Date Joined: 11/23/15
Pros: -Solid build quality
-Tasteful and attractive design
-Thick and durable construction
Cons: -really, REALLY big!
Overall Review: This "Control" mouse pad features a synthetic cloth top that grips your mouse well, it is perfect for using withvideo and photo editing applications because it allows for very subtle and precise movement. I purchased this before taking the time to measure out just how incredibly large 17.7" by 15.7" really is on my desk. So I realize that my issue with the mouse pad is completely on me. I use this on a large wooden 1970's office desk, and although I have a lot of space to work with, this mouse pad is obnoxiously large. I do light computer gaming in my spare time (FPS, Strategy, RPG's, and retro gaming through emulation), but for me personally, this mouse pad is just too big for me. I purchased this to match my PC case (the wonderfully affordable "Cougar SPIKE") and my mouse ("Cougar 550M") those are both excellent products and I do consider myself a fan of Cougar's line of PC stuff. I may eventually purchase the Medium sized mouse pad since it is a more manageable 12.6" by 10.6". There is nothing wrong with this mouse pad, and if you would like the giant real estate, you should purchase this one over any other, but for me personally, it's just too large to be useful. Remember to measure before you buy, the "Small" and "Medium" sizes are still quite large.
The next size under this measures 12.6" by 10.6", which is a little for my needs.
Pros: As of today, this i5 CPU is $229.99, which is $120 cheaper than the new Intel i7 6700. For an additional $120, the new i7 will buy you another 100 MHz and "Hyper Threading(TM)". If you don't buy into all that marketing garbage, the new Intel i5 6600 is the best Skylake CPU that you can buy if would like (or 'need') a quad core CPU. If you don't need 4 cores, the current Intel i3 6320 offers 2 cores at 3.9GHz for about $172.00, which is $57.99 less than this particular i5. This CPU is the best priced Skylake quad core on the market right now.
Cons: Honestly, after using this CPU for a few months, it may be overkill for my personal computer needs (home recording, casual gaming, internet browsing, etc.). If I could do it all over, I would more than likely opt for the i3 6320 and it's duel core 3.9GHz, which is also nearly $60 less.
Overall Review: I'm not an overclocker, but I do appreciate a higher end CPU, I find the current i7 6700 to be an overpriced option. This i5 is a reasonable option, but after using a "quad core", I may simply go back to a duel core. The current Skylake i3 6320 is a very good option for under $200, and I could do it all over again, I would probably go with that option. Do your homework and figure out what your PC needs require, because you can save some money if you don't require an i5, and nobody really "needs" an overpriced i7, which is one of the biggest scams in the PC world right now. We will all laugh about the overpriced i7 in a few years.
Pros: If you are a casual PC gamer, and don't want to blow over $200+ on just a graphics card, this really is the best option at the time of writing this review (January, 2016). The specs are much better than the other (non STRIX models) GTX 950 cards, and the card will blow away the older GTX 750ti or any home console machine (XBox, PS4, etc.). It features a smaller form factor, it's easy to install, and it's super quiet during use.
Cons: The cost of the STRIX model is a little higher than the other GTX 950 cards, and although you are getting a slightly overclocked, faster card, the $170 price does feel a little high. Especially considering that a STRIX GTX 960 is $230 and offers a slight improvement by 7-10 frames per second on the more demanding games. I personally don't feel that 7-10 frames per second is worth an additional $60, but you will have to decide that for your self. I don't play particularly demanding games, so this card works just fine for 60 frames per second gaming on 90% of the current titles.
Overall Review: For $170, you can't get a better preforming card that looks as nice as the STRIX in a new PC system build. I bought this over the STRIX GTX 960 because I wanted to put that additional money into other components of my computer (bigger SSD, higher watt power supply, better motherboard, better case, better keyboard, etc.). You will have to decide if getting a few more frames per second is worth the additional cost for a higher end card, but for me, it is not.
Pros: If you find the regular ATX style of motherboard to be entirely too bulky/ugly to work with, or you just want to build a micro ATX sized, slightly smaller Home Theater PC, this is the best micro ATX board you can buy as of January, 2016. The build quality is second to none. every single part of this mobo feels like a $400 board! Every USB port is at least a USB 3.0. You get plenty of SATA ports, space for 2 graphics cards, most any kind of dream PC you want to build can be done with this motherboard.
Cons: My one and only complaint about this motherboard is the included "driver" disc, which is, for the most part, nothing more than useless bloatware. I do like the included CPU-Z profile software for showing off your system info to curious friends, but that can be found on www.cpuid.com. I would recommend only installing what you find to be absolutely crucial, most of it is complete horse poop!
If you are installing Windows 7, you will need to plug your keyboard/mouse into a USB 2.0 connection on your PC case (none on this motherboard). Not really a bad thing, just a caution if you are going retro with Windows 7.
Overall Review: In November of 2015, this was the best microATX motherboard you could buy. In January of 2016, it still is. I looked at every full sized ATX board, and I found nothing that this board couldn't provide me. I am extremely pleased with this motherboard, and I could see myself using this for the next 3 years with no problem.
Pros: Reasonably priced option for 32GB of DDR4 ram. I will never utilize 32GB of RAM, and few people will in 2016, but if you want to future proof your new desktop build for the next 5 years, this kit will do just that. I find the G.Skill design of the "Trident Z" line is way more tasteful than the ugly "RipJAWZ" or "LOKKJAWZ" or whatever the heck the other, uglier style is called. This set runs at 3200, it looks great in a build, and it's easy to install.
Cons: Since this is a cutting edge speed of ram (at the time of writing) just make sure your motherboard will support it. I am running an ASUS Maximus VIII Gene, no problems to speak of.
Pros: For the last 7 years, I have slowly copied and backed up every single CD and DVD I own onto my hard drive. This is an extremely time consuming process, and I have burnt through about 2 low end laptop DVD drives in the process. When it came time to replace my old optical drive on my desktop, I decided to go with this ASUS model because they have won me over in the past with their high quality hardware. This drive does exactly what it's suppose to do, and installing a new optical drive is a quick and easy process. You can toss the driver software, you wont need it.
Cons: If you just need a simple, durable, and reliable DVD-RW drive to rip and produce DVD's or CD's, this product has no cons or drawbacks to speak of. If you want to rip Blu-rays, this drive won't be able to do that.
Overall Review: This is the new bang for the buck champion in the optical drive world!
Pros: What a surprise to see ASUS include this little guy with the purchase of a Strix GTX 950 through Newegg! I first noticed him on the ASUS website about two months back. Apparently it was originally a give away item with some kind of contest. I submitted many applications in hopes of getting one of these little owl figures, but never did. When it came time to buy a graphics card, I went with the ASUS Strix GTX 950, I was thrilled to see the little owl included in the box! The figure stands tall and proud on my newest PC build, a nice reminder of my new GTX 950 and Maximus VIII Gene motherboard. I hope to see more "Strix" and ASUS promo items, they have really won me over with their high quality gear!
Cons: The only "con" I can think of, well, he looks a little bit like a bat/chicken once you take him out of the box and stretch his wings out, but I still love him!
Overall Review: I would highly recommend picking up the Strix model of graphics cards because of their attractive design, and their easy overclocking abilities, and for the included owl as well!