Date Joined: 04/03/08
Pros: Performs as expected when it's working
Cons: Stopped working correctly, and the RMA process has failed me.
Overall Review: The screen would blank briefly after the computer being on for a while, with greater frequency the longer the computer was running. Tried different monitor, same problem. Put card in different computer, same problem. I put another IDENTICAL Gigabyte 1050 card in this same computer, and the problem goes away. Put this card back in, and the problem resumes. This card is bad.
Managed to get approved for RMA, and I appreciated the paid postage. I received an email from the service center (GRMA_ADMIN@gigabyte.com) after they had received it, informing me the card is fine and is being returned to me. So I responded to the email trying to add any additional details on the problem in order to help them reproduce the problem. Maybe they weren't using a 4K. Maybe they weren't letting it run long enough, etc. The email bounced immediately (address not found). There was another email address listed in their email (email@example.com), so I attempted to send my message to that address. Bounced again after 10 minutes (domain not found).
Today the card reappeared on my doorstep, and is worthless to me. I don't know if I should attempt the RMA process again or what. It's one of two identical Gigabyte products I own, and while I'm happy with the product's performance, they're risky on account of the non-thorough RMA testing process and the black hole that is their email addresses. I'd recommend going with a company that has a proven RMA track record.
Pros: All the on-board hardware is supported out of the box with the 3.13 kernel on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS. This includes the LAN, WiFi, Bluetooth, sound, USB 3.0, everything. It all worked on first boot.
With the i7-4790K and a Sandisk Ultra SSD, this is one of the fastest booting Linux machines I've seen. From the post screen to the desktop login is ~3 seconds, and some of that is probably the monitor switching modes.
Cons: Some extra fluff that maybe I didn't need to pay for? X-Fi MB3 is a non-factor, as is the APP Center, and LED lit motherboard traces are a gimmick. Red glow is leaking out of my case in weird patterns.
Overall Review: While I'm a long time user of linux as a server platform, this build marks the first time I run Ubuntu as a main desktop/development machine, with a little gaming on the side. I'm very pleased with this board and how effortlessly it runs Ubuntu.
Borderlands 2 and the Pre Sequel, as well as Bioshock Infinite run flawlessly on highest settings in 1080P. Skyrim looks gorgeous under Wine at 4K.
GIGABYTE GA-Z97N-Gaming 5
i7-4790K Quad-Core 4.0GHz
16GB G.Skill Trident X PC 2400
Asus GeForce GTX 960 2GB
Sandisk Ultra 2 120GB SSD
WD Black 1TB HDD
EVGA Hadron case
Pros: Trayless, and you don't need all three SATA power connectors connected for all the drives to power up. Ask me how I know.
Cons: The doors are cheap and flimsy.
The latches are lousy. There's no indication that they've latched until you stop pressing and they stay in or not.
Drives have to be pressed in hard to get them to connect with the backplane. Due to the eject system, the drive is only seated when the door closes, so it involves pressing much harder than seems safe on the flimsy doors. I'm using WD Red drives. The drives bind sometimes when installing, but it's real easy to tell this is happening before you need to press them in.
The buttons for powering off the drives are EXTREMELY cheap, and poorly positioned. One of the buttons was faulty out of the box. Only playing around with it for a while was I able to make it go. This is a problem if you're swapping drives on a running machine. Also, their location and operation make it likely that some cases will not work with the buttons. They're on the outside edge of the front of the enclosure, and I'd wager that on some cases they would get stuck when being depressed.
Bad chassis material. I'm always very careful about how much torque I apply when mounting things in computers. However, it took no effort to strip out the screw holes using the included screws. Also, it was painted/powdercoated after the holes were tapped, making it difficult to start the screws.
Overall Review: I've had nothing but disappointment with this drive cage. Reading other reviews I went into it carefully, expecting lowish quality, but they cut too many corners for me to recommend it to anybody. 2 eggs, because I got it mostly to work for now. Barely.
