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Manufacturer: Asus

Plus one GTX 670...

Brand new GPU architectures are typically packaged in reference designs when it comes to power, PCB layout, and cooling.  Once manufacturers get a chance to put out their own designs, then interesting things happen.  The top end products are usually the ones that get the specialized treatment first, because they typically have the larger margins to work with.  Design choices here will eventually trickle down to lower end cards, typically with a price point $20 to $30 more than a reference design.  Companies such as MSI have made this their bread and butter with the Lightning series on top, the Hawk line handling the midrange, and then the hopped up reference designs with better cooling under the Twin Frozr moniker.

asus_jd_01.jpg

ASUS has been working with their own custom designs for years and years, but it honestly was not until the DirectCU series debuted did we have a well defined product lineup which pushes high end functionality across the entire lineup of products from top to bottom.  Certainly they had custom and unique designs, but things really seemed to crystallize with DirectCU.  I guess that is also the power of a good marketing tool as well.  DirectCU is a well known brand owned by Asus, and users typically know what to expect when looking at a DirectCU product.

Click to read the entire review here!

Google TV versus Chromecast; is there a difference?

Subject: Cases and Cooling, Systems | August 9, 2013 - 01:34 PM |
Tagged: asus, asus cube, google, google tv, htpc

With the release of the Google Chromecast streaming USB stick it seems apropos to revisit Google's other foray into the HTPC business, Google TV.  Specifically it is the ASUS Cube up for review at Bjorn3D which will be offered as an example.  At less than 5" a side it is a tiny device with HDMI input and output, an pair of USB 2.0 connectors, an ethernet port and a connector for an IR sensor for the remote.  It does have wireless connectivity to help keep down on the clutter if you install it somewhere noticeable.  Inside you will find a 1.2 GHz Marvell Armada 1500 chip, 1GB of RAM and 2GB of user accessible storage.  There are a variety of apps to help you find streams to watch and is certainly easier to set up than a full HTPC.  At $125 is is more expensive than the Chromecast but it is also more powerful, see how in the review.

Bj3DAsus_Cube_07.jpg

"Asus Cube is the device that features latest Google TV OS that want to be part of your living room entertainment setup. With a good design, an unique remote, and $139 price tag, can it push Google TV further where others may have failed? Let’s find out."

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Source: Bjorn3D

ASUS' MeMo Pad HD 7 Is An Affordable 7" Tablet Running Android 4.2.1

Subject: General Tech | August 6, 2013 - 01:28 PM |
Tagged: asus, memo pad hd 7, eee memo pad, mediatek, mt8125, arm, Android 4.2.1

ASUS has released its own spin on a budget tablet with the new MeMo Pad HD 7. An updated model of the original MeMo Pad, the new 7” tablet runs Android 4.2.1 with newer hardware.

On the outside, the MeMo Pad HD 7 features a 1280x800 IPS display, 1.2 MP webcam, and 5 MP rear camera with auto focus. The top of the tablet hosts a micro USB port, microphone, and headphone jack. The MeMo Pad HD 7 measures 7.7” x 4.7” x 0.43” and weighs 0.67 pounds (303 grams). The MeMo Pad HD 7 comes in blue, green, pink, and white.

ASUS MeMo Pad HD 7.jpg

The ASUS MeMo Pad HD 7 is powered by a quad core MediaTek MT8125 SoC clocked at 1.2GHz, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, and a 15Whr battery. Wireless radios include 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and Miracast wireless display support. The device also has two built in stereo speakers with Sonic Master audio technology.

ASUS MeMo Pad HD 7 Colors.jpg

Best of all, the budget tablet is available now with a price of $149. As an even more affordable alternative to the new Nexus 7, the ASUS MeMo Pad HD 7 looks to be a decent device.

