Subject: Motherboards | October 12, 2014 - 01:27 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: z97, PCI-E 3.0, mini ITX, M.2, L337 Gaming, intel i218v, haswell, ECS
ECS recently introduced the mini ITX Z97I-DRONE under its L337 Gaming series. This new motherboard is aimed at gamers and overclockers looking to put together a high end small form factor system based around Intel’s Haswell processor and Z97 Express chipset.
The Z97I-DRONE is a mini ITX form factor board measuring 170mm x 170mm. It is based around the Intel Z97 Express chipset and supports Haswell processors. ECS has integrated several features aimed at gamers including Sound Blaster Cinema 2 audio, PCI-E 3.0, and an Intel I218V NIC. Beyond that, the Z97I-DRONE also incorporates high end power management hardware that enables overclocking. ECS uses what it calls “Hybrid Power” technology on the new mini ITX board which entails a 5-phase PWM to manage stable power delivery to the processor and memory, dual MOSFETs (which are reportedly 90% power efficient), Nichicon Japanese capacitors, and Icy Chokes which ECS states are more stable and produces 13% less heat versus ferrite chokes.
The internal layout is unique, with the internal headers, PCH, and five SATA III ports placed along the top half of the motherboard and the LGA 1150 socket sitting in the bottom right corner. The right edge of the board hosts two dual channel DDR3 memory slots that support a maximum of 16GB clocked at 3000+ MHz when overclocked. The power management “Hybrid Power” hardware sits to the left of the processor socket. A single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot sits on the bottom edge of the board. Further, Morry will be ecstatic to know that the CMOS battery is vertically mounted on the opposite side of the GPU slot and sits directly to the left of the M.2 slot above the processor socket (to the right of the southbridge). The board has internal headers for two USB 3.0 ports and two USB 2.0 ports. ECS is using a Realtek ALC1150 8-channel audio codec to drive the audio outputs and an Intel I218V Gigabit LAN NIC for networking.
Rear IO on the mini ITX Z97I-DRONE consists of the following ports:
- 4 x USB 2.0
- 3 x Video Outputs
- 1 x DVI
- 1 x DisplayPort
- 1 x HDMI
- 4 x USB 3.0
- 1 x RJ45 (Intel I218V)
- 6 x Audio Outputs
- 5 x Analog Audio
- 1 x Optical S/PDIF
Pricing and availability have not yet been announced, but if you are interested in this board keep an eye on this ECS product page.
Also read: ECS 2014 Press Event: LIVE, LIVA, LEAD, L337 @ PC Perspective.
Subject: Systems, Mobile | October 9, 2014 - 03:41 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: yoga tablet 2, yoga tablet, Windows 8.1, windows, Thinkpad, lenovo yoga, Lenovo, haswell, Broadwell
At a press event in London (watch the livestream), Lenovo showed off two new convertible PCs – the Yoga 3 Pro and ThinkPad Yoga 14 – aimed at the consumer and business markets respectively that each incorporate evolutionary improvements over their predecessors. The Windows 8.1 PCs will be available at the end of October.
The Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro is the company's new flagship multi-mode system, and features build quality and internal processing power enhancements over the Yoga 2 Pro while being 17% thinner (0.5") and 14% lighter (2.62 lbs). Lenovo attributes the size and weight reductions to its new watchband hinge which is uses 800 pieces of aluminum and steel to achieve a thin yet flexible hinge with six focus points that resembles a metal watchband. Additionally, Lenovo has updated the display to a 13.3" multi-touch panel with (QHD+) 3200x1800 resolution. Other external features include JBL stereo speakers, a 720p webcam, two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 and DC-input port, one micro HDMI output, and one audio combo jack.
Lenovo's new hand-constructed watchband-style hinge with six focus points.
Internally, Lenovo is using the Intel Core M-70 (Broadwell) processor, up to 8GB of DDR3L memory, and a 256GB SSD. Lenovo claims up to 9 hours of battery life, depending on usage. The PC will be available in Clementine Orange, Platinum Silver, or Champagne Gold.
