Date Joined: 07/22/03
Pros: Simple to use, pure plug and play.
Overall Review: I usually go with Samsung SSD's but decided to save 10 bucks this time. No regrets.
Pros: Fast and dependable.
Overall Review: My older model MB7420 lasted almost five years. I replaced it with this MB7621. If it lasts just as long I'll be satisfied.
Pros: Good size at a good price.
Overall Review: I used this flash drive to download and install motherboard drivers and it performed as expected. It will be used again for the same purpose then kept around for general use. No complaints.
Pros: Good size, good price. Performed as expected.
Overall Review: So far so good. I used this flash drive to create a Windows 10 installation device. It did its job exactly as expected. It will just be kept around as backup Windows media.
Pros: Perfect size and good looks. Excellent quality and value. Good cabling options and plenty of tie-downs. Rubber grommets on the larger cable holes. Ample fan options. Hardware box has all of the hardware individually bagged and includes small zip-ties. The hardware box also includes a socket for tightening the motherboard stand-offs (use it with a phillips screwdriver) which is a nice touch. Case has a centering-stud in place of the center motherboard screw-hole which holds the motherboard in position while you insert the mounting screws in the remaining screw holes. Two hidden trays for 3.5 or 2.5 inch drives. three more hidden spots to mount 2.5 inch drives. There may be a gimmicky option for a third, non-hidden, 3.5 inch drive but I didn't bother to look into that. Comes with a removable solid cover for the top fan locations if you don't need to use them. If you want to install top fans it comes with a top filter panel to replace the solid panel. It also comes with two 3-wire, 120 mm fans mounted one in front and one in the rear. There is room for a third 120 mm fan.
This case comes with two full length filters, one in the front and one in the bottom. They are both removable for cleaning.
Cons: Nothing to complain about. If you want a side window to show off a flashy light show this is not for you. No DVD drive bay for those who want one. Not the cheapest case in this size class but as I said above, it's a good value. Might be a little on the snug size for an ATX build but I used an mATX motherboard so I can't say for sure. I would not shy away from trying it with an ATX mobo. It might also start to get crowded if you are installing liquid-cooling radiators but I can't say since I have never used them myself.
Overall Review: Built into this case for a friend and I was so pleased with it I bought a second one for my next build. It's perfect for my needs. I chose this case for a modest, semi-budget build using an mATX motherboard and a Core i3-8100 CPU. I bought a third fan (I chose a Noctua PWM) and installed it in the rear exhaust position. I moved the stock rear fan to the 2nd front position. If you are not using 3.5 inch drives I believe you can remove the pair of 3.5 inch drive trays to create a little breathing room for your cables down below. This case has sound-deadening material on the inside and mine is running quiet as a mouse. I had no problems building into this case and my 3-fan cooling option seems to be doing a good job.
There is a slightly smaller version of this case if you are sure you will not be using an ATX motherboard in it. The little brother is actually identical except it is about an inch and a half shorter. I knew I'd be using the mATX but I opted for the sightly taller model anyway. I decided the small amount of extra height was a small price to pay for a tad more elbow room inside.
The bottom filter slides out from the front while the front filter takes a little more work. The plastic front fascia plugs into the case with six split-fingered push pins and must be removed to service the fans or clean the filter. It's a little tricky but no engineering degree is needed. Start at one corner (you may have to squeeze and push one on the mounting pins from the inside) and as soon as you get it started use a coin to continue to carefully pry it away from the case along the edges. Once you have done it the first time you may be able to do it all from the outside without removing the side cover.
An excellent case which I don't hesitate to recommend.
Pros: Tiny size, good capacity, very fast.
Cons: None yet.
Overall Review: This was my first M.2 experience. I worried about how to get Windows on to this thing and Googled for advice. Much of the available advice is a couple of years old or more and is already obsolete. I found lots of conflicting advice such as: "Enable CSM", "Don't enable CSM", "Turn off Secure Boot", "Don't turn off Secure Boot", etc. The one constant was that the newer the advice the fewer and simpler were the suggestions offered.