Source: ASUS

Overclocked and custom cooled, check out ASUS' custom GTX 650 Ti card

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 1, 2013 - 04:58 PM |
Tagged: asus, gtx 650 ti boost, DirectCU II, factory overclocked

The sub-$200 GPU market is getting crowded which is great for enthusiasts without pockets deep enough to drop $400+ on a GPU as they can upgrade a card now and consider getting a second card some time down the road.  At $175 ($165 after MIR) the ASUS GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost DirectCU II OC 2GB is fully customized with a boost clock of 1085MHz though a stock 6GHz effective on the RAM.  Thanks to the impressive design and cooling of the card [H]ard|OCP pushed those up to 1150MHz and 6.2GHz on the RAM which pushed its performance even further passed the XFX Radeon HD 7790 Black Edition that it tested against. 

h_650ti.jpg

"Today on the test bench for your reading pleasure, we have the ASUS GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost DirectCU II OC 2GB that comes in at the $175 mark. We will compare it to the XFX Radeon HD 7790 Black Edition 2GB to determine which factory overclocked card can run circles around the other."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

ASUS Releases BIOS Updates To Support Ivy Bridge-E CPUs On Its X79 Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards, Processors | July 30, 2013 - 05:00 AM |
Tagged: P9X79, Ivy Bridge-E, IVB-E, bios, ASUS ROG Rampage IV GENE X79, asus

ASUS has released BIOS updates for all of its LGA 2011 X79 motherboards that add support for Intel's upcoming Ivy Bridge-E processors. The update enables enthusiasts to upgrade from their existing Sandy Bridge-E CPU to an Ivy Bridge-E model which adds marginal improvements in performance and power efficiency. Supported processors include the Core i7-4960X Extreme Edition, Core i7-4930K, and the Core i7-4820K. According to benchmarks by Tom's Hardware, the top-end Ivy Bridge-E i7-4960X exhibits up to 30% improvements in performance per watt along with being slightly faster in multi-threaded performance than SB-E. Of course, single threaded performance was shown to be similar to that of Sandy Bridge-E but slower than Haswell.

All of ASUS' X79 boards (including the ROG Rampage, TUF, and P9X79 series) will be getting a BIOS update which will be made available for download on the company's support website or via the individual motherboard product pages. The following chart indicates the motherboard and associated BIOS version number that adds support for IVB-E.

Motherboard BIOS Version Supporting IVB-E
ROG Rampage IV Extreme 4206
ROG Rampage IV Formula 4004
ROG Rampage IV Gene 4206
TUF Sabertooth X79 4104
P9X79 Series 4104

To grab the update, head over to the ASUS support site and type in your motherboard model name to get the appropriate BIOS file.

Will you be upgrading your LGA 2011 rig to Ivy Bridge-E?

Source: TechPowerUp

ASUS Launches ROG Maximus VI Formula Z87 Gaming Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | July 30, 2013 - 03:33 AM |
Tagged: Maximus VI Formula, maximus vi, atx, ASUS ROG, asus

ASUS has officially launched the Maximus VI Formula motherboard which the company showed off earlier this year. This board has extensive IO and other enthusiast friendly features and is a complement to the Maximus VI Extreme that PC Perspective reviewed back in June.

The Maximus VI Formula uses the Intel Z87 chipset and supports Intel’s latest 4th Generation Core “Haswell” processors. The board is is clad in ASUS technology and a red and black Republic of Gamers color scheme. A 8+2-phase DIGI+ III VRM feeds the processor and memory on the board and is cooled by a massive CrossChill heatsink that can air cool the VRMs or integrate into your custom water loop. The LGA 1150 socket is paired with four DDR3 DIMM slots, and the board supports a maximum of 32GBs at 3100MHz. The DIGI+ III VRM uses NoFET MOSFETs, 60A BlackWing chokes, and 10K Japanese capacitors.

