Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of MSI

The Z87 XPower board is the flagship motherboard in MSI's MPower product line. The board supports the latest generation of Intel LGA1150-based processors with all the over-engineered goodness you've come to expect from an MSI flagship board. The Z87 XPower sports the black and yellow theme of the product line, along with integrated LEDs to really make the board stand out. While its $439.99 retail may seem a bit high, the stability, features, and raw power of the board make it a wise investment for those that only want the best.

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Courtesy of MSI

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Courtesy of MSI

Designed with a 32-phase digital power system and an eight-layer PCB, the MSI Z87 XPower is armed to take any amount of punishment you can throw at it. MSI incorporated a plethora of features into its massive XL-ATX form factor board: 10 SATA 6Gb/s ports; a mSATA 6Gb/s port; a Killer E2205 GigE NIC; Intel 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth adapter; five PCI-Express x16 slots for up to quad-card NVIDIA SLI or AMD CrossFire support; two PCI-Express x1 slots; Lucidlogix Virtu® MVP 2.0 support; onboard power, reset, BIOS reset, CPU ratio control, base clock control, OC Genie, power discharge, and Go2BIOS buttons; multi-BIOS and PCIe control switches; 2-digit diagnostic LED display; 14 voltage check points; independent audio subsystem PCB design; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.

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Courtesy of MSI

Continue reading our review of the MSI Z87 XPower motherboard!

Podcast #269 - Frame Rating on Eyefinity, News from IDF, and rumors about new AMD GPUs

Subject: General Tech | September 19, 2013 - 11:26 AM |
Tagged: video, surround, podcast, nvidia, Intel, idf, haswell, frame rating, eyefinity, baytrail, amd, 4250U

PC Perspective Podcast #269 - 09/19/2013

Join us this week as we discuss Frame Rating on Eyefinity, News from IDF, and rumors about new AMD GPUs

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
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  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, and Morry Teitelman

 
Program length: 1:35:35
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
    1. Jeremy: Um, sure why not - ADATA DashDrive Durable
    2. Allyn: Connected Data Transporter 2.0 (yes it exists)
  4. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  5. Closing/outro

 

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ECS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of ECS

ECS seems to like gold and catchy titles. Building on the reputation of their previous generation Z77-based Golden Board series, ECS designed the Z87-based Z87H3-A2X Extreme to dominate the competition. ECS liberally spread the gold, giving all capacitors and connection pins a nice 24k coating. They even include a small fan hidden under the upper VRM heat sink for active heat pipe cooling. At an MSRP of $239.99, ECS priced the Z87H3-A2X Extreme board to aggressively compete with other manufacturers' high end offerings.

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Courtesy of ECS

ECS integrated a full 12 digital power phases into the board's CPU power regulation system for optimal stability and power delivery under the most demanding circumstances. The features designed into the Z87H3-A2X Extreme include: nine SATA 6Gb/s ports; mPCIe/mSATA port; dual Realtek GigE NICs; three PCI-Express x16 slots for up to tri-card support; one PCI-Express x1 slot; one PCI slot; on-board power, reset, BIOS reset, Boot to BIOS, BIOS backup, 80P, and Quick-OC buttons; 3-digit diagnostic LED display; integrated voltage measurement points; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support. The 80P button configures what information displays on the diagnostic display once the board has successfully initialized.

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Courtesy of ECS

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Courtesy of ECS

As part of their L337 Gaming series boards, ECS redesigned the power delivery and integrated cooling solutions for a better gaming experience. The Z87H3-A2X Extreme has the latest generation cooling technology encompassed in ECS' QoolTech V. Additionally, all VRM-related power components have been cherry picked by ECS for operationally longevity under extreme duress.

Continue reading our review of the ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme motherboard!

Intel Unveils New Haswell Powered NUC D54250WYK

Subject: General Tech | September 13, 2013 - 11:54 PM |
Tagged: SFF, nuc, Intel, hd 5000, haswell, 4k

Intel has announced a new Haswell-powered NUC called the D54250WYK. The new barebones kit includes an Intel D54250WYB NUC motherboard with soldered processor in a small form factor case that measures 4.6″ x 4.4″ x 1.4″. The new NUC is faster, has new IO options, and reportedly fixes the overheating issues of previous NUC systems. The Haswell-powered NUC has a bit of competition with the recently launched Gigabyte BRIX system which also got an upgrade to Intel's latest consumer architecture.

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The new NUC D54250WYK barebones kit.

