Joined on 04/20/06
The Right Motherboard for the Right Price
Pros: This is the upgraded model of the ASRock Z97 Pro4 I reviewed a couple of weeks ago and just like the Pro4 you are immediately impressed by the feel of the build quality. However, unlike the Pro4, this motherboard is through and through a gaming board, most prominently detailed by its SLI and Crossfire support and the 3x PCIe 3.0 slots. 1. SLI and Crossfire Support. 2. Very good, if not quite outstanding, onboard audio. The highs, mids, and lows all sounded crisp. It easily compares favorably with the Sound Blaster Audigy series. However, if you are an audiophile onboard audio will never compare to stand alone sound cards with their dedicated processors. 3. USB 2.0 and 3.0 headers for those people, like me, still rocking cases that don't have USB 3.0 ports. If you do have a case with USB 3.0 ports, great, this motherboard has the headers you need. 4. Newest Intel chipset, including the newest Intel Ethernet chipset. I'll be honest, I don't notice any difference in Internet performance but it's nice to know it's there. 5. 8 x SATA 6Gbps ports. This is especially important to me. My main desktop uses 1 x SSD for the OS, 4 x HDD for storage/redundancy, and 2 x DVD drives. The motherboards out there that only support 6 SATA ports would always force me to only have 1 of my DVD drives installed. While I openly admit most people, including myself most the time, don't need 2 DVD drives it's a habit having 2 installed that has carried over since 2001 for me and I didn't like it. 6. The mosfets stay nice and cool, relatively speaking. The power plant also seems to be very stable, which is a huge consideration when undertaking any type of overclocking.
Cons: The chassis fan connectors, specifically their placement. I'm going to touch on this in "Other Thoughts".
Overall Review: I7 4770K @ 4.4GHz GSkill 2400 2 x 560Ti Now, regarding the chassis fan connectors. I am a stickler when it comes to my cable management. I want as little of the cabling to show as humanly possible. I am also running this board in a HAF 932 case which has a front intake, side intake, top exhaust and a Corsair H80 on the back that connects to the CPU fan pins. While it does not hinder the performance of this motherboard one bit, I am irritated by the decision to put 2 of the chassis connectors directly in the middle of the motherboard, directly above the PCIe 3.0 slot #1. This means I have to have either the top exhaust fan or the front intake fan cable running directly across the motherboard, even if I attempt to use the built in cable management options afforded to me. I know you're probably asking yourself, "Why does this matter?", and to most people it doesn't. This has been a great motherboard so far. The mosfets stay as cool as one could expect with the Z97 chipset and the performance has been rock solid. However, to me this feels like an oversight in design. I work in an IT industry with many IT fluent colleagues. A desktop PC is more than just a functional collection of hardware for many of us. For some of us, our gaming desktops act as almost symbols of our proficiency, nearly as much as luxury cars act as status symbols for wealthy businessmen. By not putting 2 of the chassis connectors near the edge of the motherboard and instead putting them in the middle, it takes away the cleanliness of the cable management. Not to mention it actually makes it more difficult to connect the chassis fans. I just want to reiterate one last time this takes absolutely nothing away from the performance of this motherboard but in order to receive 5 Eggs you must meet all my expectations, considering the market a particular item is being advertised for.
EggXpert Review ESR900
Pros: 1. Surprisingly strong 5GHz and 2.4GHz radios. 2. Ability to select different regions, thus allowing for a great wireless transmit strength. 3. Exceptionally easy setup, as long as you have Internet access. 4. A wide range of options including, but not limited, to a bandwidth monitor, RIPv2 static routing, DDoS protection, Wake on Lan, Dynamic Wireless Channel Bonding, 8 guest networks and 4 port Gigabit LAN switch just to name a few. 5. Very compact size and mountable 6. Supports both Samba and DLNA so streaming media to your devices is a breeze. 7. The router has a built in IP Camera function but it only supports EnGenuis brand cameras. This does not mean other IP cameras will not work, they will just have to be setup manually. 8. Captcha option when you log into the router. This is a great feature as it helps prevent Brute Force attacks if you enable Remote Management.
