Subject: Motherboards | June 6, 2012 - 08:12 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: zeus, wolverine, power phase, motherboard, dual gpu, concept, computex, asus
ASUS has a history of showing off crazy high-end concept motherboards that are not likely to come to market but may help influence future motherboard products by getting the creative sparks of innovation flowing in engineers’ minds.
At this year’s Computex 2012, Asus showed off two concept motherboards that it is calling Zeus and Wolverine. While Zeus tackles Thunderbolt and integrated GPUs, Wolverine approaches the problem of getting clean power to the CPU by pushing the limits of the number of power phases that can be integrated into ATX-sized motherboards.
You will notice on the Zeus motherboard that the bottom of the board holds a bank of two 8 pin and two six pin power connectors. The two eight pin connectors are labeled VGA 1 and VGA 2 while the two six pin connectors are labeled VGA 3 and VGA 4 respectively. At first this seems like a regular X79 chipset (socket 2011) based motherboard with giant heatsinks for overclockers. After doing a double take (at least I did), you will notice that the board has no PCI-E connectors!
Instead, the board has a large heatsink, and under that heatsink are two GPUs in CrossFire configuration. Tech Power Up believes that the GPUs being used are two AMD 7800 “Pitcairn” series mobile graphics cards in CrossFire configuration. While the desktop variants are fairly low power, they would need active cooling or a larger heatsink, which I think is what lead them to consider that ASUS may be using mobile-class cards. Reportedly, ASUS did not create this board to suggest GPU integration, but to show off dual Thunderbolt ports on an X79 motherboard.
Connectivity on the board includes a socket 2011 CPU, eight DDR3 DIMM slots, ten SATA connectors, (and on the rear IO panel) a WiFi radio, eight USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt ports, Gigabit LAN, 7.1 channel analog audio output, optical audio output, HDMI output, DisplayPort output, and two eSATA ports.
As far as the dual GPU integration goes, however... I don’t expect we’ll be seeing a move in the industry like this any time soon, at least not on high-end Enthusiast boards (though I could see an argument for small form factor (SFF) budget gaming systems from OEMs). Dedicated graphics card technology moves at such a rapid pace compared to motherboards that it is just not feasible to market a feature like this to enthusiasts. While they may keep the same motherboard for years, those same users will likely upgrade their graphics cards at least once to stay current. Further, with the cost of these high-end motherboards already approaching exorbitant, adding integrated GPUs that don’t mesh well with the purpose of a high end system pushes the cost higher and demand to a point that these boards just don’t seem realistic.
While Zeus was more of a powerhouse with a twist (albeit one that isn’t really feasible to market), the other motherboard – Wolverine – is a “because we can” board but one that could have an impact on the industry today. ASUS has taken its Digi+ digital power to the extreme by packing as many power phases as it could into an ATX form factor motherboard. In total, they managed to place 40 power phases onto the PCB – notice how the CPU socket had to be shifted to the right to make room!
Other features on the board include eight SATA connectors, four DIMM slots, three PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, LGA 1155 socket, and three PCI 3.0 x1 slots. On the rear the board features four USB 2.0 ports, six USB 3.0 ports, a WiFi radio, Gigabit LAN, BIOS buttons, optical audio output, 7.1 channel analog audio output, and what looks like two eSATA ports.
Granted, I’m not suggesting that we will be seeing motherboards coming out with 40+ power phases anytime soon. I can see this influencing future designs, however. Even heavy overclockers (water and air cooling levels) don’t really /need/ 40 power phases but we could start seeing vendors put out boards with half of that and still have it be a big improvement.
What do you think of the two new ASUS concept motherboards? You can see more images of the boards over at AnandTech's gallery. Do you think they are on the right track? If not what areas do you think motherboard manufacturers need to improve?
