Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: EVGA

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of EVGA

The Z97 Classified motherboard is among EVGA's newest offerings in their Intel Z97 line of products. EVGA improved upon their previous revision Classified boards, adding in support for 5th generation Intel Core processors through integration with the Intel Z97 chipset. Most flagship motherboard command a premium price with the Z97 Classified being no exception. It's $379.99 MSRP may price it out of reach for many enthusiasts, but its integrated components and overclocking-friendly features more than justify the price.

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Courtesy of EVGA

EVGA designed the Z97 Classified board with an 8-phase digital power delivery system for the CPU, ensuring a stable system under any operational conditions. The Z97 Classified has the following integrated features: eight SATA 3 ports; an mSATA/mPCI-E port; dual Intel GigE NIC ports; five PCI-Express x16 slots; a PCI-Express x1 slot; 2-digit diagnostic LED display; on-board power, reset, and dual CMOS clear buttons; triple BIOS switche; PCIe disable switch jumper block; integrated EZ Voltage measurement points; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.

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Courtesy of EVGA

Continue reading our review of the EVGA Z97 Classified motherboard!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

The Z97X-SOC Force motherboard is the premier offering in GIGABYTE's Overclocking Series of boards. The overclocking series boards are designed with enhancements and features meant to appeal to enthusiasts and professional overclockers alike. The Z97X-SOC Force board deign is based on the previous generation Z87X-OC Force, featuring the same black and orange coloration typical to the series. The board does contain several evolutionary changes making the board easier to use and more appealing to its target users. At an MSRP of $209.99, the Z97X-S0C Force is competitively priced to appeal to all levels of enthusiasts.

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

GIGABYTE enhanced the board power regulation system designed into the current generation boards, allowing for use of a simplified cooling and fewer power phases. As a result, the Z97X-SOC Force is packed with 8-phase digital power circuit for the CPU, using International Rectifier (IR) based PowIRstage digital controllers and 10k-rated black solid capacitors to ensure system stability under any conditions. The Z97X-SOC Force board comes standard with the following integrated features: six SATA 3 ports; one SATA Express 10 Gb/s ports; a Qualcomm® Atheros Killer E2201 NIC; four PCI-Express x16 slots; a PCI-Express x1 slots; two PCI slots; 2-digit diagnostic LED display; on-board power, reset, CMOS clear, CMOS battery clear, OC Ignition, OC Tag, OC Turbo, OC Touch, Settings Lock, Direct to BIOS, and Memory Safe buttons; Dual-BIOS, active BIOS, and IC Trigger switches; OC PCIe and OC DIMM switch jumper blocks; integrated voltage measurement points; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

Continue reading our review of the GIGABYTE Z97X-SOC Force motherboard!

Computex 2014: ASUS ROG Maximus VII Impact

Subject: Motherboards | June 2, 2014 - 11:29 PM |
Tagged: ROG, mITX, Maximus VII Impact, Intel Z97, haswell, computex 2014, asus

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Courtesy of ASUS

Today, ASUS announced a new edition to their Z97-based ROG line of boards, the Maximus VII Impact. This mini-ITX board carries many of the Intel Z97 enhancements of its fellow ROG boards, as well as a few secrets of its own. Don't let looks deceive you, a heart of a champion beats in the Maximus VII Impact's small silicon footprint.

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Courtesy of ASUS

ASUS went back to the drawing board with their ROG Impact-based design, striving to deliver an mini-ITX form factor product that does not compromise on features, performance, overclocking potential, or CPU cooler compatibility. The result was the re-engineered ROG Maximus VII Impact, featuring unprecedented compatibility with a wide range of both CPU coolers and PCI-Express expansion cards. Powering the board is the Impact Power II power card, featuring the same digital power circuitry found on the full-sized ROG ATX boards. The Impact Power II PCB is mounted vertically to maximize the board's space use. Also integrated into the board is the Impact CooolHub, an optional add-on card containing two additional 4-pin fan headers as well as an LN2 header. The board also comes with the mPCIe Combo IV card, supporting 802.11ac wireless operation, as well as M.2 SSDs operating at up to 20Gbps, utilizing bandwidth up to PCIe x4 speeds.

Like other ROG Z97-based offerings, the Maximus VII Impact board comes standard with its own version of the SupremeFX 2014 audio subsystem - the SupremeFX Impact II audio card. Additionally, the board offers full compatibility with the soon-to-be-released Intel Devil's Canyon-based CPUs with enhanced tuning capabilities.

ASUS has not yet announced price or availability specifics for the ROG Maximus VII Impact, but expects the board to be available for purchase at North American-based retailers by Q3 2014.

For more Computex 2014 coverage, please check out our feed!