Since my ASUS motherboard is reasonably new (oldest BIOS dated 2-23-2018), and since the mobo manual said nothing about tweaking the BIOS for an NVMe drive (It is a pretty skimpy manual), I decided to place my bets on ASUS . If they saw fit not to advise me on using this drive I probably didn't need any such advice. So I installed the newest BIOS file, restored the "Optimized Defaults" (which included an AMI native NVMe driver), stuck in my Windows USB stick, rebooted and let it rip. My faith was well placed.
ASUS, Samsung and Windows got together and worked their magic. 10 minutes later I was dotting the i's and crossing the t's. Windows had no trouble finding and using this drive. And I had no trouble at all since I just used the Optimized Defaults.
So far I'm loving this drive and I have no problem recommending it.
Pros: No problems, no drama. Has been running very stable now for six weeks.
Overall Review: I coupled this mobo with an i5 9600K and 16 GB of Ballistix Elite RAM. The combination has been great so far.
I updated the BIOS to v.0602 with EZ Flash before loading Windows and it all worked perfectly. I have since updated the BIOS again, to v.0702, and that update worked out well also.
I have been using the ASUS/Intel combination for 20 years now. That pairing has always done right by me.
I did have an issue with the front USB ports on my case. When I went to install Windows via flash drive I ran into some problems and wound up resorting to a DVD installation. Once Windows was installed I started installing drivers form a flash drive and noticed the drive would flicker away and disappear from Explorer at times. I switched the USB stick to a rear panel USB port and had no such difficulty.
Once all the drivers were installed I powered off and removed the front-panel USB cable from the motherboard header and rebooted. I later powered off again, replaced the front-panel USB cable and rebooted. The problem seemed to have resolved itself but after several weeks it has returned. I have no idea if it is a problem with the mobo header or if it is a problem with the cable and front-panel ports on my case (It's an Antec P7 Silent).
I'm betting the problem is with the case's hardware but I'm not losing any sleep over it. The rear panel USB ports seem to work perfectly. I access the USB ports only occasionally but I will miss the convenience of the front panel ports. If I can get Antec customer service to respond maybe I'll try to get them to send me some replacement hardware.
I'm happy with this mobo and I can give it my recommendation.
Pros: Fast, smooth, easy to install. Very stable, no drama. This CPU is a no-brainer.
Overall Review: This is my first i5. My last computer used an i7 3770K. I wanted another i7 but after doing my homework I couldn't find any justification in my case for spending an additional $120. I'm happy I chose this one.
I paired this CPU with an ASUS Prime Z390-A mobo and 16 GB of Ballistix Elite RAM. After six weeks of use the combination has been terrific. There was something of an issue at first as the CPU seemed to be running at its higher frequencies (4100 MHZ-4600 MHz) all the time but after a second mobo BIOS update and a big Windows update (v.1709-v.1803) the system seems to have settled in nicely. The chip now idles at 800 MHz when not under a load and its CPU fan slows down to 400-500 rpm @ 32-34 degrees C. When more output is asked for it is instantly back up over 4000 MHz.
I added a Noctua NH-U9s cooler and it seems to be working well with the i5. After a gaming session the CPU temperature is up around 57 degrees C, give or take, but I haven't seen it any higher yet. It then cools gradually back down to below 35 degrees C.
I have no complaints and no reluctance to recommend.
Pros: Light weight and compact. Works fine and it's a good deal at the price.
Cons: The mouse is too basic and I don't like wired mice in general. But it makes a good spare mouse.
I prefer low-profile chicklet keys.
Overall Review: Bought this keyboard for my backup computer and it does a good job. It's a good deal at the price. I consider the mouse as strictly an emergency backup. I prefer the Logitech M510 mouse and use one all the time.
Pros: Priced right. Handsome, no-nonsense case, not at all flashy.
Cons: I would have liked to see grommets around all cable holes. It is nice to have the two hidden SSD mounting spots but I don't like their placement: too close to the motherboard ports. Unless you get some very short SATA cables (2-3 inches) you will have to bend your cables and fold them into place. I would prefer the case come with PWM fans. I found it a little odd there is no HD activity light.
