a little difficult for two people to watch something at the same time, without getting close.
Let me say I don't like touch screens. But I felt there was some lag and uncertainty in my typing on this screen. Not excessively bad, just not crisp. I've goofed around with much more expensive devices and they are definitely more defined and crisp.
Battery life. Jury is still out. I can't get a straight answer from my daughter. But her usage never takes her far from an outlet or a car charger. The idea behind a tablet instead of a PC is that she can sit in the living room in an easy chair, curled up with the tablet. What I understand is that she can go about 2 hours playing, before it need to be plugged in again. Though I'm not sure she ever got a full charge.
Overall Review: Even if you download a free game, the Google Play marketplace (or whatever it is called) still wants a Paypal or other payment method.
Years ago we purchased several eMatic MP3 players for the kids. They were inexpensive, but even today all still work, even after getting really beat up. Ematic is not a well known brand, but my previous positive experience was enough to take a chance.
The rest of the tablet, like the bezel and back are quality. This product seems solid and I hope it will last a long time.
Pros: I put high tech knowledge as I have repaired many old LCD monitors over the years. I'm using the VN289H as a TV set, piping TV signal thru a HDHomerun, to a PC, and up the DVI/HDMI cable. As other reviewers commented, 1080P on a monitor this big gets a bit blocky for up-close work. But for a bedroom 'TV' set, this puppy is big, bright, and not budget-busting at all. I can't believe - 28" of LED backlit goodness for less than 2 bills. This replaced a 24" LCD backlight monitor, that I moved to my work PC. It is much brighter than the old LCD backlight. Colors are rich, look good. A small bit of bleed at the corners, but more than acceptable.
I have a swivel/tilt VESA mount that works great with this. I can't believe how lightweight this panel is, comparable to 22-24" monitors from the 2004-08 era.
The cables included are nice, including a DVI to HDMI, and a regular VGA. Perfect for a TV setup.
Cons: Could it be too big, ha! When I use a Windows media remote to turn off the TVPC, the Asus gives a bright blue screen when it loses signal, a little annoying.
Overall Review: The standard mount is your basic tilt-only style. It uses a screw with a thumb tab that folds down after you tighten it. I tried it for a bit before using my VESA mount stand. The VESA screws are behind some little rubber buttons that remove with your fingernail, easy. This has been the easiest monitor to assemble/hook up that I've ever owned. There is no clamshell on the back for cables, just a recessed channel. Really pleased so far.
Pros: The device does everything it says it does. The downloadable software suite (GUI, config, QuickTV) is straightforward and the Silicondust website has adequate instructions provided you don't go too far off the reservation. I downloaded the suite to Vista and 7 machines. It works everywhere. See other thoughts for WMC compatibility. I can't fault Silicondust for not strongly supporting Vista: Vista does not natively support QAM like 7 does. If you stick to a 7 machine, things go smoothly...after the cable company steps up and does their job. By the way, my HDHomerun must have shipped from Bolingbrook IL, because I ordered it on the weekend and it was here Monday...wow!
I did send Silicondust a tech support e-mail. They responded the following day - with a good answer about S- versus M-Cards. And it was funny and snarky to boot. I think Silicondust wants to do a good job, but the cable companies are making their product look bad. In all cases, the HDHomerun was not the problem.
Cons: This device is not quite ready for Joe average It's not really the fault of the HDHomeRun. I was talking with the tech. This is the first one he's seen. He said how cool the concept is, though. Not a fault of HDHomerun, but Vista support is not great. I've been chasing all the downloads and patches, etc. for days, and still don't have it working in WMC in Vista. The Silicondust website doesn't have great documentation for all the crazy Vista messages I've received.
Overall Review: My story: First, my local Charter cable office is Beloit WI. When you go to yours to get a CableCard, make sure you get an M-Card, not an S-Card. It's got to say M-Card on it (and be red in color if it's a Motorola M-Card). Make sure that if you need a tech, he bring along several M-Cards. The quality control on those cards must be non-existent.