I broke one of the power connectors when installing it in my case (Athena Power RM-DD3U36E708). Power plugs needed to be plugged in before it could be mounted in that case. All 5 bays still work with just the two plugged in. Totally my fault, and it ruins my chances of a refund. Bah.
I'm buying a different (non-trayless) enclosure instead, and this one is going in the garbage the moment it arrives.
Pros: Easy setup, VLAN support, multiple SSID's, great range, POE. Most everything we were looking for.
Cons: Repeater/Range extender only handles 1 SSID, so don't buy two thinking you'll be able to extend all the SSIDs from the master.
Unreliable and unpredictable wireless behavior.
Constantly needing to be reset, with a high hardware failure rate.
Overall Review: We bought a number of these, hoping to provide both a secured and an unsecured inexpensive wireless network to our church building. Setup was easy, but we were a little annoyed by the fact that when in repeater mode, it would only do one SSID. Not a big deal, they're inexpensive, we can get more.
The first one failed after a short time with all manner of unpredictable wireless behavior. Sometimes it pretended it was WEP security, even though the configurator said otherwise, and it had to be restarted often. We re-flashed the ROM a couple times, and re-loaded our settings a couple times, each time with only temporary success.
Clearly the first one we installed had gone faulty, so since we bought a pile of them, we simply replaced that with a second one. That worked for a while, then started exhibiting other issues.
The third one failed as well after a short time.
Another annoying thing is the apparent incompatibility with certain other hardware. Apple devices seem to have speed issues when connected to these AP's, as well as some other various manufacturers. This was the case from the get-go with all three of these that we had installed. Not once did we see acceptable speeds on a certain set of hardware (Apple, primarily) when connected to these access points.
Normally I don't give 1 Egg on hardware failures, because there's always the chance I got a lemon. That's not the case here. We've had terrible luck with 4 of these devices, so I can say confidently, "Buyer Beware".
We'll be returning all of them, and going with another manufacturer.
Pros: Sleek design, zippy gaming, loads of space, hybrid drive, and decent sound.
I didn't realize how thin this laptop was until I pulled it out of the box. It's really thin and sleek. That said, it still seems like a durable design. The screen hinges are stout, and the overall quality feels real solid, which is impressive given how thin it is.
It is also very easy to open up for upgrades. 7 screws and 4 hidden clips, and you have access to the ENTIRE computer.
Innovative and effective cooling.
No optical drive! - yes, I consider this a pro. The only time I used the optical drive on my previous laptop was to accidentally eject it, then push it back in.
Cons: Windows 8. It's for tablets, not computers.
Many have cited the screen as being a con, and I cannot disagree, but it's not as terrible as some make it seem. Yes, it's best viewed straight on, so it's bad for multiple viewers, but from the optimal angle, it's a good picture.
Fingerprint city. If you want it to always look pristine, keep some wipes nearby. It's still sexy, even with the fingerprints, though.
Overall Review: I immediately replaced the 1TB hybrid drive with a solid state, and downgraded (read: upgraded) to Windows 7. I've been very happy with the performance of this laptop, especially given I got the dual-core model. Most games run quite well on medium-high settings.
I also do a lot of LAMP development, and C# development. Jetbrains and Microsoft IDE's are both very crisp and responsive on this machine.
NOTE: For those of you having issues with video drivers upon re-install of the operating system, you MUST install the Intel HD Graphics 4600 driver BEFORE the nVidia 860m driver. Also, the nVidia 3DVision driver component at the time of this writing is faulty and causes blue-screens whenever Chrome runs Adobe Flash (which is all the time). It probably has other issues as well, so opt for 'Custom Installation', and disclude the 3DVision driver when installing the nVidia drivers.
My overall feeling of this laptop is that I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a good machine in this price range. It multitasks well, and games well.
Pros: Obscenely fast, of course.
Cons: Heat. Not big surprise.
Overall Review: I hoped to get by on air cooling initially, but that was a serious no-go. I had a monstrous air cooler and a case that moves a ton of air. It wasn't near enough to last 45 seconds on OCCT. The rate of temperature increase was still at a steep incline when it hit 75C and locked up.
