Joined on 11/01/06
775 Represent. *throws nerdy gang sign*
Pros: + Look carefully at the layout of the PCB. A lot of thought and planning went into cutting down the physical size of this board. The IDE port and motherboard plugs are lined up perfectly, practically flush to the edge of the board. There's a beautiful gap between the chipset heatsink, so that you can install one of the longer double slot PCI-E graphics cards without it blocking your SATA plugs. This was all so that you, the consumer, could install this thing into even the smallest of compatible cases without hating life. + I'm at 4 GHz stable with this motherboard and a Pentium E5500 CPU. Stock heatsink and fan. Yeah, no, I can't believe it either. That's already an amazing overclock, but I unfortunately can't push it farther for lack of a VCore adjustment. Whatever gains you get are going to have to be carved out at stock voltages.
Cons: - The small PCB has its downsides, too. The two headers for the switches and LEDs are not labeled. "No problem," you will think, "I'll just follow the diagram in the manual. Plus these locations are kind of standard on any modern motherboard anyway, shouldn't be a problem!" *** IMPORTANT *** The diagram in the manual illustrates the jumper locations for JFP1 upside-down in relation to JFP2. Make sure you sort of mentally re-orient the jumper locations based on where the missing pin on the header is supposed to be. Otherwise, you will click...click...click that power button, but it's going to be hooked up to the wrong terminals. You might even erroneously assume that the board is DOA. Before assuming that, make sure you check and double-check your power button header. This board is diabolical in that sense.
Overall Review: These are the facts: 1. You're buying a 775-socket part in this day and age, so you want something inexpensive. If you want a pricey, feature-packed 775 board, and you're actually budgeting for something like that--right now, in 2011--then I just don't know what to say to you. Take that same money and buy a newer-generation motherboard and compatible CPU or something. 2. But that's not you. You want a board that will cost you under $50 and give you solid, unending performance. No frills, all business. And not only that, but you wanted to buy the product of a reputable manufacturer, who has been making this stuff for 25 drama-free years, and you didn't want to gamble on a "ZOTAC" or "Foxconn" board, with their wide array of double-sided Newegg reviews. No, you wanted a sure thing. 3. You considered points 1 and 2 and bought this thing. You are a wise and learned person.
HTPC Buyers / 60 Hz Users Beware!
Pros: This board was purchased to upgrade an existing HTPC to Sandy Bridge components. In that sense, it performs admirably, but with several very important caveats. (detailed in the Cons section.) First, the good stuff: + onboard HDMI allows you to use the graphics processing power of the Sandy Bridge CPU itself, an important benefit for those trying to conserve electricity or save money + MSI is an established company that stands by their products in case of trouble, and they are also often quick to remedy hardware issues through BIOS updates. At this point in this motherboard's support cycle, it's a very stable and mature product, provided you are running the latest BIOS. + 8 channel audio with discrete analog audio jacks for your speaker sets is very nice to have on a budget board, although SPDIF users will of course still go wanting.
Cons: - There is some weirdness associated with using the onboard Intel video of the Sandy Bridge CPU with this motherboard, and since this is my only Sandy Bridge motherboard, I can't be sure if this is a universal issue across a wide variety of Intel products, or a problem specific to only this product or even just only to the LCD TV/monitor it is connected to. Here is what happens: Using the onboard Intel GPU through the HDMI port, the boot screens and BIOS setup screens default to a refresh rate that is NOT supported by every monitor out there, probably something like 75Hz at 640 x 480 resolution, and it apparently CANNOT be changed. Wow.
Overall Review: Why is this important? It's important because if you're hoping to connect this to a large but older LCD screen that only supports refresh rates up to 60Hz--as many HTPC users are bound to do--then you are out of luckunless you have an (in all likelihood) smaller computer monitor handy nearby that supports your higher refresh rates like 75Hz and 100Hz. If you don't, then you will get no picture at all or else a noisy and potentially LCD-damaging picture if you try to go the 60Hz LCD route. Anybody who has ever accidentally selected a resolution or refresh rate their monitor or video card can't support is probably already familiar with the resulting weirdness. You will have to make your BIOS tweaks or install your OS while the machine is hooked up to a different monitor, and then from that point on make sure the LCD is off until the machine has booted into Windows (or whatever you're using) where it has a usable refresh rate. It's a bit stunning that 60Hz owners have been so slighted.
Pros: + I've owned a couple of these card readers over the last few years. An earlier version didn't support SDHC cards. This one does.