I tried for several nights to activate the card via phone support. Monday night, we got to the end of the road because I could not find the "DATA ID" in the card information posted in WMC. That was because the S-Card does not display it - see above. Tuesday and Wednesday, I started to see non-encrypted stations as now I had an M-card. All encrypted digital stations were not present. Friday, Charter rolled a tech. He did 3 things: First, get rid of any additional splitters you may have - my signal was weak, partially because both the Charter line and my house had too many (apparently digital is more touchy than analog). A weak signal seems to fake out the pairing process - the M-card will appear ready to go back at home base when it's not. Second, make sure there are extra M-cards. I figured out the HDHomerun was probably good when I first got an M-card, and was able to see the 3 (Cablecard ID, Host ID, Data ID) numbers phone support said I should see. Third, the tech had a signal strength-o-meter (don't know the exact name). He used it to measure the signal after he spliced several cables and removed splitters. With adequate signal strength, pairing the card went like it was supposed to. I now have digital TV and Windows 7/WMC works like a champ.
Using a wired and/or wireless network for TV signals is really cool. I don't have to have 2 sets of wires running through the house anymore. I've actually started removing some of the coax that's run behind furniture, etc. I was using a wireless USB N600 adapter and streaming TV earlier today. There were no lags or pauses. My router is a Dlink 655, and both in the wired and wireless stuff, it has handled the bandwidth just fine.
I dislike the idea of having to move to 7 just to have WMC support. But I guess there were reasons to upgrade from all the previous releases, too. My Vista/WMC/Analog cards/analog cable infrastructure worked great for 6+ years, but it's time to upgrade.
The whole HDMI thing is a little sketchy to me. I have a PC where I'm using a VGA cable and on-the-mobo sound jack (it says digital audio in the control panel). It shows picture and sound great (thought I'd need an HDMI cable and some sort of crazy arrangement for analog powered speakers - not so!). For the big TV, the HDMI cable from the HTPC is the way to go.
My HTPC solutions include a AMD A3300, some old Wolfdale Core-2-Duo stuff, with either onboard HDMI or HDMI through a 5450 card. Don't know if true 1080 being pumped through my network would send it crying to mama or not.
Pros: This is quieter than the stock Intel cooler. The design is the same as the much bigger coolers that I have used on an old quad core years ago, just the kid brother version.
I played around with the PWM settings in the BIOS until I got this at the lowest speed I could (HTPC - minimize noise), and it is just a whisper. The Intel cooler was close, but had a sound quality that did not fade into the background as easily. Now the loudest thing in the case is the mechanical hard drive.
Cons: Zalman tried to one-up the push-pin design of the stock intel cooler, but has failed. I've never had issues with the Intel push-pin design, either removing or installing with the board in the case.
I had to remove the mobo to even try to get the heat sink 4-poster plastic base to go. I tried and tried to get the expanding pins to seat in the thru-holes in the motherboard. The idea is they use a sort of snap-lock that expands and holds onto the back side of the board. Well, the little plastic push-pins were just too short to go through the mobo. This is a G31/775 Foxconn board, nothing special. It would be even worse it this was an enthusiast class board that is thicker. I used a little 400 sandpaper so see if I could shorten the posts just a bit. Nothing doing...probably a good .020" short.
Overall Review: I ended up using 2 cable ties per post, one that got threaded from the back side of the board, and the other to ratchet down on the heat sink base. The remaining part of the mechanism is a piece of springy metal that anyone familiar with how AMD coolers mount (or other Zalman products) will instantly recognize. This snapped on just fine, and the cooler is sitting flat on the CPU.
The cooler is good because it is quiet and does its job, bad because the design just does not account for board thicknesses beyond a certain range.
Pros: It does everything it says it does. I purchased this to go with a Charter Digital cable box on the chance that Charter would have unencrypted QAM digital TV, and this would be a cheap solution. Charter requires the whole CableCARD and a more expensive solution, unfortunately.
I ran the coax directly into this unit, no channels except the standard NTSC. So my hopes on getting the digital cable directly without the cable box are dashed.
So, I put this card through its paces, just to see what it's got. FM radio tuner, check - works fine. I went from the cable box both via coax and RCA. Both worked fine in WMC, except that I had to use the Charter remote to change channels. WMC recognizes only one channel - channel 4 - but that is because the cable box does all the signal conversion, blah blah.
I tried out the included ArcSoft software. It is actually better than WMC as WMC in Vista doesn't seem to allow you to look for both OTA HD (ATSC), and a cable box simultaneously. The ArcSoft package allows you to look for both and essentially you get your 5-10 (or whatever) OTA channels plus one 'dummy' channel that comes through the cable box.
I just used the drivers from the included disc and did not go to the website to look for updated drivers.
I replaced an ATI 650 tuner which does not do Clear QAM to try this 750 out.
Cons: None really. Card was a snap to install and set up. I'm just running Vista home premium on an FM1 A3300 AMD setup. Everything this card should do it does. I can't deduct an egg due to Charter cable not doing Clear QAM.
