Date Joined: 08/23/01
Pros: Build quality is excellent. The best part is the quick-release side panels. Just loosen 2 thumbscrews and the top panel pops off, then both side panels and the front panel lift right off with zero thumbscrews. This is a dream come true for people who often fiddle with their build. White powder coating is durable and attractive. On the white version the matte silver brushed aluminum strip on the front is a terrific accent piece. All intake areas have filters included. A couple of years ago, this would have been a $250 case.
USB Type C Gen 2 front panel jack with the new style motherboard connector is appreciated.
It fits a 10.7"W EATX board just fine. Cable management is good in general.
Cons: Bear in mind these are minor cons, but I'm listing them in case you care about these specific items.
No reset switch.
Motherboards which have USB 3.0 28-pin headers on the very bottom edge may have the cabling interfere with one of the bottom 2.5" trays since those 28-pin cables are quite bulky and need to bend to pass back through the hole under the board for cable management. In v2 of the case it would be nice if Lian Li put in a third possible mounting spot to the right of the existing two, so you could relocate one of the trays if it's interfered with by cabling.
Similarly, motherboards which have horizontal 28-pin USB 3.0 headers on the right edge will have a big cable connector sticking out right over the radiator area.
In my build, the area behind the removable vertical bar on the reverse side of the case (which is used for mounting additional drives) was completely filled with slack cables from the PSU etc. so at least in my setup, I couldn't have mounted drives to that bar. But even without the bar mounting, there are still dual 2.5" trays on the bottom of the motherboard area, plus dual 3.5"/2.5" trays that slide out the back.
Overall Review: Highly recommended.
Bear in mind this case is really designed for use with a 360 closed-loop water cooler, which ironically given the bargain cost of this case, may actually cost more than the case itself.
Pros: Completely tool-less install except for mounting the Intel/AMD brackets to the pump head. There are even thumbscrews on the fan/radiator setup. Easier to install than competitors.
Cons: The pump has a worrying gurgling sound for about 60 seconds after startup, which sounds like an open-loop cooler, not a CLC. I've never heard this volume of gurgling from any other model of CLC. It seems to have way more air in the system than a typical closed-loop cooler.
The hoses are incredibly stiff and more difficult to route than the competition.
The worst con is that the RGB functionality is flaky as heck. The RGB controller has 3 ways to operate:
1) Control manually with the buttons on the control box. This operation is inexplicable as the buttons don't seem to behave as documented. In particular, manual static color change would not work at all. I just wanted white, and I couldn't achieve this without using USB and software.
2) Control in software via USB. This works as designed, but the software is the worst, most difficult to use mess I've ever seen, and most RGB control software is bad so that's saying something. Don't expect to do anything but use the half-dozen pre-defined modes in the software, since creating new effects is somehow tied to music(!?!) and works like a MIDI music creation program. This makes no sense to me at all. Downloading effects through Cooler Master's "cloud lighting" requires creating an account and previews items with YouTube videos(!?!). I couldn't figure out how to do anything in the software but use the pre-defined effects, and I'm a PC expert. I'm sure if I spent a lot of time learning the really weird UI, I could figure it out, but this sort of thing should be simple. It's literally easier to max overclock a Threadripper than to set up lighting in this software.
3) Control via motherboard. I couldn't get this to work on an MSI Z370 Godlike Gaming using either the RGB12V or the ARGB5V methods (each of which has a dedicated port on the control box). Cooler Master's included cables have a pin blocked off so they won't connect to ANY standard motherboard 4-pin ARGB headers unless you make an adapter (since they're trying to avoid getting +5V from the motherboard, they leave that pin blocked). After messing around with both types of header connection for an hour or so, the USB control stopped working entirely (and I know my RGB, I didn't connect anything backwards or 5V to 12V). It's incredibly flaky and frustrating. Unfortunately my packaging got thrown away so I can't return it, and it's stuck in "demo mode" with gaudy color cycling now so it's mostly useless.
