NVMe was a great thing to happen to SSDs. The per-IO reduction in latency and CPU overhead was more than welcome, as PCIe SSDs were previously using the antiquated AHCI protocol, which was a carryover from the SATA HDD days. With NVMe came additional required support in Operating Systems and UEFI BIOS implementations. We did some crazy experiments with arrays of these new devices, but we were initially limited by the lack of native hardware-level RAID support to tie multiple PCIe devices together. The launch of the Z170 chipset saw a remedy to this, by including the ability to tie as many as three PCIe SSDs behind a chipset-configured array. The recent C600 server chipset also saw the addition of RSTe capability, expanding this functionality to enterprise devices like the Intel SSD P3608, which was actually a pair of SSDs on a single PCB.
Most Z170 motherboards have come with one or two M.2 slots, meaning that enthusiasts wanting to employ the 3x PCIe RAID made possible by this new chipset would have to get creative with the use of interposer / adapter boards (or use a combination of PCI and U.2 connected Intel SSD 750s). With the Samsung 950 Pro available, as well as the slew of other M.2 SSDs we saw at CES 2016, it’s safe to say that U.2 is going to push back into the enterprise sector, leaving M.2 as the choice for consumer motherboards moving forward. It was therefore only a matter of time before a triple-M.2 motherboard was launched, and that just recently happened - Behold the Gigabyte Z170X-SOC Force!
This new motherboard sits at the high end of Gigabyte’s lineup, with a water-capable VRM cooler and other premium features. We will be passing this board onto Morry for a full review, but this piece will be focusing on one section in particular:
I have to hand it to Gigabyte for this functional and elegant design choice. The space between the required four full length PCIe slots makes it look like it was chosen to fit M.2 SSDs in-between them. I should also note that it would be possible to use three U.2 adapters linked to three U.2 Intel SSD 750s, but native M.2 devices makes for a significantly more compact and consumer friendly package.
With the test system set up, let’s get right into it, shall we?
Subject: Motherboards | January 28, 2016 - 05:55 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: update, Skylake, gigabyte, bug
Gigabyte has released UEFI updates today which will resolve the freezing issues on Skylake seen in certain circumstances of Prime95 and GIMPS processing. Just head over to their download site and enter in your motherboards model and download the new UEFI, or BIOS if you prefer the old terminology.
As a bonus you may receive the ability to use higher clocked RAM, see any stability issues fixed or better performance from integrated components such as LAN or SATA. Their update process is easy with none of the stress that once accompanied updates via floppy disjs or masks and UV light. We can neither confirm nor deny these updates will also resolve unwanted ear hair growth.
Subject: Motherboards | January 28, 2016 - 03:41 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gigabyte, Z170X-UD5, LGA 1151
What is special about the Z170X-UD5 that would make you pick it over other boards? A $190 price tag is impressive for a Z170, the design is very clean and would look great in a windowed case, USB 3.1 including a Type-C connection, a pair of M.2 slots along with eight SATA and three SEx ports and it even supports three way GPU setups. Not a bad list of features, though it is missing the Thunderbolt support of its more expensive sibling. [H]ard|OCP found it easy to overclock using either EZ-Tune or doing it manually and the watchdog system was great when things did not work out so well. Check out the full review to learn more about this board that matches up affordability with a nice list of features.
"GIGABYTE’s mid-range Z170X-UD5 has some impressive specifications, a lengthy feature set, and comes in with a sub-$200 street price. This motherboard has all the ingredients for a spectacular enthusiast option on paper. But how does it do in the real world when you put it to the test? It actually does very well."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- ASRock Z170 Extreme4 @ TechARP
- ASUS RoG Maximus VIII Extreme Motherboard Review @ Hardware Canucks
- ASRock Fatal1ty Z97X Killer/3.1 mainboard @ HardwareOverclock
- ASRock X99 WS-E/10G @ Kitguru
Subject: Cases and Cooling | January 21, 2016 - 10:44 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: modular psu, gigabyte, ATX PSU
Gigabyte made an announcement teasing two new power supplies last week. The G750H and B700H are 80 PLUS rated models topping out at 750W and 700W respectively. A company most well-known for its motherboards, it was somewhat surprising to see it tease power supplies and to discover that these PSUs are not even the first to be sold by Gigabyte with its branding.