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | June 6, 2012 - 05:33 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: motherboard, laptop, headsets, gaming, ASUS ROG, asus
Today we received a number of photos from ASUS that show off some upcoming hardware from their upcoming Republic of Gamers line. Except for the Xonar Phoebus (which has launched), the hardware in these photos is not yet released and ASUS has not revealed when it will be available for sale – or how much it will cost. Still, I can’t think of a better way to start the day than getting a glimpse of some shiny unreleased hardware – especially when I get to share it with you!
First up is a new Replublic of Gamers motherboard called the Maximus V Extreme. This board is similar to the mATX Maximus V GENE board that was announced recently, but the Extreme motherboard is full ATX.
While full specifications are unknown, from the photo you can see that the board has an LGA 1155 socket, making it compatible with the latest Intel Ivy Bridge processors. Further, it is sporting four DDR3 DIMM slots, five PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, and one PCI-E 3.0 x4 slots. Other features of the board include ASUS’ Extreme Engine Digi+ II digital power control technology, power and reset buttons on the board itself, voltage check points, Lucid Virtu MVP GPU virtualization technology, and AMD CrossFireX and NVIDIA SLI support. The VRM area and southbridge area of the board is covered by large black and red heatsinks.
Rear IO includes five USB 2.0 ports (one to be used with ROG Connect), two USB 3.0 ports, an Intel-powered Gigabit LAN, HDMI, DisplayPort, optical audio output, PS/2 port, five analog audio outputs and a TOSLink connector. Additionally, the board features CMOS clear and reset buttons, a mini-PCIe + mSATA combo card, and a Republic of Gamers OC Key accessory. The OC Key plugs into the DVI port of the graphics card and provides an on-screen-display for overclocking information and voltage tweaking.
In addition to the ASUS Maximus V Extreme, the company is producing the Maximus V Forumula motherboard, which is then further available with or without the ThunderFX audio accessory. The Formula board is another socket 1155 board with a red and black color scheme that is ready for Ivy Bridge processors and multi-GPU setups (SLI or CrossFireX). The heatsinks on the formula are a little less beefy than those on the Maximus V Extreme, but the VRM heatsinks are ready to be integrated into a water cooling loop. Further features include four DDR3 DIMM slots, eight SATA connectors, three PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, three PCI-E 3.0 x1 slots, and a single PCI-E 3.0 x4 slot.
The board also features the SupremeFX integrated sound card (which has been isolated from the rest of the board by routing the wiring through its own PCB layer) and a mini-PCI-E + mSATA combo card. One version of the motherboard also comes with the SupremeFX accessory which you can see in the photo below.
Rear IO of the Maximus V Formula motherboard includes four USB 2.0 ports (one for ROG connect), four USB 3.0 ports, an eSATA port, DisplayPort, HDMI, Intel-powered Gigabit LAN, five analog audio jacks, two optical audio outputs, and CMOS clear and reset buttons.
The Maximus Extreme V Formula comes with a device called the ThunderFX that is a high end headphone amp and DAC offering 120dB SNR, and noise cancellation technology. The included GamEQ comes with three preset profiles but also offers you a wide range of options to tweak your sound to your own desires. There is also onboard audio in the form of the SupremeFX IV audio chipset which will keep those who prefer speakers more than happy with their audio quality.
You can also see that the large anodized aluminium heatsinks have barbs for you to include them in a watercooling loop so that all components on your motherboard can be cooled without resorting to fans to move air. GameFirst II is the name ASUS has given their networking software and it is designed to examine an prioritize packets to reduce lag and ping times. It comes with both an EZ Mode as well as offering advanced options for those who know what they are doing. As we have seen on other boards, the Maximus Extreme V Formula comes with a mPCIe Combo card with dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. This board is also shattering records in Super PI 32M, 3DMark05 and Heaven to name a few.
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 5, 2012 - 12:59 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: nvidia, mars 3, gtx 680, computex, asus
ASUS has created a graphics card that places two NVIDIA GTX 680 GPUs and 8GB of RAM on a single PCB cooled by three fans and a heatpipe-aided fin array. With three PCI-E power connectors and a dual slot design, you can bet that it will be expensive, large, and in charge (of your electric bill). (Even so, I still want one even if I have to get a new case :P).
