Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

02-board.jpg

Courtesy of MSI

The MSI Z97 XPower motherboard is the flagship board in their Overclocking Series line of motherboards, optimized over the previous version XPower board to take advantage of the Intel Z97 Express chipset and Intel 5th generation Core processors. The design and the layout of the board remain reminiscent of that from the Z87 XPower with several components shifted to other locations to open up space and other switched out to be replaced by updated technologies. The most obvious changes to the board are the inclusion of integrated water barbs in the CPU VRM sink and the reduction of the integrated CPU power phases to 16 (from 32-power phases on the previous generation board). The board's color scheme is less diverse as well, with all integrated components colored to match the black and yellow theme. At a base MSRP of $399.99, the Z97 XPower carries a premium price to match its premium feature set.

03-mb-profile.jpg

Courtesy of MSI

04-oc-features.jpg

Courtesy of MSI

The Z97 XPower motherboard was designed with 16 digital power phases for powering the CPU. The board alos comes standard with MSI's Military Class 4 digital components to maximize the board's performance potential, including Hi-C and Dark capacitors with super ferrite chokes and DrMOS MOSFET chips. To aid in cooling the CPU power circuitry and integrated PLX, MSI included a hybrid cooling solution into the sinks surrounding the CPU socket. The heat sinks can use traditional air cooling, or be hooked into an existing water loop using the provided 3/8" barbs.MSI integrated in the following components into the Z97 XPower's design: 10 SATA 3 ports; one M.2 10 Gb/s ports; an Intel I218-V GigE NIC; an Intel 802.11ac 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; a 2-digit diagnostic LED display; on-board power, reset, BIOS reset, cpu ratio control, base clock control, OC Genie, power discharge, and Go2BIOS buttons; Slow Mode boot,OC Genie mode, DirectOC mode, Multi-BIOS, and PCIe control switches; Realtek audio solution with isolated audio PCB and Nippon Chemi-con audio capacitors; dedicated per-channel headphone OP-AMPs; integrated V-Check voltage measurement points; hybrid VRM cooling solution; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.

05-rear-panel.jpg

Courtesy of MSI

Continue reading our review of the MSI Z97 XPower motherboard!

Get to know MSI's Z97 Gaming 7 even better

Subject: Motherboards | June 25, 2014 - 05:02 PM |
Tagged: Z97 Gaming 7, msi, LGA1150, Intel Z97, haswell, gaming series

Morry recently reviewed MSI's Z97 Gaming 7 motherboard but if for some reason you would like a second option you can drop by [H]ard|OCP for their review.  The systems tested vary slightly and the benchmarks run are slightly different such as [H]'s deferred procedure call latency test.  Their overclocking results were also in a similar range, hitting 4.7GHz on their 4770K with the RAM hitting 2400MHz.  Read through both reviews because the results you see, the more you know and ...

index.jpg

"We’ve been fans of MSI’s "Gaming" series for some time now. The Z97 Gaming 7 has big shoes to fill and competition is heating up as competitors take a page from MSI’s book and bring some of respective offerings into parity with MSI’s price points. Does MSI still have what it takes to rule this particular market? We are about to find out."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: EVGA

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

02-152-HR-E979-KR_XL_5.jpg

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.

03-152-HR-E979-KR_XL_4.jpg

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.

04-152-HR-E979-KR_XL_7.jpg

Courtesy of EVGA

Continue reading our review of the EVGA Z97 Classified motherboard!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

02-board.jpg

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.

03-board-profile.jpg

Courtesy of GIGABYTE

04-flyapart-info.jpg

Courtesy of GIGABYTE

05-oc-fcn-info-1.jpg

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.

06-rear-panel.jpg

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

rog_logo-blk-bk.PNG

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.

ASUS_ROG_Maximus_VII_Impact_Gaming_Motherboard.jpg

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

rog_logo-blk-bk.PNG

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.

ASUS_ROG_Maximus_VII_Formula_Gaming_Motherboard.jpg

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

02-board_0.jpg

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.

03-board-details_0.jpg

Courtesy of ASUS

04-tuf-power_0.jpg

Courtesy of ASUS

05-tuf-esd_0.jpg

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

02-board.jpg

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.

03-board-profile-1.jpg

Courtesy of MSI

05-board-oc-features.jpg

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.

06-rear-panel.jpg

Courtesy of MSI

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

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

02-board_0.jpg

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.

03-profile_0.jpg

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.

04-rear-panel_0.jpg

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.

Screenshot (91).png

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.

Intel and Google In Multi Year Partnership.png

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.

Intel and Chrome OS Partnership Growing to 20 New Device Designs.jpg

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.

Intel Offers Conflict Free Haswell and Bay Trail Processors.jpg

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.

Intel Powered Acer Chromebook.jpg

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.

Intel Education Chromebook Reference Design.jpg

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.

HP Chromebox.jpg

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.

LG Chromebase Chrome OS All In One.jpg

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.

Google Play Movies Chrome App Allows Offline Play.jpg

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