EDIT (8-8-14): I upgraded to two 8GB sticks of DDR3-1600 Ballistix RAM from Crucial. As of today, I no longer have the Tactical Tracer RAM.
EDIT (9-9-15): I upgraded from the original 250GB Samsung 840 EVO SATAIII SSD to a 500GB Samsung 850 EVO M.2 SSD. The description now reflects my long-term review of said parts.
Ridiculous just called; they wanted to know how I managed to cram so much performance into such a small box.
3 Minutes 2 1mpact is built to be a heavy-duty LAN/home gaming machine as well as a development and A/V rendering machine.
Everything except for the R9 290 was bought at Microcenter; all prices are pre-tax, which adds an additional 9.75 percent. All pictures were taken from my Nexus 5 potato.
PARTS REVIEWS REFLECT MY EXPERIENCE AS OF 9-9-15
Future plans: if I were to go full ham, I'd look at fitting this thing with a full liquid cooling loop. Otherwise, I think this is about as good as it's gonna get.
This is the first Intel product I've had since the days of LGA-775, and since then I've been dabbling with AMD's Deneb and Vishera products. It's worked out well for the thirteen months I've had it, and with more software becoming parallelized (DirectX 12, Vulkan, etc) it'll certainly hold its value over the years. I don't think I'll be getting another Intel product for another 5-8 years - at least, at the current rate they're making improvements.
For everyday usage, however, it feels no different than the FX-8350 it replaced, so I would recommend this to people who do more than play games (like audio/video editing or coding) but still want to stay on somewhat of a budget.
I've had this for thirteen months and is my first AIO liquid-cooling product I've had. I've got it set to Performance mode, so the fans are fairly noticeable - especially if you're in a room with a high ambient temperature (80F/27C). It keeps my 4790K @ 4.4 at around 80C in a worst-case real-world situation, and considering it's in a mini-ITX build that's pretty good.
I'd recommend this to anyone with a mini-ITX case that has room for one (ex: CM Elite 130), or for someone who didn't have the room for a big air cooler and wanted to do some serious overclocking.
This is a very busy board. It's impressive how much shenanigans Asus has put into a 6.7" x 6.7" square: full 8+2 power phasing using quality components, mPCI-E + M.2, a dedicated sound board, plenty of USB ports, and all the fun ROG features you could ever hope for. It's a fantastic foundation for anyone wanting to make a big impression in a small package. I was even luckier to have picked this up as part of a clearance sale, with the only thing wrong being the bent HD Audio headers on the sound card that was very easy to fix.
My only caveat was getting it to work properly with the 4790K. At first, Prime95 would cause Windows to crash even on failsafe settings; after updating to the latest BIOS, I was able to push my 4790K to 4.4GHz.
They aren't anything special, but they get the job done. Nowadays, they're dirt-cheap, so if anyone is looking at 16GB of DDR3 RAM consider a pair of these things.
So far, it's living up to its expectations as a Samsung device. My Maximus VI Impact saw it immediately, and cloning nearly 40GB of data from a 250GB 840 EVO using Clonezilla took less time than it did to go through the menu selecting options. It's also surprisingly small; it's about the width of a SATA power cable and 2/3 the length of a typical 2.5" hard drive/SSD. For anyone with a SATA-standard M.2 slot, I highly recommend this.
As a lone drive, it's great but there are less expensive options out there, but for anyone wishing to build a NAS (as they have been designed for) these are good drives. They run cool and quiet, and I haven't had any operating problems with it for the last thirteen months . I've always used Western Digital hard drives in my systems, and this is another reason why.
I don't ever recall having a piece of hardware I was more impressed by than this R9 290. Sure the architecture is dated compared to the competition, being merely a tweaked and upscaled product from the original HD7000 series, but for a GPU architecture that's been around for nearly three years I'm impressed it's been competitive with the newer offerings from the competition, even if it isn't as fancy or "trendy".
That being said, aside for some terrible console ports, I can't recall any game made in recent days that this card hasn't been able to exceed at least 45 fps at 1080p. I didn't buy it with 1080p gaming in mind, although it's nice to know having 4GB VRAM means almost anything at 1080p won't suffer from stuttering.
If anyone is looking for a gaming mini-ITX case, please consider this. It may not look fancy, but one may be surprised by how much can be crammed into it. Any modern graphics card can fit inside (my R9 290 is about 11.5 inches in length but there's a good inch or so before the USB3/audio cables start interfering), as can any AIO liquid cooling system (ex: Corsair H80i).
However, be careful about where you're routing cables, as it's extremely difficult to plug most things in once a power supply enters the equation. Either buy a nonmodular power supply with the bare minimum or buy a modular power supply with the option of a 'short cable' set.
It keeps a 4790K, an R9 290, an SSD, a HDD, and an AIO cooler powered adequately. However, I would not recommend this in a mini-ITX case with inadequate cable management (ex: Cooler Master Elite 130).
Is it a good product? Yes. Does it warrant its $80 price tag? No. Games, movies, and music sound very good and the mic is decent for an analog gaming headset, but it's definitely not $80 good. $50, maybe.