ASUS is showing off a graphics card at Computex that is sure to be of interest to enthusiasts everywhere. The successor to their elusive Mars II (which we reviewed here), the new ASUS Mars III is a dual GPU graphics card utilizing two NVIDIA GTX 680 GPUs and a total of 8GB of GDDR5 memory on a single PCB. The dual slot card is cooled by three fans on an aluminum and heatpipe aided fin array. Around the back of the card are three eight pin PCI-E power connectors for up to 525watts of power! There is also a red button to the left of the connectors that spins the fans up to 100% for maximum overclocking. Towards the front is a single SLI connector (for up to 4-way SLI) along with three DVI ports and a mini-DisplayPort for video output.
In short, this graphics card is a total beast. Although we do not yet know clockspeeds or other specific details, you can expect the cards to be expensive and very fast. According to VR-Zone, the card being shown off at Computex 2012 is an engineering sample and the company is still working to refine the final design – particularly the cooler and PCB. You can find more photos of this massive card here.
Introduction and Features
Courtesy of ASUS
ASUS continues to optimize their hardware for the overclocking and PC gaming crowds, but they are also catering to a niche audience looking for ultra stable and durable PC components. ASUS's Sabertooth X79 motherboard is their one of their latest products to bear the TUF series label and sport customized hardware and thermal components as well as a desert camo color scheme to complete the military look. This $329 motherboard comes with a five-year warranty, digital power management system, rugged chokes, solid capacitors, and MOSFETs that have been certified through third party, military-grade testing.
Courtesy of ASUS
The Sabertooth X79 also comes with a host of other features to improve SSD caching and give users quad GPU support for CrossfireX and SLI graphics card configurations. This board also includes a unique UEFI BIOS and natively supports 2TB hard drives with 64-bit operating systems. The USB BIOS "Flashback" feature also helps new users update their motherboard BIOS without entering the BIOS. ASUS states that users can use any USB storage device with the latest BIOS, push the BIOS button located on the back I/O panel for three seconds, and the board will automatically update the BIOS using standby power. Very cool!
Courtesy of ASUS
The back I/O panel on the Sabertooth X79 is no slouch either as it gives users a healthy amount of USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and eSATA 6GB/s ports for greater performance and expandability options. They also added a small fan over the back I/O panel as part of their "TUF Thermal Armor" feature that will help cool and exhaust heat from ther motherboard out the back of the chassis. Let's move on to the rest of the Saberbooth X79's features where we will get our first out-of-the-box look at this motherboard.
Subject: Motherboards, Displays | June 4, 2012 - 09:30 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: Z77, thunderboltex, thunderbolt, h77, computex, asus
Ever since we posted our series of videos with ASUS on the new Z77 chipset and the features ASUS was introducing on their P8Z77 lineup, we have had countless questions about the Thunderbolt header, the implementation and finally the required add-on card to enable it. Well thankfully at Computex this week ASUS is revealing the product that users of the P8Z77 motherboards will need to enable the Thunderbolt connection, the ASUS ThunderboltEX.
Even though we have already had some hands-on time with the new ASUS P8Z77-V Premium motherboard that integrates a Thunderbolt header on the board directly, the rest of the P8Z77-V line has a 9-pin header labeled "TB_header" that will allow users to purchase the ThunderboltEX card and enable the technology in their system. ASUS was the only company to really plan ahead for Thunderbolt technology across the entire series of Z77 motherboards and as such should enjoy the feature benefits of TB for some time.
The ThunderboltEX will plug into the bottom PCIe slot using up the x4 connection and will be required to use a header cable to connect to the TB_header shown above. This header serves a dual purpose - it allows the integrated graphics of the Ivy Bridge (and even discrete graphics) to pass through to the ThunderboltEX card and then out to either a Thunderbolt enabled display or a DisplayPort monitor in a daisy chain of devices. It also allows ASUS to make sure this card is ONLY used on their own lineup of motherboards - sorry, you won't be able to buy the ASUS ThunderboltEX and use it on your Gigabyte or MSI or even your non "TB_header" ASUS motherboard.