Source: ASUS

Computex 2014: ASUS ROG Maximus VII Formula

Subject: Motherboards | June 2, 2014 - 11:28 PM |
Tagged: ROG, Maximus VII Formula, Intel Z97, haswell, computex 2014, asus

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Courtesy of ASUS

Today, ASUS announced the latest member of their Z97-based ROG line of boards, the Maximus VII Formula. The board features many enhancements in its design and integrated components to make it a worthwhile successor to its predecessor.

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Courtesy of ASUS

For better board performance and cooler running, ASUS revised the hybrid cooler in the Maximus VII Formula, dubbing it the Crosschill Copper. Unlike the previous version of the Crosschill hybrid cooler, the Crosschill Copper is made entirely of copper for optimized heat transfer in either air or water-based operation, as well as to alleviate mixed-metal corrosion concerns when used in a multi-block cooling loop. The board also comes with the mPCIe Combo III card, supporting 802.11ac wireless operation,  as well as M.2 SSDs operating at up to 10Gbps, utilizing bandwidth up to PCIe x2 speeds.

Like other ROG Z97-based offerings, the Maximus VII Formula board comes standard with the SupremeFX 2014 audio subsystem and the Radar II in-game audio enhancements. The SupremeFX 2014 subsystem integrates an audio processor capable of up to 120dB signal-to-noise ratio output, as well as the Sonic SenseAmp technology that automatically adjusts headphone impedance for the best audio gaming experience. The board also includes the ROG Thermal Armor overlay and ROG Fortifier under plate, as well as the ROG KeyBot functionality. ROG KeyBot is an in-built macro system that creates gaming macros for any keyboard attached to the supported USB port to elevate your gaming experience to the next level.

ASUS has not yet announced price or availability specifics for the ROG Maximus VII Formula, but expects the board to be available for purchase at North American-based retailers by late July 2014.

For more Computex 2014 coverage, please check out our feed!

Source: ASUS
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of ASUS

The ASUS Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1 motherboard is the newest member of thier TUF (The Ultimate Force) series. The board features the Intel Z97 chipset, but keeps the aesthetics and functionality you have come to expect from TUF series boards, and more specifically the Sabertooth line. That does not mean to say that ASUS did not improve the design of the Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1 board. The Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1 comes with a premium MSRP of $249.99 with features to justify its premium price point.

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Courtesy of ASUS

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Courtesy of ASUS

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Courtesy of ASUS

ASUS used the previous Sabertooth board as a template to design and improve upon the Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1. The board includes the line's signature TUF Thermal Armor board overlay and TUF Fortifier back plate. With the new revision of the Thermal Armor, ASUS integrated two optional fans into its design as well as flow ports above the CPU VRM heat sinks to adjust the airflow through the Thermal Armor. The board is designed with an 8 phase digital power system with alloy chokes redesigned to run cooler than previous generation chokes, 10k-rated Titanium capacictors, and military-grade TUF MOSFETs. Additionally, ASUS integrated on board ESD (elctro-static discharge) protection into the rear panel keyboard/mouse, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, LAN, and audio ports to protect the motherboard and integrated components from voltage fluctuations and power surges.

Continue reading our review of the ASUS Sabertooth Z97 Mark 1 Motherboard Review!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of MSI

MSI's Z97 Gaming 7 motherboard offers a bevy of updated features and aesthetics to usher in the Intel Z97 chipset-based product line. The intial update you'll notice are the design of the CPU VRM and chipset heat sinks. The VRM heat sinks have a unique banded design, reminiscent of a dragon's claws. This was done purposefully to cement the Gaming series moniker to the board in the user's mind. The chipset heat sink contains a glowing MSI corporate logo with the Dragon Gaming series shield logo centered above it. The black and red board color scheme is done tastefully with the red coloration used to accent and highlight the heat sinks. With an MRSP of $189, the Z97 Gaming 7 board is competitively priced to take the market by storm.

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Courtesy of MSI

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Courtesy of MSI

MSI designed the Z97 Gaming 7 board with a 12-phase digital power delivery system combining Hi-C and Dark capacitors with super ferrite chokes for optimal power delivery with enhanced power efficiency characteristics. The board includes the following integrated components: eight SATA 3 ports; one M.2 10 Gb/s ports; a Qualcomm® Atheros Killer E2205 NIC; three PCI-Express x16 slots; four PCI-Express x1 slots; a 2-digit diagnostic LED display; on-board power, reset, CMOS clear, and OC-Genie buttons; Slow Mode boot, Multi-BIOS, and Audio Power switches; left and right channel audio gain control switches; Realtek audio solution with isolated audio PCB and Nichicon audio capacitors; dedicated per-channel headphone OP-AMPs; integrated V-Check voltage measurement points; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.