Cons: - They don't exactly hold up over time or with frequent use. Try not to leave cards plugged into the device when it's not in use. It's tempting, of course, because one of the plastic caps can fit right over an inserted card, and you may feel inclined to store or transport the card in the device like that. However, the moment the copper terminals in the reader start to lose their flexion is the moment you start to get weird read and write errors followed by having to junk this thing altogether.
Overall Review: A great buy provided you have modest requirements, and just need to copy data to and from a card every once in a while.
Not so great.
Pros: + Small plug size makes it ideal for builds where space is at a premium. Unfortunately, if you're already pressed for space in the first place, then you're going to be running this cable into all kinds of gymnastic positions to connect your SATA devices, and the cable just doesn't hold up.
Cons: - One of the more common problems people try to solve with a thinner cable like this one is that when you install a long PCI-E video card, you may end up blocking a SATA port or two on your motherboard. You can slip this plug underneath the card, sure, but the issue from that point on is that the cable will link to the plug end at a right degree angle while the plug sits under the video card. You might think this is OK at first glance, but it really, really isn't. In time, the plug will separate from the cable, making it a useless piece of junk. Mine broke just 2 months after purchase. - "Thin" is code for flimsy.
Overall Review: Honestly, whatever space issue you're trying to fix inside your case could probably be better-solved with a good right-angle SATA plug that is of higher build quality than this one.
Criminally underrated. A fantastic bargain.
Pros: - SilenX truly offers a quality product at a great price here. Everything has a substantial feel to it, from the solder joints on the heatsink fins to the lapped copper heat pipes, even right down to the nice weight of the fan speed controller. - The included backplate and mounting hardware in particular are very nice to have. At this price point, a lot of manufacturers will just copy the Intel 4-screw push-pin design--the same design that everybody hates. Here, you get a solid backplate with 4 real bolts that connect to 4 real threaded screws, and it makes for a more secure and hassle-free attachment scheme. Many $40-50 coolers don't even come with this kind of hardware. Settle for nothing less. - With the fan set on low, it is utterly silent while still keeping quad core temps 16C degrees cooler at idle over stock temps, and 10C degrees cooler under load. The cooling would be even better with the fan set faster, but I'm very pleased with its performance at the quiet setting.
Cons: - Does not automatically throttle the fan speed based on CPU temperatures. Depending on your needs, this is either a positive or a negative. I see this as a huge positive for my particular application, as 4-pin automatic power management often uses conservative programming that overvalues cooler temperatures instead of lower noise. I really didn't want a fan that would spin up to jet engine decibels in the middle of watching a movie just because the CPU was under load for a few minutes and--OH NO!!--the temperature might rise a few measly degrees without the added fan speed. The added noise and distraction just isn't good to have, especially in an HTPC where a premium is put on quiet operation. The 3-pin fan will still plug into a 4-pin fan header on your motherboard, of course, but this way, you have far more control. You can manually set the fan speed to the low, silent setting, without having to worry about being second-guessed by silly BIOS fan speed throttling.
Overall Review: If you're building an HTPC or media center, chances are you're sandwiching components into a small case and have to work around some tight clearances and low noise tolerances. If that's the situation, then you may have already looked at some of your other options on the market. For example, I took a long look at the highly regarded Scythe Shuriken series before discovering that 1.) The Scythe model would block a ram slot on my motherboard, a fairly common problem, and 2.) According to several comparative reviews, the Shuriken offered no significant benefits in cooling or noise reduction over this SilenX model, and 3.) The Scythe Shuriken costs over twice as much. The choice was easy.
EVGA will inevitably cheat you.
Pros: Regarding the card itself: + Low-power, single-slot graphics solution, perfect for HTPC setups. + Does better with games than one might expect. 3D performance is better than older NVidia-based offerings like the GT 220, while still lagging behind comparable ATI cards at the same price point.
Cons: Regarding the company: - Avoid, avoid, avoid. You're going to be buying this product at the full purchase price. You can forget about actually getting the rebate. - If (when) they deny your rebate, EVGA sends you an email with a PDF scan of the documentation you sent in. Imagine how amusing it is when this company selects a random, arbitrary reason to try to keep your money--in my case it was "No receipt/invoice included"--and then goes so far as to link you to a PDF of everything you sent in. And in the PDF, there's a scan of the envelope, the UPC symbol, and yes, lo and behold, even the receipt that was supposedly missing. Cute.
Overall Review: I've been purchasing EVGA products for over 10 years, but never again. There is little to no difference between one company's NVidia reference design and another's. Therefore, you're better off avoiding a purchase of this particular EVGA card and just going with a manufacturer that offers a GT 430 at a lower initial price, without resorting to trying to steal your cash on the backend with disingenuous rebate gimmicks.