The G750H and B700H are ATX form factor and use a semi-modular design that leaves the 24-pin ATX and 8-pin CPU power cables permanently attached and uses modular cables for all other connections (see below). One neat thing is that Gigabyte is using all black flat individually sleeved cables which may make it easier to hide and route them behind the motherboard tray (which on some cases can be an especially narrow channel). Both models are rated for SLI and Crossfire multi-GPU setups, use at least some Japanese capacitors (the G750H uses all Japanese capacitors), have a MTBF of 100,000 hours, and five year warranties.
In addition to the motherboard and CPU power, users can install two eight pin PCI-E, five SATA power, three Molex, and one floppy power connector. The modular cable configuration is the same on both PSU models.
The G750H is up to 90% efficient (80+ Gold) and uses a 140mm temperature controlled fan to keep noise levels low and the internal components cool (and efficient). Gigabyte has opted for a single rail design that sees the 12V rail rated at up to 62 amps.
On the other hand, the B700H is up to 85% efficient (80+ Bronze) at typical loads. It has a smaller 120mm temperature controlled fan for cooling. This model also uses a single 12V rail, but it tops out at 54 amps.
Several sites around the Internet have indicated (including Maximum PC) that Gigabyte has made the G750H and B700H available now, but they do not seem to be for sale yet in the US. I have tried to unearth pricing as well as the identity of the ODM Gigabyte is using for these new units, but no such luck so far. From my research, it appears that Gigabyte has used a number of different ODM/OEMs of varying quality for their past power supplies. It seems that we will have to wait for reviews to know for sure how these new PSUs will perform. I hope that Gigabyte has stepped up its power supply game as it has quite a bit of competition these days!
Subject: General Tech | January 21, 2016 - 02:34 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: x99-m, X170, X150, video, Silent Base 800, Q4 2015, Predator X34, podcast, gigabyte, g-sync, freesync, earnings, be quiet, asus, amd, acer
PC Perspective Podcast #383 - 01/21/2016
Join us this week as we discuss the Acer Predator X34, ASUS X99-M, AMD Q4 Earnings and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store (audio only)
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader (audio only)
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano
Program length: 1:25:53
Subject: Motherboards | January 15, 2016 - 05:24 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: X170-Extreme ECC, X170, X150M-PRO ECC, X150M-PLUS WS, X150-PRO ECC, X150, gigabyte, GA-X150-PLUS WS
These five motherboards will be more at home powering a server than a high end gaming machine as they fully support Intel's Xeon E3-1200 v5 and other LGA 1151 processors, all but two offer ECC memory compatibility using Intel's C236 and C232 chipset. That doesn't mean you shouldn't consider them for your next build as they should offer rock solid stability and hey, they're camouflaged!
Up first are the X170-EXTREME ECC and X150-PRO ECC, with the first PCIe 3.0 16x slot connected directly to the CPU socket, no detours for that data. The boards support PCIe Gen.3 x4 NVMe M.2 natively and you can pick up a U.2 converter if that is what you need for your drives and Intel's USB 3.1 controller will give you performance on both the original flavour and Type-C USB ports. The X170 Extreme comes with a Killer E2400 Gigabit NIC, along with all of the benefits provided by that chip.
Up next are the X150M-PRO ECC, X150M-PLUS WS and X150-PLUS WS motherboards which are listed on Gigabyte's site. The X150M-Pro is mATX but Gigabyte still managed two PCIe 16x slots, with one limited to 4x speeds and a pair of PCI slots along with an M.2, 6 SATA 6Gbps and a SEx connector. The X150M Plus is very similar but sports a single PCIe 16x and a 4x no legacy connectors nor a SEx port. Finally the full ATX GA-X150-PLUS WS which adds a pair of PCIe x1 slots in addition to two PCIe 16x slots, with one limited to 4x speeds and a pair of PCI slots.
Subject: Systems | January 7, 2016 - 06:09 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: SFF, gigabyte, GA-Z170N-Gaming 5, i5-6600K, G.Skill Trident Z, GTX 970
The Tech Report has a bit of a soft spot for what they refer to as Breadbox builds, aka SFF systems and recently one of their members built a brand new system. Hidden in the tiny EVGA Hadron Hydro case is a watercooled i5-6600K, a tiny Gigabyte GTX 970 GV-N970IXOC-4GD, 16GB of DDR4 and two OCZ Vector 180 SSDs all installed on a Gigabyte GA-Z170N-Gaming 5 mini-ITX board. The installation went well though the EVGA Hadron Hydro has a bit of a personality to it which you can read about in the full article right here.
