Date Joined: 03/01/04
Pros: No-nonsense design. Everything is solid and well-designed without being over-the-top like some of the very high-end boards. Gives you plenty of ports both internal and external without feeling crowded.
The blue-on-black design is not going to win any awards or end up in MoMA, but it looks high-tech and sophisticated. For most of us, it sits in a case anyway and no one sees it.
The UEFI/BIOS is on-par with the ones from Asus and others (same American Megatrends core). I don't overclock so I can't comment on the abilities, but configuring the basics is very simple and everything has worked perfectly right out of the box.
I'm also a huge fan of the built-in audio. It's as good as my external USB DAC (same SNR, THD, etc numbers plus it supports DTS Neo:PC).
The board's next-gen power design is impressive, too. Dual-stack MOSFETs, all digital 12-phase PWM, high-end caps, etc. You usually need to step up to higher-end boards for this.
The M.2 SATA connectors and design allow for all of the different sizes to be used, something that Asus and others do NOT support.
Cons: Most fan headers are not 4-pin and not in the best locations. Minor annoyance when routing cables.
Cannot disable Intel MEI, but this is a common complaint on all Z97 boards. I didn't bother installing the drivers since it's not necessary on a home PC.
A bit confused on why ASRock put their own USB 3.0 chipset in here in addition to the Intel one. Why not just keep the design simple and use all Intel? Was weird to have to install a second set of drivers. Not a deal-breaker, just an odd design choice. I suspect ASRock will not update the drivers as often as Intel, and it's probably just someone else's rebranded anyway.
Pros: Modular cabling, attractive design, good pricing
Cons: Haswell compatibility is only partially-true, very problematic PSU with Asus Z87 motherboards
Overall Review: Go on the Asus ROG or Toms Hardware forums and you will see tons of posts where people have weird BIOS/POST issues with these power supplies on Haswell builds. Those folks switch the PSUs out and the problem goes away. A few even measured the voltage at the 12V rail (8-pin connector by the CPU) and have shown it to be under 12V pretty often.
I suspect these PSUs are not fully Haswell capable because even when I tried to use the C6 & C7 states, nothing worked.
Interestingly you will see a lot of other people here claim that Corsair tech support is totally silent on the issue. I take that as an admission of guilt. Other PSU vendors are very helpful on here and reply to most problems -- Corsair does not. A bit odd, I think.
Avoid this PSU if you are doing a Haswell build and/or have an Asus Z87-series motherboard. It will bring you nothing but problems.
Pros: Good 2.4 & 5.0 performance. Includes stand. WPS button on adapter. Sleek appearance.
Cons: Causes problems on motherboards with Z87 chipsets. Netgear seriously lags with driver updates. Large profile takes up adjacent USB ports.
Overall Review: I had no problems with this for over a year on a motherboard with an X58 chipset. I upgraded to a Z87 and suddenly there are weird USB problems. Process of elimination proved that this adapter was the problem. Have tried everything possible to resolve it, and even went as far as reinstalling Windows 7. I've tried the generic MediaTek/RAlink drivers (Netgear's official ones are crippled and seriously behind) and that doesn't solve it either.
Contacted Netgear support and was basically told to pound sand. Shame, because it's actually a good adapter other than this bizarre incompatibility.
Pros: Strong feature set for the money. Clean no-frill look. Good customer/tech support. Lots of extras & accessories included. Decent overclocking capabilities. USB 3.0 and SATA-III (not all X58 boards have both of these).
Cons: Marvell SATA-III controller slow to boot (adds several seconds to boot time unless you disable it). eVGA basically stopped releasing drivers & BIOS updates very quickly. First board died in 3 months, second board died a few months out of warranty.
Overall Review: I like eVGA for their video cards, but when it comes to motherboards, this one will be my last. I've been burned by their motherboards too many times now. Over the last 6 or so years I've had several of their boards fail just after the warranty expires, or fail almost right away after getting them. While their RMA & support team is great, it's frustrating to only get 3 years out of a board before it completely stops working. I was very appreciative of their support guys trying to get my second X58 FTW3 working even when out of warranty, so kudos to Jose in support.
For the record, I have never overclocked any of my eVGA boards and have used quality PSUs.
eVGA can stick to video cards and I'll gladly buy those. As for motherboards, I'll be using Asus from now on.
