Introduction and Features
Courtesy of Gigabyte
We are still making our way through an avalanche of X79 motherboards on our test bench that leverages the power of Sandy Bridge-E CPUs, but we didn't want to wait any longer on powering up Gigabyte's GA-X79-UD5 extended ATX motherboard. Gigabyte has really stepped up their game by offering optimized LGA 2011 for no-nonsense PC builders, hardware enthusiasts, serious overclockers, and even FPS/RPG PC gamers. Our review of the X79-UD5 is going to evaluate every aspect of the board's ability to handle automatic and manual overclocking, DX10/DX11 gaming, and other synthetic and real-world benchmarks.
Courtesy of Gigabyte
The Gigabyte X79-UD5 motherboard takes full advantage of the new features available with the LGA 2011 platform and X79 Express chipset like the abiliy to use up to 64GBs of quad-channel memory via eight DIMMs and support for dual and triple AMD CrossfireX or NVIDIA SLI graphics card configurations for multi-monitor, high-definition gaming. These features should make ultra enthusiasts grin from ear to ear because they will probably be the ones who tandem this board with an Intel Core i7-3960X processor and dual NVIDIA GTX 680s graphics cards that were just released earlier this week. The $299 price tag on this board also places it right in the middle of the pack of LGA 2011 motherboards available on Newegg and other vendors.
Introduction and Features
Courtesy of MSI
My first Sandy Bridge-E motherboard review of 2012 showcases the talents of Intel's latest i7-3820 3.6GHz quad-core processor and MSI's X79A-GD65 (8D) ATX motherboard. The enhancements included in the LGA 2011 platform combined with MSI's unique optimizations to the board's overclocking, gaming, and power management capabilities should make for an exciting testing experience.
Courtesy of MSI
MSI currently has six motherboards that support the LGA 2011 socket and the X79A-GD65 (8D) is considered one of their higher-end offerings at $289.99. This board targets users who want to take advantage of three PCI-E x16 slots for AMD CrossfireX or NVIDIA SLI configurations. It also gives users the ability to use up to two SATA 6GB/s and four SATA 3GB/s devices courtesy of the X79 chipset. MSI also used a second ASMedia controller to add two more SATA 6GB/s ports to the board. All of these SATA3 ports support Intel's Rapid Storage Technology, but the SATA3 devices managed by the X79 chipset can only handle RAID 0 and 1 versus the ASMedia chip that handles RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10.
Introduction, Features, Technical Specifications
PC enclosures continue to evolve as new hardware comes to market like Intel's new Sandy Bridge-E and Ivy Bridge processors, affordable solid state drives, and custom liquid cooling solutions. It is more critical than ever that users pay strict attention to not only what a PC case looks like, but what hardware it supports. Since it was founded in 2004, NZXT has been developing unique PC cases to satisfy the appetites of PC gamers and hardware enthusiasts alike. Their latest creation dubbed the Switch 810 is a full-tower "hybird" case that is optimized to support liquid cooling or air-cooled solutions.
The Switch 810 brings together many crowd favorites like right-mounted hard drives with removable HD cages and support for 140 to 240mm radiators to give users a plethora of options for cooling their PC components. If you don't want to go the liquid cooling route, the Switch 810 has room for 10 fans on the front, back, top, and bottom panels. PC builders can use 120mm or 140mm fans, and NZXT starts them off by including four 140mm fans with the Switch 810 to provide excellent airflow for any PC setup.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | January 17, 2012 - 04:34 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: nzxt, full tower, computer, chassis, case, atx
NZXT, a computer case manufacturer that has been around since 2004, is today launching a new full tower computer case with the Switch 810 chassis. The new full tower case includes several features aimed at enthusiasts along with a 2 year warranty and choice of two colors (white or black). NZXT founder Johnny Hou seems confident in the case by stating that the new chassis "offers enthusiasts an array of advanced features intuitively implemented into one of the most unique designs we've ever created."
The full tower case supports EATX motherboards with up to nine expansion slots and 375 millimeters of space for large, modern graphics cards when the front fan is removed. The motherboard tray further supports plenty of cable routing holes and a CPU back plate cut out. Further, the interior of the can can hold four 5.25" drives, six 3.5" drives, and up to 10 120mm or 140mm fans. The front, bottom, and drive bay area of the case houses two fans each. Meanwhile, the top of the case houses three cases and the rear holds one fan. Constructed of steel and plastic, the case weighs in at 9.1 Kg or about 20 lbs.