My biggest gripe is that I never did get the I/O shield to fit properly. I swear, I must have spent t total of 1-2 hours trying to get it into the opening snugly around all four sides and just couldn't do it. It couldn't have been my fault, it's just not that hard of a job. I could always get three corners and edges into position but never all four. I finally chose the edge I wanted to leave partially seated and had to apply a little extra pressure to the motherboard to get it to line up with the mounting holes. No biggie in the end, I finished the build, it all works, and one short edge of the I/O shield is not 100% seated.
Overall Review: ASUS Prime Z390A motherboard.
Core i5 9600K CPU and a Noctua NH-U9S CPU cooler.
2x8GB of Ballistix Elite RAM
I used an nVidia 1070 Ti video card.
I bought two 140mm Noctua PWM fans for the front and a Noctua 120mm PWM fan for the rear exhaust.
I added nylon fine-mesh Silverstone fan filters to augment the case's so-so filters.
At idle, the CPU runs at 32-33 degrees C with the fans running at about 300-400 RPM so cooling is not an issue at all. When gaming, the CPU runs up to the high 50's C with the fans spinning up to 800 or so RPM so heat is not a problem there either.
I like this case and I would use it again.
Pros: It's nice and big. The display is smooth as silk and looks gorgeous. It arrived in good condition and there are no dead pixels.
Cons: My only complaint is that I am having to adjust to the higher resolution and the resulting smaller size of icons and text.
Overall Review: Web pages are easy enough to resize and I went into the Windows settings and boosted the text size. The only problem is that a couple of my apps do not provide for increasing text size but it's a small price to pay for the beautiful display.
I have only been using this monitor for two weeks but so far I am very happy and I have no regrets. I recommend this monitor.
Pros: Does what is is supposed to do and it does it quite well. My ISP has boosted my Internet to a rated 200 Mbps and I am squeezing every ounce of that out of them. I am getting smooth and consistent speed results as high as 240 Mbps depending on the time of day.
Overall Review: Would buy this item again. Very pleased.
Pros: (Campaign) Good graphics, great action. Lots of fun.
Cons: Way too short. Other than fighting WW2 battles, there is no coherent storyline.
Overall Review: I wish there was some hint of a comprehensive storyline. Modern Warfare benefited from and this one could have used a little something like that. But I enjoyed it and will play through it again from time to time.
Pros: Does what I expected it to do. I fire it up, choose an app to run, and listen to exactly the music I want to listen to whenever I want to listen to it.
Cons: First, I have to say the speakers are not the best. There is no bass to speak of, no real bottom to the music.
Second, an embarrassing quirk is that I have found two spelling errors in the menus. I can accept a spelling error in the ad copy or the printed instructions but not in the device's built-in menus. Should not happen. Ever.
Overall Review: I would buy this device again despite the shortcomings. As I said at the start, it does what I expected it to do.
ATC, I suppose you could buy a nice speaker for your existing smartphone, install the music apps on the smartphone, and you can duplicate what this device does, if that is what you prefer, and maybe you can improve the sound quality.
But if you prefer simplicity this device supplies that. At bedtime I fire it up, choose a music source, and lay down to sleep. And that is why I bought it.
Pros: Been using this card for 5 weeks now with zero problems. I have no interest in the LED lights so don't ask. I skipped the CD that came with it as I always do with my video cards and went straight to the latest nVidia drivers from the nVidia Website.
This card has performed very well. I would buy it again and I recommend it.
Pros: Excellent good looks, excellent size for a micro-ATX build, light weight. I bought it on sale and got a Corsair rebate to boot. I got the rebate from Corsair in 4 weeks.
Cons: Don't count on removing the front fascia often and the instructions for doing so are a joke. The fascia is plastic and is held on by 6 plastic push pins. Those pins are thick and split in the middle to apply the holding power as they squeeze in then spread once in place. I had to pinch them in from the back to get them out because I feared just pulling on the fascia might break it.
There is plenty of room for your cabling inside but no help for cable routing. It's a narrow case with no cable room behind the side panels and there are no hooks or tie-downs.
