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GIGABYTE GA-H270-Gaming 3 (rev. 1.0) LGA 1151 Intel H270 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.1 ATX Motherboards - Intel
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert

4 out of 5 eggs Solid board, budget price, and lots of features 02/18/2017

This review is from: GIGABYTE GA-H270-Gaming 3 (rev. 1.0) LGA 1151 Intel H270 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.1 ATX Motherboards - Intel

Pros: This is a solid board at a budget price loaded with relevant features. I won't waste time rehashing all the features but just want to share my experience and likes. My experience with this board was very similar to my experience with it's bigger, more expensive, brother.

First, and this is rare, I had no significant issues at all getting it up and running. In fact, there wasn't a single blue screen or issue. I just connected everything, fired it up, did an initial BIOS config, and installed Windows 10. Done. Well, I should quite say done as I did spend a lot of time looking at all the BIOS settings -- but let's be honest, that's part of the fun for enthusiasts.

From a tech/build perspective, I like the board layout. It's simple, things are thoughtfully placed, and the design aesthetics shine for their base simplicity. However, it's rare that I find a motherboard I can't complain about due to layout tradeoffs (see Cons below for more). But where this board really shines (pun intended) aesthetically is in the LED layout and header for additional add-on LEDs in RGBW (yes, white, too). The customization in color, zones, and cycling is awesome and really lights up the board inside a case or on a bench. Kudos for low power but thoughtful color integration.

The addition of USB 3.1 Type C coupled with the other USB 3.1 ports provides some nice versatility against standard ports on the I/O panel that should offer years of future proofing for peripherals while the location of the M.2 connections ensure limited interference PCIe slots, which in my mind, is a must. The metal reinforced PCIe slots add a degree of rigidity and strength so those heavy GPU cards stress the plastic slot less -- a simple and elegant solution -- whether the problem actually exists or not (it isn't something I've ever experienced, honestly). Let's be honest, if you're building a computer today, even on a budget, don't skimp on storage IO performance. With this board, you don't have to.

Another nicety is knowing that with this chipset, I can connect a second HDMI cable to my monitor directly from the I/O panel so that if something goes wrong with my GPU overclocks, I have a way to still see what's happening if things go horribly wrong. Nothing worse than a GPU RMA with no backup graphics options -- but with this setup, backup video is laying in wait. It's not bad either and capable of pushing 4K in Windows and video playback rather nicely with no notable choppiness, tearing, or performance issues. It also has, which now feels very old, a DVI connection if you're monitor isn't new. I can't imagine getting this board and using the DVI port, though.

While there are a lot of other little customizable features -- none of which I really utilize -- there is one final piece that stands out as noteworthy: stability. To maintain stability you need to control temperatures. I use a combination of fans and closed-loop water cooling. That means there are pumps, radiator fans, and case fans involved. I like how this board uses modular connections that sense what is connected (e.g. pump vs fan) and several temperature sensors to fully customize the cooling options for both air and water cooled solutions alike. While this isn't an overclocking board, and temps should never be an issue, I still like this feature.

Finally, this CPU and chipset sip power (less than ~100 watts). It's pretty easy to just pop things in and fire it up. As is, without GPUs and peripherals, etc., at stock speeds, we're talking about less than 100W. That's great. A few short years ago we were talking 140W alone for a CPU. In other words, it does a good job with efficiency while maintaining solid power. The board didn't appear to flinch in testing as power levels remained very steady throughout. Which brings me to a final feature, USB power. I'm not sure if it's additional capacitors or a chip, or both, but they've worked to eliminate ripple and fluctuations in power to the USB ports to provide constant voltage/currant to USB devices. In the real world, I'm not sure how much this matters, but I like it. It demonstrates continued thoughtfulness bringing features to market that express quality at minimal extra cost.