Replaced the air cooling and case with the H100i and the CoolerMaster HAF XB EVO, and everything is nicely under control. Temps don't creep above mid 50s, even under extreme load.
Coupled with a 780GTX, and not a single game stutters below 60FPS on any setting.
Newegg rocks. The end.
Pros: The device is lightweight and thin. Also zippy enough to run most anything you throw at it, within reason. Battery life is ok, and the screen is nice and bright, with decent contrast.
The thing I like most about this is it's an x86 type processor, with the full Windows OS, not the mobile OS. This means it runs pretty much anything, provided it's suited for touch screen, or provided you hook a proper keyboard/mouse up to it.
In a pinch, I've been able to use this in place of a laptop for just about everything.
Cons: The device is lightweight and thin, so it's flimsy. I wasn't expecting milled aluminum, but I would have liked something closer to, say, Nexus 7 construction, which is plastic as well, but sturdy.
Overall Review: Adding an SD card is a must. Fresh out of the box, it has only about 10GB free on the in-built storage.
Just for giggles, I plugged in a 360 controller and installed Borderlands 2. No joke, it ran. Lowest settings produced playable framerates.
I'm not sure if it works with all powered USB hubs, but when plugged in to mine, the tablet will also charge.
Overall, I am pleased with this device, especially for the price.
Pros: My goal with this chip was to build a micro gaming machine. Mission accomplished. Plays most games on highest settings quite well. The more demanding games (Skyrim, etc) I bump down to 720p with no AA, but it does much better than I anticipated.
Overall Review: The case I put it in measures about 8.5" x 7.5" x 2.5" (yup. Two and a half inches tall), and I used the stock cooler with it. In order to make the temperature behave, I had to make a plastic baffle that guided the air in from the top of the case and out the side. Without this, the machine ran way too hot. With it, the machine under heavy load does not creep above 54C.
Occasionally I'll drag it to LAN parties (sometimes with the 42" TV), and nobody can believe the power the little box has. It's just a little bigger than most wireless routers, and half the size of any current-gen console.
G.SKILL Ares Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 2400
Mini-Box M350 Mini ITX Case
Mushkin Enhanced Atlas Series MKNSSDAT240GB mSATA 240GB SATA III SSD
192W External PSU
Pros: Fast card
Cons: Power requirements
The size of a bus
Overall Review: I bought this card mostly for the PhysX support. The machine I put it in is showing its age, and I wasn't expecting a performance boost over the dual Radeon 7850's it replaced. Most games run pretty much identically (60FPS, at max settings for the most part), with the added benefits of beautiful physics, so mission accomplished.
Phenom II 1090T 6-core
ASUS M4A78T-E AM3 AMD 790GX
GeForce GTX 780
8GB GSkill DDR3
Raid0 AData SSD's
Newegg rocks. The end.
Pros: Fast enough for most things.
Decent interface, usable enough for those familiar with pfSense.
Reliable. I experienced none of the issues some other reviewers are raging about.
Cons: Not fast enough for my internet connection. I do not recommend buying this for a connection faster than 15mbps.
Overall Review: My connection is 50mbps, and when downloading one file at capacity (turns out at about 20mbps), it pretty much cripples the QOS. A single download can stop up all network traffic to and from the device (including config page) until the download completes. However, when operating BELOW the 20mbps range, the device performs like a champ.
I only deducted 1 egg for this. I can live with the (clearly advertised) 25mbps limitation, but I would have expected QOS to still function when the device is at capacity (kind of the purpose of QOS).
I bought this to temporarily replace a server that had melted down, and for the most part it did the trick, during the 3 weeks I needed it.
I did not have need of the VPN, so I cannot comment on that aspect.
Newegg rocks. The end.
Pros: Bright image.
Cons: This monitor produces a 'film-grain' appearance, especially on large areas of solid colors. It is less noticeable in 'Theater Mode', but still evident. I am using a DVI-D cable, which is a digital signal cable. I bought this to replace a 19" LCD, also using the same DVI cable, which did not produce this effect, so I know it is not the source signal.