Overall Review: I paired this case with a micro-ATX mobo and a Corsair RM650x power supply. A modular PSU is a very good idea so that you can install only the cables you need to save cabling room. There is room for an ATX mobo but I would prefer a roomier case for the bigger mobo, especially if planning to use expansion cards and definitely if planning dual video cards.
I decided not to use the included fan controller so I simply removed it altogether which eliminated a bundle of wires. In the front I swapped the included fan for a Corsair AF120 I had on hand. The included fan then was moved down to the lower front spot. That lower fan location is inside the fascia but mounts on the outside of the front case wall, not inside the case itself. I left the third fan unconnected until it is needed. So far I do not need it. My mobo has two case-fan headers and ASUS AI Suite 3 seems to control them nicely.
I have a full sized video card and a Core i3 (Skylake) CPU with stock cooler. This system runs whisper quiet and every time I check the temperatures they are under 40 C. The i3 will idle down just below 30 C at rest so the case's ventilation seems very good. That might change if you were using a more powerful CPU and gaming a lot.
Other than to install a third fan there is no reason to remove the front fascia. There is a minimal air filter built in to the fascia and it can be cleaned from the outside. Beneath the power supply is a better (finer mesh) filter that is removable for cleaning.
This case is quite light and is noticeably lighter, fully built, than a Dell Optiplex 760 Small-Form Factor machine.
The power button does not inspire confidence but I'm sure it will be fine. It does not have a positive "click" when you push it but oddly, the Reset button right next to it does have a decent "click" to it, and they seem to be exact twins otherwise.
I really like this case. I would buy it again for a Micro-ATX build and I recommend it for that purpose.
Pros: Loaded with features, Z170 chipset with DDR4 support, full speed M.2 slot,, SATA Express, Intel LAN, compact size.
Price is reasonable.
Cons: I would gladly give up the PS2 ports for another pair of USB3 ports. Not sure why we need the LPT and COM headers on the motherboard. The 4 PCIe slots seem a bit cramped.
Overall Review: Since this board and the Z170 are so new I was concerned about having the latest BIOS so I opted to flash up to the latest BIOS file before installing the operating system. I used the EZ Flash 3 tool from within the UEFI BIOS after putting the new BIOS file on a USB stick and the update flash turned out fine. I was a little worried when it decided to read the file a second time before finishing but that seems to have been normal. I had BIOS v.0505 (newest at the time) before installing the OS.
I installed a double-wide video card that covered the neighboring X1 PCIe slot, which I expected, but the card is so close to the next X1 slot (slot #3) I might not be able to use that one either. A card there may interfere with the airflow of the fans on the VGA card. I could use that third slot to install a USB3 adapter if I need more USB3 ports.
This is my first mATX mobo so I'm not sure if all of them are as cramped as this one. Maybe this is normal, or maybe my video card is a little thicker than others, but if you plan on installing additional PCIe cards you might want to go up to the full ATX sized board.
We've been using this system for three weeks now and it has been running perfectly. This system boots a tad faster than my 3 yo Core i7-based machine (Sabertooth Z77) and runs just as fast in everyday tasks. Though it lacks the horsepower of the i7 for gaming it was built mainly for heavy Web surfing, watching videos, and doing a little audio work (yeah, it's a little overbuilt but I had an eye toward a little light gaming for it in the future).
I would buy this motherboard again and I would recommend it to others.
Intel i3-6100 (Skylake) CPU
Crucial DDR4 2133 RAM (2 x 4GB) (their standard, no-frills RAM)
Samsung 850 EVO 500 GB SSD
WD Black 1 TB HDD
EVGA GTX 950 video card
Corsair RM650x power supply
Corsair Carbide 100R Silent Edition case
Windows 7 HP 64-bit
Windows Experience Index = 7.4 (CPU score was the low number, all others were 7.9)
Pros: Reliable, dependable RAM. Online compatibility tool.
Overall Review: I've been buying Crucial RAM for about 15 years now and I have always found it to be reliable. I use their online compatibility tool on the Crucial Website to find the right RAM for the application and it has always worked out well.