You will also have to install an included full-size DisplayPort cable from the output on the Z77 motherboard back panel to the full-size DP input on the ThunderboltEX itself. This allows the pass through of all the video data.
Once everything is configured, users will have a full speed 10 Gbps ready Thunderbolt connection to use with external storage, break out boxes and other accessories coming down the pipeline rapidly. ASUS claims this implementation will still support 6 daisy-chained devices with a seventh device as either a Thunderbolt or mini-DisplayPort monitor. Even better, hot plug support will still be enabled!
ASUS stands committed to the belief that motherboard design is not just about pure spec but ensuring a quality design and overall implementation. This is achieved through many means such as sensible layout, flexible I/O connectivity and robust control over parameters of operation. In addition foresight in design can play an important role. ASUS recently launched the world’s first certified native Thunderbolt motherboard with the P8Z77-V Premium. While the Premium leads the industry in respect to connectivity and overall functionality it carries a flagship price for its premium feature set. ASUS had kept this in mind along with thinking about how to best support the advanced new interconnect that is Thunderbolt. With this in mind ASUS is proud to unveil its exclusive Thunderbolt upgrade solution for its line of Z77 and H77 motherboards. The ThunderboltEX card is the first add-on card on the market enabling an easy way to upgrade ASUS motherboards with the latest I/O. This is proof in having foresight in design as compatible boards had to have a special TB header in place to support this upgrade.
Currently, the ThunderboltEX is awaiting Thunderbolt device certification and ASUS will obviously announce when that occurs.
Obviously this implementation of Thunderbolt is not as elegant as the one you will find on the ASUS Premium Z77 motherboard or the MSI Z77A-GD80, but it does enable other ASUS Z77 motherboard users to add the feature to their systems without REQUIRING to the cost up front to everyone. It does remind me a little bit of the first days of ATI CrossFire but I think most of you would agree that this solution is better than forcing users to buy a $450 motherboard.
I don't have any information on pricing or availability but you can be sure as soon as our questions are answered by ASUS we will update this post!
If you are looking for more information on Thunderbolt devices and performance, check out our stream of posts on the subject and take a look at the Thunderbolt / ASUS video below!
Subject: Shows and Expos | June 4, 2012 - 04:11 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: asus, RT-AC66U, wifi, wireless router
If you are wondering why you should care about the new ASUS RT-AC66U dual band wireless router, perhaps the thought of a better than gigabit speed wireless connection might interest you. It isn't just about the speed, even though it can easily be set up to provide basic access to one machine you can actually have up to 8 SSIDs to allow you to set up multiple networks with separate privileges making this router great for small to medium sized businesses as well as home users. It has two USB ports and is perfectly capable of using a USB 3G dongle to allow shared connections over the cell network or you could plug in data you want to share as the router can also act as an FTP server. Check out the full press release below for even more information.
Fremont, CA (June 4, 2012) - the new ASUS RT-AC66U router integrates dual-band Gigabit wireless with fifth generation 802.11ac Wi-Fi technology, also known as 5G WiFi, which enables speeds up to three times faster than existing 802.11n devices. As one of the first routers to achieve this, it tops Gigabit wireless requirements with a combined 2.4GHz/5GHz bandwidth of 1.75Gbps. Coupled with exclusive ASUS AiRadar signal amplification and shaping technology, easy to use ASUSWRT setup software, multiple SSIDs, and IPv6 support the RT-AC66U is the perfect router for HD media streaming, large concurrent file transfers, and gaming. Impressive USB-based capabilities turn the RT-AC66U into a complete 3G, FTP, DLNA, and printer server device for genuine multi-role functionality in the home or at a small business.