ASUS Z87 ROG Maximus VI Formula Gaming Motherboard (2).jpg

An integrated SupremeFX audio chipset, Mini-PCI-E Combo II card (802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0, and a NGFF slot for SSDs), Intel Gigabit NIC, UEFI BIOS, and ROG Armor with SECC back-plate are also featured on this board. The board also supports the company's OC Panel, which is a hardware box that sits outside the case and allows real time overclocking and monitoring.

ASUS Z87 ROG Maximus VI Formula Gaming Motherboard (1).jpg

The Maximus VI Formula further includes 10 SATA 3 6Gbps ports, three PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots (x8+x8 or x8+x4+x4 when in SLI or 3-way CrossFire), and three PCI-E 2.0 x1 slots. ASUS is bundling GameFirst II (QoS that prioritizes gaming traffic), Sonic Radar (visual cues point out direction noise is coming from in games), and ROG RAMDisk software with the motherboard.

ASUS Z87 ROG Maximus VI Formula Gaming Motherboard (3).jpg

Rear IO on the Maximus VI Formula is extensive and surpasses even the Maximus VI Extreme. Port options include:

  • 4 x USB 2.0
  • 6 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 jack (Intel NIC)
  • Video outputs
    • 1 x HDMI
    • 1 x DisplayPort
  • Audio outputs
    • 1 x optical S/PDIF
    • 6 x analog audio

The Maximus VI Formula is shaping up to be a beastly flagship board that enthusiasts should get a lot out of when it comes to features and overclocking ability.

ASUS_ROG_Maximus_VI_Extreme_with_OC_Panel_Extreme_Mode.jpg

ASUS has not provided official pricing or release dates, but postings around the Internet suggests that it will be available sometime within the first half (first or second week) of August for around $310. An ASUS representative on the company's ROG channel stated that "currently the projected price is 300 to 310." You can find the product page with more photos and specifications on the ASUS website.

Source: ASUS

Which came first, phone or tablet? The ASUS 7" Phonepad

Subject: Mobile | July 29, 2013 - 04:05 PM |
Tagged: phablet, asus, Fonepad

Running Android 4.1, aka Jelly Bean, the ASUS Phonepad has a 7" 1280 x 800 display and an Atom Z2420 or Z2460 processor paired with a PowerVR STX 540 for the GPU.  While built in 3MP camera certainly makes this more like a phone Hardware Secrets found it uncomfortable to use as such but for short calls and random browsing they liked the performance and were impressed that for their usage it would only need to be charged every other day.  Due to the size and the lack of support for 4G connections Hardware Secrets recommends that this device be treated as a tablet which happens to be able to make phone calls as opposed to being a phone replacement.

HS_Phablet.jpg

"Is the ASUS Fonepad a 7" tablet with cell phone functions or a cell phone with a 7" screen? Let's try to answer this question in this review."

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ASUS Shows Off FM2+ Motherboards Compatible With AMD Kaveri APUs

Subject: Motherboards | July 28, 2013 - 07:40 PM |
Tagged: hUMA, Kaveri, hsa, fm2, asus, APU, A88X, A55, PCI-E 3.0, mATX

ASUS recently announced two new socket FM2+ motherboards that are compatible with AMD’s upcoming “Kaveri” Accelerated Processing Units (APUs). The new boards are the A88XMA and A55BM-A/USB3 and use the A88X and A55 AMD chipsets respectively. Pricing and availability have not yet been released, but the new boards confirm that users will need new motherboards in order to take advantage of AMD’s next generation APUs (though the new FM2+ boards are backwards compatible with the existing APUs, it will not work the other way around). Both motherboards should be available around the time of the Kaveri processor launch (2H 2013).

ASUS A88XMA Kaveri Motherboard (2).jpg

The AMD A88XMA FM2+ Motherboard.

