Date Joined: 08/22/04
Pros: Extreme positive air flow
Runs very cool
Looks amazing, especially with an LED top fan
Includes two 120mm fans.
Radiator mount in the front
Can fit more in your case than you think you can.
Super portable and light, easily transportable.
Sturdy despite being aluminum inside.
You can get a clear top panel if you want one.
Cons: Included motherboard tray standoffs did not fit the motherboard tray (your experience may vary).
Cable management may require some creative engineering.
USB cable may require some care to seat properly.
You will have to disassemble everything to get to your power supply and drives in your case.
Manual is pretty unhelpful.
Overall Review: If you're looking for an ultra-portable case that moves an insane amount of air, look no further. I use this as a gaming rig that I can pick up and move with me, and it works great. The internal design is a multi-tier setup: the power supply, drives, and cables go on the lower level, the motherboard sits flat on the top. The case is large enough to support even large graphics cards with a water cooling system, and you should even have space to run SLI. Be advised, however, that extreme cable management and creative installation of your devices will be a necessity here. You will want to use the included zip-ties to tie anything in the way down because space and airflow is at a premium here, and anything cables in the way may end up getting sucked into a fan and you'll have a terrifying chopping sound coming from your system. The motherboard tray is hit or miss. It comes with standoffs for your motherboard in the included screws, and you are going to want to install those, but mine were so wobbly in the tray that when I attempted to screw the motherboard to the standoffs, turning the screws just spun the standoffs! I eventually worked around this by installing standoffs from another motherboard tray which worked fine (except for one that I had to have someone clamp with a pair of needlenose pliers), but I shouldn't have had needed to do that -- a little disappointing for a name as big as Cooler Master but there you have it, and with some creative engineering I made it work regardless.
When completed, my case booted and ran instantaneously, though the USB front panel didn't work... so one disassemble and cable reseat later and it started working. I can't explain it, I really thought I seated it well the first time.
I recommend you get one of those Cooler Master Megaflow 240mm top fans and install it in the top. The one with the LEDs has this cool optical illusion effect where it looks like a cryogenic gas is spraying into your case.
Ultimately, an excellent case despite a few minor issues.
Pros: Sturdy build quality. This is a good looking and good feeling keyboard and mouse combo. Not too heavy, it'll let you sit in a chair and use the PC from across the room. Great if you use a TV as your monitor, like I do.
Got this for sale for $15, so that's one consolation.
Cons: Horrendous and well documented lag issues. Check the Logitech forums and you'll see numerous users asking if their keyboard needs to be RMA'd. Nope. That's just how it behaves. It seems that if the keyboard is too close to the receiver, the system will frequently queue up keystrokes and then spit them out all at one time. Needless to say, this is not the keyboard to use if you plan on doing any document writing and gaming.
It also gobbles up batteries like toddlers gobble up boogers.
Overall Review: If you do purchase one, attempt to move as far as possible from the receiver. This may minimize the lag issues. Otherwise, I recommend the Logitech K400 Wireless Touch Keyboard, which is small but fantastic.
Pros: Good build quality. Looks great. Has glowing red "veins" that run up and down the board. Great point and click bios. Digital temperature gauge visible on board. Steel reinforced PCI-E slots to keep those heavy video cards from flopping. Runs cool. Great support on the MSI web site and easy to keep updated with software downloadable from MSI's website.
It is super easy to overclock. Every setting imaginable is possible to tweak in the point and click bios. There is also a one-button "Gaming Boost" option that will use all the commonly used settings to pick an overclock setting. In one click, I overclocked from 4.0 GHZ to 4.4 GHZ on a Skylake i7. You really don't need to know anything about overclocking except for how to press a big red button in bios.
Overall, a fantastic and good looking board.
Cons: To get Windows to recognize the onboard LAN, I had to download the drivers on another computer and install it, a minor inconvenience, but those of you who do do not have an optical drive like I do (because digital distribution and solid state drives are the future), please be cautioned that the drivers do come in the package on an optical disc, so make sure you get those from the site.
I was not able to overclock with the stock bios version. Attempting to do so would cause an error that the previous overclock failed. This is odd because I was running water cooling and had low temperatures. Updating my bios to the latest version rectified this problem. You can do this on the MSI web site. Get the zip file, unzip it, put it on a flash drive, and boot into bios. Use the flash mode and you are good to go.
** Updated 9/26/2015: I plugged in my PC today and was greeted with an angry red light next to the power connector on the motherboard. After removing and reseating all the components and testing the power supply, I traced the problem to the motherboard. I changed the CMOS battery with a CR2032 battery. It is possible that the default battery shipped with these motherboards may be of questionable quality and charge level. This resulted in me having to reset most of my BIOS settings, but it wasn't that much of a hassle to do so. If you cannot power on your board, if you suspect it's dead like many people have experienced, try replacing the CMOS battery before you RMA it. It may solve all your problems. I will be observing it to see if this CMOS battery dies rapidly, but more than likely, it just shipped with a cheap battery.