Lenovo also announced the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14. While it does not have the kinds of form factor and hinge design improvements as the Yoga 3 Pro, it does maintain the useful Lift 'n Lock keyboard and feature welcome internal upgrades. The ThinkPad Yoga 14 measures 13.3" x 9.4" x 0.82" and weighs 4.1 pounds. The magnesium alloy frame holds a 14" 1920x1080 IPS display with 10-point multi-touch, a 720p webcam, dual microphones with noise cancelation, stereo speakers, a backlit Lift 'n Lock keyboard (which, when in tablet mode, raises the frame flush with the keys which lock in place), full keyboard, trackpad, and trackpoint nub.
This PC is noticeably bulkier and heavier than the Yoga 3 Pro, but it trades bulk for processing power, storage, and external I/O. Externally, the PC has one full HDMI video out (which is preferable to having to remember a micro HDMI adapter on the road or to meetings), two USB 3.0 ports, one combo USB 2.0/DC power/OneLink docking connector, one SD card slot, and one audio combo jack. The ThinkPad Yoga 14 is powered by an Intel Core i5 (Haswell) processor, NVIDIA GeForce 840M GPU, either 4GB or 8GB of DDR3L memory, and 1TB hard drive paired with 16GB flash for caching purposes. It comes with Windows 8.1 and "all day" battery life of up to eight hours.
In all, it has some useful updates over last year's model which we reviewed here.
Pricing and Availability:
The Yoga 3 Pro and ThinkPad Yoga 14 will be available at the end of October from Lenovo.com or Best Buy. The Yoga 3 Pro has an MSRP of $1,349 while the ThinkPad Yoga 14 starts at $1,149.
Both systems continue the Yoga family forward, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the Broadwell-powered Yoga 3 Pro performs in particular. I do wish the Lift 'n Lock keyboard technology had trickled down to the consumer models even understanding it would add additional weight and thickness. Obviously, Lenovo felt the tradeoff was not worth it though.
Introduction and Technical Specifications
Courtesy of ASUS
The ASUS Maximus VII Formula motherboard is one of the newest members of the ROG (Republic of Gamers) product line, integrating several new features to elevate the board to an entirely new level over is predecessor. From outward appearance the Maximus VII Formula looks very similar to its previous revision, the Maximus VI Formula. However, ASUS made some under-the-hood enhancements and minor layout adjustments to the board, utilizing the functionality of the integrated Intel Z97 chipset. The Maximus VII Formula comes with a premium MSRP of $369.00, but is well worth the cost given the premium feature set and performance potential of the board.
Courtesy of ASUS
Courtesy of ASUS
Courtesy of ASUS
ASUS designed the Maximus VII Formula motherboard with a top-rated 8-phase digital power delivery system, combining 60A-rated BlackWing chokes, NexFET MOSFETs with a 90% efficiency rating, and 10k Japanese-source Black Metallic capacitors, for unprecedented system stability under any circumstance. Additionally, ASUS integrate their updated SupremeFX Formula audio system for superior audio fidelity through the integrated audio ports. The Maximus VII Formula contains the following features integrated into its design: six SATA 3 ports; an M.2 (NGFF) 10 Gb/s port integrated into the ASUS mPCIe Combo III card; two SATA Express 10 Gb/s ports; an Intel I218V GigE NIC; an AzureWave (Broadcomm chipset) 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth controller integrated into the ASUS mPCIe Combo III card; three PCI-Express Gen3 x16 slots; three PCI-Express Gen2 x1 slots; 2-digit diagnostic LED display; on-board power, reset, CMOS clear, Keybot, MemOK!, BIOS Flashback, ROG Connect, and Sonic SoundStage buttons; Probelt voltage measurement points; OC Panel support; SupremeFX Formula 2014 audio solution; CrossChill Hybrid air and water cooled VRM copper-based cooling solution; ROG Armor overlay; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 29, 2014 - 06:41 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: fanless, nuc, haswell
The Akasa Newton X is a fanless case for the NUC form factor that was announced in May and released a couple of months ago. Now, we are beginning to see system builders (albeit in Europe) integrate it in some higher-end devices. This one, from Atlast! Solutions, is built around the Intel Core i5-4250U, up to 1.5TB of SSD storage (512GB Crucial M550 mSATA + 1TB 840 EVO SATA), and up to 16GB of RAM. It can also be configured with up to two-antenna Wireless AC.