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Courtesy of MSI

Continue reading our review of the MSI Z97 Gaming 7 motherboard!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

Like many other manufacturers, GIGABYTE is using the launch of the Intel Z97 Express chipset to update its product line aesthetics and makeup. The Z97X-Gaming G1-WIFI-BK motherboard is part of GIGABYTE's Black Edition product line, differentiated from other GIGABYTE offers because of the enhanced validation criteria each individual Black Edition product is put through prior to leaving the assembly plant. Each board is put through a 168 hour stress test, consisting of both CPU and GPU-based Lite Coin mining, to prove its worth as part of the elite Black Edition product line. The Z97X-Gaming G1-WIFI-BK motherboard itself shares components and aesthetics with their Gaming line, featuring the line's black and red coloration and the GIGABYTE Gaming logo (the silver eye) on the Z97 chipset heat sink. With an MSRP of $349, the board is priced at a premium, more than justified by its enhanced feature set and Black Edition enhanced validation criteria.

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

GIGABYTE paired the Z97X-Gaming G1-WIFI-BK motherboard with an 8 phase digital power delivery system to ensure clean power to the CPU under all operating conditions. Additionally, the board's VRM heat sinks can be integrated into an existing water loop using the provided G 1/4" threaded ports. Note that the PLX and chipset heat pipe is physically separate from the VRM heat pipe and does not benefit by water cooling the board's VRM cooler. The Z97X-Gaming G1-WIFI-BK motherboard boasts the following integrated feature list: eight SATA 3 ports; one SATA Express 10 Gb/s ports; dual Gigabit NICs - an Intel i217V NIC and a Qualcomm® Atheros Killer E2201 NIC; an Intel 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth PCIe adapter; four PCI-Express x16 slot; three PCI-Express x1 slots; 2-digit diagnostic LED display; on-board power, reset, and CMOS clear buttons; Dual-Bios and active BIOS switches; left and right channel audio gain control switches; Sound Blaster Core 3D audio solution; removable audio OP-AMP port; integrated voltage measurement points; hybrid VRM cooling solution; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

Continue reading our review of the GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1-WIFI-BK motherboard!

Intel and Google Host Chrome OS Event, Announce New Products With Haswell i3 and Bay Trail SoCs

Subject: General Tech | May 6, 2014 - 03:01 PM |
Tagged: Intel, haswell, Chromebox, Chromebook, Chromebase, chrome os, Bay Trail

Intel hosted an event on Chrome OS today where the company discussed its partnership with Google and announced new Chrome devices based on the company's latest generation Haswell and Bay Trail processors.

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Intel continues to work with Google to develop the Chromebook and the company sees potential for Chrome OS devices to expand to additional markets outside of consumer and education. Specifically, Intel and Google are pushing into the commercial markets by working with OEMs to put together devices aimed at corporate customers as productivity machines, video conferencing boxes, and drivers of customer kiosks and digital signage.

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In addition to the expansion to new markets, the existing consumer and education markets continue to grow with the use of Chromebooks in schools doubling versus last quarter with 10,000 schools now employing the Google-powered hardware. Consumers have also pushed Chromebooks to the top six of Amazon charts with the Acer C720 having 4.4 out of five stars and over a thousand customer reviews.

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Chrome OS is not only expanding into other markets but to additional form factors in the form of Chrome Boxes and Chrome Bases which are small form factor desktop systems and All-In-One devices powered by Chrome OS respectively. The second half of this year will see the number of Chrome OS devices expand from four design choices by four OEMs to twenty design choices from at least nine OEMs.

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The upcoming Chrome OS devices will be powered by new processor options from Intel in the form of conflict-free Intel Haswell Core i3 CPUs and Intel Bay Trail SoCs. The Haswell Core i3 option is an upgrade over the Pentium and Celeron "Entry Level Haswell" parts and offer increased performance in offline computing tasks, app switching, and multi-tasking. The Bay Trail parts will enable passively cooled (fan-less) Chromebooks with around 8 hours (up to 11 hours+) of battery life while still offering up acceptable performance for watching videos or working with documents. Intel further claims that the Bay Trail powered Chromebooks will be thinner at less than 18mm and up to 15% lighter than existing models.

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An 11.6" Chromebook powered by an Intel Haswell Core i3 processor coming later this year.

Intel showed off several new Chrome OS products that will be coming later this year. The new Chromebooks include Haswell i3-powered laptops from Acer and Dell for $349, the Lenovo N20 Chrome and N20p Chrome powered by an Intel Celeron (Bay Trail) SoC, and the Intel Education Chromebook Reference Design which CTL will bring to market later this year. It was also revealed that the already-announced Lenovo ThinkPad Chromebook with its Yoga-style hinge will actually use a Bay Trail SoC.