Cons: 1. PORT MAPPING/FORWARDING JUST DOESN'T WORK FOR APPLICATIONS. I HAVE A FTP SERVER THAT LISTENS TO A SPECIFIC PORT RANGE. DESPITE MAPPING THAT PORT RANGE, THE ROUTER JUST FLAT OUT WOULD NOT FORWARD THEM PROPERLY. I CAN ALSO VERIFY PORT FORWARDING FOR THE REMOTE DESKTOP PROTOCOL DID NOT FUNCTION AS WELL. THIS WAS VERIFIED ON BOTH MY FTP SERVERS LOG AND WIRESHARK. Please see other thoughts for more info. 2. Internet connection is required in order to complete initial Wizard Setup. 3. USB is only 2.0, not 3.0 4. Does not support Bridging, only Access Point and "WDS". 5. Does not stand vertically, so you must have room to either lie it flat or mount it. 6. FTP Service is enabled by default. The reason this is an issue is because by default it doesn't require a password and allows READ/WRITE access. This means anybody with your public IP address will have full access to any storage media you have plugged directly in the routers USB port. 7. The Wireless Client List shows the connection percentage but not the connection speed
Overall Review: I want to give a simple breakdown of my setup and touch on the port mapping/forwarding issues. I also want to mention the port issues did not impact gaming. I run a FTP server from my home that requires 24 hour access. This FTP server is setup to support passive mode which allows the client to determine the "listening" port of the connection. In order for this to function properly port range forwarding needs to be enabled in your router. This is done on the EnGenius ESR900 with port mapping. When port mapping/forwarding was enabled, packets that were originating outside of port 80 or 443 were not being forwarded to my server. I was able to consistently recreate this issue both on-net and off-net. I was also able to confirm that port 3389, the default RDP port, would not forward properly. It didn't matter if it was setup under the Port Forwarding section or under Port Mapping. Again this was confirmed both on-net and off-net. However, I also run a media server, that is on the same machine as the FTP server. It has HTTP/HTTPS access and port forwarding to it functioned just fine. I had no issues being able to access that server through my web browser. Again this was confirmed both on-net and off-net. I have no doubt this issue will be addressed in a future firmware release but as it stands right now I consider this router to be "incomplete" "Other-Other Thoughts" I currently own a WNDR3700v1, running stock firmware, that I am happy with. I was very surprised to see the ESR900 outperform the wireless capabilities of that router and I was actually looking forward to using the ESR900 as my router. I was also very pleased with how well it handled multiple simultaneous connections. I never experienced any slow down in speed, wired or wireless, while I was using the router. This includes any issues being able to stream Youtube, Netflix, etc. However I did not use the QoS feature as I deem QoS unnecessary if you are not using a VOIP on your Internet connection. This router has more than enough RAM and CPU speed to get the packets where they need to be. I also want to reiterate the massive security flaw in the FTP service being enabled by default, supporting anonymous logins, and giving full READ/WRITE access to anything plugged into the USB port. This is a huge security vulnerability for the end user. Can you imagine hooking up your 2TB HDD to the USB port and going back later only to find out everything on the HDD had been deleted? Last, but not least, I ran the router solid for 4 straight days. At no time did I ever experience any slow down, drop outs, or issues with the router functionality. Part of this may be due to me setting IP Address Reservations for my hardwired PC's and consoles and disabling QoS, which is a CPU cycle/RAM hog. I also disabled the services I was not using, like the built in FTP service. If the Port Mapping/Forwarding functioned properly I would have given this router 4 Eg
Outperformed all my Samsung and Inland M.2's
Pros: Its a PCIe 4 M.2 that performs exactly how you would expect a PCIe 4 drive to perform The mounting screw was still in the box. I don't know why I have such a hard time keeping track of those tiny things.
Cons: According to HWInfo this thing was hitting 57c while I was benchmarking it. My primary PC is a full tower with 2 140mm Noctua intakes, 2 140mm Noctua top exhausts, and 1 140mm Noctua rear exhaust, so its not starving for airflow. I am using FanControl v136 to fine tune my airflow and fan curves, so I have good positive pressure in the case, so I know for a fact its not an airflow problem. Long story short, if your motherboard doesn't have a heatsink, I highly suggest getting a cheap one for this drive. Even if its only for piece of mind. You can find good ones for around $10. As a point of reference for the temperatures, my RAM (G.Skill Trident Z Neo Series RGB 32GB) hits 53.1c under load.