Overall Review: The next step in the Digital cable TV saga is probably something that requires a CableCARD. Thinking about just getting an internet only subscription from my cable company. My quest is to eliminate a monthly cable box rental fee for several box. Also, the Charter rep I spoke to was claiming a sort of Channel-geddon where most channels would become digital only. This hasn't happened. Frankly, I like the functionality of this 750 card and the 650 card in regular analog cable, and will probably just return the cable box. The next step will be a cablecard solution if I ever care enough to want to watch digital TV.
Pros: Tiny HSF, fan quiet. Performance is balanced between compute and graphics. Low power envelope. Inexpensive.
Cons: AMD...please consider moving pins to the mobo. Although the CPU price is less than just about any mobo you could get.
Overall Review: AMD has been harping on balancing graphics performance (which you can really see), with compute performance (which you can't in everyday productivity apps). I'm totally happy with this APU. I could have used an old blue-team overclocked C2D with a board with X4500 graphics for a similar price. Sure, Super Pi or Prime would have been awesome, but X4500 graphics just doesn't cut the mustard for 1080P output. Kudos to AMD to finding a market segment where I would be happy to buy their stuff - HTPC. Plus X4500 handled stuff goofy sometimes like stuttering Windows, poor playback, etc. If AMD had the goods on the CPU side as good as these fast integrated-into-CPU graphic cores, AMD would be a no-brainer for everything else. Anyone who doesn't at least study the value proposition on AMD APU/mobo is doing themselves a disservice.
Pros: Cheap, did I mention cheap? DDR3 4 Gigs for what - about $4/Gig? H0ly cow. I have had no crashes for 96 hours just running the PC straight, multipe on/off's, sleeps, etc., my experience shows 'bad' memory shows up right away as funny behavior (right behind flaky PSU), which is easily diagnosed by memtest. This stuff is solid as a rock so far at 1.5V/1333. And that's all I need.
Cons: Yellow color clashes with my mobo - OK kidding. Who cares.
Overall Review: Running at 1333, default speed of my recently purchased AMD mobo. Have made no attempts to clock this stuff up to rated speed as I'm unsure if the board can deliver clean power at higher volts. And frankly I don't care. I'm not folding, this is just for HTPC.
Pros: Compact, 2 PCI-e slots (1 big, 1 little), quiet, solid caps. Look, between the rebate, a cheap A4 processor, and 4 Gb of cheap brand-name RAM, I was able to upgrade an old single-core CPU, to a nice dual core. This mobo support APU's with AMD onboard graphics AND has an HDMI port. So, I'm pretty happy about this sweet little board in my HTPC setup. For driving HD output, no separate card needed. Only until recently could Intel graphics make the same claim. Guess that's more of a CPU feature. The board feels solid, took a chance on ECS, a brand that I've no familiarity with. So far so good. Included driver DVD and BIOS revision were fairly recent, no bad drivers or hiccups in driver install. Probably will never touch the BIOS, no need to do so. Clean sound - not a big VIA fan, but no complaints. Besides if it ever flakes, there is still a PCI slot, and I have lots of old PCI sound cards hanging around.
Cons: It's not surprising this board was just deactivated, which is too bad. I can see that there are multiple complaints. I just don't have any. With everything hooked up, this board posted first time it was fired up, everything works. Yeah, this board doesn't have everything - it's not supposed to. If you buy a board that doesn't have everything you want on it, shame on you. Honestly there were more hangups with the Windows install - just Windows being flaky, nothing related to the board.
Overall Review: Why oh why do people want to max out memory speed, overclock, whatnot on a dirt-cheap board? If you're gonna push the envelope, get a better board. For building cheap, run at stock speeds or (gasp) lower on memory, esp. if you have cheap memory or memory that requires a lot of clean voltage to run at high frequency - it only makes sense. You don't get a full feature board with a bazillion power planes to at a budget board price. Tips: Jumpers to use the USB to come out of sleep state. It's in the manual - flip 2 jumpers and my WMC remote can pull the box out of sleep - how convenient. Hybrid Crossfire - are you kidding me? Based on the price alone versus performance, if you wanted the extra oomph for 3D gaming, just buy better a discrete card. the $ difference between a 6450 (the recommended card for the ) and a 6670 is total night and day for gaming. Rebate tips. The S/N is on a sticker on the PCI slot and on the box tag...any doubts about them matching up? The tag on the board is almost impossible to read after putting into a case...best to read/match before installation.