The Intel NUC Kit D54250WYK uses a new 4.33" x 4.33" motherboard with a pre-soldered Intel Haswell Core i5-4250U processor. The system further supports two DDR3 SO-DIMM slots (up to 16GB of 1600MHz memory), a single SATA port, two mini PCI-E slots (one for mSATA SSDs and one half-height for Wi-Fi NICs), and a USB 2.0 header supporting to USB 2.0 ports. The Core i5-4250U CPU is a 22nm chip with a 15W TDP. It is a dual core part clocked at 1.3GHz base and 2.6GHz Turbo with HyperThreading, 3MB of cache, and HD 5000 processor graphics (200Mhz base and 1GHz Turbo).

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The new NUC motherboard and Haswell processor.

While Intel has removed Thunderbolt support, external IO is still decent, with the following ports:

Front IO:

  • 2 x USB 3.0 ports
  • 2 x Analog audio jacks
  • 1 x Infrared receiver

Rear IO:

  • 2 x Video outputs:
    • 1 x Mini DisplayPort 1.2
    • 1 x Mini HDMI 1.4
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 2 x USB 3.0

Notably, the Intel NUC Kit with i5-4250U CPU requires active cooling, but aftermarket cases offering passive cooling are likely in the works. Of course, users will be able to purchase the barebones D54250WYK kit or just the D54250WYB NUC motherboard and CPU that can be paired with a third party or custom built case. Like Gigabyte, Intel has not released specific pricing or availability, but expect the new Haswell-powered NUC to be coming soon as the system appears to be ready to go. Hopefully full reviews will be hitting the Internet soon!

Source: Intel

IDF 2013: Intel and Google Announce New Haswell-Powered Chromebooks

Subject: Mobile | September 13, 2013 - 03:32 PM |
Tagged: Intel, haswell, google, Chromebook

At IDF this week Intel and Google announced new Chromebooks running Google's cloud friendly operating system. The new machines will be built by a number of PC laptop manufacturers and will be available later this year.

Notably, the new Chromebooks will feature Intel Haswell processors, which Google claims will result in increased performance along with up to 2-times the battery life of previous generation Chromebooks. In fact, several manufacturers are rating the battery life between 8 and 9.5 hours, which would be quite the feat if the number hold up to actual usage!

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Acer, HP, and Toshiba will be releasing updated Chromebooks with Haswell CPUs and new laptop designs "over the coming months" for as-yet-unannounced prices. ASUS is also joining the Chromebook fray with a mini desktop PC running Chrome OS and requiring a monitor or TV for video output. Specifically, Acer will be putting out an 11.6" laptop that is 0.75" thick and weighs 2.76 pounds. HP is offering a larger display and more battery lfie with its 14" Chromebook measuing 0.81" thick and 4.08 pounds. You trade a bit of portability, but you get a larger display, keyboard, and battery. Toshiba will be unveiling a laptop form factor Chromebook as well, but specs on that particular system have not been revealed yet. As mentioned above, pricing has not been released, but expect the systems to be under $300.

Interestingly, Google claims that six of the leading PC laptop manufacturers are now offering their own spin on Google's Chromebook. Further, the Chromebooks account for around 20-percent of the sub-$300 PC market, according to Google. It seems that Chromebooks are slowly gaining traction though it remains to be seen if they will continue to be successful as Windows and Android budget ultraportable competition heats up and consumers become wary of "the cloud" and Internet applications in light of the various leaks concerning the NSA spying programs. (As Darren Kitchen of Hak5 would say, "encrypt all the things!")

Will you be picking up a Haswell-powered Chromebook?

Source: Google

Lenovo Announces ThinkPad W540 Mobile Workstations

Subject: General Tech, Systems | September 11, 2013 - 12:43 AM |
Tagged: w540, Thinkpad, quadro, optimus, mobile workstation, Lenovo, haswell

Lenovo announced several business-oriented ThinkPad notebooks today, including a new 15" mobile workstation called the ThinkPad W540. This new ISV-certified workstation employs Lenovo's claimed "user inspired design," high resolution screen, Intel Haswell processor, and longer battery life.

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The ThinkPad W540 measures 27mm and weighs 5.45 pounds. It features a 15.5" IPS display with a  resolution of 2880 x 1620 and Precision back-lit keyboard with number pad. The screen can be automatically calibrated using the integrated X-Rite color calibrator, according to the press release. IO ports include Thunderbolt, VGA, and USB among others.

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Lenovo has packed the W540 with a quad core Intel i7 processor, up to 32GB of RAM, an NVIDIA Quadro GPU (with Optimus support), and up to 2TB of hard drive storage in optional RAID configurations. The notebook comes with a Wi-Fi radio and can also be configured with a 4G LTE cellular radio.

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Lenovo has not yet announced pricing, but the mobile workstation will be available in November.