Overall Review: I have to admit I came into this review very biased. I have had a distinct hatred of Crucial going all the way back to the Ballistix Tracer DDR2 days due to their failure to honor their "lifetime warranty". So I came into this review with very low expectations. What I found throughout my testing and benchmarking instead was a M.2 that clearly outperforms every other large capacity M.2 I have in my systems. In a side by side comparison between my 860 EVO, 970 EVO, and Inland Platinum, this drive came out on top. Rather than parrot the review and performance results posted by another reviewer, I will just give some quick numbers taken from AS SSD. Keep in mind these were all tested against the M.2 drives, Samsung has a bad habit of naming their 2.5 drives similar as the M.2 drives. 1. 960 EVO averaged around 2400 sequential read and 1500 sequential write 2. Inland Platinum averaged around 2900 sequential read and 2700 sequential write 3. This drive was consistently over 3500 for both the sequential read and write.
The Definitive Review
Pros: I really wanted to love this laptop when I first got it. I like Asus hardware and they have been a staple in the industry for 15+ years. 1. Price/performance is exactly on par for its hardware and range. 2. I personally love the matte black finish, a transition away from the over the top designs from years past. 3. Very fast boot times. 4. Very little bloatware installed. 5. Has the performance necessary to play most modern games on High and at least Medium settings. 6. Fans are super quiet while idle. You won't be able to tell its even booted.
Cons: As I spent days running it through its paces, more and more "minor" issues kept creeping up, driving the overall score of the laptop further and further down. 1. The monitor is just bad. I have the LG 144Hz version and its NTSC gamut isn't just bad, it's almost embarrassing for a gaming laptop. Whites are washed, color isn't rich or "full", and there is light bleed along the bottom bezel on black screens. This is just not acceptable and I am a big fan of LG screens, owning a LG phone and LG C8 TV. 2. As bad as the monitor is, the wireless card is worse. Mine has a Realtek 8822CE Wireless LAN 802.11ac PCI-E NIC with a maximum link speed of 144Mbps. This is awful for a WiFi card in this day and age. What's worse is the bluetooth. Using multiple different bluetooth capable headphones, they consistently drop and reconnect while sitting directly in front of the laptop. And by conistently, I mean ever 30 - 60 seconds. This is not a "once in a while issue" 3. Keyboard RGB requires having the right software installed, its not by default, and then you are limited to either the default rainbow setting, or red. That's it. 4. The keyboard keys themselves feel cheap and I would not recommend it if you need a laptop that doubles as a workstation, without the use of a separate keyboard. I personally prefer chiclet keys on a laptop, which this is not. Think HP Pavilion keys. Its nearly identical to this laptop 5. Heat levels are a major concern. Both CPU and GPU approach 90c under gaming load. With the CPU getting as high as 87c. The GPU seems to reach a max of 83c, which isn't terrible. But that's with fans full blast. 6. The fans are loud. Louder than any other gaming laptop I've had in the past. I can live with loud fan noise if it keeps my CPU and GPU at or below 80c, but this laptop does not. 7. Heat is dumped out to the right, instead of the back, for what I believe is the GPU. So that means its dumping directly on 70% of the populations dominant hand. if you're gaming and not using an external monitor, you're going to feel it and your hand is going to sweat. 8. Windows Home. Man, Windows Home. This one really annoys me as I hate the Home version and it could be a valuable selling point to include Pro and eat the extra $25 of bulk licensing cost. 9. Battery life. What role is this laptop supposed to fill? If its a gaming laptop, it comes up short. If its a productivity/work laptop, I can't attend a meeting that I'm hosting a WebEx or Teams meeting and be expected to carry my battery pack if its longer than an hour.
