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Joseph K.

Joseph K.

Joined on 11/26/10

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Product Reviews
product reviews
  • 5
Most Favorable Review

Great ultrabook that checks all the boxes

ASUS Zenbook UX305FA-ASM1 Intel Core M 8 GB Memory 256 GB SSD 13.3" Ultra-Slim FHD Aluminum Laptop Windows 8.1 64-Bit
ASUS Zenbook UX305FA-ASM1 Intel Core M 8 GB Memory 256 GB SSD 13.3" Ultra-Slim FHD Aluminum Laptop Windows 8.1 64-Bit

Pros: The machine consumes very little power, and scales down to an amazingly low power usage level at idle. I was able to get it to consume < 4W at idle, as measured by Powertop, with 40% screen brightness. With the 45 Wh battery, that's a little over 11 hours of light usage. This machine has the second most efficient chip (performance per watt) on the market, as measured by Passmark. The non Core M competition is miles behind. The power efficiency of this chip is significantly better than even Intel's own Haswell and Broadwell based CULV chips. Don't let the low TDP fool you, this chip has decent performance. Office and productivity tasks like web browsing and document editing are a piece of cake. Video playback up to full HD is also a breeze. Compiling is a bit slow, a fullish build of the kernel takes ~80 minutes, ccache cuts it down to 15 minutes the second run. Compression is slow. Encryption is quick, thanks to the built in AES hardware acceleration. Also, if you're planning on running VMs on this little machine, believe it or not, it has full IOMMU support (marketed by Intel as VT-d), though I have yet to test it. It plays some older games just fine. Half-Life 2 runs surprisingly well at 1080 on high settings. Minecraft is mostly playable.The machine's performance leaves something to be desired with newer games like Cities: Skylines and Civ 5, though that's really beyond the design and purpose of a machine like this. I'm really quite pleasantly surprised with the performance it delivered, though many newer games won't be playable. The screen is pretty good, the form factor and build quality are nice, and the keyboard is great. Speaking of the keyboard, some manufacturers are choosing to omit the SysRq key nowadays, especially on machines with constrained sizes. This is not one of them, and I appreciate the fact that this key is still with us on this machine. The speakers are relatively good. Because of its slim size, the machine doesn't have an ethernet port, but it does come with a USB 3.0 to ethernet adapter, which was nice of ASUS. The included SSD is spacious and quick. Arch boots in ~4 seconds, without much tuning. There's plenty of RAM for a system like this, which is good, because it's soldered to the board, and not upgradable. The floating point performance is fantastic for a chip with a TDP as low as this one. Without any hand-tuned assembly, I eeked out roughly 40 GFLOPS from the processor. AIDA64 reported 150 GFLOPS from the processor with AVX code, and 250 GLFOPS from the GPU with OpenCL.

Cons: The backlight bleeds around the bottom of the screen quite a bit. It's very noticeable when the screen is dark. The Linux graphics drivers need work. (using 4.0.0-rc7 and mesa-git) the Cinnamon desktop environment doesn't work at all. Gnome 3 works, but the GPU hangs and resets every so often when using Chrome. It's new hardware, so I'm no surprised, but it would be nice if Intel put more effort into their Linux GPU drivers. Like I said, the keyboard is great, but the power button is right next to the delete button on the very top right of the keyboard. Not a good place for that, ASUS.

Overall Review: I've been wanting a portable, efficient, comfortable machine like this for a long time. I've had a list of requirements in my mind that no machine had satisfied, until now. It has all the great features, quality, and usability of a Macbook Air at half the price, and it's been worth every penny so far.

Most Critical Review

Great screen on sale

Acer B286HK ymjdpprz UM.PB6AA.003 28" UHD 3840 x 2160 (4K) 60 Hz DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort Built-in Speakers LED Backlight Monitor
Acer B286HK ymjdpprz UM.PB6AA.003 28" UHD 3840 x 2160 (4K) 60 Hz DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort Built-in Speakers LED Backlight Monitor

Pros: I got this monitor on sale, and for the price I paid, it's a steal. I upgraded from a 21.5" 1080p monitor, and the size, resolution, and DPI on this monitor, comparatively, are fantastic. It was worth every penny to me for those reasons alone. I do a lot of programming, and It's nice having the option to tile windows across 28" of space.