Source: Lenovo

IDF 2013: Intel Shows Off Haswell-Y and 14nm Broadwell Chips In New Devices

Subject: General Tech | September 10, 2013 - 11:29 AM |
Tagged: Intel, idf 2013, idf, haswell, fanless, convertible tablet, Broadwell, 14nm

New Intel CEO Brian Krzanich took the stage at IDF 2013 to talk about Intel's future and the PC market. The CEO believes that there is more innovation in the PC than ever before as the company introduces new Haswell and Broadwell chips, new form factors are being experimented with, and Intel moves from traditional CPU to SoC type of architectures.

Two such chips that Intel showed off that are aimed at consumer PCs include a new Haswell-Y chip and the launch of a 14nm Broadwell SoC.

Haswell Y is an ultra low power variant of the Haswell processors that have been avaialble in desktops since June. This new chip is a 4.5W TDP chip that will enable fanless mobile devices such as laptops and slate tablets. The x86-64 chip will allow fanless mobiles that run Windows and should be a good bit more powerful than current Atom-powered Windows mobiles!

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A fanless Haswell Y system.

In addition to Haswell Y, Intel is introducing a 14nm Broadwell SoC. The Broadwell chips will be used in both servers and consumer products in 2014.

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The 14nm Broadwell SoC.

Interestingly, it looks like Intel is well on its way to shipping chips as Intel showed off a working laptop with the Broadwell chip at IDF today. Further, Intel announced that the Broadwell chips will be shipping by the end of the year!

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A 14nm Broadwell-powered laptop.

Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more information!

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Dell Introduces Powerful New M4800 and M6800 Mobile Workstations

Subject: Systems, Mobile | September 9, 2013 - 06:00 AM |
Tagged: workstation, quadro, precision series, optimus, mobile workstation, m6800, m4800, haswell, firepro, enduro, dell

Today, Dell announced new mobile workstation systems in 15” and 17” notebook form factors. The Dell Precision M4800 and Precision M6800 are 15” and 17” laptops constructed of magnesium alloy and anodized aluminum cases, pack some impressive portable computing power, and will be available later this week.

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The Dell Precision M6800 and M4800. Photo courtesy of Dell Inc.

Both the Dell M4800 and M6800 are ISV certified, MIL-STD-810G tested, and support FIPS fingerprint readers, self encrypting hard drives, and TPM security chips. The workstations are updates to the existing M4700 and M6700 systems and can be configured with Intel Haswell i5 or i7  (including i7 Extreme Edition) processors, AMD FirePro or NVIDIA Quadro GPUs, up to 32GB of DDR3 1600MHz (or 16GB DDR3 at 1866MHz), multiple storage drives, Waves MaxxAudio, and WiGig wireless dock support that allows up to 5 external displays. Users can attach a 9-cell 97Wh slice battery in addition to the 9-cell 97Wh system battery to get extended battery life. Users can add dedicated graphics cards to the systems from AMD (FirePro) or NVIDIA (Quadro), which support Enduro and Optimus technologies respectively. The technology allows the system to turn off the dedicated cards and use the Intel processor graphics when the extra horsepower is not needed to conserve battery life. The M4800 and M6800 workstations each come with 3 year warranties.

The Dell Precision M4800 is a mobile workstation weighing 6.35 pounds. It features a backlit keyboard, trackpad, and high resolution 15.6” QHD+ IGZO display with a resolution of 3200 x 1800. The notebook can be configured with up to an Intel Core i7 “Haswell” Extreme Edition processor, an AMD FirePro M5100 Mobility Pro or NVIDIA Quadro K2100M graphics card, 32GB of DDR3 1600 MHz memory, and 2.5 TB of internal storage (two 1TB plus one 500GB drive) in RAID 0, 1, or 5 modes.

The 15” Dell Precision M4800 workstation will be available on September 12th starting at $1,249.

Stepping up to the larger 17” Precision M6800, users can configure the system with a Haswell Intel Core i7 Extreme Edition CPU, NVIDIA Quadro K5100M with 8GB of GDDR5 memory, 32GB of DDR3 1600 MHz system memory, 3.5TB of storage space in RAID 0, 1, or 5, and a 17” 1080p LED-backlit 10-point multi-touch display. This notebook weighs 7.86 pounds.

The M6800 will be available in black or phoenix red with a starting MSRP of $1,599 on September 12th.

Business customers needing portable computing power have some interesting new options with the two new Dell workstations, which pack some powerful hardware into a laptop form factor. Sure, they are not the lightest or thinnest machines, but you won't find i7 processors, 32GBs of memory, Quadro graphics, and 2+TB of storage in an ultrabook.

