Date Joined: 08/30/03
Pros: Consistently boosts to 2600 MHz in games, temps under load top out at about 77 degrees and it idles (with fans, I don't use zero RPM mode) at 28. Extremely well built.
Cons: Support bracket is a joke; I couldn't get it to fit. I think the bracket was designed for a 2 slot card and not a 2.5 slot card like this is. Honestly, this is a really nit-picky con though. It's still a 5 egg card.
Overall Review: There is a reason why Sapphire is generally well regarded and is a primary partner for AMD graphics cards and this card is a prime example. Actual in-game clocks are running between 2580 and 2610 consistently with temps only reaching the mid to upper 70 C range and typical power draw under 300 watts. It's definitely a highly binned part assembled well. The price is crazy right now, but if you're going to spend ridiculous money it out to at least be on something as well made as this.
Pros: - Inexpensive
- Transcend products have historically been reliable.
Cons: None that I've found.
Overall Review: Bought this card to use in my Contour HD camera because right now 8GB seems to be the sweet spot for MicroSD if you want anything faster than Class 2. Sustained read speeds are around 15 MB/sec and minimum write speeds of 9 MB/sec with sustained write speeds typically being about 10.5 MB/sec. This is well above the Class 6 specification of 6 MB/sec minimum write speeds and more than sufficient for recording at 1080p with maximum bitrate settings on the Contour HD.
I've used Transcend's Compact Flash cards for a long time and they've always been reliable, fast, and economically priced. This product definitely follows in those footsteps.
Pros: - Quiet at low setting, not terribly loud at highest settings.
- Straightforward install on my MSI K9A2 Platinum (AM2+) motherboard.
Cons: - Large, make sure you have enough space in your case to fit this (fits just fine in a CoolerMaster 690).
Overall Review: Between this cooler and the CM 690's great airflow I'm seeing idle temps at 30 degrees Centigrade for my Phenom II X4 940 BE and haven't topped 40 degrees yet. Ambient temp in the room is 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pros: - Lots of ports for both internal and external components.
- MSI has a history of issuing updates with decent regularity.
- Detected the correct settings for my Phenom II processor although it shows up as "unknown".
Cons: Enabling AHCI for the SB600 SATA controller in XP Pro is a royal pain. Here's how I was ultimately able to make it work:
- First, MSI does _NOT_ include a floppy with SATA drivers on it, so you will need to create your own by downloading the SB600 RAID drivers from MSI's website before beginning.
- Go to ATI's website and navigate to the driver's download page for CrossFire Xpress 3200.
- Use the "optional downloads" link and choose to download the South Bridge Driver.
- Extract, but DO NOT INSTALL the executable, find the SM Bus folder and save that to a floppy/CD/whatever.
- Use the RAID floppy to install the RAID drivers when prompted by the Windows XP install program.
- After XP installs DO NOT install the chipset drivers that came with the motherboard, they will wipe out the RAID drivers and kill AHCI support.
- Instead, go into the hardware manager and select the SM Bus Controller and update that driver using the driver you saved earlier.
- Install other drivers as nor
Overall Review: I know that AHCI support does not help performance and that setting the RAID to IDE mode in BIOS will work for most people, but I use eSATA drives for data backups and storage of my photographs so I need the hot-swap capabilities that AHCI provides.
If you need AHCI support in XP, without a hassle, you will want to use a motherboard that has one of AMD's 700-series southbridge chipsets. If you don't need AHCI, everything will install very smoothly and this is an excellent board. It's just limited by what I now know is a know issue for the SB600 southbridge. Serves me right for not doing my homework.
Pros: - Roomy for its size.
- Bottom-mount for power supply allows hot air to exhaust from the top of the case.
- Top-mounted ports are very convenient if you keep your computer beside your desk and not under it.
- Solid construction.
- Easy to take apart.
- Room for fans everywhere.
- Wide enough to clear my Zalman 9700 with ease.
Cons: - Side panel fan has an annoying buzz due to the design of the opening (the "honeycomb" case vent causes harmonics); I solved this by using some #8 washers as spacers to set the fan about 1/4-inch back from the side panel which eliminated the harmonics and silenced the noise, but required using longer screws than are included with the case.
Overall Review: - The cable management thing is kind of a joke and it does get in the way when installing a motherboard, but the guides unscrew easily so I call this one neutral since I suppose it's nice to have the option if you have a smaller motherboard.
- Bottom fan mount is useless as the power supply cables take up that space, but it does have enough space to make it serviceable as a vent; again, I'd call it neutral and not a real "con" since there are a ridiculous number of other spaces for fans.
Comments: If you have a 12.5mm "full height" drive and you want to use it in this enclosure, you're out of luck. Even though the box advertises that it "fits any 2.5 inch hard drive". What they really mean is that it fits any 9.5mm "half-height" hard drive. This limitation needs to be listed somewhere on the product.
As far as I can tell, there is nothing mechanically wrong with the enclosure, but the advertising is deceptive at best.
Comments: Windows XP's default drivers work just fine with this card in my ThinkPad A21p, I never bothered to open the driver CD. It's not spectacular, but it has no failings that I can see. The only minor quibble I have is that the ports on the card grip a little bit too tightly so removing a device from this card requires a bit of care.