Even when working properly, the RGB fans don't quite compare aesthetically to brands C and T since there are basically no diffusers -- you can see all of the individual LEDs.
The included documentation is just about the worst I've ever seen, it's just a few pictograms and they aren't even drawn correctly. For example, diagram 06 which shows the mounting of the two curved bolt arms for Intel CPUs clearly shows the arms mounting from the bottom of the pump, whereas they actually go on the top and bolt through from the bottom. Since the manual has zero localized text, many installation aspects are unclear, such as whether you want the pump to run at 100% or be controlled by the motherboard. And the fans are controlled by the MB CPU header, not by the pump, which is odd and it therefore lacks any "modes" (e.g. performance, silent, etc.) controlled by software. The pump has no USB connection (just RGB).
Overall Review: Since the entire reason for this particular model's existence is RGB, and the RGB doesn't work properly unless you want to settle for one of the built in modes, I can't recommend this cooler.
Pros: Better shielded than onboard audio. The floor for PC-induced noise is about 10-15 dB better than onboard, and likely inaudible at reasonable volume levels.
Cons: Sound quality isn't better than good quality onboard audio, despite touting an ESS 9016K2M DAC. For stereo content, this card is significantly inferior to similarly-priced USB DACs such as the AQ Dragonfly, Meridian Explorer, Schiit Fulla, etc. That's over line level out -- I didn't test the onboard headphone amplifier. The AE-5 is noticeably harsh in the high end, even over my relatively warm-sounding system with B&W 805s, and the bass also lacks impact. I have several solutions using ESS Sabre32 DACs such as the Oppo HA-1 headphone amp and Yamaha RX-A3050 receiver -- the AE-5 doesn't sound as good as even an average Sabre32 DAC which was disappointing.
Despite the improved noise isolation vs. onboard audio, you can still hear PC-induced noise if you crank up the volume on your amplification. It's better than onboard but definitely doesn't meet the advertised 122 dB S/N -- I'm not sure that's even possible with any PC sound card.
The AE-5 does not support channel phantoming, so unlike onboard audio or virtually any other sound card, it won't work with 4.1 speaker configurations. Many PC gamers who use multi-channel positional audio don't use a center channel because there are big monitor(s) where the center channel would need to sit. This card is useless for that case, and historically Creative has shipped about half of their multichannel audio solutions with this feature missing and never fixed the problem. So I don't expect this will ever change. Look elsewhere if you're using a 4.0 or 4.1 system.
The speaker level calibration is broken. The levels used in the Creative app don't correspond to actual levels. So if you use their calibration with an SPL meter to set channel levels, they will be wildly wrong (up to 6-10 dB off - not slightly wrong!) Make sure to set speaker levels with an audio/video file containing test tones instead.
The bundled software is confusingly laid out and mostly dedicated to gimmicky sound-restoration features and the borderline cheat mode "Scout" as well as the unnecessary RGB lighting (do I really want a noisy PWM lighting controller on the same PCB as my DAC? No! I know this is a gaming card, not an audiophile card, but gamers care about top sound quality too!)
Finally, the AE-5 does not support DTS Connect or Dolby Digital Live so if you want to connect this to a receiver that doesn't come with analog multi-channel inputs, you're out of luck. I knew this beforehand and my system has multi-channel inputs, but I'm noting this for other buyers' sake. The AE-5 does have an option to send a stereo mixdown to the optical output however.
Pros: It's physically heavy so I can use it as a doorstop.
Cons: 2 bad boards so far, the first one worked briefly and then refused to POST with a code D6 - No console output devices. Second one has the same problem.