Source: Dell

Gigabyte Announces New Haswell-Powered BRIX PCs

Subject: General Tech | September 8, 2013 - 07:01 PM |
Tagged: SFF, Intel, htpc, haswell, gigabyte brix, gigabyte

Gigabyte recently updated its BRIX line of small form factor PCs to include Intel Haswell processors, 4K display support, and additional IO port options. The new BRIX systems measure 29.9mm x 107.6mm x 114.4mm and feature a chassis constructed of anthracite aluminum with a glass top panel. The new BRIX PCs come in four SKUs, each of which comes with an Intel Haswell processor of i7, i5, i3, or Celeron varieties.

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The BRIX PCs come with the case, a small Gigabyte motherboard, an Intel CPU, and a wireless module with 802.11n and Bluetooth 4.0 radios. Users can choose their own mSATA SSD, DDR3 SO-DIMMs (two per system, up to 16GB), and operating system. The front panel of the Haswell-powered BRIX PCs includes two USB 3.0 ports and a headphone jack that doubles as an optical S/PDIF output.

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The back panel of the BRIX system includes:

  • 2 x USB 3.0 ports
  • 1 x RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet (Realtek RT8111G NIC)
  • 2 x Video outputs:
    • 1 x Mini-DipslayPort
    • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x DC-in
  • 1 x Kensington Lock

Internally, the BRIX PCs have one Mini-PCI-E slot, one mSATA slot, and two DDR3 SO-DIMM slots. The Mini-PCI-E slot is used by the pre-installed Wi-Fi module, however. Processor options include the Intel Celeron 2955U, Core i3-4010U, Core i5-4200U, and Core i7-4500U. At the high end, the i7-4500U is a dual core CPU with HyperThreading, 4MB cache, and clockspeeds of 1.8GHz base and 3.0GHz turbo. The i5 also has turbo boost, but only up to 2.6GHz. The Core i3-4010U has HyperThreading but no Turbo Boost while the Celeron is stripped of both Turbo Boost and HyperThreading. The chart below lists all the processor specifications.

BRIX Model GB-BXi7-4500 GB-BXi5-4200 GB-BXi3-4010 GB-BXCE-2955
Processor Core i7-4500U Core i5-4200U Core i3-4010U Celeron 2955U
Cores / Threads 2 / 4 2 / 4 2 / 4 2 / 2
Clockspeeds 1.8 GHz to 3.0 GHz 1.6 GHz to 2.6 GHz 1.7 GHz 1.4 GHz
CPU Cache 4MB 3MB 3MB 2MB
Maximum RAM 16GB 16GB 16GB 16GB

The new Haswell-powered Gigabyte BRIX PCs include the GB-BXCE-2955, GB-BXi3-4010, GB-BXi5-4200, and GB-BXi7-4500. Unfortunately, the company has not yet released pricing or availability for the SFF devices. More informtation on the Haswell models can be found on this Gigabyte microsite.

Read more about the Gigabyte BRIX platform and how it compares to the competition here.

Source: Gigabyte

IFA 2013: ASUS Announces Transformer Book Trio with Haswell + Atom

Subject: Mobile | September 4, 2013 - 08:30 AM |
Tagged: z2760, transformer book trio, Transformer, ifa 2013, haswell, atom, asus

You want to hear about maybe the craziest device announcement you'll see all year?  ASUS just unveiled the Transformer Book Trio, a device they are dubbing a "three-in-one" that combines hardware from the Haswell architecture and an Atom Z2760 SoC to offer up a tablet, notebook and even a DESKTOP experience.

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The Transformer Book Trio is a detachable ultraportable notebook at a glance with a top portion that can be removed and becomes an 11.6-in, 1920x1080 IPS multi-touch screen based Android tablet powered by the Intel Atom Z2760 dual-core Clover Trail platform.  It includes 64GB of on-board flash storage.

When the display is docked to the keyboard the Trio can switch instantly between a Windows 8 and Android environment by pressing a single key.  Data is even shared between the two units via the tablet's 64GB of flash storage. 

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Here is where things get even more interesting: when detached, the base station of the Transformer Book Trio is not simply dead weight.  As quoted from the ASUS press release below: "With an external display connected via Mini DisplayPort or Micro-HDMI, the PC Station can be used as a self-contained desktop PC featuring Windows 8, which means two people, in two different places, can use the Transformer Book Trio at the same time."

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Crazy right??  There are more details and specifications below, after the break!  I have already inquired about pricing and availability and I'll post more information as soon as I have it!

Read the full press release on the new ASUS Transformer Book Trio!!

Source: ASUS