Cons: Okay, so what didn't I like? As a guy who loves raw power and throughput, having PCIe lanes at x16/x4 vs x16/x8 always has me question if this board will make me happy. This was a big deal in the PCIe 2.0 days, which saw only nominal losses in power but this is PCIe 3.0 and is intended to be largely a single GPU board unless you're an AMD Crossfire person. I'm not and I think your performance will still suffer a bit in a Crossfire configuration being limited to only 20 lanes total in a x16/x4 configuration. But, while I'd like to complain about that, I really can't. It's an H-chipset design trade off at this budget price -- not a choice by board manufacturers. If you really want NVIDIA SLI, unhindered AMD Crossfire, or overclocking, you probably need to stop here and go directly to a Z-chipset.

Any other legitimate gripes?
- All that software (e.g. bloatware). Some of these software offerings are cool (e.g. LED and fan software), but let's be honest, it's overhead that, when running, robs the system of resources and performance. Never been a huge fan but I see the appeal for some. I'd just prefer to do it all in the UEFI-BIOS and call it done (which you can do with this board). And anti-virus that comes bundled? Forget it, trash.
- Finally, if you're going to give us all these garbage software utilities, why not provide a thumb drive vs driver CD, and use one of those utilities to keep that thumb drive updated with the latest so it's always ready to go?

Other Thoughts: I'm super picky about my motherboards. Honestly, I usually prefer other manufacturers and avoid budget boards. But this board demonstrates that Gigabyte has a winner in the budget gaming category. I deducted just one egg for the cons but they were slight. Overall, this is a good and solid board for at a price anyone can swallow.

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GIGABYTE Aorus GA-Z270X-Gaming K5 (rev. 1.0) LGA 1151 Intel Z270 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.1 ATX Motherboards - Intel
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert

5 out of 5 eggs Great board, good price, with lots of little features! 01/29/2017

This review is from: GIGABYTE Aorus GA-Z270X-Gaming K5 (rev. 1.0) LGA 1151 Intel Z270 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.1 ATX Motherboards - Intel

Pros: I really like this board. I won't waste time rehashing all the features but just want to share my experience and likes.

First, and this is rare, I had no significant issues at all getting it up and running. In fact, there wasn't a single blue screen or issue. I just connected everything, fired it up, did an initial BIOS config, and installed Windows 10. Done. Well, I should quite say done as I did spend a lot of time looking at all the BIOS settings -- but let's be honest, that's part of the fun for enthusiasts.

From a tech/build perspective, I like the board layout. It's simple, things are thoughtfully placed, and the design aesthetics shine for their base simplicity. However, it's rare that I find a motherboard I can't complain about due to layout tradeoffs (see Cons below for more). But where this board really shines aesthetically is in the LED layout and header for additional add-on LEDs in RGBW (yes, white, too). The customization in color, zones, and cycling is awesome and really lights up the board inside a case or on a bench. Kudos for low power but thoughtful color integration.

The addition of USB 3.1 Type C coupled with the other USB 3.1 ports provides some nice versatility against standard ports on the I/O panel that should offer years of future proofing for peripherals while the location of the M.2 connections ensure limited interference for 2x SLI setups, which in my mind, is a must for enthusiasts with money to burn. Speaking of powerful GPUs, the metal reinforced PCIe slots add a degree of rigidity and strength so those heavy cards stress the plastic slot less -- a simple and elegant solution -- whether the problem actually exists or not (it isn't something I've ever experienced, honestly).

Another nicety is knowing that with this chipset, I can connect a second HDMI to my monitor directly from the I/O panel so that if something goes wrong with my GPU overclocks, I have a way to still see what's happening if things go horribly wrong. Nothing worse than a GPU RMA with no backup graphics options -- but with this setup, backup video is laying in wait. It's not bad either and capable of pushing 4K in Windows and video playback rather nicely with no notable choppiness, tearing, or performance issues.

While there are a lot of other little customizable features -- none of which I really utilize -- there is one final piece that stands out as noteworthy. When you OC, you need stability. To maintain stability you need to control temperatures. I use a combination of fans and closed-loop water cooling. That means there are pumps, radiator fans, and case fans involved. I like how this board uses modular connections that sense what is connected (e.g. pump vs fan) and several temperature sensors to fully customize the cooling options for both air and water cooled solutions alike.