Pros: Solid choice for home theatre front channels, great looks with or without grilles, bi-amp capable, small footprint
Cons: Why only 3 woofers versus the Monitor 70's 4?
Overall Review: I'd recommend these for TV/home theatre over the Monitor 70. A HT setup will of course have a dedicated sub so don't bother with bigger cones in the front channels. I think these look great with or without the grilles on. Make sure to match them up to the correct center channel (CS1 or CS2) for timbre matching.
Pros: Works as advertised. Relatively quiet. Doesn't make coasters. Cheap.
Overall Review: It's a DVD/CD burner, and it does just that on the cheap.
Pros: Stable, well laid-out, SATA-3 and USB 3.0, excellent support
Cons: No eSATA, archaic PS/2 hookup
Overall Review: This is my 3rd eVGA board and it has solidified my belief that their boards are the best money can buy. Very stable and reliable and great for overclocking. The PCB is laid out very well and the manual is very helpful (no broken English). Support folks know their stuff and make troubleshooting easy. This board is a bit pricey but you are getting something solid without weird bugs or quirks that plague the competition.
Pros: Great price, reliable, low-profile design
Cons: Bland styling
Overall Review: This may not be the fastest memory you can buy, but for $99 after rebate it's hard to beat. Proven performance & great reliability. Very satisfied with my purchase.
Pros: Sturdy mounting, effective cooling, low footprint
Cons: Requires motherboard removal for installation
Overall Review: Accidentally broke my Freezer 7 Pro and bought this because I was in a pinch. A worthy upgrade, surprisingly. Got my temperatures down over the F7 by about 10-15C. Installation is a pain since the motherboard has to come out but if you're building from scratch it's not an issue.
Pros: Slim form factor, no need for extra power connectors, techy look, solid performer, DVI + dual HDMI
Cons: Ambiguous SPDIF connector
Overall Review: The FX 1800 is a great midrange pro-level graphics card. It's a pretty strong performer for the money and doesn't need a crazy power supply or enormous case with huge cooling fans. For Solidworks, this thing FLIES. 768MB too, which is helpful.
Pros: Does exactly what it advertises, low profile, easy to install
Overall Review: It's expensive but worth the money. It integrates perfectly. I couldn't ask for much else.
Pros: Stunning image quality, pocket-sized, metal case, easy controls
Overall Review: Gets you 95% of the SLR picture quality without the size. There's really nothing to complain about here. Glad I waited for this to be released.
Pros: Incredible feel, comfy, simple looks, sturdy feel
Cons: Not backlit, overly-bright LEDs, no volume/music buttons
Overall Review: It's a noisy sucker to type on, but gives great feedback and is truly the best keyboard I've ever owned. Feels a lot better than other expensive keyboards (G15, Eclipse, diNovo) If this were backlit it would be absolutely unbeatable.
Pros: Picture quality rivals LCD/plasma, very deep blacks, piano-black case looks awesome, full HDMI 1.3a support, professional-level adjustments, QAM/ATSC tuners
Cons: Not wall mountable
Overall Review: Hard to beat the value on this set: $1200 for 1080p @ 120Hz, HDMI 1.3a with Deep Color support, QAM/ATSC tuners, and so on. Picture quality is better than a 50" LCD or plasma and costs about 50% less. Ignore the whole bulb replacement thing...it will easily go 5-7 years before looking noticeably worse.
Pros: Sweet design, effective cooling, aggressive timings, no insane voltages needed
Cons: May present clearance issues for some
Overall Review: The Reaper RAM is great. I run at the rated 2.1V and the EPP profile of 5-5-5-15 loads right up at DDR2-1066. These things absolutely scream, and at DDR2-800 I can run even tighter...in the area of 3-3-3-12. NewEgg lists these as "2.1-2.3V" but the packaging and website explicitly say NOT to run them over 2.1 if the heatsinks say 2.1 on them. Make sure you get this version, which is the Micron memory one...more reliable and tighter performance.
Pros: Single-slot, powerful, factory OC, proven platform, great in SLI, not too power-hungry
Cons: Kinda big
Overall Review: The 8800GT is probably one of the best values in recent years. For $150, you'll be content with all the current games. Run in SLI and you will be on cloud-9. An amazing video card.