The Core i5-4250U is a dual-core (four threads) processor that is rated for 15W TDP. Its on-chip GPU is the Intel HD Graphics 5000 with a peak, theoretical compute throughput of 704 GFLOPS. This makes it a little under three-times the graphics performance of an Xbox 360. In terms of PC games, you are looking at Battlefield 4 or Titanfall on low at 1024x768 (or basically whatever your home server can do if used as a stream-to target).
Prices currently start at £449.00 for 4GB of RAM and 60GB of mSATA SSD, including VAT.
Thanks to FanlessTech for covering this story.
ECS hosted a press event in the third week of August to unveil its new product lineup and corporate direction. The press event, named "Live, Liva, Lead, L337", lays out the important aspects of the "new ECS" and its intended market direction. They introduced the LIVA mini computer with integrated 32GB and 64GB integrated SSDs, their Z97-based product line-up, and the North America LIVA design contest.
Their naming of the event was apropos to their renewed corporate vision with the first two terms, Live and LIVA, referencing their LIVA mini-PC platform. ECS developed the name LIVA by combining the words Live and Viva (Life in Spanish), signifying the LIVA line's aim at integrating itself into your daily routine and providing the ability to live a better life. Lead signifies ECS' desire to become a market leader in the Mini-PC space with their LIVA platform as well as become a more dominant player in the PC space. The last term, L337, is a reference to their L337 Gaming line of motherboards, a clear reminder of their Z97 offerings to be unveiled.
ECS seeks to consolidate its product lines, re-focusing its energy on what it excels at - offering quality products at reasonable prices. ECS seeks to leverage its corporate partnerships and design experience to build products equivalent to competitor lines at a much reduced cost to the end user. This renewed focus on quality and the end user led to a much revised Z97 board lineup in comparison to its Z87-based offerings. Additionally, their newly introduced mini-PC line, branded LIVA, seeks to offer a cheaper all-in-one alternative to the Intel NUC and GIGABYTE BRIX systems.
Subject: Processors | September 4, 2014 - 03:31 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Intel, Haswell-E, haswell, ddr4, core i7, 5960X
[H]ard|OCP reviewed Intel's brand new Extreme processor, the Haswell-E i7-5960X as weill as posting a large amount of Intel's launch slides detailing the new features present in this series of CPU. As you can see from the picture they used the same funky white ASUS motherboard which Ryan used in his review but chose a Koolance EX2-755 watercooler as opposed to the Corsair H100i which allowed them to hit 4.5GHz with 1.301v CPU core voltage, slightly lower than Ryan managed. In the end, while extremely impressed by the CPU they saw little benefits to gaming and recommend this CPU to those who spend most of their time encoding video, manipulating huge images and of course those who just want the best CPU on the planet.
"There are many members of the "1366 X58 Enthusiast Overclockers Club" that have been waiting with bated breath for Intel's launch of the new X99 Express Chipset and new family of Core i7 Haswell-E processors. All this new hardware comes bundled with brand new DDR4 RAM technology packing huge bandwidth as well."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- Intel Core i7-5960X Extreme @ Benchmark Reviews
- Intel Core i7 5960X “Haswell-E” @ eTeknix
- Intel Core i7-5960X 8-Core Haswell-E Processor Review @ Legit Reviews
- Intel Core i7 5960X Haswell-E @ Kitguru
- Intel Core i7 5960X @ Neoseeker
- Intel Octacore i7-5960X Haswell-E Review Part I @ Madshrimps
- Intel Core i7 4790K Devils Canyon CPU Review @ TechwareLabs
- AMD FX 8370 & FX 8370E Review @ Neoseeker
- AMD FX-8370E @ Benchmark Reviews
- AMD FX 8370 & FX 8370E Review @ OCC
- AMD FX-8370 and FX-8370E Processors Review @ Modders-Inc
- Running AMD's FX-8370 / FX-8370E On Linux @ Phoronix
- AMD's FX-8370E @ The Tech Report
Subject: Systems | September 4, 2014 - 03:42 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: y70 touch, Lenovo, haswell, gaming notebook, gaming, Erazer
Yesterday, Lenovo unveiled two new gaming systems at IFA in Berlin. The new Y70 Touch is a 17-inch gaming notebook while the Erazer X310 and Erazer X315 are mid-tower desktops. All three systems will be available later this month.
