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This review is from: MSI H81I LGA 1150 Intel H81 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Mini ITX Intel Motherboard
Pros: I bought this board as well as an Intel Pentium dual core processor in order to upgrade our media center PC-- we were having trouble with some of the online video streams we watched being slow and glitchy. This board combined with that CPU resolved that. We also watch movies ripped to our NAS on this thing-- Blu Ray, DVD, and everything. I've also installed a USB slim DVD player, and it plays movies from that very well, too. Runs smoothly.
Our TV runs off of HDMI. Haven't had any problems
Also, this board combined with the CPU, an SSD, and eight gigs of DDR3 RAM makes the startup time for Windows 7 extremely fast.
What's more impressive to me is that I've been able to run all our emulators on this thing. I know it has more to do with the CPU than the board itself, but we're able to run graphics as high as GameCube (Twilight Princess and such). I haven't tested Wii games yet. But this little thing's integrated graphics do pretty well-- no glitches or slowdowns at all.
This board has been solid for about a year, and it's one of the best purchases I've ever made.
Cons: Um... I don't know. Maybe built-in bluetooth. I guess it'd be nice to have more USB ports, but really we've enough for the USB DVD drive, bluetooth dongle, and four USB game controllers.
Other Thoughts: I have two MSI boards-- this one and another one about seven years old by now, and both have been really great boards. So far, I rate MSI and ASUS among the best system board manufacturers.READ FULL REVIEW
Pros: This was the best deal I could find for a powerful mobile workstation with this size of screen and full keyboard including 10-key. I think I actually got this via Newegg Flash and saved an extra $60 or something on it-- gotta love that. ASUS has always made good products, and I've always been pleased with them. This is no exception. I constantly run all your basic office applications on it with dozens of tabs open in Google Chrome. I also use this with the Adobe CS6 suite when on the run, and it works great. This is also good for most games, though hard-core guys, of course, will want something much more expensive.
Cons: Didn't actually come pre-installed with Windows 8. Came with a weird note saying I had to download it or something, if I recall. This isn't a big con for me, though, because I have archived copies of all the versions of Windows. For someone with less tech experience, though, this would be a con. Could be because I purchased this through Newegg Flash.
The top and bottom pieces of plastic that hold the chassis together were slightly loose on the left side where the power cord plugs in. It hasn't gotten worse, and I decided pretty quickly that it wasn't worth the hassle of returning the machine for a replacement. It hasn't really been an issue.
Other Thoughts: I actually removed the two terabyte drives and installed an SSD and another smaller drive. This machine flies with the SSD.
Also, I'm running Windows 10 preview on this now. Runs great. No complaints now that the stupid metro interface isn't there by default and the start menu is a start menu again.
Pros: Bought this for a combined web/mail/media/whatever server. Hardware and software-wise, it is one of the best, all-encompassing, easiest to use, most customizable products I've used.
I've rarely seen processor usage go above 30%-- and remember that I'm running various servers on this thing. It's usually at 0% and will jump up to maybe 10% with heavy internet traffic or while transferring data to clients. RAM seems to sit between 25%-30%, though if I start running other packages on it, I've hit 40% (I did upgrade the 1GB module to 2GB, though, which is also relatively easy and is very stable).
The speed of this thing astounds me. With an SSD for my web services and package installation drive and three 1 TB WD Red NAS drives in a RAID 0 array for my media and backup drive, I've been able to pump data out of its ethernet ports (both of them set up into a 2Gbps dual-link) at 209 megabytes per second. I never pump that much data at once under normal circumstances, but that was pushing it to its limit. You'll have to have an enterprise-grade switch to set up dual-link aggregation, of course, but even before I set that up, I got full gigabit speeds out of this thing. It's a beast, and you won't be sorry using it as your media server-- I don't store any of my movies or music on any local machines anymore. It's all on the NAS.
The array of available packages is amazing. There are plenty of Synology-developed packages that run great. Then there are dozens and dozens of community-developed packages to give you even more options.
I easily set up a free SSL certificate (NOT self-generated) for my website from StartSSL).
The Linux-based software is quite malleable. I've set up quite a few customizations of my own that help run things the way I need for my applications.
These are not power hungry! I think mine runs at 40 watts max. That's less electricity than my gigabit switch. Heck, that's less electricity than most of the light bulbs in my house.
I use a second one of these at work as a security camera server and an intranet site server.
Cons: Mail server package is a little convoluted still. It works, but it could be better.
You'll have to be fairly tech-savvy to set up a website and be able to have it accessible from the outside world (meaning not just on your local network). That's just the nature of it all, though.
Wish it had more USB ports. I knew what I was getting into, of course, but it'd be nice.
While the Linux-based OS is definitely able to be molded to your needs, it's been customized internally so that it's different than all other distributions, which makes researching how to do a certain task or doing a certain task that works on 90% of other Linux distros a little more difficult.
Other Thoughts: Just get one. It's completely worth it. I really want one of their 12-bay ones. Just to have it. Ahh.READ FULL REVIEW