Performed all of the usual troubleshooting, CMOS resets, BIOS flashback, minimal cabling & devices, tried 4 different known-good video cards (Intel & AMD) in different slots; 3 different sets of known good DDR4 RAM (2400 & 2666, all on the tested list for this board); 3 different known good power supplies (that work with X99 Deluxe boards); 3 different known good CPUs (two 5960X, one 5930K, all of which with X99 Deluxe boards). At the time I had 2 X99 Deluxe systems on the bench and swapped everything between the 3 systems for testing, the Deluxe boards worked perfectly with all components and the X99-E WS wouldn't work with any of them.
RMA'd the first board, and the second board has exactly the same problem. For all I know they sent the original board back to me sans accessories. POST code D6.
Avoid like the plague. I've had literally hundreds of Asus boards across my bench over many years and this is the worst experience I've ever had with Asus, I will be taking a serious look at alternatives in future rather than just buying their brand as the solid choice that it used to be.
Overall Review: When I RMA'd the board with Asus, I didn't read the fine print and sent them my retail box, so they sent me a bare board and kept my accessories & manual. My fault but it was the holidays and I missed that clause buried in the RMA paperwork, would have been nice if they had caught that and helped me out, but apparently it's the letter of the law with Asus, I can see the guys in their return department laughing at the poor suckers who didn't read the fine print. What dummies they must think we are! Never mind that most other vendors are incredibly rigid about you returning every last little part, exactly the opposite of Asus.
I would have just returned it to Newegg Business but I had it sitting around for too long before building the system since it was waiting on other parts, so I was 2 days past Newegg Business's return window.
Pros: Good physical design. Good color quality.
Cons: Simply does not work reliably at native resolution with 60 Hz refresh due to the fundamentally flawed DisplayPort 1.2 MST (multi-stream) technology which causes this monitor to act as two displays in 60 Hz mode.
One significant challenge with troubleshooting this monitor, is that there is no way to tell whether the problems are caused by the monitor or the video card, since nVidia is the only vendor who supports 4K @ 60 Hz at the moment.
To change from single-stream (30 Hz) mode to multi-stream (60 Hz) mode, you need to go into the monitor's OSD and enable "DisplayPort 1.2".
Dell's OSD menu doesn't work if you don't have a signal on the screen. If there is no displayable signal, the only thing you can do is select an input. If you hit a "permanent disconnect" (more on that later) the monitor can't display a signal, so you can't go into the menu and disable DisplayPort 1.2 to start over. You have to plug in some other device via HDMI to get a signal, but that isn't as easy as it sounds. The device can't be a computer that supports 4K resolution, and the device can't freak out if it sees an EDID that includes 4K resolution (e.g. my Ouya game box didn't work, I had to grab a Blu-ray player). Then once you get the signal going over HDMI, you still can't disable DisplayPort 1.2 because that option isn't available if the current connection is HDMI. You have to reset to factory settings, losing any customization you may have performed.
Once you get the UP3214Q displaying native resolution at 60 Hz (which takes some fiddling and luck), the state of the monitor is quite "fragile", in that there are lots of things that have a chance of causing what I call a "permanent disconnect" resulting in no display. Things that have a percentage chance of causing a permanent disconnect include a resolution switch (e.g. running a game at non-native resolution) or plugging/unplugging a second monitor or HDMI audio device.
Speaking of HDMI audio, it will not work with this monitor connected, even if the HDMI audio device is connected to a completely separate video card. This looks like an nVidia bug.
Another common failure mode is that half of the screen goes away (always the left half, which is especially annoying). Most of the time the mouse cursor becomes invisible.
With DisplayPort 1.2/MST enabled, when you reboot the system you won't see anything on screen until Windows loads. Aside from the obvious need to change BIOS settings, this can cause some serious problems if your boot gets interrupted by an error that you don't see, such as Windows complaining that it didn't shut down properly. In that case you'll end up in safe mode with no native graphics driver so guess what, no display!
The final nail in this monitor's coffin is that it doesn't support scaling in MST mode and nVidia's GPU scaling doesn't work, so you have to run at native resolution or not at all.