Overall Review: When I set out to review this laptop, I wanted to truly put it through its paces. I also wanted to draw a direct comparison to my gaming desktop. My measurement for any suitable gaming laptop is its ability to replace my desktop if I am traveling or it is in use. As I write this review we are locked down due to Covid-19, which means my desktop is in use while working from home or the kids doing their school work, so there was time to really run some tests. I also want to point out the tests below we all ran with the latest BIOS, Drivers, and Utilities installed. Lastly, I want to point out you will want to perform the following actions before every day use. 1. Install all the latest Windows Updates 2. Uninstall McAfee, its garbage. 3. Install some basic tools, 7zip, CPU-Z, GPU-Z, HwInfo, HWMonitor, just to name a couple. 4. Install all the latest drivers and utilities. They can be found here. https://www.asus.com/Laptops/ASUS-TUF-Gaming-FX505DV/HelpDesk/. Please be aware in order to update the AMD package you first have to run the "amdcleanuputility" in Safe Mode. 5. Update the BIOS. This is a risky proposition, but it is advised as the bios installed by default is from 2017. Now on to the actual results. Asus FX505DV Results Ryzen 7 Mobile 3750H @ 3000MHz 16GB DDR4 @ 1866MHz 17/17/17/39 Asus FX505DV BIOS 305 Nvidia 2060 DRIVER 445.75 Micron 2200 M.2 SSD LG Display LP156WFG-SPB2 1920x1080 144Hz Windows 10 Home x64 Build 18363 Performance Test Results AS SSD Benchmark Seq Read: 1626.11 MB/s Seq Write: 1003.61 MB/s 4K Read: 36.21 MB/s 4K Write: 62.24 MB/s 4K-64Thrd Read: 456.36 MB/s 4K-64Thread Write: 802.97 MB/s Acc.time Read: 0.049ms Acc.time Write: 0.139 Total Score: 1935 Unigine Superposition - 19020x1080 Extreme DirectX Min FPS: 21.36 Max FPS: 32.87 Avg FPS: 27.33 GPU Temp Max: 77c Total Score: 3653 Unigine Heaven – 1920x1080 Ultra DirectX 11 Min FPS: 8.8 Max FPS: 136.1 Avg FPS: 75.8 GPU Temp Max: 76c Total Score: 1910 Cinebench CPU: 1715 CPU (Single Core): 384 Borderlands 3 – 1920x1080 Ultra Avg FPS: 43.94 3DMark Time Spy – 1920x1080 DX12 Total Score: 5187 Graphics Score: 5897 Graphics Test 1: 38.14 FPS Graphics Test 2: 34.04 FPS CPU Score: 3084 CPU Test: 10.36 FPS 3DMark Fire Strike – 1920x1080 DX11 Total Score: 12350 Graphics Score: Graphics Test 1: 77.36 FPS Graphics Test 2: 62 FPS Physics Score: 10537 Physics Test: 33.45 FPS Combined Score: 5167 Combined Test: 24.03 FPS Desktop Ryzen 7 1700x @ 3500MHz 32GB DDR4 @ 3000MHz 16/18/18/36 Asus Crosshair VI BIOS 7704 Nvidia 1080ti DRIVER 445.75 Samsung 960 EVO M.2 SSD Dell 2560x1440 144Hz Windows 10 Pro x64 build 18363 Performance Test Results AS SSD Benchmark Seq Read: 2284.69 MB/s Seq Write: 1308.01 MB/s 4K Read: 39.46 MB/s 4K Write: 91.12 MB/s 4K-64Thrd Read: 617.76 MB/s 4K-64Thread Write: 594.77 MB/s Acc.time Read: 0.067ms Acc.time Write: 0.042 Total Score: 1935 Unigine Superposition - 19020x1080 Extreme DirectX Min FPS: 28.8 Max FPS: 48 Avg FPS: 36.22 GPU Temp Max: 72c Total Score: 4842 Unigine Heaven – 1920x1080 Ultra DirectX 11 Min FPS: 27.2 Max FPS: 167.7 Avg FPS: 101 GPU Temp Max: 70c Total Score: 2544 Cinebench R20.060 CPU: 3344 CPU (Single Core): 346 Borderlands 3 – 1920x1080 Ultra Avg FPS: 87.34 3DMark Time Spy – 2560x 1440 DX12 Total Score: 9032 Graphics Score: 9326 Graphics Test 1: 59.02 FPS Graphics Test 2: 54.91 FPS CPU Score: 7667 CPU Test: 25.76 FPS 3DMark Fire Strike – 1920x1080 DX11 Total Score: 16714 Graphics Score: 18946 Graphics Test 1: 89.15 FPS Graphics Test 2: 76.56 FPS Physics Score: 18755 Physics Test: 59.54 FPS Combined Score: 8166 Combined Test: 37.98 FPS In conclusion. This is a average to good laptop overall. But it doesn't do anything particularly well. It doesn't have the gaming type software options installed out the box you expect. It doesn't have Asus Aura installed so you can properly manage the RBG keyboard, just to name one. It also doesn't have any productivity tool licenses you would expect if its intended to be anything more than a gaming/homework PC. Instead it has a trial version of Office that you can get for free from MS anyways. If you are in the market for a laptop you don't have to rely on a long battery life are would like the added benefit of being able to play most games on High and pretty much everything on Medium, you might as well pull the trigger and get something in this laptops price to performance ratio. And this one is a viable option. However, I personally would spend the extra $300 and get something that is going to have a longer viable lifespan as it relates to gaming performance, and hopefully a much better quality keyboard, monitor, and wireless adapter too. Did I mention how bad the light bleed is along the bezel and how much worse the WiFi and bluetooth performance is?