This particular RAM is their standard, basic RAM. I chose it for a build for which I wanted the simplest, most reliable components. It is for an ASUS Z170M-Plus motherboard. DDR4-2133 is the native RAM for this motherboard and it has worked perfectly for about three weeks now.
I would buy this product again and I recommend it to others.
Pros: Compact size. Decent performance. Inexpensive.
Cons: None, really. It is what it is.
Overall Review: Bought this for an upgrade of an older Intel LGA 775, Core 2 Duo machine. This is an HP Pavilion with only a 250 watt power supply so we needed a low-power VGA. This one is working well for this machine and is a big upgrade over the stock, onboard graphics.
Would buy again for this application.
Pros: Fair price. Reliable quality. Good performance.
Overall Review: Been using Crucial for 12+ years and never regretted it. Bought this RAM for an upgrade of an older Intel LGA 775 mobo and it worked perfectly right out of the box.
Would buy it again.
Pros: Appears to be very of good quality. Got a very fair price (on sale plus rebate)
Cons: It's a pretty big card so check your dimensions before you buy. It's listed at 10.1 inches long and it's also fairly thick.
Overall Review: My case has plenty of room for the length, and I knew it was a 2-slot card but I still found it a little thicker than expected. It covers the adjacent X1 slot which I expected, but I did not expect it to come so close to the second X1 slot too. I'm concerned that installing a card into that third slot might put the back of that card in contact with the video card's cooler shield or at least interfere with the air flow from the VGA fans. My mobo is a Micro-ATX so it might be slightly more cramped than a full ATX.
This card appears very well made and has worked perfectly for two weeks now with the latest nVidia drivers.
It came with a layer of that protective plastic film over the cooler shield which was more extensive than I expected. After peeling off what I thought was all of it I found even more so check it closely.
I am unable to report on gaming performance because it was built for my SO who does little more than heavy Web surfing and video watching. As expected, this card is meeting her needs easily and I think it will do well in all but the more demanding games.
I would not hesitate to buy this card again.
Pros: 500 GB. Fast. Great reputation. Got a very fair price. Worked perfectly right out of the box.
Overall Review: This went into a new machine and has been running perfectly for two weeks now. Installed the Magician software which seems to do a good job and reported the drive was reading and writing at 500 MBps.
This is the third Samsung SSD I have used and all three have been just fine. The first one, a 256 GB 830 EVO, just started its 4th year.
Pros: Good price to performance ratio. Latest technology. Fast CPU. Runs fairly cool.
Cons: Doesn't have the extra cores and horsepower of its big brothers.
Overall Review: I think this chip holds its own in everyday tasks and light gaming. It runs at 3.7 GHz and feels very peppy. I chose this chip for this build because the user is not a gamer. She does some serious Web surfing, email, some audio stuff but not much more. This was a perfect choice.
I paired it with an ASUS Z170M-Plus mobo, 8 GB of DDR4 2133 RAM, a very nice GTX 950 video card and Windows 7 x64. The result is a very satisfactory computer that weighed in at just under $900. and will likely perform just fine if used for light gaming if I can get my hands on it.
I installed the stock Intel cooler with its stock thermal paste and the chip is running in the low 30's at idle and I have not seen it hit 40 degrees yet though in truth I also have not pushed it at all yet.
I am quite satisfied and I would buy this CPU again for this purpose.
Pros: Reasonable price. Easy to use. Does a good job.
Overall Review: Bought this for an installation of a Core 2 Duo E6700 CPU with a stock cooler. I used no more than a grain of rice, maybe less, on each contact surface of the CPU and cooler. Then I used a razor blade to literally paint the Arctic Silver 5 over those contact surfaces of the CPU and cooler. I don't care for the dollop-in-the-middle-and trust-it-to-smear-evenly technique. Right or wrong it worked just fine with zero chance of excess oozing. The CPU is running cool as a cucumber.
Pros: Got a very fair price on sale. Fastest mechanical hard drive I've used. No unexpected noise. 5 year warranty.
Cons: None so far.
Overall Review: This drive is serving in a new system as a backup drive to a 500 GB SSD. I'm in my second week now with this drive and it has been very fast for an old-tech hard drive and makes little noise. I am very satisfied.