Going beyond Gigabit Wi-Fi
The RT-AC66U is one of the world’s first dual-band wireless routers to support the advanced 802.11ac wireless protocol, enabling 5GHz band operation up to 1.3Gbps. These new capabilities are made possible by the inclusion of Broadcom’s powerful 5G WiFi chipset. 2.4GHz band capabilities work up to 450Mbps so the concurrent combined bandwidth of the RT-AC66U is 1.75Gbps. This unique router features sophisticated ASUS AiRadar technology to amplify signal strength and improve directionality to overcome environmental obstructions and increase data transfer rates. The inclusion of 5G WiFi makes the RT-AC66U one of the most future-proof routers on the market, ready for the next generation of high speed networks.
Extensive feature list enhances networking experiences
The RT-AC66U features easy and fast setup in just three steps with the ASUSWRT dashboard, while strict QoS (Quality of Service) standards help ensure improved bandwidth optimization and multitasking capabilities. Up to eight SSIDs are supported, so users can easily setup distinct networks with different access privileges and levels of security without having to compromise passwords. The RT-AC66U supports the new IPv6 standard for better packet transmission and addressing.
USB applications extend router versatility
With its twin USB ports, the RT-AC66U becomes a true multi-role device. Attaching a 3G dongle allows it to share 3G connections among several users on different devices. Full DLNA compatibility affords smooth connectivity with a variety of entertainment platforms, including game consoles, tablets, Blu-ray players, smart TVs, and set-top boxes. The RT-AC66U can also serve as a dedicated FTP server and/or printer server, letting users share resources for greater productivity while reducing costs as there is no need to buy standalone server hardware.
Full 802.11ac product lineup
In addition to the RT-AC66U router, ASUS is also releasing the PCE-AC66 and USB-AC53 client adapters, both capable of 802.11ac speeds. The dual-band PCE-AC66 offers a PCI Express client card for desktops with a 3 x 3 high-powered transmission antenna design. It offers transfer rates up to 1.3Gbps in 5GHz and 450Mbps in 2.4GHz operation modes. For easy USB upgrades to 802.11ac, the USB-AC53 compact dongle plugs into a USB port with a 2 x 2 design. In 5GHz operation the USB-AC53 offers transfer rates up to 867Mbps, while in 2.4GHz transfer speeds are up to 300Mbps, achieving a total throughput of around 1.3Gbps. The PCE-AC66 and USB-AC53 adapters are enabled by Broadcom’s 5G WiFi chipsets and demonstrate ASUS technology leadership in bringing a full 802.11ac ecosystem to consumers.
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 4, 2012 - 01:02 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: windows 8, ultrabook, taichi, tablet, computex, asus, transformer book, Transformer
ASUS has been showing off its new mobile products at Computex, as you can see from Ryan's pictures below this post. You can catch all the PC Perspective coverage by checking this page, as all Computex related content will show up there. With all the fancy new products, the more pictures the better which is why you should also check out the coverage The Tech Report put up. They snapped a few photos of the dual display Taichi which doesn't have a lid, instead there is a second independent touch screen display on the back which takes the idea behind ASUS' Transformer series to a whole new level. That doesn't mean they abandoned the Transformer though as they also showed off three brand new Ivy Bridge powered Transformer Books and two separate tablets, the 600 and the 810 with the Tegra powered 600 running WinRT for ARM and the 810 running Windows 8 thanks to its Atom processor.
"We're rarely surprised at trade shows these days, but Asus CEO Johnny Shih saved something special for the end of his press conference today. After discussing everything from cloud storage to all-in-ones to notebooks and tablets, he pulled out one more thing: the Taichi. It looked like any other notebook, and Shih took great pleasure in showing off the "beautiful black mirror finish" on the top panel. I couldn't help but shake my head and sigh; the glossy finish was covered in fingerprints and smudges."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Nvidia reveals driver support for Windows 8 preview release @ The Inquirer
- Gigabyte goes dual-port Thunderbolt at Computex @ Kitguru
- Gigabyte’s first A85X socket FM2 motherboard @ Kitguru
- ARM Expects 20-Nanometer Processors By Late 2013 @ Slashdot
- Fujifilm FinePix T400 Review @ TechReviewSource
- CoolerMaster Joint Contest @ NikKTech
Subject: Mobile | June 4, 2012 - 12:04 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: windows 8 rt, windows 8, tegra 3, tablet 810, tablet 600, computex, clover trail, asus
Haven't had enough tablets yet? ASUS hopes that's the case as they continue to release products using Windows 8 with the fresh touch interface. First up, Anandtech tells us about the new ASUS 810 tablet using the Intel Clover Trail x86 SoC.
