In case anyone’s curious, I picked this up to replace my mother’s ancient desktop. I was “happy” with the purchase as-is, and after doing some upgrades that probably voided the warranty, I’m “very happy” with the purchase.
The screen is quite nice, big and bright, the touchscreen is convenient, the DVD drive is kind of flimsy. I don’t use it though, so I don’t really know what to tell you except that it’s a side-mounted tray dvd drive.
The CPU is plenty fast, 8GB of ram is good, but the system is dramatically bottlenecked by the hard drive.
Windows 10 is pretty solid. I didn’t have much trouble updating (although I did need to reboot midway through the process a couple of times because it wasn’t willing to proceed without a restart and wasn’t willing to prompt a restart on its own, which sucks but seems pretty par for the course on win10 computers at the moment). Rule of thumb: if it goes an hour without updating, give it a reboot.
The installed software is kind of meh. I removed everything except the ASUS manager and components apps (since it’s the most convenient line to asus driver updates). Then I activated windows defender, added malwarebytes, gimp, some video editor or other, vlc, libreoffice, etc.
My mom also likes having photos show up in the desktop slideshow but in win10 it’s limited to one source folder (no subfolders) and an update only every minute at the fastest. That’s super slow. Luckily, I found a little shortcut script online to pull up the Win8 desktop slideshow utility so that it could search subfolders in the source photos folder and would cycle much faster.
Finding that mechanism was kind of arcane, so here’s the process. It’s going to look really scary, but this is the text that does it:
rundll32.exe shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL desk.cpl,@desktop
Put that in a shortcut (Right click on desktop/folder, new->shortcut, then paste that text into the shortcut) and run it, and the win8 utility will appear.
Warning: this will probably void your warranty, so maybe don’t do it.
Still here? Cool. Spinning hard drives are a waste of cpu/ram power on modern PCs, so I took the back off of this machine and swapped out the HDD for an SSD. It was “fine” before, but now I’d call its performance “very nice”. It can do anything that isn’t 3D gaming. Bear in mind that the HDD is 1TB and there isn’t room for another drive, so your SSD is the only internal drive you’re going to have. The machine has extra usb 3.0 and 3.1 slots though, so with a sata-to-usb3.1 (type a) or 3.0 connector you could have an external data drive that runs about as fast as an internal drive.
In case you’re trying to do this upgrade too, there are four rubber tabs on the corners with screws behind them, and two additional hidden screws underneath the dvd drive (which needs to be open to access them).
Those hidden screws are both really tiny and hard to get to. One of them you can get by just sort of pushing the open DVD tray out of the way a bit, and the other requires you to have a very small screwdriver so that you can thread through one of the circular holes in the dvd tray. Once those 6 are off, you can pull the back panel away from the screen. It’ll sort of snap away.
The dvd tray is attached to the back panel, so don’t worry about tearing it off when you pull the panel away. It’s only attached via a couple very small but long cables, so you can thread the back plate off and down the stand. (Or up the stand, if you have the monitor screen-down like I did.)
Then you can remove the HDD and put in an SSD. Mine came with a little shim that helped it fit, and I managed to kind of wedge it in there and use some of the warranty tape I found inside to “secure it” to the case again. It’s kind of flimsy, but I’m not planning to move it a lot so it should be fine.
The HDD cage can come off entirely or you can put it back on over the SSD for … structural integrity? I dunno. It’s kind of superfluous when it’s mostly empty.
I didn’t look very hard, but didn’t see a lot of room or connections for anything besides a hard drive swap. I guess more ram would make sense for some people, but 8GB of ram was enough for what I wanted the machine to do. Maybe someday soon there will be usb 3.1 external graphics cards too. You’ll have to figure that one out for yourself. Good luck!
Last thing: Backup:
I hooked up the removed internal drive as a backup drive for the machine using windows file history. It’s just sort of sitting bare on the desk, but that adds to the mystique, I think. You could get an enclosure if you wanted, or a dedicated external drive, but I had a spare drive adapter kit so I just used that.
Thanks for reading!