"Our Editor-in-Chief has always had a soft spot for Mini-ITX systems with big performance, and Gigabyte, OCZ, EVGA, G.Skill, and Logitech were happy to help him build a Breadbox system with some high-octane parts. Here's how he put it all together."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- Building An Intel Xeon E3 v5 "Skylake" Linux System @ Phoronix
- Vibox Defcon 3 Red Gaming PC @ eTeknix
- MSI GT80S 6QF Titan SLI w/ Desktop GTX980's @ Kitguru
- Diamond Multimedia STREAM2TV WPCTV3000 Miracast, iPlay, & DLNA Endpoint @ MissingRemote
Subject: Motherboards, Shows and Expos | January 7, 2016 - 01:28 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: X170-Extreme ECC, gigabyte, GA-X150M-PLUS WS, GA-X150-PLUS WS, CES, brix
Gigabyte revealed two high end LGA1151 motherboards which will support Intel Xeon E3-1200 v5 processors in addition to the more common Core models purchased by enthusiasts. The GA-X150-PLUS WS is a full sized ATX board with a PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 connector with transfer rates of up to 32Gb/s as well as SEx ports and a network traffic management application called cFosSpeed on the gigabit NIC to reduce latency.
The GA-X150M-PLUS WS is a Micro-ATX version of the previous board, keeping all of the features of the larger model but sacrificing dual GPU support due to size constraints. They also released a X170-Extreme ECC, one of the few consumer boards to support ECC memory for those who regularly use programs which can benefit from error correcting DRAM.
For those who like their systems small and ready to go out of the box, the new Brix line up is a mere 0.46L (34.4 x 112.6 x 119.4mm) and uses the new Skylake processors, the model number indicating the processor you will find within the Brix. They all sport an M.2 SSD slot, a pair of slots for SO-DIMM DDR3L, HDMI and Mini DisplayPort 1.2 outputs along with four USB connectors and both wired and wireless network connectivity. These new Brix will also support Thunderbolt 3 over their USB Type-C port
Full PR after the break.
Subject: General Tech | January 6, 2016 - 04:31 AM | Ken Addison
Tagged: video, spec alpha, podcast, msi, GT72S Tobii, GS40 Phantom, gigabyte, corsair, CES 2016, CES, carbide, brix, arm, 400Q, 400C
CES 2016 Podcast Day 2 - 01/06/16
Join us for announcements from MSI, Gigabyte, Corsair, and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Ken Addison and Sebastian Peak
Program length: 1:02:45
Subject: Graphics Cards | December 6, 2015 - 11:29 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: gigabyte, cooler master, asetek, amd
AMD and Gigabyte have each received cease and desist letters from Asetek, regarding the Radeon Fury X and GeForce GTX 980 Water Force, respectively, for using a Cooler Master-based liquid cooling solution. The Cooler Master Seiden 120M is a self-contained block and water pump, which courts have ruled that it infringes on one of Asetek's patents. Asetek has been awarded 25.375% of Cooler Master's revenue from all affected products since January 1st, 2015.
This issue obviously affects NVIDIA less than AMD, since it applies to a single product from just one AIB partner. On AMD's side, however, it affects all Fury X products, but obviously not the air-cooled Fury and Fury Nano cards. It's also possible that future SKUs could be affected as well, especially since upcoming, top end GPUs will probably be in small packages adjacent HBM 2.0 memory. This dense form-factor lends itself well to direct cooling techniques, like closed-loop water.
Even more interesting is that we believe Asetek was expecting to get the Fury X contract. We reported on an Asetek press release that claimed they received their “Largest Ever Design Win” with an undisclosed OEM. We expected it to be the follow-up to the 290X, which we assumed was called 390X because, I mean, AMD just chose that branding, right? Then the Fury X launched and it contained a Cooler Master pump. I was confused. No other candidate for “Largest Ever Design Win” popped up from Asetek, either. I guess we were right? Question mark? The press release of Asetek's design win came out in August 2014 while Asetek won the patent case in December of that year.
Regardless, this patent war has been ongoing for several months now. If it even affects any future products, I'd hope that they'd have enough warning at this point.