Overall Review: As you're probably aware, this is a MST (multi stream) monitor, like all other current 4K monitors. Although DisplayPort 1.2 can theoretically support 3840x2160 @ 60 Hz, for reasons that are unclear even to those who read the DP specification, there are no current implementations that use a single stream at this resolution. Every current 4K monitor, when put into 60 Hz mode, enumerates itself as two separate displays, a left and right, each with 1920x2160 resolution ("monitor" denoting 60 Hz capability, vs. "TV" which only supports 30 Hz). Perhaps this is because no silicon vendor offers a receiver chip with sufficient bandwidth -- rather than introducing such a product now, they are probably waiting for DisplayPort 1.3 due Q2 2014.
A side issue is software readiness for 4K. Windows 8.1 itself deals with 4K adequately (although you have to mess with app properties to change scaling options for certain apps or you'll get really fuzzy text) but other software is more problematic. Games have two common problems: lack of resolution support, and lack of scalable UI. Titles like Marvel Heroes don't support 3840x2160 and can't be forced via their configuration file to work at native resolution. For those titles that do support 4K, lack of scalable UI support can still make them borderline unplayable. World of Tanks, for example, supports 4K but everything is extremely tiny, including the minimap and text.
Cabling is another challenge. I simply don't know if there is a cable you can buy that will work with this monitor. The only cables that worked for me -- "worked" within the context of the issues discussed below -- were the Dell-bundled DP-to-mini-DP cables that came with the monitors. I tried 3 other cables that didn't work at all: Accel UltraAV DisplayPort 1.2 DP-to-DP; Accel UltraAV DisplayPort 1.2 DP-to-mini-DP; and the DP-to-DP cables that came with my SIIG DisplayPort KVM (the KVM didn't work either except at 30 Hz). So, I did all of my testing with the bundled cables. Accel UltraAV cables seem to be the reference cable, so if they don't work, I really don't know what will.
At this time I can only recommend this monitor if you intend to stick with 30 Hz operation. Just about the only uses for a 30 Hz-only 4K monitor are 4K film production, or graphic arts/photo editing. Even in these limited uses, you'd have to be able to put up with a slow and flickery mouse cursor and UI elements.
Trying to use the UP3214Q as a general-purpose monitor is just too painful due to the fragility of the configuration and the limitations of MST mode.
Pros: Lower profile than most, good clearances for mATX motherboards, easy and solid mounting mechanism.
Cons: Must use standard-height DIMMs on mATX, nothing with protruding heat spreaders that extend above the DIMM PCBs.
Can't say much for the instructions, I can tell they would not help a novice one bit. That doesn't stop them from unfolding to the size of a national road map.
Overall Review: Best way to install this is to put the HSF upside-down on the table (after applying thermal compound to the CPU) and put the motherboard upside-down on top of the HSF. Install the 4 hex nuts slightly hand-tight, then tighten them in a diagonal pattern a couple of turns each time using the included socket.
Pros: Well laid out. Solid NEC USB 3.0 controller. 2 PCI-e x1 slots and one PCI unlike the competition in this form factor/chipset which provides 2 useless PCI slots. I need an extra x1 slot to plug in a decent NIC since this has bargain-basement onboard Realtek LAN.
Cons: Bargain-basement Realtek LAN. At this price for mATX they should have used at least Marvell. Came with 7 month old BIOS. Only 4 USB 2.0 ports on the back panel and does not include a bracket adapter for additional ports. Also includes a serial port but no bracket or connector for that.
Overall Review: I did not test the onboard graphics. Has 6 USB 2.0 ports on internal headers but only 2 of those are typically used for a case front panel leaving 4 wasted without a bracket adapter. Asus being chintzy there. I'll have to buy a bracket on an auction site and put it in front of the useless PCI slot.
Pros: Excellent cosmetics, quality fit and finish. Unique form factor.