Pros: Conservative looks, extremely quiet, sturdy build quality, room for many drives & peripherals, integrated fan controllers
Cons: Horrendous (non-existent) cable management, no instructions, really heavy
Overall Review: The P180/182 has a really good reputation, and it's easy to see why. The build quality is light years ahead of anything else. Everything fits together perfectly, clicks into place, and doesn't require any jimmying or bending. The side panel comes off easily, and the hinged front door swings open and shut smoothly. The drive bays, although awkward, slide in and out of place.
Noise is virtually non-existent, even with all three integrated fans and a CPU fan going at 100%. It's probably half as loud as my old Cooler Master RC-690. There's a fan controller on the back that lets you dial the speed down if you like. I run them at 100% 24/7. The noise is also dampened by liberal use of rubber gaskets and bumpers, something not seen even in server cases.
My biggest complaint is that the cable management is terrible. There's no guides, channels, or anything of the sort...just some cheesy wire ties with tape. Be prepared for some fidgeting and cursing.
The instructions are also worthles
Pros: Sleek looks, high build quality, top-mount ports, many fan mounting points, fits big video cards
Cons: Poor airflow, delicate in areas, bad instructions
Overall Review: I'd never pay full price for this. If you can get it at $40 after rebate or whatever, it's not bad. Airflow is terrible because of the PSU location and the awkward drive mounting bays. The top-mount fan locations suck too. Fortunately this is a big case with room for big CPU coolers and big video cards, even in SLI/CrossFire. The build quality is pretty high for the money, and the case is styled very conservatively.
Pros: Simple drivers, easy-to-use config software, support for FP audio, optical AND coaxial support, insane clarity & sound quality
Overall Review: Dear Lord, this card shames anything Creative can offer. Sure, you don't get the bragging rights...but who cares when it sounds this good? In all seriousness, the Striker sounds INSANE. Even compared to my on-board Realtek HD audio, this is about 10 steps up. With a good set of speakers, this thing cranks out some audiophile-quality sound. The drivers and software are not bloated and worthless like Creative's. This is THE card to get if you are serious about sound.
Pros: Cheap, moves a lot of air
Cons: Noisy, flimsy, hard to mount, no airflow direction arrows
Overall Review: If you just want the cheapest possible way to move air, this isn't even worth your time. It barely stays in place, and is incredibly noisy. It moves a lot of air, but there isn't even an arrow to indicate the direction. Avoid this at all costs.
Pros: Classy housing, vibrant color, good contrast, height-adjustable stand, HDCP, 1080p support
Cons: It doesn't pour beer.
Overall Review: For $400, wow. The dynamic contrast makes for some really sharp images in gaming, image editing, word processing, and whatever else. The screen is a beauty to look at when it's on or off.
I particularly like the height adjustment, which is something you don't see on the cheap 24" screens. Samsung also boasts a higher brightness than the other cheap stuff. Spend the extra $50 or whatever and just get the Samsung, I have no regrets at all.
Pros: 2 PCI-E x16 slots, X38 chipset, external CMOS reset, spiffy chipset cooling, blazing-fast memory controller, plenty of connections
Cons: Lousy uGuru utility, various problems with 4GB RAM, non-standard case LED connections
Overall Review: The IX38 seems to be a good deal in motherboards, especially if you can get one with a rebate. The X38 chipset has proven to be faster than my old nForce 650i Ultra, especially in the memory department. It has problems with 4GB of RAM sometimes, however (4x1GB). The included uGuru utility for flashing/overclocking doesn't work well (if at all), but the external CMOS reset sorta makes up for that.
The board is well laid out with plenty of room and two x16 PCI-E slots to support SLI/Crossfire. I like the appearance of the chipset coolers. You get a lot of connectivity with the board: 6 USB, 2 eSATA, Firewire, 6 SATAII, etc.
If Abit would clean up their website and fix uGuru, along with the odd 4GB RAM problems, this would be a killer board.
Pros: Cheap, good timings, clean looks
Cons: Finnicky about 1T/2T setting?
Overall Review: This stuff is cheap and offers good timings at 2.2V. It's not ultra-high-end memory, but it's fine for most people. Looks clean and simple in a case.