Both the ASUS A88XMA and A55BM-A/USB3 motherboards come in the mATX form factor. The boards both have FM2+ processor sockets and expansion slots including a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot, one PCI-E 2.0 x1 slot, and one legacy PCI slot. The support for PCI-E 3.0 is new for AMD motherboards, and the extra bandwidth may prove useful for as graphics cards get faster and AMD works on its hUMA and HSA architectures to create a layer of virtual memory that can be simultaneously addressed by CPUs and GPUs. There will still be latency to deal with over the PCI-E bus, but more data can be moved back and forth in the same amount of time.

ASUS A88XMA Kaveri Motherboard Rear IO.jpg

The two ASUS FM2+ motherboards also share the same rear IO options, which include:

  • 2 x PS/2
  • 3 x Video outputs:
    • 1 x HDMI
    • 1 x DVI
    • 1 x VGA
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 3 x Analog audio jacks

The RJ45 jacks are backed by a Realtek 8111G Gigabit Ethernet controller and the audio jacks are handled by a Realtek ALC887-VD chipset. Finally, they also have UEFI BIOSes in common, but from there the two boards diverge in hardware capabilities.

The ASUS A88XMA is the higher-end of the two boards, and features a FM2+ socket, four DDR3 DIMM slots, and six SATA 3 6Gbps ports. It utilizes the AMD A88X chipset which is aimed at enthusiast platforms.

ASUS A55BM-AUSB3 Kaveri Motherboard.jpg

ASUS' A55BM-A/USB3 budget motherboard.

On the other hand, the A55BM-A/USB3 motherboard uses the cheaper A55 chipset. That motherboard features an FM2+ socket, two DDR3 DIMM slots, and six right angle SATA 2 3Gpbs ports. The A55Bm-A/USB3 should be significantly cheaper as a result of the A55 chipset and resulting hardware reductions. In most other respects, ASUS has managed to make the two baords remarkably similar, including aesthetics and basic board layout.

According to Bit-Tech, the two boards are are part of a larger family of boards with the new FM2+ sockets. As such, we should see additional ASUS boards that fill in the gaps between the two models closer to AMD's Kaveri launch. As noted above, ASUS has not provided official pricing or release date information yet.

Source: Bit-Tech

ASUS Launches ROG RAIDR Express PCI-E SSD

Subject: Storage | July 28, 2013 - 11:13 AM |
Tagged: ssd, raidr express, raidr, pci-e ssd, ASUS ROG, asus

ASUS has officially launched its PCI-E based ROG RAIDR Express SSD which was first shown off at CES 2013. The company posted details and high resolution photos on its Republic of Gamers blog on Friday.

ASUS RAIDR Express PCI-E SSD Installed In A System.jpg

The new PCI-E-based solid state drive measures 157 x 120 x 20mm and contains 240GB of NAND flash encased in a sleek metal Replublic Of Gamers themed exterior. Specifically, the RAIDR Express uses 19nm Toshiba synchronous MLC NAND flash and two LSI SandForce 2281 SSD controllers. As such, the drive is actually two SSDs that are placed in a RAID 0 configuration for the best performance. ASUS rates the drive at 830 MB/s sequential reads and 810 MB/s sequential writes. The PCI-E SSD is further capable of up to 100,000 4K random IOPS.

ASUS RAIDR Express PCI-E SSD Chips.png

ASUS has also included what it is calling a "DuoMode" BIOS switch that allows the drive to be used with either legacy or modern UEFI BIOSes. When the switch is in the EUFI position, PCs with the modern UEFI-equipped motherboards can boot up faster.

Beyond the RAIDR Express SSD itself, ASUS includes the following bundled software packages:

  • CrystalDiskMark
  • RAMDisk software
  • HybriDisk caching software
  • SSD TweakIT utility

ASUS is including RAMDisk software that is able to use as much as 80% of system RAM as a virtual drive that can be used to reduce wear on the SSD by using the RAM drive instead of the SSD for writing temporary files and the like. The above mentioned HybriDisk software allows the RAIDR Express SSD to be used as a cache drive for mechanical hard drives up to 4TB in capacity. Users can use the TweakIT utility to manage and optimize the SSD, and the CrystalDiskMark benchmark is being included to allow gamers to run benchmarks on the RAIDR Express to get an idea of its performance.

