Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme Review

Overall Score: 9.8/10

Pros: Compatible with almost every socket used today, great performance, reasonably priced, quiet

Cons: Not made of copper

 

The Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme (TRUE) is the best heat sink available on the market. If you are into overclocking, and don’t feel comfortable with water cooling, then the TRUE will widen your overclocking range tremendously. I was able to get a Q6600 to 3.6Ghz with this heat sink and fan(HSF). The installation is incredibly simple. I chose to purchase an addition 120mm fan to attach to the side of the TRUE. This thing has so many fins when you look at it you say to yourself, “there is no way that’s gonna fit in my case.” Well, it does….barely. There’s about a half inch clearance in regular ATX mid size cases. It comes with a nickel plated base and aluminum fins. I would have liked to see the whole thing made out of copper at least the base… But, the aluminum does the job well enough.

Bottomline: The best HSF you can buy in today’s market.

 

 

Crucial Ballistix Review

 

Overall Rating: 8.5/10

 

Pros: Outstanding Price, Great for overclockers, Very stable

Cons: Poor rebate, poor customer service, not as high quality as Corsair or OCZ

This RAM is rock solid on my Asus P5K-E motherboard. This RAM is a steal. Grea, high performance RAM for under a hundred bucks…it’s a budget builder’s dream. There’s not much to say about this RAM other than its easy to overclock and extremely stable in the stress tests I’ve run. My only complaint is that the frequency isn’t as high, and the heat spreaders aren’t as high a quality as you would get paying for OCZ or Corsair. But, this RAM makes up for it by being extremely low priced. Crucial seems to be very picky about rebates, so, make sure to do them correctly and as soon as possible.

 

 

 

Antec 900 Review

December 7, 2007

Antec 900 Review

Overall Rating: 9/10

Pros: Outstanding cooling, roomy interior, sexy black finish with LED lights

Cons: No removable motherboard tray, fans are pretty loud at medium and max, dust magnet

Antec might have made the ultimate air cooling case.  At a glance you immediately notice the HUGE 200mm fan that dominates the top of this case.  Next, your eyes are drawn to the large perforated front bezel spaning 9 drive bays and shows off two more 120mm fans.  To round it all up the clear side shows off an additional rear 120mm fan.  Let me just say that with all these fans cranked up to max, this sucker is loud.  There are two things that make the Antec 900 stand out from other so callec “gamer cases.”  First of all, the clearside panel has a perforated aluminum cut out (you can mount another 120mm fan if you must) to allow more air to the CPU.  This is great for overclockers and gamers alike.  Who wants a BSOD in the middle of an intense shoot out in Crysis?  Second, the power supply mounts at the bottom of the case.  This unconventional approach allows for the laws of physics and thermodynamics to go to work.  If you remember from your high school physics class, heat rises.  Mounting the PSU on the bottom of the case allows all of the heat to rise and be sucked out by the massive 200mm fan.  Even if you want a water cooling set up, Antec has accounted for this and cut two holes in the back of the case for your tubing set up.  The tray on the top is very convenient for storing mp3 players, digital cameras, and other peripherals.  Once this thing is up and running, it looks fierce with a flat black finish and blue LED light bleeding from almost everyon opening.    Moving onto the inside of the case.  One of my biggest problems with this case, is that it does not have a removeable motherboard tray.  Not a huge deal, but definitely inconvenient.  All the drive bays feel very sturdy, and the extra slots for fans are sure to keep your graphics card and hard drives cool.  Overall, this case doesn’t disappoint.

EVGA 8600GT Review

December 6, 2007

EVGA 8600GT Review

Overall Rating: 5/10

 

Pros: Directx10, 2 DVI outputs, Vista Compatible

Cons: Poor benchmarks, poor FPS in 3dMark06, preformance/price ratio extremely poor.

Website: http://www.evga.com 

The 8600GT is mainly targeting system builders who wish to upgrade into the 8 series from the 7 series.  Basically, the only reason anyone would want to do this is to be able to run Windows Vista since it require Directx10.  And, that’s about all its good for.   It comes with an SLI, 256-MB DDR3, the new GPU architecture, and RAMDAC.  The 128-mbit memory interface chokes and kills the performance.  If you are interested in gaming DO NOT purchase this card.  I benchmarked Crysis on medium settings and averaged 15fps.   On low settings, the frame rate was playable at around 30-50 fps; but it was just so visually unappealing it wasn’t worth it.  In conclusion, if you are looking for a low profile card that can run directx10 get this.  But, if you want to do ANY gaming at all save up for atleast a 8600GTS or the new 8800GT’s.  You will be happy you did.

Asus P5K-E Review

December 5, 2007

 ASUS P5K-E

 Overall rating: 8.5/10

 

Pros: Userfriendly BIOS, stable, RAID 0/1/JBOD, price

Cons: Not the premium edition, terrible on board audio, no RAID 5

Website: http://www.asus.com

          I received my P5K-E ATX form motherboard in the mail (exceptional shipping time from new egg), and and excitedly popped it in my rig.  First of all, the BIOS is EXTREMELY user-friendly.  If you are new to building computers or over clocking, this is a phenomenal board.  It shipped with all the latest revisions, and didn’t require any updates to run my Q6600.   P35 north bridge chip set from Intel.  I know what you are thinking; it’s not the new x38.  However, this board is a heck of a lot cheaper than an X38 motherboard and offers practically the same performance.  The only difference is a slightly FSB speed(the P35 gets 1333Mhz and the X38 offers up to 1600MHz).  This isn’t a huge deal, especially if the RAM you are using doesn’t operate at that high of a frequency.  One of the main reasons I bought this motherboard is that it will only require a simple BIOS flash to run the new 45nm chips that ship Q1 2008.  The over clocking software that comes with it is a huge let down.  Overclocking is far easier in the BIOS, and ASUS has almost a perfect user interface.  I easily overclocked my Q6600 to 3.0GHz.  It overs 6 3GB/s SATA ports and RAID 0/1/JBOD.   I was a little disappointed ASUS didn’t over RAID 5 with this motherboard.  But, they definitely make up for it by including onboard wireless.  It even shipped with a small coaxial antenna.  The wireless is pretty much useless without the antenna, but I get exceptional signal strength across my house.  Saved me 40 bucks and opened up another PCI slot.  Comes with 6 onboard USB 2.0(backwards compatable of course), 2 eSATA (which come in handy for those external HDD’s), 1 IEEE 1394a, and 7.1 “HD” audio.  As a rule of thumb on board audio is crap.  And this motherboard comes as no exception.  Use that extra PCI slot and buy yourself a decent sound card.  It’s worth it.  This is obviously not an SLI mobo and therefore comes with only one PCIex16 slot, one PCIex4 or x1, 2 PCIex1, and 3 PCI slots.  You should never run out of slots on this motherboard.  It’s extremely userfriendly in that sense.  If you buy a new graphics card or a any new internal peripherals this motherboard is gonna have a slot for it.  Overall, it’s a good motherboard, definitely high quality; but it’s just not the premium version.  There’s less heatsinks, only one PCIex16 slot, and no RAID 5.  But, if you are looking for a relatively cheap (130USD on newegg.com) and reliable motherboard.  The ASUS P5K-E is worth looking into.