As you can see from the outside of the case, the Switch 810 chassis supports four 5.25" drives, audio and microphone connectors, two USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 ports, and a card reader. Also, a filter for the bottom intake can be removed from the front of the case. Some of the touted features of the new case include the ability to easily install water cooling and the new "hybrid fins" that allow users to close the fins to reduce dust and quiet the computer or open the fins along the top to maximize airflow. Tool-less drive bays, an acrylic side window, and a white LED that can be switched on or off are also features of the Switch 810 case.
The NZXT switch is available now for $169.99 USD. More information and photos of the case can be found here. What do you think of the new case, are you impressed with the "hybrid design?"
The proposed airflow diagram for the new NZXT case.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | January 7, 2012 - 07:08 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: msi, cases, atx, interceptor, raptor, CES
It seems to be "Diversification Season" here in the tech world, as Vizio adds computers to their portfolio and now MSI, a company most well known for motherboards and graphics cards, is launching a series of computer cases. The new MSI cases have a military inspired theme and have been dubbed the Interceptor Series. Currently, there are two mid tower ATX form factor cases in the lineup including the Raptor and Nighthawk.
Both the Nighthawk and Raptor cases are constructed of black steel , have included ball-bearing fans, and plenty of ventilation, tool-less drive bays and expansion slots, and a three year manufacturer's warranty. Also, both cases have seven expansion slots and can accommodate graphics cards up to 12.2" in length.
The Raptor is the least flashy of the two, though it still manages to look nice. The side panel has a large mesh ventilation area over the CPU and VRM area. Meanwhile, the front of the case features a blue LED fan behind a mesh grill with MSI logo, and supports three 5.25" drive bays. Further, the case comes with a 12-in-1 card reader accessible on the front panel as well as two USB ports, 1 USB 3.0 port and two audio ports (mic and headphone). Last up, the case is ready for water cooling radiators and has a bottom mounted PSU rack.
If the Raptor is the little brother, the Nighthawk is the big guns and the case is definitely more flashy in its military theme inspiration. The side panel has a larger mesh grill that breaks out of the case and has what may resemble bullet holes throughout. The front panel is more stylized as well with a large mesh grill minus logos to facilitate the most airflow with a blue LED fan behind it. The front panel support three USB 2.0 ports, 1 USB 3.0 port, and two audio jacks for microphone and headphones. This case also has the 12-in-1 card reader and the front of the case can hold up to four 5.25" drives. The case is a bit taller than the raptor and has larger feet so it sits higher off of the ground. MSI claims the case is ready to roll with liquid cooling solutions as well.
MSI says that the cases will be available for purchase by the end of December in North America. The Nighthawk has an MSRP of $79.99 while the Raptor has an MSRP of $59.99. Not a bad start, MSI. The cases may yet be something that Ryan and the crew will be able to see first-hand at CES.
PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Introduction and Features
Courtesy of MSI
Micro-Star International, better known as MSI, has been busy little bees in 2011 to fend off fierce competition from ASUS, Gigabyte and other motherboard vendors. This year's launch of the Z68 chipset from Intel combined the capabilities and features from the H67 and P67 chipsets, and MSI capitalized on this when they joined forces with LucidLogix to include their Virtu technology in their latest Z68A-GD80 motherboard. Lucid's Virtu tech provides users with switchable graphics, which allows users to enjoy both graphics power of integrated GPU and discrete GPU.
Courtesy of MSI
MSI also used the Z68A-GD80 as their first motherboard to support PCI Express 3.0, which boosts 32GB/s of transfer bandwidth and makes this mobo a bit more future proof for users looking for their next hardware upgrade. MSI also upgraded their BIOS system to ClickBIOS II, which provides a consistent user interface both in the UEFI BIOS and in Windows. Users can control their system settings directly from Windows and the GUI also supports touchscreen controls.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | August 12, 2011 - 06:39 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: mid tower, chassis, bitfenix, atx
Gaming hardware designer BitFenix recently announced two new computer chassis. Named Merc Alpha and Merc Beta, both enclosures are of the mid-tower ATX design and deliver gaming features for budget prices. Product Manager David Jarlestedt stated confidently that “gamers will be hard pressed to find a better value enclosure in this segment.”