Also, side to side the image coloring is fairly consistent, but up and down it changes drastically. There is a VERY small vertical angle from which this monitor can be viewed where the coloring is correct.
I know it is an inexpensive monitor, but it is quite possible to do much better for the same amount of money.
Overall Review: I've usually associated Asus with high quality products, but this is likely the worst LCD monitor I have owned. Probably going to sell it (at a decent loss) and buy a better one.
I know the post will not tag me as a 'Verified Owner'. The monitor was purchased from another account, but for what it's worth, I double checked the part number against the item listing.
Pros: This is a nice looking case. It is all matte black with a few glossed details.
Cable management is very slick in this case. I spent a little more time than usual putting it together, as almost every cable can be run behind the board mounting plane. The only two cables that do not are the 24-pin MB power and the rear case fan. Otherwise, all excess cable is neatly hidden.
It is a very well designed case overall.
Cons: Despite the nice design, InWin decided to cheap out on material, in my opinion. The case frame is very thin. That's not to say it is a weak case. It is still structurally sound, but I am used to InWin's cheaper cases that are made out of much thicker material. If you are familiar with InWin's more basic cases, don't buy this expecting it to be as sturdy.
Also, the front grate over the 120mm fan is supposed to snap off easily. The tab for the latch is extremely thin, and it arrived broken. Even if it hadn't arrived broken, it is quite likely that the tab would break off under normal use. There doesn't appear to be any physical limitation as to why it had to be so thin in the first place. The latch would easily accommodate something twice as thick. A bit if twist-tie wizardry, and it is now solidly in place. I'll not be needing to use a filter anyway.
Is the USB motherboard header standardized? This case has a regular (external) USB plug for its USB3 front panel connection. I was forced to run the cable out the back of the case in order to plug it in to a 3.0 plug, even though there is a header on the MB for 3.0. Kind of ugly, and as a precaution, I'll unplugging it when transporting the case.
Overall Review: It might seem like I have a lot more negatives than positives about this case, but I do have to say the design really is quite good, hence the 4 eggs. Slightly better/thicker material would have landed this a solid 5 eggs.
Newegg rocks. The end.
Pros: I was surprised with how easily this build went together. The drive rail system is nice and simple.
The case has no optical drive slot, which is a plus for me since I stopped putting in optical drives 4 years ago. I know not everyone is on board with this practice, but I think more case manufacturers should embrace the decline of optical drives for some of their models. Without an optical drive, the case becomes much more versatile for interior design.
This thing fits 7(!) 3.5" drives. 2 are 'permanently' installed in the bottom (great for swap or OS drives) while the drive cage holds 5.
The case ventilates well. My temp logger shows a very even keeled internal temperature.
No HDD LED (I think this is nice).
This is the perfect budget fileserver case. It has a nice look, easy pop-off sides, and is fairly quiet. Cable management turns out pretty nice looking if you take the time to do it right.
Some have complained about the power supply not fitting well. I have a standard sized (not quite 6" deep) 460W ATX PSU, and everything fits just fine.
Cons: It might be nice to have a way to lock the case closed for some applications.
3.5" drives installed in the bottom are somewhat cramped for cable space. At a glance it doesn't look like it will work, but it does.
Overall Review: Build includes:
JetWay JNF99FL-525-LF Motherboard
Crucial 8GB (2 x 4GB) CT2KIT51264BF1339 Memory
Western Digital WD RE4 WD1003FBYX 1TB HDD x2
Spare 40GB WD SATA drive for swap (will never actually get used :D )
COOLER MASTER Elite 460 RS-460-PSAR-I3 460W PSU
Pros: Quiet... at first. Moved as much air as a 40mm ought to.
Cons: I've owned this fan for 3 1/2 months in an always-on application, and the bearings are now shot.
Pros: Fanless dual core machine.
Able to add daughterboard for 5 total gigabit ethernet ports.
Auto-crossover ethernet ports.
Ridiculous number of SATA ports.