Cons: Be prepared to remove 12 screws and some cables in order to add/remove an expansion card. A different 12 screws to add/remove an optical drive. 5-1/4" bays only fit 2 devices, not 4, because even short optical drives would bump into each other, the case is not deep enough in width. Hard drive cooling fan interferes with hard drive power cabling. Fairly quiet but louder than I'd hoped.
Overall Review: For example, to replace video card: 1) remove 6 screws holding left side panel, 2) remove 5 thumbscrews holding motherboard tray, 3) remove several cables preventing motherboard from sliding out, including front-panel USB/1394/audio cables, 4) remove screw holding video card. That's 12 screws and 3-6 cables.
Pros: Performs as expected; drive transfer rates are indistinguishable from a directly connected SATA drive using an NEC USB 3.0 host controller. Lightweight but well made. Fan is quiet but effective (quieter than the docked drive itself). Inline power supply (not wall wart).
Cons: The 4 ridiculously bright blue LEDs. MY EYES! THEY'RE BURNING!
Overall Review: Each LED is bright enough for a flashlight. They're arranged in a semicircle so it's difficult to cover them with black electrical tape without it looking ugly. This alone keeps the SIIG from 5 eggs.
Pros: Supports Windows 7. No installation hassles, I ignored the bundled CD and installed the Win7 drivers directly plus the control panel applet. No audio crackles or pops. Finally Creative complies with the industry-standard audio jack color-coding.
Cons: Sounds no better than the ADI onboard audio chipset on my P6T Deluxe (but probably better than Realtek onboard chipsets). I have a high-end audio system on my PC, not computer speakers. The bass is very good but the detail, especially in the mid- to high-end, is very lacking. I expect better DACs at this price point.
Overall Review: My previous "Brand A" card was a thousand percent better sounding but I had to remove it because its beta Windows 7 drivers caused Internet Explorer to fail to launch. I think the X-Fi Titanium uses the same HD Audio chipset under the covers as my previous card, but clearly the DACs and/or op-amps are substandard.
Pros: Significantly outperforms typical onboard gigabit. MSI-X support is the new feature on this model vs. the previous PRO/1000 PT, which provides more efficient interrupts.
Cons: No dual-port version available; the Intel dual-port adapter available as of this review is still the old PRO/1000 PT.
Pros: Upgraded my Wife's HP laptop and its BIOS recognized the CAS4 timing on this RAM perfectly, yielding better performance than the stock 2x1GB CAS5. Passed 24 hours of Memtest86+. Can always count on Mushkin!
Cons: Cost a bit more than the competition but you get what you pay for.
Overall Review: After my wife saw me ordering exotic overclocking RAM from Mushkin for years, when it came time to upgrade her laptop to 4GB she demanded the brand and got it :)
Pros: Relatively quiet, low vibration. Starts with as low as 6v. Power connector has power pass-through.
Cons: Absolutely no static pressure capability, can't blow through a grille at all, even at full speed. Use in "free air" applications only. Included grille (which is useless anyway due to the aforementioned lack of pressure) is designed to only blow out, whereas the normal use of such a fan would be to blow in, on the side of a computer case. Power connector is a 4 pin "molex" only, no RPM monitoring. Very small motor, actually smaller than most 120mm fans, which seems like it will be less reliable driving these huge fan blades.
Overall Review: Grille can be jerry-rigged to have fan blow inwards, although it adds thickness vs. the other direction and may interfere with certain heatsinks/video cards if used in a case side door.
Pros: Big fan. Hefty motor looks reliable. Starts at as low as 6V and is basically inaudible at 1 meter at that speed (but CFM is very low).
Cons: Does NOT have speed control, even though Cooler Master's web site and the fan's packaging itself(!) clearly state "Adjustable fan speed". Poorly balanced, high vibration. Noisy at full speed. Motor noise clearly audible even at 7.5v. Power connector is 4-pin "molex" only with no power pass-through. No RPM sensor. Very low static pressure capability, not suitable for use wiith any grille unless it had very large holes. With an ordinary grille it blew as much air backwards as forwards. In most cases you will be better off with a top-quality 120x38mm fan.
