Joined on 04/10/04
Thank goodness the stories aren't true
Pros: I stressed out a lot about my mobo selection before coming to this one. Even then, I heard so many horror stories about dead boards and video corruption and broken parts. So, when I got the board, I handled it like it could explode at the smallest bump. Lucky for me, this mobo did something I've never seen a new mobo do... it booted up successfully the first time I turned it on! With a bit of BIOS tinkering to get it to recognize my drives, I was up and installing windows shortly after assembly. I think it deserves extra mention that this motherboard is PRETTY! Typically, I've dealt with mobos that you want to hide under all your other parts, but expecially with the heatsinks and paint job, it just plain looks good while it works.
Cons: The supplied NB fan didn't seem to fit properly against the heatsink, nor did it have any place nearby on the board to plug it in. I couldn't find any documentation saying how to do it properly with the motherboard, but it seemed to be optional and it's running fine (not overclocked) without it. The only other problem I had was with the single ATA port, but since most people have SATA drives, I'm probably just behind the times, and setting up a master/slave hard drive and DVD drive works fine as long as I don't want any extras.
Overall Review: I heard a lot about a "video corruption error" with this board. However, I haven't noticed anything of the sort. It always seemed odd to me that the motherboard would have anything to do with video playback specifically. The first few times I used it, Windows Media Player did crash on me, but that seemed to be a software issue, especially because it did it without any video. Switching to winamp or other more reliable programs allows me to watch and listen to media as much as I want, no bios flashing necessary. Mobo is running a 3.0GHz E8400 processor, GeForce 9600 GT 512MB video card, 550W SLI Rosewill PSU, and 2X2GB DDR2 800 memory from OCZ.
Dead Within Minutes
Pros: From what I've seen, a working version of this card does have very good benchmarks for its price.
Cons: The card I was sent only worked long enough for me to update its drivers and reboot. Then, the moment I tried to load an application, the entire system powered down and refused to start again. From then on, the system wouldn't even try to power up so long as the card was still connected. Luckily, swapping my old card back in made everything work instantly. Also, I couldn't help but notice that the packaging and general construction of the card was rather underwhelming. The box had no seals or wrapping, and thus, no proof that I was using a non-refurbished item. The card itself, though I can't really say how well it functions structurally, seemed just a little on the flimsy side. From a purely aesthetic standpoint, the plastic blue sticker look gives it a very "toy-like" appearance. It just didn't look like it was worth the money I paid for it (and, given that it didn't work, it wasn't).
Overall Review: I'm still not entirely sure what was actually wrong with the card. My only guess is that there was some form of short circuit on it that caused a power failure. I waited to write this review until getting another card to confirm that it wasn't a problem with my own system. Indeed, my new 460 GTX (which actually has higher power requirements) is running perfectly fine, confirming that my PSU and motherboard were up to the task. I'll admit that there's a 99% chance that my problems were due to a single faulty card, not a defect in the HD6850 itself. However, given the aforementioned construction/packaging presentation, one failure was enough for me to lose my confidence. I've always been an Nvidia lover but I thought this card might change my mind. Needless to say, it didn't.
Forgot I had it!
Pros: It's strange, but I feel like the best thing you can say about a router is that you've forgotten it's there. This one's run pretty flawlessly for over a year. I primarily use wired connections with it, but I've never had trouble connecting to the wireless.
Cons: I'd love for a router to make the process of Port Fowarding a little more intuitive. For some reason I always have trouble getting that sorted out. But, once I do, it works quite well.
Overall Review: I put a bit of electrical tape over the light on the left side of the router. It glows unusually bright compared to the other lights, and I keep it in my bedroom, so I didn't like the extra illumination at night.
Pros: I upgraded from an EVGA GTX 460 with MASSIVE improvements in every graphically-intensive game I've played! The most notable upgrade was Battlefield 4, which went from 30-40 FPS on Medium settings to 60+ on Ultra, 70-80 with anti-aliasing turned off. I've also been able to get smooth 60 FPS with high settings on GTA V, Metal Gear Solid V, Far Cry 4, and Planetside 2, all of which required vastly lower settings with the old card. In addition the card is literally silent most of the time due to the fans only working when they need to. Even at high load, I've never seen the fans go beyond 33% of their max speed, and temperature wise, it's been running consistently 10 degrees (F) cooler than the 460, both running and idle. The silence is a welcome change, since the 460 sounded a bit like a jet engine when I pushed it. EVGA has been my cardmaker of choice for my past three video cards and I've never had any problem with them. Additionally, the cards themselves have gotten progressively prettier to look at. It came with a free replacement backplate which looks particularly clean and stylish in my case. Price-wise, I usually aim for the $200-$250 range with video cards (which I would consider mid-high), and this one seems particularly strong for the money.
Cons: I ran into a conflict between this card and my Gigabyte GA-B75M-D3V motherboard. Upon initial installation, the card disabled my ability to access the BIOS and caused a 2-3 minute freeze on boot up. I needed to remove and reinstall the card several times to figure out what was going on. Eventually I discovered I needed to reflash the BIOS (which is always an unsettling task) while running off of on-board video. Fortunately, that fixed all the problems and now things boot up just as fast and smoothly as ever. The card is also quite a bit bigger than any card I've ever used before, presumably due to the dual fan setup. It's a bit of a tight-fit in my case, but everything turned out fine.
Overall Review: Though I've only been using it for less than a week, I'm extremely happy with this card. It's blazed through everything I throw at it without breaking a sweat. It might not be the best card available right now, but if you're like me and just want a card that can handle the next few years of modern games at non-insane settings without slow downs, I'm pretty confident that I made the best choice for the money.
"Nah, you don't need that stuff", said the tech friends...
Pros: -I should have been using it all along.
Cons: -I wasn't.
Overall Review: Moving from a dual core cpu to a notoriously hot-running 3570k quad core with the same heatsink and AS instead of a generic paste, I'm running about 8c cooler at full load. I probably applied the stuff a little better this time than I did in the past, but it still clearly made a difference by itself. I don't swap out CPUs often, so a tube will probably last me several years. Worth it, definitely.
Pros: -Price was great for someone trying to upgrade a CPU on a budget. -Bios is pretty easy to handle for a non-pro builder. -Seemed pretty durable, though I was pretty gentle with it. -Had every feature I needed for now, plus a few for the future.
Cons: -Ethernet port wasn't recognized without driver, which lead to a little bit of difficulty, since I didn't have a sata CD drive and desperately wanted to avoid using the bloatware CD provided. I tried downloading their driver from their website on a different computer, but for some reason it was in a corrupted .7z self-extracting file that wouldn't open (with or without 7zip). Eventually solved by digging into the drivers on the CD while avoiding everything else, copying a few different drivers until I found the right one to a usb drive, and installing from there. -Again, did NOT want to use that driver CD's programs and I'd advice everyone to steer clear of the standard auto-install. -My heatsink obscured a few of the SATA ports on the board, but four were still clear.
Overall Review: I've always shied away from Micro-ATX boards, under the silly impression that they were somehow inferior to full size ones. Then I stared at it for a while... and realized this thing did everything I needed it to do, was half the cost of most other boards, and even fit in my case with better clearance for my drives and psu. My only concern is that my large heatsink, two sticks of tall ram, and one double-slot wide video card make for a VERY tight fit. In a way, it's great, since it keeps everything very neat, but I'd imagine it would be troubling for overclockers and other people where heat is a concern, since I'd imagine having the parts so close to each other isn't particularly heat efficient. This, combined with a new ivy bridge CPU has been one giant upgrade for my performance. Everything works as it should, and so far, I couldn't be happier.