The differences between Merc Alpha and Merc Beta are subtle but important for cooling potential. Specifically, Merc Alpha is able to accommodate up to eight 120mm fans (including two on top) while the Merc Beta eschews the two top 120mm fan grills in favor of a flat surface and a total of six fans.
Features shared between both models include an all black interior and exterior coating, black cabling for the front ports, cable management features, CPU cooler motherboard cut-out, four USB 2.0 front panel ports, and easy to use thumbscrews to secure the case door and internal drives. Further, the cases support three 5.25” optical drives, seven 3.5” hard drives, and one 2.5” drive bay for an SSD.
Both Merc Alpha and Merc Beta will be available in stores starting August 2011 with an MSRP of $39. You can see more photos of the budget gaming cases here.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | August 1, 2011 - 07:04 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: thermaltake, level 10 gt, full tower, atx
Thermaltake recently unveiled a new update to its popular Level 10 GT full tower chassis. The new case has been dubbed the "Level 10 GT Snow Edition," likely to due to its glossy white exterior finish. Weighing in at 28 lbs, just under 2 ft tall, 11” wide, and 2 ft deep the new case packs plenty of drive bays, air and water cooling options, LEDs, front port IO, and most importantly for enthusiasts support for extra long graphics cards up to 14” in length and motherboards up to Extended ATX (E-ATX) size.
More specifically, the Thermaltake Level 10 GT Snow Edition maintains the same build material and general design and layout of the older dark Level 10 GT chassis; however, it brings a few tweaks to the table in the aesthetics department. While the interior of the case remains black, the exterior features a glossy white finish over most of the case, which is then accented by various black mesh inserts that serve as drive bay covers and cooling fan intakes/exhausts. (Personally, I find the new black and white look very classy and well designed.) On the Interior, not much has changed compared to its predecessor, however. There are still a total of 10 drive bays, including five 3.5” or 2.5” hard drive hot swap bays, four 5.25” optical drive bays, and one front facing 3.5” bay. The water cooling ports and five cooling fans remain the same (intakes: two 200mm fans and one 120mm fan, exhausts: one 200mm fan and one 140mm fan) as the standard Level 10 GT as well.
The bottom line is that if you already own a standard Level 10 GT, this is not a must-have upgrade; however, for those in the market for a well designed high end full tower chassis it is certainly worth a look as the new aesthetic design only serves to improve upon the Level 10 GT’s pedigree. The case is available for purchase now through various retailers and is going for around $290 USD at the time of this writing. For further information and photos, please see the Thermaltake website.
What are your thoughts on the new chassis, do you like the new design?
Subject: Cases and Cooling | July 14, 2011 - 03:16 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: full tower, atx, spire
Spire, The Netherlands-based supplier of enclosures, cooling solutions, and power supplies announced the availability of a new PC case aimed at gamers and overclockers. Dubbed the Epoxi rev. 2, the ATX full tower enclosure is constructed from .8mm SECC steel and aluminum front panels. Accommodating ATX motherboards, up to five 5.25” and six 3.5” tool-less drive bays, and six 120mm fans, Spire claims that the case is perfect for use with high wattage devices and water cooling components through the use of two rubber grommets providing exterior access. Thumb screw secured panels, anti-vibration mountings, front port eSATA, and a sleek design are all nice touches. Further, the case features rotating feet and a bottom mounted PSU design.
On the inside, the case features the same dark design as the exterior in addition to a CPU back plate cut-out and wire routing holes that provide access to the area between the motherboard tray and side panel to hide PSU and other cables. From the image above, it is apparent that this case has no shortage of available drive bays! Weighing in at 13.5kg, it wont be easily toted around to LAN parties; however, it will gladly house all your components at home and keep them nice and cool- perhaps even when bitcoin mining ;).
Spire lists the new case as having an MSRP of 139.95 USD (108.95 EURO) and is now available from their European distribution center in The Netherlands. More photos of the case are available here.