Overall Review: This is a "duh" thing, but make sure you have a wired keyboard and mouse to work in bios until everything gets set up. You cannot actually press the keys to get INTO bios if the system will not do its power-on selftest. Wireless keyboards and mice do work fine once you're in bios, but you might be sitting at the "Press F1 to enter BIOS" screen like I was if you only have a wireless keyboard!
The bios is a little gamer-y in appearance, which you would expect from a board called the Gaming M5, but it's black and red and has flames and phoenixes and stuff everywhere. It is functional and easy to use though.
Note that this board does not support front panel USB 3.1 (the M7 does, I think), but it does support front panel USB 3.0, and it has both a Type A and Type B USB 3.1 on the back panel.
Be cautioned that the top graphics card slot can block your front panel USB connector and your SATA ports. I recommend you connect those before you put in your graphics card.
Pros: XFX claims that even their bronze power supplies provide the voltage they claim to. Connect a voltmeter and you'll see. Rock solid. Many PSU manufacturers either overrate or deliver power that fluctuates. XFX does exactly what it says. It's also so quiet you probably won't even hear it. It doesn't heat up your case. The aesthetics just look fantastic -- matte black and silver. And look at that rebate! Are you ever going to get a 750w power supply for that price anywhere else?
Some people say, "XFX? Aren't they a graphics card company?"
Yes, they are. But they're offering PSUs now, and I'm glad they are.
The one other reason I chose them is because their community manager replies to both positive and negative comments here. That kind of interaction shows me that XFX has a vested interest in their online reputation, and I can trust them to both address negative comments and say "thanks" for positive ones.
Cons: Be cautioned that this is not modular, but they don't claim that it is, so this is not truly a con. The cables are VERY long. Some cable management will be necessary if you want your build to look pretty.
Pros: This is Intel's "tock" -- the "major" update after several minor revisions. In this revision, they reduced the processor size and moved the voltage regulator off of the chip. What does this mean to you? It runs a LOT cooler.
With a water cooling system, I was getting idle temperatures of 23 degrees Celsius at a stock 4ghz. Overclocked to 4.4 and getting idle temperatures of around 27. With a solid state drive, Windows 10 boots in mere seconds. I haven't even bothered to time it because it's virtually instantaneous. When doing serious 3D gaming, I get temperatures about 40 degrees. Of course, my case is moving some serious air through it and I am water cooled, but I'm using a mid range GTX 960 with maxed everything on some pretty serious 3D games, and I honestly couldn't be happier with the results.
Premiere and Photoshop load instantaneously, so if you do that sort of stuff, you will not be disappointed in your performance.
I could probably overclock this more -- I've heard of people with serious cooling systems getting 5 ghz, but that's not something I'm going to risk. It takes everything I throw at it and handles it admirably.
Cons: I was lucky to get one of these. They are kind of scarce in supply right now, and Newegg is requiring that they be bought with motherboards, presumably to deter scalpers from buying and reselling them. Luckily, you can get some nice motherboards in the bundles. If you see one, and you want one, don't hesitate: find a bundle you want and snap it up before it sells out.
Overall Review: Coming from an i7 920, this is one beastly upgrade.
Pros: You will not believe how large this case is. It is a BEAST. It boggles the mind. This is less of a case and more of a piece of furniture (it rivals the size of some end tables and stands taller too), and provided that you have the space, you will be abel to put anything you want to in it. In addition, this has the most amazing characteristic: the motherboard tray can be mounted inverted, orienting the motherboard upside down and the graphics card at the top of the case instead of at the bottom.
The material is plastic on the top, but vented. It sucks air in though the bottom and front (it stands slightly off the floor) and moves it through, expelling it out the rear and top. It can definitely move some air.
Cons: Don't make the mistake I did: this case will not support the width of the Corsair H110i water cooler. While the advertising claims it supports up to 480mm radiators, that's in length, not in width. The H110i will not match up with the mounting holes on the top. Save yourself my headache and get the H100i instead.
Overall Review: Try to get it when it's on sale with a rebate.
Pros: High quality graphics.
8 GB of RAM
Good battery life
Runs most modern 3D games at medium settings quite well.
1 TB HDD
Nice SSD drive.
Free upgrade to Windows 10 when it comes out (but everyone gets that).
Very robust touchpad.
Frequently on sale, a steal for $550.
HDMI port so you can plug it in to a HDTV and watch/play.
Cons: Don't try gaming when not plugged in.
Screen is a little dim.
Difficult to get into the internals to replace stuff.
Lots of Lenovo bloatware and Superfish spyware.
Keys are a little spongy but not too bad.
Overall Review: Bought this on a whim when it was on sale. Even the refurb is excellent. A solid computer for video editing and moderate level gaming, I can play most good optimized 3D games on moderate to high settings without any difficulty.
I will say this: make sure that before you put any personal information on it, you go to the Lenovo site and get the information on how to remove the Superfish vulnerability. Lenovo got wristslapped for including this last year, and these have it on there. You will want to remove that because it is essentially spyware. You may want to remove the other Lenovo branded bloatware as well, your system will thank you later.
If you run this plugged in like I do most of the time, make sure you set your battery into "Conservation Mode". This will stop the battery from charging all the time and ruining the zero point.