Pros: High overclocking capability
Cons: Bargain-basement Realtek audio and Realtek gigabit Ethernet, the same components used by the cheapest boards. For a "premium" board like this, I expect at least Marvell gigabit (preferably Intel or Broadcom!) and a decent audio codec like C-Media or ADI. Once you bring this thing up to par by installing an Intel PCI-e x1 NIC and a Xonar D2 PCI-e x1 sound card, you've lost 2 slots and a lot more money.
Overall Review: EVGA obfuscates the audio & LAN chips in the specs (even on their web site) by saying "8 channel high definition" and "2 10/100/1000" without naming brands. All audio and LAN are absolutely NOT created equal. "Brand A" Deluxe X58 offering provides Marvell LAN & ADI audio for a much lower price.
Pros: 2GB DIMMs allow 8GB total
Cons: Does not run at published speeds. Max stable speed is 1200MHz at 9-9-9-24. Won't even run 1200MHz at published 7-7-7-20 timings. Won't run advertised 1600MHz speed even at 9-9-9-24 timings using Corsair's specified 1.9v vDimm on Asus P5E3 Deluxe (X38).
Overall Review: Corsair refuses to issue RMA and returns a form letter asking me to "update BIOS to the latest" etc. even though I already told them in the RMA request that I had the latest 0601 BIOS. Corsair doesn't read their RMA request text or stand behind their highest-end, most-expensive set of DIMMs. Last Corsair product I will ever buy.
Pros: Big, roomy, solid steel case with noise-absorbing closed-cell foam in the side panels and even rubber O-rings to seal the panels closed. Incredible pushbutton instant installation of 5.25" devices. Easy release/installation of side panels and hard drive caddies. Slide-out filters on the air intakes. Carrying rails are VERY handy expecially with a case of this weight -- CoolerMaster's original Stacker was very unwieldy to move by comparison. CM has made up for the difficult-to-remove 5.25" bay covers in the Stacker with s simple pinch-and-remove arrangement here. One screw removes the top grille panel to service the dual 120mm top fans.
Cons: Not lockable (front or side). Must remove far side door to install HDs. Front door interferes with Sound Blaster X-Fi bay unit's volume controls, and although the door is removable, the case airflow is really optimized for a closed front door. Speaking of which, the case airflow is very specifically designed, and don't expect to replace the fans (single-speed units which use 4-pin power supply connectors and no speed monitoring) with other models unless you match the relative CFM for intake/exhaust with the original proportion. Otherwise, you risk losing airflow through the HD bay which will only happen with negative internal pressure.
Overall Review: I understand why CM did not use multi-speed fans like "brand A" frequently installs, since they would allow the end user to mess up the pressure balance, but it would be nice to have some way of controlling all 4 fans together via the front panel to keep them in balance but also be able to choose the desired noise/cooling balance. I wish that CM would mount the two top 120mm fans in a standard spacing for a 2x120mm internal radiator. Right now the fans are about 1" apart which is too far away for a 2x120 and too close for dual 1x120 radiators.
Pros: CAS4 at this speed is a rare plus. It even runs at rated timings with 4 DIMMs installed (4GB) on an Intel D975XBX 'Bad Axe" motherboard. 100% reliable.
Cons: Expensive but you get what you pay for.
Pros: Compact, works about average if you use a wired connection, but it's advertised as a wireless camera.
Cons: Its inability to reconnect to a wireless network after power loss makes it utterly useless as a wireless camera. When it does connect, wireless range is les than half that of a normal wifi device. It has connection trouble only about 15 feet away from my access point. I get 1 second of garbage video for every 3 seconds of OK video.
Comments: This unit is very, very slow. Over the network, benchmarks show writes at about 1MBps (yes, ONE megabyte per second) and reads at around 5MBps. As others have mentioned, it requires proprietary software on every client.