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This review is from: MSI Z170-A PRO LGA 1151 Intel Z170 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.1 ATX Intel Motherboard
Pros: Z170 for under $100US? Yes, please! Got it on sale back when they were including the free mouse, and couldn't say no. This is my first MSI product, and my first new motherboard since 2009. Core 2 was so great... Nostalgia aside, this board checked all of my must-haves (which weren't many, and were mostly taken care of by virtue of being Z170) and a couple of nice-to-haves. Understated looks, isolated audio circuitry, M.2, DisplayPort, and a PS/2 port aren't a given, and it's nice to see all of that in the same product in this price range. I particularly appreciated the inclusion of standoff holes in the corners of the overhanging edge. Why do so few models have this simple feature? Aargh. I also really like the programmable fan profiles in UEFI (hey, it's my first UEFI board; I'm easily impressed).
Cons: I had a hard time getting it to accept an OC profile for the RAM. It's currently got an i3 in it, so the locked BCLK probably isn't helping that situation much. A series of fettles and reboots got it to work, but I haven't so far been able to run memory at rated speed with reduced latency, which I've historically been able to accomplish with Mushkin RAM. Haven't tried all that hard, though. On the subject of RAM, I ran into the Prime95 bug, decided to Memtest86 it and got VERY inconsistent results. Different sticks would have different error results on different runs in different slots. One iteration gave me thousands of errors, the next none. No BSODs in normal usage yet, though.
It's this weird shade of brown, for some reason. Pretty minor as cons go, but worth mentioning in case someone's got a window and a color scheme. Others have noted the difficult insertion of the 24-pin connector. YES. A third standoff hole nearby would have helped me feel much better about the force I had to apply. Yikes. Oh, and it naturally doesn't include said standoffs. Not that one would expect it to, but you'll need to provide your own to make use of the thoughtfully provided holes.
There's no HDMI, which makes me think, considering the "PRO" moniker and DisplayPort, that this is a more corporate-oriented SKU. Only an issue if connecting to a TV without a DGPU; don't know how common that use case is with a board like this. Certainly not a real issue for me. USB-C would be nice, as would true Gen2 USB 3.1 and and Intel ethernet. Win7 installation is a mild PITA, given that its built-in USB drivers don't play nice with this controller. Have PS/2 KB/mouse on hand in such a situation.
Other Thoughts: I talk a lot about cons, because I'm a pretty negative person and that sort of stuff sticks out to me, but there's nothing serious to steer a person away from this board. I would absolutely recommend it, particularly against H170 options in the same price range unless there's a specific feature (1150 audio, Intel network, wireless, USB 3.1 Gen2 and/or Type C, HDMI) you need. If the 4-egg rating seems at odds with the review, it's because a product has to REALLY impress me to get a full 5. This one falls just short of "amazing", but slides easily into the top half of "pretty darn good".READ FULL REVIEW
Pros: Low-profile, fanless, 3 of 4 common display outputs. It's honestly pretty snazzy-looking, to boot.
Cons: 2GB of memory is overkill for this GPU and mostly there to pay a few extra bucks for. IMO.
Other Thoughts: You can probably find a deal on a higher-performing card for this card's list price if you look, but with a discount and a rebate it's really hard to beat. Only logical thing that could be improved would be inclusion of DisplayPort, but that's stretching the definition of logical in this market segment and price point.READ FULL REVIEW
This review is from: Seagate Expansion 3TB USB 3.0 3.5" Desktop External Hard Drive STBV3000100 Black
Pros: Cost/TB, USB 3.0 connectivity, Plug-and-play has worked with everything I've attached them to so far (all Windows machines)
Cons: A 1-year warranty seems pretty stingy, considering their bare drives (which get handled directly!) typically get 2 years or more. Wants you to install management software. Doesn't need it, though.
Other Thoughts: Bought 2 3TB models, one for portable storage for an organization I work with and one for my own use. Both still function just fine so far, even with one moving around a lot.
I'd originally purchased my personal unit for image backups for 4 Win7 machines, but the built-in Windows backup mechanism doesn't write system images on a drive with 4K sectors. Other backup software is less picky, plus I went ahead and installed a cheap 512B sector 2TB internal drive for system image storage. More complex system than it needs to be, but I guess it provides some redundancy. Live and learn.