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michael t.

michael t.

Joined on 01/06/05

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Most Favorable Review

Would have been 5 stars if not for RMA

MSI Z170A SLI LGA 1151 Intel Z170 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.1 ATX Intel Motherboard
MSI Z170A SLI LGA 1151 Intel Z170 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.1 ATX Intel Motherboard

Pros: Great price & features; Z170 with SLI for under $100, ton of BIOS settings. Initial setup was fairly painless (except for trying to troubleshoot audio issues). I don't anticipate ever using SLI but it's nice to have it as an option. Likewise, I may not do much overclocking, but since it cost just a little more than the H170 or B110 boards I thought it was worth it.

Cons: I took off one star because I had to RMA first one for bad audio ports. Only the subwoofer and front center speaker had any sound, and it was muffled from the center one. 2nd board is working great so far. Some of the included software is interesting, but i didn't find much documentation on how to use some of it, such as the RAMDISK. I knew this had only four USB ports on the back panel and had no integrated video, so i did not knock any stars off for those, but it is something to keep in mind. Once I got it installed, I did wish for a couple more USB ports, so i will likely be getting a USB 3.0 hub soon.

Overall Review: If you have to RMA , use the Newegg process, not MSI's. MSI makes you pay your own return shipping, rather than sending you a label like Newegg does, and MSI replaces your brand-new board with a remanufactured one. If I wanted remanufactured i would have bought it that way to begin with. Newegg rocks!

Most Critical Review

Flawed beauty

Montech X2 MESH White ATX Mid-Tower Case/High Airflow, Fine Mesh Front Panel, Full Glass Side Panel, Pre-Installed 2 x 140mm, 1 x 120 mm Rainbow Led Fans*2
Montech X2 MESH White ATX Mid-Tower Case/High Airflow, Fine Mesh Front Panel, Full Glass Side Panel, Pre-Installed 2 x 140mm, 1 x 120 mm Rainbow Led Fans*2

Pros: - Pretty case - i generally don't go for white cases, but my son wanted this. It looks better in person; I especially like the contrast of the smoked glass side panel. - nice magnetic mesh screen for top fan openings. My mid-range name-brand case does not have this. - Finish is nice - no scratches, runs, etc. - my son likes the multi-color (not RGB) fans. Not my preferred aesthetic, but kids these days. :)

Cons: - Very thin metal bends too easily. The back panel was slightly caved in (no damage to shipping box), making it difficult to install the I/O shield and to line up the motherboard with the standoffs. - Instructions are practically non-existent, and do not specify which screws are to be used to mount the mobo to the standoffs. All my other builds since 2004 have used a hex head screw for this purpose, but for this one the hex head screws have a different thread than the standoffs. - standoffs are not standard length - they are a couple of millimeters shorter than my stash of leftover standoffs form prior builds. If you need to replace one, you will need to replace all. - sheet metal is so thin that standoff mounting holes are easily stripped even with a small hand screwdriver.

Overall Review: Flimsy materials make this a very difficult case to work with. My son was trying to build this one himself with me only overseeing, not handling parts, but immediately got hung up just installing the motherboard. I have built 10+ PCs from scratch, and modified cases to mix and match proprietary parts (I'm looking at you, D#ll), and it took me over two hours of messing around to get the mobo installed. If this had been my first build I would have returned the case. We have not yet tried motherboard wiring, and installing the PSU and HDD. I will update if we run into issues with those, but I am hopeful for a smooth experience from here on out.

Does what it needs to do

CORSAIR VS Series VS500 500W 80 PLUS Certified Non-Modular ATX Power Supply, CP-9020223-NA
CORSAIR VS Series VS500 500W 80 PLUS Certified Non-Modular ATX Power Supply, CP-9020223-NA

Overall Review: While I have seen the VS series of Corsair PSU rated low on tiered lists, I have had no issues with this in the 8 months I have been using it daily.

fast, relatively cheap

Crucial P2 500GB 3D NAND NVMe PCIe M.2 SSD Up to 2300 MB/s - CT500P2SSD8
Crucial P2 500GB 3D NAND NVMe PCIe M.2 SSD Up to 2300 MB/s - CT500P2SSD8

Pros: Windows 10 boots in seconds Did not break the bank

Cons: None

Overall Review: I put this in my wife's home office PC, and she loves it.

Blurry text

GIGABYTE G27F 27" 144Hz 1080P Height Adjustable Gaming Monitor, 1920 x 1080 IPS Display, 1ms (MPRT) Response Time, 95% DCI-P3, FreeSync Premium, 1x DisplayPort 1.2, 2x HDMI 1.4, 2x USB 3.0
GIGABYTE G27F 27" 144Hz 1080P Height Adjustable Gaming Monitor, 1920 x 1080 IPS Display, 1ms (MPRT) Response Time, 95% DCI-P3, FreeSync Premium, 1x DisplayPort 1.2, 2x HDMI 1.4, 2x USB 3.0

Pros: HI refresh rate at reasonable price Lots of ODS options Good picture

Cons: Text looked blurry

Overall Review: I never could get text to appear sharp. Maybe it was a function of sitting too close to a monitor with this pixel pitch, but the text under Windows icons icons was barely legible to me. I messed with ClearType tuning several times, as well as other settings, but I eventually replace this with a 1440P monitor with a lower refresh rate. My wife loves it, although it is overkill for her home office setup.

Perfect case for the price

Rosewill - FBM-01 Micro ATX Mini Tower Computer Case with Dual Fans
Rosewill - FBM-01 Micro ATX Mini Tower Computer Case with Dual Fans

Pros: -Inexpensive -long front panel wiring -plenty of fasteners -Did not cut myself -No clearance issues with any components

Cons: None of these are surprising for the price range, and no eggs removed for them. Improving any of them likely would increase the cost. I'm just listing things I noticed; if these are important to you maybe consider another case. -provided rear fan is only 80mm, and 90mm is the largest that will fit -holes in side panel vent do not line up quite right to mount fans using screws (you could probably zip-tie though) -No room behind motherboard tray for cable management -plastic-capped thumbscrews look flimsy (but are not visible in daily use) -no USB 3.0 on front panel

Overall Review: Highly recommended for an inexpensive, subdued (but not plain) case. My wife wanted "just a computer" and of course did not want a flashy "gaming" case. This one fit the bill for a micro-ATX build, that I planned to build once and then rarely, if ever, open for upgrades. First I removed the rear 80mm fan because I wanted a 90mm (the biggest that will fit without an adapter). The 90mm fan is taller than the 80mm provided, so I did not attempt to mount it until the motherboard was in place. I mounted the power supply , then the motherboard with CPU, RAM, and M.2 drive already installed. A nice feature is that the front panel leads (power switch, reset switch, LEDs, etc.) are long enough that we could plug them into the mobo before dropping it into the case. Next I installed the 90mm rear fan, then the optical drive. Finally, i plugged in all applicable leads and power cables, and we were done. Although there is no room behind the motherboard tray to hide extra PSU cables, i stuffed them into the 5.25 and 3.5" bays. The case made for a painless build process!