Joined on 09/16/05
Excellent ultraportable. AMD shines.
Pros: Solid Construction Large battery=long battery life Excellent keyboard layout and typing Useful trackpad/keypad Thoughtful design and features Wifi 6
Cons: Dongles vs jacks (minor) Screen could be brighter (minor)
Overall Review: I did my research before ordering this laptop. Through this research I knew most of the pros and cons of the UM425IA and how it compared to others similar to it. Reading reviews on line from sites specializing in notebooks/ultrabooks would lead you to believe that the best rated models are much better than those not at the top. The UX425/UM425 models from Asus were not at the top of anyone's list of ultraportables when I was doing my research though they were liked. After using this computer, though, I can only conclude that the actual differences between similar brands/models are very minor and that these sites tend to split hairs. I looked at just about every 14" ultraportable laptop from the major manufacturers (Dell, Acer, HP, Lenovo, MSI, and Asus) priced under $1000US. Comparing features, I put them all in a spreadsheet and it came down to only a couple of contenders with the UM425IA clearly on top. At the time of purchase, this was the only laptop in this price range with the new gamechanging R7 4700, 16gb of ram, 1tb SSD, Wifi 6, and Windows 10 Pro in this group. It also had the largest battery and, though something of a gimmick, the keypad integrated into the touchpad. It's sister, the UX425IA at the same price with the Intel i7 has half the ram and half the SSD size. The Thunderbolt 3 port on that model is not compelling enough to make up for a slower processor, less ram, and less storage space. The group of "last year's" AMD models featuring the R7 3700 are, by all accounts, not nearly as fast as the new 4700 and only a few have Wifi 6. Now, on to the actual review. I am blown away at how good this laptop is compared to my previous home laptop. However, I am also more than impressed by the UM425IA compared to the Lenovo T470 I used at work. It's far more responsive (I LOVE Windows Hello), battery life is much better, and the keyboard layout and typing quality are better as well. Even my one worry, the 250nit display, is just as good in use as the display on the Lenovo. You probably know that this laptop is available with two different displays. The standard display in this NH74 model is a 250 nit (i.e. not especially bright) display whereas the optional 400 nit display is both brighter & more efficient. Would I have loved to have the 400 nit version? Sure. However, when I contacted Asus, the agent that responded to my query said there were no 400 nit versions coming to the US in the foreseeable future. Also, it would likely have pushed the price beyond my budget. For me, the standard display is actually quite good. I have been able to adjust to a pleasing tone and the brightness is fine. It's worth noting that I do not use this laptop outdoors. If I was a college student doing schoolwork outdoors under a tree, it might not be up to the task, but if you are using this indoors, there is no problem. The other consideration beyond brightness (i.e. power consumption) is something I can't comment on other than to say that I get a full day of browsing, document creation, and videos without even thinking about needing a charge. I listed the display as a minor con, but that's only because I know it's not as bright as other models. I actually am fine with it. The size and weight are typical ultrabook 14 stuff, so nothing to note except that the construction is solid and does not creak. One concession to size by Asus is the lack of ethernet and headpone connections (USB dongles are provided). I thought about this before ordering and rationalized that I use wifi almost exclusively and only occasionally plug in a headset. Would I prefer to have hard jacks for these connection? Of course. Actually, my biggest problem with this isn't the actual lack of jacks, but keeping up with dongles. The keyboard layout is fantastic. I particularly like having the large Home, End, and Page UP/Down buttons on the right side. Compared to every other laptop I can remember using, the typing feel is the best I've ever enjoyed. The Lenovo T470 I used is very similar, but this Asus has great feedback and I rarely make typing mistakes. The glass touchpad is very good and am learning to like the keypad function, too. My only wish is that I would like the power button to be somewhere above the keyboard so I wouldn't put it to sleep by mistake. I am initially pleased with this laptop. As I use it more, I'll update this review. If you are going through the process of looking at ultra portable reviews, you will find that most "like" this model, but none "love" it. Don't let the lack of love for the UM425IA disuade you. I think it's a great laptop and a great relative value. 3 month update: Outside of issue with waking from sleep fixed with a firmware update, continues to works great in constant use. Fast performance and battery life is dawn to bedtime (just don't block bottom vents!). All positives from original review still apply. Would buy again tomorrow. Highly recommend.
The last case I will ever need to buy
Pros: Flexibility Air Flow Space Cooling Options Build Quality
Cons: Lack of 3.5" bay Only two 5.25" bays Placement of USB on top Generic appearance No motherboard rear cooling
Overall Review: The case is very well made and offers more configuration options than any case I've seen in person. The standard fans are fairly quiet and the options for liquid and air cooling are as much as you would ever need. There are many thorough reviews on the web and almost all were effusively positive. Air flow is fantastic, especially with the internal bays removed. I went from a mid-tower to this case and saw all temps drop 5 degrees Celsius using the stock fans and the same Corsair H100i liquid cooling from the prior case. Adding fans from the original case, saw another 5-7 degree drop. As for the cons, they are mostly a matter of taste, input options, and where you locate your case. The 4 USB ports (2x2.0, 2x3.0) are on the top of the case. My case is under my desk and the ports on top makes seeing them impossible without additional lighting. I also had a reader from a prior install that fit into a 3.5" bay that would not fit without an adapter. The one con that I do think is noteworthy is the lack of a rear motherboard cooling option. With my setup complete, everything was very cool except for my socket temps. Well, to be precise, the socket temps were the only ones proportionally warmer. The good news is that there is room, because of the generous 30mm of space behind the motherboard, to mount a standard depth 25mm thick fan. So, I simply cut a 120mm hole in the side cover and mounted a PWM fan with a filter to that side. Doing this dropped my socket temps by 10 degrees Celsius and seemed to cool the VRM as well. It allowed me to up the voltage and other settings to get my AMD FX-8350 up to a stable 4.9ghz while keeping core and socket temps below 60 degrees Celsius under prime95. Overall, I think this case will support my current build and any others I will do for many years. All materials are first rate and, as I stated, options are endless.
Fast video card...and a white box
Pros: Fastest GTX770 you can buy Efficient and quiet cooler Dual bios support Cheaper than the same card if new
Cons: Shorter warranty than new
Overall Review: No doubt that this is a great video card. You can read reviews for performance info. This is a tough call from a value standpoint. You get the fastest EVGA GTX 770 card made, but it's only a little faster than the Super Clock that you can buy new for a few bucks more. No issues with the card, but read the details regarding warranty, EVGA's step up program, etc. before going refurbished. I am happy with my purchase and if the card is still working at the end of year 3 (when the warranty on a new card would have run out), I will feel even better. Note that you literally get the video card in a plain white box and nothing else. No connectors, documentation, software, etc. You don't necessarily need anything else unless you are going SLI, but just be aware.