The Y70 Touch is Lenovo's first desktop replacement notebook with a touchscreen. The 25.9mm thick notebook features a 17.3" 1080p display, backlit keyboard, and JBL-powered stereo speakers (with subwoofer). It can be configured with up to an Intel Haswell i7 processor, NVIDIA GTX 860M GPU with 4GB RAM, 16GB of DDR3 system memory, and 1TB solid state drive (SSD). (Storage options include 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB SSD options.) Lenovo is including an external disc drive with the gaming PC which was left out of the chassis itself to maintain its slim form factor and to reduce weight.
The Y70 Touch gaming notebook starts at $1,299 and will be available in the US later this month.
If desktops are more your style, Lenovo is now offering up the Erazer X310 and X315 mid-tower PCs. The X310 and X315 will share the same black mid-tower chassis but will use different internal hardware. the X310 with Intel Haswell CPUs will be available worldwide while the AMD APU-powered X315 will be exclusive to North America.
The ERAZER X310/X315 case is all black with a stealthy angular front panel design that hosts two 5.25" bays and a blue LED-backlit power button. The X310 can be configured with up to an Intel Haswell i7 CPU while the X315 supports AMD "Kaveri" APUs up to the A10 series (e.g. A10 7850K). Users can choose up to a NVIDIA GTX 760 (2GB) or AMD Radeon R9 255 (2GB) graphics card. The mid-tower has four PCI slots and in theory could support further DIY upgrades but GPU length would be limited and the power supply may need to be upgraded as well. Further, both systems feature up to 32GB system memory and a maximum of 4TB mechanical hard drive, 2TB hybrid hard drive or 256GB solid state storage.
The new ERAZER X310 and X315 desktops will be available shortly starting at $599.
For those interested in the APU-powered desktop, the following articles might be of interest.
- AMD A8-7600 Kaveri APU and R7 250 Dual Graphics Testing - Pacing is Fixed!
- Fully Enabling the A10-7850K while Utilizing a Standalone GPU
Subject: Processors | August 29, 2014 - 02:08 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Intel, Haswell-E, haswell, evga, ddr4, corsair, core i7, asus, 5960X
The Tech Report took the new i7-5960X, Asus X99 Deluxe, 16 GB of Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4, a Kingston HyperX SH103S3 240GB SSD and a XFX Radeon HD 7950 DD and set it loose on the test bench. The results were impressive to say the least, especially when they moved on from games to test productivity software where the Haswell architecture really shines. When they attempted to overclock the CPU they found a hard limit feeding the processor 1.3V and running 4.4GHz, any faster would cause some applications to BSoD. On the other hand that applied to all 8 cores and the difference in performance was striking.
Also make sure to read Ryan's review to get even mroe information on this long awaited chip.
"Haswell-E has arrived. With eight cores, 20MB of cache, and quad channels of DDR4 memory, it looks to be the fastest desktop CPU in history--and not by a little bit. We've tested the heck out of it and have a huge suite of comparisons going to back to the Pentium III 800. Just, you know, for context."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- Core i7 5960X Haswell-E is here for the extreme enthusiasts @ Bjorn3d
- Intel Core i7 5960X Extreme Edition Review @ OCC
- Core i7-5960X Extreme Edition Review: Intel’s Overdue Desktop 8-Core Is Here @ Techgage
- Intel i7-5960X and X99 @ HardwareHeaven
- Intel i7 5960X Review; Haswell-E Arrives @ Hardware Canucks
- Intel Xeon E5-2697 v2 “Ivy Bridge-EP” @ eTeknix
- Intel Haswell Core i7-4790K vs. i7-4770K Comparison @ techPowerUp
Revamped Enthusiast Platform
Join us at 12:30pm PT / 3:30pm ET as Intel's Matt Dunford joins us for a live stream event to discuss the release of Haswell-E and the X99 platform!! Find us at http://www.pcper.com/live!!