Image source: Anandtech.com
The 810 will include an 11.6-in screen with a 1366x768 resolution IPS display - we have seen almost all of the new Clover Trail based tablets using this low resolution likely due to the underpowered graphics power of the 32nm Intel graphics powering them. ASUS also includes 2GB of memory, 64GB of solid state storage, 8MP and 2MP cameras and support for NFC (near field communications).
Much like the Transformer brand of tablets ASUS has made popular already, the 810 (and the 600 below) will offer keyboard / battery docks.
Image source: Anandtech.com
The ASUS Tablet 600 will also run Windows 8, but the RT (ARM) version, and will be powered by NVIDIA's Tegra 3 quad-core SoC. This model will also have 2GB of memory but will drop to 32GB of local storage and include the 8MP and 2MP cameras. The 10.1-in screen will keep the 1366x768 resolution and it can take advantage of the optional keyboard dock.
If you continue to be interested in the ASUS 600 tablet, the first Windows 8 RT Tegra 3 powered device, check out the video demonstration created by NVIDIA below.
Subject: Mobile | June 4, 2012 - 11:35 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: windows 8, transformer book, Transformer, tablet, computex, asus
Another in a line of announcements from ASUS today is the Transformer Book, an Ultrabook with a detachable tablet. I find it interesting that ASUS chose to go with the "Transformer" brand for this machine that is x86 and Windows based rather than ARM and Android based. Engadget has a lot of photos and details, including information about the hardware included within: an Intel Ivy Bridge-based Core i5/i7 processor, 4GB of memory, an SSD for storage and 11, 13 and 14-in screen sizes.
Image source: Engadget.com
Since these are taking the Ultrabook name we have a general idea of the physical traits including the thickness and performance found within. In the standard notebook mode we can see the Transformer Book with its high resolution screen, backlit keyboard and single surface touchpad.
Image source: Engadget.com
The design of the Transformer Book is very familiar to users that have seen other Transformer tablet models. One interesting aspect noted by Anandtech is that the base of the Book (the keyboard and touchpad) will actually include a discrete graphics chip leaving the tablet alone to operate on the Ivy Bridge graphics alone.
Image source: Engadget.com
Here is the Transformer Book in its tablet-only form and it should operate like just about any Windows 8-based device.
I am very interested to hear about the battery life of these Ivy Bridge-based tablet devices and how much of an extension you'll get when utilizing the keyboard base.
Check out the video from Engadget below!
Subject: Mobile | June 4, 2012 - 11:13 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: windows 8, ultrabook, taichi, tablet, computex, asus
ASUS always does a good job of showcasing unique devices at its Computex press conference and apparently this year is really no different. One of the biggest announcements was for the TAICHI device, a dual-display Ultrabook that is actually a convertible notebook and tablet device running Windows 8.
Image source: Engadget.com
Available in both an 11-in and 13.3-in version, the ASUS TAICHI products will both include a 1920x1080 screen resolution (on both back and front displays actually). When open, the TAICHI works like any other notebook with an Ivy Bridge Core i7 processor, 4GB of memory, an SSD, 802.11n and dual cameras. However, when you close the screen and activate the BACK display, you then operating with the Windows 8 operating system in a classic tablet form.
Image source: Engadget.com
Engadget is reporting that both displays can even be used at the same time if you wanted to share the device with a friend across the table. Connectivity is there in abundance with mini-VGA, USB 3.0 and more.