The Intel Education Chromebook Reference Design is a platform designed by Intel that other OEMs can take, tweak, and bring to market. It is a clamshell-style laptop with a rotating camera and ruggedized chassis aimed at students.

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Intel's reference platform is a ruggedized clamshell laptop aimed at students.

Laptops and tablets dominated the show, but the company did unveil a tiny new Chrome Box from HP (slated for availability in June) that can sit behind a computer display or be used to drive digital signage and customer kiosks.

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Further, Intel demonstrated a new Chrome OS form factor with what it calls a "Chrome Base." The first Chrome Base is coming from LG later this month as a 21" All In One computer running Chrome OS for $349.

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Chrome OS in general is expanding from traditional clamshell laptops to larger screens and alternative form factors (desktop, tablet, convertible, et al), and when asked about the future of touch on Chrome OS and the overlap between Android and Chrome OS Caesar Sengupta, VP of Product Management at Google, explained that the company feels that touch is a key aspect in the computing experience and that Google is interested in supporting and improving touch on Chrome OS and evaluating customer use on alternative form factors. Further, Mr Sengupta stated that Google is focusing on Chromebooks, Chrome Boxes, and the new All In One Chrome Bases with physical keyboards for Chrome OS while Android is focused on mobile phones and touch-based tablets. As OEMs introduce more touch-friendly and acrobatic hinged Chrome devices, there is likely to be some overlap, but ultimately decisions affecting the directions of the two OSes will be based on customer demand.

Google also used the event to announce that within the next few weeks users will be able to play movies and TV shows offline using the Google Play Movies Chrome app.

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Overall, the event demonstrated that Chrome OS is growing at a healthy pace. Devices using the cloud-friendly operating system will be in 20 countries by the end of this year (versus 9 currently), and the new x86 processor options will enable a smoother user experience and faster application performance. I am genuinely interested to see where OEMs are able to take Chrome OS and what it is able to do as Google continues development of the software.

If you are interested, you can watch a recorded version of the live stream on the Intel website.

Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more Chrome device news as the hardware gets closer to release.

Source: Intel
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of ASUS

The ASUS Z97-Deluxe motherboard is the flagship board in ASUS' channel line of Intel Z97 chipset boards. ASUS revised its entire motherboard line for the Z97 chipset launch with the Z97-Deluxe featuring the updated channel board aesthetics as well as many design innovations built upon the previous board generation. With an MSRP of $399.99, ASUS priced the Z97-Deluxe at the level of other flagship motherboards with a plethora of integrated features and performance that more than justifies the price.

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Courtesy of ASUS

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Courtesy of ASUS

ASUS designed the Z97-Deluxe to be a serious competitor in the enthusiast space, integrating a 16+2 phase digital power system to drive the CPU and DRAM with 10k-rated Japanese capacitors used through the board. The board also features an updated heat sink and heat pipe design to optimize passive heat transfer away from the digital VRM chipset and the Z97 chipset.

Continue reading our review of the ASUS Z97-Deluxe motherboard!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction

With the release of the next generation desktop board line imminent, we wanted to give you a taste of the new ASUS offerings. ASUS offers support for current and next generation Intel Haswell processors as well as support for SATA 3 and next generation SATA storage solutions with their next generation boards.

ASUS sought to perfect their designs with the new board lines, building off the successess from the Intel Z87-based boards and improving them for better performance and usability. All board lines feature an updated UEFI BIOS with more GUI-driven interfaces and wizards, particularly aimed at those users who don't want to muck around in the Advanced mode settings. Additionally, all board lines feature updated heat sink designs and aesthetics to further differentiate them from their Z87 counterparts. ASUS also enhanced their AI Suite software with 5-Way Optimization functionality, instead of the 4-Way Optimization functionality integrated into the last generation of AI Suite. 5-Way Optimization functionality integrates TPU (Turbo Processing Unit), EPU (Energy Processing Unit), DIGI+ Power Control, Fan XPert 3, and Turbo App into a single cohesive entity.

ASUS will continue to market the next generation boards across their standard four board lines:

  • Channel series motherboards
  • Republic of Gamers series motherboards
  • TUF series motherboards
  • Workstation series motherboards

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Channel series banner

The Channel series boards include all board designs aimed at mainstream consumers and system builders.

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ROG series banner

The ROG (Republic of Gamers) series boards are geared more towards enthusiast and gamer users, featuring a black and red color scheme for eye-catching appeal. The boards also feature innovative designs and integrated components that differentiate them from the other lines.

Continue reading our introduction of the ASUS next generation motherboards!