Very Solid CPU Cooler
Pros: -Easy to install in supported cases -Easy to configure using the iCUE software -Fans are very quiet -Pump is quiet but not silent -Great performance at both idle and load testing. Especially with the Quiet profile. -Radiator has good size, allowing maximum cooling efficiency -Radiator hoses feel sturdy while still being somewhat easy to work with.
Cons: I can't find any. It does its job very well and I have ran a ton of tests at it.
Overall Review: For those of you looking into self contained liquid cooling for the first time, there are a few items to consider. 1. Make sure this unit can be mounted in your case. Use the Corsair site to confirm your case is supported. 2. When removing your old CPU cooler, make sure you have isopropyl alcohol and coffee filters to clean the old paste off of your CPU. Put enough on the coffee filter to get it wet and to be able to wipe off the old thermal paste from your CPU. You don't want it so wet is dripping. ***DO NOT REMOVE THE THERMALPASTE FROM THE H100x*** 3. I find it much easier to install if you remove the mothereboard first. Don't be nervous if its your first time, just make sure you aren't working on it on carpet. I personally use my kitchen table. In regards to performance, I have ran it through a battery of tests since installing. Ryzen 1700x @ stock speeds 2x8GB DDR4 @ 3200MHz Corsair 750 Obsidian case with all fans set to silent mode If you really want to test CPU cooler temps, there is no other application better than Intel Burn Test. It works very similar to Prime95 and is compatible with both Intel and AMD CPU's. For temp monitoring I used HWMonitor and iCUE. My first test was using Intel Burn Test, at maximum memory, for 10 passes. It took my system approximately 1.5 hours to completed the passes. -Maximum CPU temperature was 63c as measured by HWMonitor. I did confirm this reading as accurate in AMD Ryzen Master. My second test was an 8 hour run using Prime95 -Maximum CPU temperature was 57c as measured by HWMonitor. Again confirmed with AMD Ryzen Master. I've been building pc's for 15+ years. I've used all kinds of air coolers during that time. I've lapped cpu's and heatsinks as far back as the TRUE 120 and Q6600 days. I've used Noctua coolers. I've used custom built water cooled loops, with radiators, heatsinks, tubing, reservoirs, etc. My experience with this cooler puts it above the Noctua heatsinks but below the custom built loops. It actually performed better than I expected. I fully expected to see temps reach the 70c range, if not higher. For all the new or inexperienced out there, I also want to emphasize how easy it is to work with. I still remember how nervous I was during my first build. My advice to all of you is to take it slow, read and follow the instructions, and make sure the items I listed above are validated and completed.
I Love This Mouse Pad
Pros: 1. This thing is big, like really big. 2. Its the perfect combination of thickness that it's comfortable to work on all day, but not so thick its a distraction during gaming. 3. The anti-slip bottom works surprisingly well. Especially on a glass desk. 4. Aesthetically, the colors are very neutral so you don't have to worry about color clashes with your RGB keyboard and mouse.
Cons: 1. This thing is big, like really really big. It won't fit some desks, not because of the width, but because of the depth. Make sure you have enough space on your desk between the front edge of your monitor(s) and the front of the desk. It's not big enough to set your monitors on as well and it is thick enough that if only a portion of the monitor stand is resting on it, the monitors will lean.
Overall Review: When I first received this item in the mail, I was put off with just how long, wide, and thick it was. As I slowly pulled it out, it just kept coming and coming and I thought to myself "there is no way this is going to fit". But after some readjusting, and repositioning, it slid right in and I've been loving it ever since.