Finally, this CPU and chipset sip power (less than ~100 watts) and OC reasonably well. It's pretty easy to just pop things in, fire it up, and achieve a stable 4.7 GHz OC. As is, without GPUs and peripherals, etc., at stock speeds, we're talking about less than 100W. That's great. A few short years ago we were talking 140W alone for a CPU. In other words, it does a good job with efficiency while maintaining solid power. The board didn't appear to flinch in testing as power levels remained very steady throughout. Which brings me to a final feature, USB power. I'm not sure if it's additional capacitors or a chip, or both, but they've worked to eliminate ripple and fluctuations in power to the USB ports to provide constant voltage/currant to USB devices. In the world, I'm not sure how much this matters, but I like it. It demonstrates continued thoughtfulness bringing features to market that express quality at minimal extra cost.

Cons: Okay, so what didn't I like? As a guy who loves raw power and throughput, having PCIe lanes at x8/x8 vs x16/x16 always has me question if this board will make me happy. This was a big deal in the PCIe 2.0 days, which saw only nominal losses in power but this is PCIe 3.0 and things hang tough and x8/x8 holds its own and can often exceed x16/x16 setups in graphics processing intensive tasks like ultra detail, high resolution gaming. So, while I'd like to complain about that, I really can't. Besides it's a CPU/chipset design trade off at this mid-point of price/performance -- not a choice by board manufacturers.

Any other legitimate gripes?
- No on-board power/reset with LED debug code. There's a ton of lights on this board already -- you mean they couldn't fit useful buttons and displays? I feel like this was a definite miss for bench testers -- looking cool won out here over functionality.
- All that software (e.g. bloatware). Some of these software offerings are cool (e.g. LED and fan software), but let's be honest, it's overhead that, when running, robs the system of resources and performance. Never been a huge fan but I see the appeal for some. I'd just prefer to do it all in the UEFI-BIOS and call it done (which you can do with this board). And anti-virus that comes bundled? Forget it, trash.
- Finally, if you're going to give us all these garbage software utilities, why not provide a thumb drive vs driver CD, and use one of those utilities to keep that thumb updates with the latest so it's always ready to go whenever you accidentally nuke things on an OC going horribly awry?

That's it, surprisingly.

Other Thoughts: I'm super picky about my motherboards. Honestly, I usually prefer other manufacturers for enthusiast boards. But this board demonstrates that Gigabyte deserves my attention in the consumer mid-range/enthusiast category. I deducted no eggs for the cons because they were slight. Overall, this is a great board for what I want it to do at a price I can swallow.

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Linksys CM3016 16x4 686 Mbps DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem
  • eggxpert iconEggXpert

5 out of 5 eggs Great modem at a good price with hassle free operation. 01/28/2017

This review is from: Linksys CM3016 16x4 686 Mbps DOCSIS 3.0 Cable Modem

Pros: Cable modems are pretty standard fare these days. This one complies with the DOCSIS 3.0 standard and can handle up to 608 Mbps in it's 16 downstream channels and 108 Mbps in it's 4 upstream channels. This should far exceed the needs of the average residential user. I tested this modem on a 75/75 Mbps connection and found total throughput to be about ~83 mbps up and down. Obviously, the limiting factor in this modems potential is not the hardware but my internet plan.

In addition to hardware that exceeds need, setup, like all modems, is incredibly simple. Just plug it in and go. Works with all major cable internet providers. Saves you money on monthly modem rental fees, too, paying for itself in the first year.

Cons: If you're looking for just a cable modem with sufficient capacity to handle any standard residential service plan, this will serve your needs well. Literally, zero issues, zero reboots for 4 months straight. Nothing to complain about.

If you're looking for a wireless access point in combination with your modem, then step up to a model with wifi included so you don't need two devices.

Other Thoughts: I waited several months before posting this review because other noted issues in this product line with overheating and malfunctioning equipment. This modem, with clearance for proper ventilation did not overheat or have any issues at all for over 4 months. I think I can recommend it with confidence.

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Michael P.'s Profile

Display Name: Michael P.

Date Joined: 07/07/06

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