Cons: There's one stuck pixel in the top left quadrant of the screen. It's only noticeable when the monitor is black, and it's so small that when the monitor is in use it's not visible at all. It actually took me about a week to notice. There's a huge problem with ghosting, especially with darker content, though you can see a trail even behind the cursor when you move it, if you look closely. It's something I really didn't like at first, but I've grown to care less. The speakers are garbage, but I didn't expect anything different. Lastly, I'm still not sure what's causing this, it could be entirely unrelated to the monitor, but every once in a while the screen blanks for ~5 seconds, then comes back. I just added another video card, and I have a tendency of running bleeding edge software, so again, it could be entirely unrelated to the monitor. I'm just not sure yet.

Overall Review: Most OSes have trouble doing DPI scaling properly, especially on HiDi displays. Expect text and UI elements to look funky sometimes. That's the price of being an early adopter. If not for the ghosting and stuck pixel, I would rate this monitor 5 eggs without hesitation.

Works great with Skylake

Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo CPU Cooler, 4 CDC Heatpipes, 120mm PWM Fan, Aluminum Fins for AMD Ryzen/Intel LGA1200/1151
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo CPU Cooler, 4 CDC Heatpipes, 120mm PWM Fan, Aluminum Fins for AMD Ryzen/Intel LGA1200/1151

Pros: I've put these coolers on darn near everything. Today, I installed one for a client on an i5-6600k. At stock clocks, the chip idles at 25-30C, and under full load, stays at 60-65C. This is one of the best air coolers out there for the money.

Cons: It doesn't have the thermal capacitance of water. It doesn't make me breakfast.

Great overclocking features, QC could be better

ASUS M5A99FX PRO R2.0 AM3+ AMD 990FX + SB950 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard with UEFI BIOS
ASUS M5A99FX PRO R2.0 AM3+ AMD 990FX + SB950 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard with UEFI BIOS

Pros: The board has some great overclocking features. I pushed my FX-8320 to 4.6 GHz without a problem. VRM cooling is adequate. USB ports providing power even when the machine is off is a nice touch. The labeled riser is another nice touch that makes plugging in the various buttons and LEDs from your case easy, even without proper lighting.

Cons: Upon removing the board from the packaging, the PCI-E x1 slot fell out. It had become detached from the pins somehow, maybe in shipping, and the pins remained soldered to the board. I had expected better quality control from ASUS, and I am very disappointed that such an obvious flaw was not spotted before the product was packaged and sent out for resale.

Overall Review: I have mixed feelings about this board. The features are great, and I've come to expect quality from ASUS over time. However, the board literally fell apart before I opened the box. I installed it regardless of the defect because that slot is unusable with a dual-slot graphics card anyway, but it's disheartening nonetheless. I contacted ASUS to let them know about the issue so that if there's a manufacturing problem, it can be fixed before another person gets a board like this. They told me to contact Newegg, and didn't seem interested in the problem. In the end, I'm stuck with the choice of either keeping a defective product, or going through the inconvenience of shipping it back for a replacement. This used to be the very reason I bought ASUS. I'll keep ordering from Newegg, but I'll think twice before buying ASUS again.

Great Board

ASRock Q1900B-ITX Intel Celeron J1900 2.0GHz Mini ITX Motherboard / CPU / VGA Combo
ASRock Q1900B-ITX Intel Celeron J1900 2.0GHz Mini ITX Motherboard / CPU / VGA Combo

Pros: This J1900 SoC is fast and efficient. It maxes out at about 10 single-precision GFLOPs due to its lack of newer SIMD instruction set extensions, but for the TDP and price, it can't be beat. Amazingly, the chip tops out at 60° C under full load, and draws about 23.5 W at the outlet with a 2.5" HDD. It also seems to turbo clock 500 MHz higher (2.90 GHz instead of 2.40 GHz) when running Linux, as opposed to Windows. In my floating point benchmark, this seems to yield a 20-25% performance improvement. It also seems to stay at its maximum turbo clock whenever it's under load. The SoC has that much thermal headroom.

Cons: There's only two SATA ports, and they're 3 Gb/s. Something to think about if you're running an SSD, or want to install more than two drives. The memory performance is pretty abysmal by today's standards, but for a home and office machine, you won't notice. There's no onboard DVI port, so if you want to use a digital output, you have to get an adapter from HDMI to DVI. The PCI-E slot is closed end, so if you want to run a full length card, you need to get a riser. The integrated GPU leaves something to be desired, though it does play everything from 1080p to 4k just fine. The chip should play Civ V on low to medium settings, but anything more intensive is a no go. A nice feature the iGPU has (being based on Ivy Bridge graphics) is OpenCL support, though the performance wasn't anything to write home about.

Overall Review: This is a great board if you're looking to build a low cost home or office machine, a Linux desktop, or a web appliance like a firewall or proxy server. If you need a workstation, or something for gaming, look elsewhere.