Ridiculously low power.
Fits in a case barely bigger than most routers.
Cons: With daughterboard installed, it takes a bit longer to boot.
Can't seem to find a wifi card that fits this board that is capable of 'master mode'.
Runs a bit hot in the case I have, but stays comfortably below critical.
Overall Review: I have this serving my house, running Ubuntu Server 10.04, performing the following roles:
Bridge-Utils (to create the 4 bridged 'LAN' ports)
Samba file server
Western Digital SSDs (RAID1) in a fanless case, making this fully solid state. It's kind-of eery.
2GB Crucial Memory.
Newegg rocks. The end.
Pros: Runs fairly cool, and works nicely as a mobile development machine (XNA specifically). It even plays most games that I throw at it quite well, such as Rage, Kingdoms of Amalur, and other semi-current ones. I was particularly impressed by its handling of Rage. No joke, it runs very well and looks great.
The sound out of this little laptop is also quite nice. Good and loud, without being too chirpy.
Cons: The screen is crisp, and looks fine from side to side, but if you are above or below the optimal vertical angle, the screen becomes quite washed. I see this on a lot of laptops nowadays, so not a huge negative mark there.
Overall Review: Don't be scared off by AMD's APU series. It is a nice inexpensive way of getting the same great performance that would cost much more under different architecture.
The 5400 RPM drive is predictably un-fast. I will be replacing it with an SSD in the near future, but most folks will find the system zippy enough without that.
Newegg rocks. The end.
Pros: Nice hardware for the price. Fairly expandable for the form-factor. Very quiet.
Cons: Would have been nice to have 2 drive caddies included, though I understand that some buyers would not have a use for them. Also, I would have appreciated better driver support for the RAID controller.
Overall Review: I don't mind that the RAID controller is fakeRAID, but I am running a LAMP server, and am forced to run it using Ubuntu's software RAID. Not a huge deal, as I have additional methods of redundancy in effect.
Running an additional 8GB of RAM with Kingston's KVR1333D3E9SK2/8G.
My company bought this, and I am pretty happy with it. I am considering getting another one for my home server.
Newegg rocks. The end.
Pros: Clear sound and better lows than I was expecting.
No need for external power source. A must if they are to be portable.
Cons: It would be nice if they had a connector between them so they could be separated.
I'm thinking my set was faulty or perhaps dropped, but when I got them there was something loose inside, and when I played any sound they rattled. Heedless of the warranty, I opened them up to find a small piece of plastic had broken off of the buttons, causing the buttons to rattle with any amount of bass. A quick smear of silicone over the back of the buttons fixed the problem and they now sound great.
Overall Review: Bought these for something to bring to LAN parties without having to carry along a power supply. They fit the bill nicely.
Newegg rocks. The end.
Pros: Lower profile than many other coolers in its class. Quieter than most stock coolers. Runs fairly cool in my setup.
This would be a fantastic cooler for the sockets for which it is designed.
Overall Review: Purchased this because I needed a lower profile fansink than I had, and there were few other choices. I bought this for my AM3 Phenom quad core, knowing it was not made for AM3 sockets. I have a couple other 939 coolers that worked well on AM3, but this one does not. The problem is that it has its own bracket, which will not mount to an AM3 board. I was able to make it work by cannibalizing other fansinks, and it now does a very good job keeping the CPU cool(er).
Currently installed in this setup:
Phenom II 840 X4 3.2GHz
ASUS M4A88T-I Deluxe
LIAN LI PC-Q07 (with added 120mm fan)
Again, do not buy this CPU for an AM3 unless you are confident you can put something together that will make it work.
Pros: Feature packed board. It's crazy how much they pack onto this little thing. It's better than many full ATX boards.
Cons: None at all.
Overall Review: I have this board running a Phenom 840 quad core along with a Radeon 5670 1GB card, and 4GB G-Skill PC1333. Just make sure that if you load this up with a big CPU and GPU that you have a case that can provide enough airflow.
I highly recommend this board to any nerds out there looking to build a little-big machine like I did.