Sometimes writing these reviews can be pretty anti-climactic. With all of the official and leaked information released about Haswell-E over the last six to nine months, there isn't much more to divulge that can truly be called revolutionary. Yes, we are looking at the new king of the enthusiast market with an 8-core processor that not only brings a 33% increase in core count over the previous generation Ivy Bridge-E and Sandy Bridge-E platforms, but also includes the adoption of the DDR4 memory specification, which allows for high density and high speed memory subsystems.
And along with the new processor on a modified socket (though still LGA2011) comes a new chipset with some interesting new features. If you were left wanting for USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt on X79, then you are going to love what you see with X99. Did you think you needed some more SATA ports to really liven up your pool of hard drives? Retail boards are going to have you covered.
Again, just like last time, you will find a set of three processors that are coming into the market at the same time. These offerings range from the $999 price point and go down to the much more reasonable cost of $389. But this time there are more interesting decisions to be made based on specification differences in the family. Do the changes that Intel made in the sub-$1000 SKUs make it a better or worse buy for users looking to finally upgrade?
Haswell-E: A New Enthusiast Lineup from Intel
Today's launch of the Intel Core i7-5960X processor continues on the company's path of enthusiast branded parts that are built off of a subset of the workstation and server market. It is no secret that some Xeon branded processors will work in X79 motherboards and the same is true of the upcoming Haswell-EP series (with its X99 platform) launching today. As an enthusiast though, I think we can agree that it doesn't really matter how a processor like this comes about, as long as it continues to occur well into the future.
The Core i7-5960X processor is an 8-core, 16-thread design built on what is essentially the same architecture we saw released with the mainstream Haswell parts released in June of 2013. There are some important differences of course, including the lack of integrated graphics and the move from DDR3 to DDR4 for system memory. The underlying microarchitecture remains unchanged, though. Previously known as the Haswell-E platform, the Core i7-5960X continues Intel's trend of releasing enthusiast/workstation grade platforms that are based on an existing mainstream architecture.
Since the introduction of the Haswell line of CPUs, the Internet has been aflame with how hot the CPUs run. Speculation ran rampant on the cause with theories abounding about the lesser surface area and inferior thermal interface material (TIM) in between the CPU die surface and the underside of the CPU heat spreader. It was later confirmed that Intel had changed the TIM interfacing the CPU die surface to the heat spreader with Haswell, leading to the hotter than expected CPU temperatures. This increase in temperature led to inconsistent core-to-core temperatures as well as vastly inferior overclockability of the Haswell K-series chips over previous generations.
A few of the more adventurous enthusiasts took it upon themselves to use inventive ways to address the heat concerns surrounding the Haswell by delidding the processor. The delidding procedure involves physically removing the heat spreader from the CPU, exposing the CPU die. Some individuals choose to clean the existing TIM from the core die and heat spreader underside, applying superior TIM such as metal or diamond-infused paste or even the Coollaboratory Liquid Ultra metal material and fixing the heat spreader back in place. Others choose a more radical solution, removing the heat spreader from the equation entirely for direct cooling of the naked CPU die. This type of cooling method requires use of a die support plate, such as the MSI Die Guard included with the MSI Z97 XPower motherboard.
Whichever outcome you choose, you must first remove the heat spreader from the CPU's PCB. The heat spreader itself is fixed in place with black RTV-type material ensuring a secure and air-tight seal, protecting the fragile die from outside contaminants and influences. Removal can be done in multiple ways with two of the most popular being the razor blade method and the vise method. With both methods, you are attempting to separate the CPU PCB from the heat spreader without damaging the CPU die or components on the top or bottom sides of the CPU PCB.