ASUS RAIDR Express PCI-E SSD.png

Oddly enough, ASUS has yet to release specific pricing or availability. More information along with the full press release can be found on the Republic of Gamers blog, however.

With that said, some sites are reporting that the RAIDR Express will be sold for around 440 Euros, which works out to about $600 USD or $2.5 per Gigabyte. Update: Commentor Roberto has pointed out that the RAIDR Express 240GB is available over in Japan for around 39,980 Yen, or ~$409 USD which is a much more reasonable price. US availability and pricing are still just estimates at this point, however. A bit on the expensive side (if the price is true) for sure, but it is nice to see another player in the PCI-E SSD space and it looks to be a speedy drive aimed at ROG fans and enthusiasts.

Also read: Details on a 120GB ASUS ROG RAIDR Express SSD @ PC Perspective.

Source: ASUS

Google Rolls Out Updated Nexus 7 With Android 4.3 And Better Hardware

Subject: Mobile | July 26, 2013 - 03:29 AM |
Tagged: Snapdragon S4 Pro, qualcomm, nexus 7, google, asus, android 4.3

Google recently launched an updated version of its Android-powered Nexus 7 tablet. The existing Nexus 7 will be discontinued and replaced by three new Nexus 7 SKUs. The updated tablets are slightly thinner and lighter, come with improved hardware specifications, and will come with Google’s latest Android 4.3 “Jelly Bean” operating system.

The updated Nexus 7 features a 7” touchscreen display with a resolution of 1920 x 1200 which works out to 323 pixels per inch (PPI) and front-facing HD webcam on the front of the device. The back of the tablet hosts a 5MP camera and a smooth soft touch cover. A micro USB port is located on the bottom edge. Google has added stereo speakers located on the top and bottom of the tablet.

Updated Google Nexus 7 Android Jelly Bean Tablet.jpg

Internal specifications include a quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor clocked at 1.5GHz, 2GB of RAM, and either 16GB or 32GB of storage depending on the specific SKU. There is no SD card slot on the Nexus 7, unfortunately. Additionally, the Nexus 7 will support 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, Bluetooth 4.0, and Qi wireless charging. Google will have both Wi-Fi only and LTE models, with the latter coming with 32GB of internal storage and a 4G LTE cellular radio compatible with all the major US carriers.

The chart below compares the specifications of the original Nexus 7 to the updated Nexus 7 tablet.

  New Nexus 7 Original Nexus 7
Display 1920 x 1200 1280 x 800
Height 7.9" 7.81"
Depth/thickness 0.3" 0.41"
Weight 11.2 oz 12 oz
Processor Quad core Snapdragon S4 Pro @ 1.5GHz NVIDIA Tegra 3 (4+1)
RAM 2GB 1GB
Internal Storage Options 16GB or 32GB 16GB or 32GB
Wireless Radio Options Wi-Fi (2.4GHz/5GHz), BT, and 4G LTE Wi-Fi (2.4GHz), BT, and 3G/HSPA+21
OS Android 4.3 Android 4.1
Starting MSRP $229 (16GB) $249 (16GB)

Google has continued its partnership with Asus and worked with the hardware company to develop the updated Nexus 7 tablets.

The Nexus 7 will be available in the US starting on July 30. It will be rolled out to other countries over the next few weeks including Australia, Canada, France, Japan, Germany, UK, South Korea, and Spain among others.

The 16GB Wi-Fi only model has an MSRP of $229 while the 32GB Wi-Fi only model has an MSRP of $269. Finally, the Nexus 7 with 32GB of storage and 4G LTE modem will cost $349.

In all, I think Google has another winner on its hands with the updated Nexus 7.
 

Source: Google