Newegg rocks. The end.
Pros: As it sits, this is a nice case for low power machines, using CPUs like AMD's Zacate or Intel's Atom, or even lower power desktop CPUs, given the right CPU cooler. It is a very good looking case, and the pictures here don't quite do it justice. Also, the ability to install a full-size power supply is nice (though it is a moot point on low power machines).
Lower power builds in this case would be a breeze. Despite the very small space, the build goes together smoothly, even for those of us who are picky about our cable management.
Cons: As many other reviewers have stated, this case has air flow issues. I installed an AMD 840 quad core, and did not achieve stable temperatures under any decent amount of load. If you plan to build a performance-type machine, this case is not for you. I was able to accomplish my goals with my build, but not without making a critical adjustment to the case.
Overall Review: Any PSU running a 120MM fan will be able to be installed either drawing air through the case or drawing fresh air from the outside of the case. I experimented with this and achieved better temperatures (especially for the video card I had installed) by orienting the PSU so it drew outside air.
The power and HDD LEDs are bright. Keep that in mind if this is going to be used as a set-top box.
My config in this case:
Note, this is ONLY possible if you have the necessary tools and techniques for increasing the air flow into the case (Like adding a 120MM grill and fan in front).
ASUS M4A88T-I Deluxe AM3 AMD 880G Motherboard
AMD Phenom 840 Quad Core
4GB G-Skill PC-1333
WD 1TB Black HDD
Also, if you are creative, it is possible to mount a 3.5" HDD in the top bay by using only the thumb-screws and rubber gaskets, and attaching them to the bottom of the drive. No documentation on this, but it sure looks like that is what the manufacturers had in mind.
Pros: This was actually sturdier than I was expecting, without being too heavy. I needed a small development box (not a laptop) to take with me when I meet with my team, and this fits nicely in my backpack.
Cons: I think I would have preferred a matte finish to the front bezel. No scratches yet, but I have to be careful. If you aren't packing this thing up twice a week to travel, no worries.
Overall Review: I put the ASRock E350M1 motherboard in here, and the build went very smoothly. The case vents the heat nicely, and gets a lot of comments at my meetings.
Newegg rocks. The end.
Pros: I can't believe the performance of this little board. I built up this machine to have a nice little mobile XNA development box, but as it turns out, it works as a mobile gaming box as well. Not amazing performance, mind you, but I certainly wasn't expecting it to play Dead Space 2 well at all, and it does, even using the onboard video, though with most settings at medium at best.
It is nice to have 6 USB slots in back
Cons: The only issue I have with the board is the VGA d-sub connector. It is set off from the board rather high, and for some reason, is a little stiff to plug in. Not sure why that is, but in order to push the VGA connector in far enough to get the screws to grab (and the pins to make contact) it flexes a bit more than I'd like to see. I'm thinking of modifying my case a little in order to add some support behind it.
I've tried using the DVI connector with a DVI to VGA adapter, but I believe it is DVI-D, which cannot be adapted directly to VGA.
If you plan on using DVI or HDMI, none of this will even be a consideration.
Overall Review: I put this into an APEX MI-008 case, and the build went very smoothly.
Newegg rocks. The end.
Pros: This small case was even smaller than I was expecting. It has great ventilation, and is fairly sturdy. The case looks terrific.
Cons: Not really a con, because of the small size, but it is a little awkward to build in this case. Mostly on account of the way the optical drive harness and CPU vent work together. Still, once together, cable management is simple.
Overall Review: I put the BIOSTAR N68S3+ motherboard in this case, and for the most part, it worked well. Aside from the wires for the mobo power connectors pushing up slightly on the harness and vent mentioned above (which once together is no problem), the whole thing went together well.
I will likely be using this case for future customer builds. It looks sharp and professional.
Newegg rocks. The end.
Pros: Big. Fast. Quiet.
Overall Review: I now personally own 5 of these drives, and have sold dozens to my customers with no returns. Western Digital has really earned their reputation for building high quality consumer drives.
Newegg rocks. The end.