Joined on 05/01/03
Still the best out there.
Pros: My motherboard has what's supposed to be an excellent sound chip in it- and for stock, it is. See: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128545 - the Gigabyte ga-z77x-ud5. It uses the Realtek ALC898, which is about the best stock chip available. But....it isn't even a candle against the glory of a clear dawn when compared to this card. I had an old PCI Claro- one of the first efforts by this company- and when it finally died (after almost 8 years) just before this build, I was planning to use the Realtek ALC898 and call it good enough- and it wasn't. A lot of detail, depth of field, and sonic accuracy went missing- I actually thought my ears might be going out on me- but the wife backed me up when we sat down to do some critical listening to several "reference" pieces. I just installed the eClaro and it's all baaaaack. I'm using an LFO interconnect to one of the better Denon receivers. I'm running two Velodyne S-1200's, a Velodyne ULD-18, and five Velodyne DF-661's in my home theater/audio rig (yeah, all old stuff, but hellishly accurate). The rest of the computer isn't too exotic- a Corsair Gold rated 750 watt psu, an older GTX-470 for the video card (largely overkill for everything I do, including SkyRim) 16 gb of ram @1600, an Intel Cherryville solid state drive for the OS, and two WD Caviar Black 1 tb spinners in a mirrored raid for storage. But...this system drops jaws- and the sound card has a lot to do with that.
Cons: The software interface is, well, clunky. It inspires the suspicion that this company is slowly coasting into obsolescence on the glory of one great achievement. The dongle appears to be a hack- but it allows the use of the included low-profile bracket, so if you're building a high-end home theater in sometjing like one of Silverstone's low profile cases, you'll be gratefull- or you'll use the light fiber optics output and it won't matter. Be careful of the filter capacitors used on this board- they're tall, and the exposed metal surface could short out components on another board- like your video card. if you place this card close to another one, you can top them with plastic disks and a little silicone adhesive (my fix) or use little squares of electrical tape- but it's a potential disaster if you have a tight case and you don't use caution. The board also isn't in a faraday cage like some of the other audio boards out there- but this mother board and cpu produce less rfi than a lot of the older gear because it's more efficient- less power means smaller magnetic fields. That could pose a problem for people with an integral wifi; my wireless connection is on a USB cord and lives about 8 feet up a wall behind a curtain- so that's not an issue for me.
Overall Review: Cons notwithstanding- if you can afford this card and if you have aspirations of acquiring decent audio gear- buy this card or you'll never know what you're missing- because you'll never hear it. If you have no interest in good audio, if you think Blows Audeeyo is great gear, or if you believe MP3's are the be-all and end-all, stick with the onboard sound chip and save yourself two Franklins. You'll never hear the difference.
Pros: It was free.
Cons: It doesn't work. Another case where "free" is worth every penny.
Overall Review: I buy most software online. I have successfully used Digital River for many of my purchases- but if the site won't accept the code, it isn't worth the paper it's printed on. I now have that piece of paper prominently framed, and show everyone who goes through my office why you shouldn't buy nVidia based on a promo. The website, as listed on the freebie card, does not respond to requests for support. FAIR WARNING!
Nice solid performance for the price
Pros: This is a good motherboard that can fulfill a number of different objectives. It works well with m.2 drives, the UEFI makes set-up quite easy, and the manual provided is pretty unambiguous. The heatsinks on the chipset seem to do a pretty good job controlling heat, and the audio quality is very nice due to the use of a separated signal path which reduces power supply noise considerably. It isn't a high-end workstation board or an extreme gaming board- but it can do a lot of things more than well enough.
Cons: No mount screws included. If you build your own, this is a non-issue; I probably had a couple hundred extra screws left from recycled equipment. It does include a little fan mount for local cooling and two screws for m.2 drives, which can be hard to find and not often included in an oem drive.
Overall Review: I'd buy it again. Everything worked out of the box and it was well packed for shipment. The design is clean and convenient with no unexpected awkwardness. The driver cd was current, the manual was useful, and the board was well labelled. If you're upgrading from a previous Asus board and reusing the case, the headers haven't changed for years- you will probably be able to swap it in with minimal work.
Very pretty. DOA.
Pros: The construction was solid, the board was heavy and looked great. I experienced no physical issues installing any of the components. The documentation was pretty good, if somewhat generic. The packaging was solid, and it came with a nice complement of cables and hardware. I doubt that this was shipping damage.
Cons: It was DOA. I have a slightly older desktop, also with a Gigabyte mobo- it's getting a little long in the tooth, but it still works flawlessly. I used that as a testbed for most of my other new components, including the PSU. The CPU and the RAM, of course, were not compatible. I attempted to power up this board without both- the PSU should still initiate, though obviously there would be no POST without a CPU... but, no dice. This is not my first rodeo- I double checked my pins on the case interface and I jumpered the PSU to check for a bad switch- no dice, and my meter shows a short when I test the case switch (at the end of its cable). In all fairness, this is the first Gigabyte product I have ever had any problem with. It's also pretty early in the product cycle for this board- I suspect that had I waited another 6 months, it would have been perfect.
Overall Review: I applied for a refund- we'll see how that goes, as it's also the first bad part I have ever received from Newegg and I've never had to return anything before. I don't trust this particular motherboard now, and I don't have any inclination to see if this was a fluke, or part of a pattern. I'm going to another brand for this build. I can't recommend this board to anyone else at present. If you do buy it, I would advise (as always) that you breadboard your desktop together before installing everything in your case so you won't have to tear it all down if you also get a DOA.
Fast but not easy...
Pros: Windows experience index: 7.9...very fast boot indeed- and so far, so good.
Cons: Installing this unit as a boot drive was not intuitive- at least not for me. The drive had to be formatted as GTP, not NTFS- and the Windows boot manager needed to be set up correctly in the BIOS to avert "boot manager not found, hit CTRL+ALT+DELETE to reboot". It's really not that bad- but do yourself a favor and read up on the process first instead of making the stupid assumption I did: that Win 7 Pro 64 would simply recognize this piece of increasingly mainstream hardware and run with it. The included Acronis software is...marginal. Use the most recent download of the (free) Intel Toolkit and you'll fare much better.
Overall Review: I'm quite happy with this little drive; my boot time is now about 10 seconds. Cherryville seems to come without pits- if not without pitfalls.
Good, solid, workhorse RAM
Pros: Very nice for the price. I bought two sticks when this first came out, and two more when I finally got around to upgrading an older system I use for media streaming. Both work identically- a testimonial to a very good QA process. The only differences were a slight improvement to the heat spreader, and a substantial drop in price. Woot!
Overall Review: This is plenty good enough for my needs- and even though there are faster, better sticks available, ths RAM rates 7.7 on the Windows experience index.
Good site 4 a gift-seeking guy.
I bought this bag for my wife, who hates large bags and basically needs a clutch with a shoulder strap. The very large assortment of bags available on this site made it possible to locate a perfect match. There are good, clear, scaled pictures of every item. The price was reasonable, the quality appears to be good, the item received matched the description and picture, and the ship time was reasonable. My wife was astonished- I'm not about to tell her I found what she'd been trying to locate for months in about ten minutes.