Computex: MSI Showing Off Five G-series Gaming Notebooks

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | June 7, 2012 - 09:36 AM |
Tagged: video, trinity, msi, mobile, laptops, Ivy Bridge, Intel, gaming notebook, gaming, computex, amd

MSI has been busy at this year’s Computex trade show. In addition to the company’s graphics cards and motherboard displays, MSI is showing off four new G Series gaming notebooks. Three of them are running Intel Ivy Bridge processors while the fourth machine is powered by a top-end AMD Trinity APU. Included in the new G series is the GT70, GT60, GE70, GE60, and GX60. The only AMD system is the GX60. Let’s take a look at that one first.

MSI GX60

The GX60 has a similar exterior build as the other G Series notebooks, but has vastly different internals and does not appear to have the same audio technology as the Intel-based notebooks. The desktop replacement class (read: heavy and not so great battery life heh) laptop features an AMD A10-4600M APU, AMD A70M chipset, and AMD Radeon 7970M graphics card. Other features include MSI’s “SuperRAID” storage with up to two SSDs in RAID and a mechanical hard drive, Steelseries keyboard, and a Killer E2200 gaming network card. Another interesting feature is the system’s ability to output to up to three displays with AMD Eyefinity technology. The system was able to pull a respectable 30 frames per second on the Unigine Heave benchmark and will have an MSRP of around 1,000 British Pounds (~$1,557.70 USD). According to eTeknix, the AMD Trinity-based notebook will be available soon.

The Intel Ivy Bridge based systems get a bit more love than the AMD Trinity system with SuperRAID support, up to 32GB of RAM, MSI Audio Boost (powered by Dynaudio or THX TruStudiio Pro depending on model), gold-plated audio connectors, Turbo Drive Engine and NVIDIA discrete graphics. The Intel and AMD G series laptops all get 1080p displays and custom backlit keyboards built by SteelSeries. The AMD system may well have MSI Audio Boost, gold plated connectors, and the like but MSI did not seem to tout them on the GX60 like they did for the Intel ones. The GX60 does at least get the SteelSeries keyboard and SuperRAID tech. Anyway, onto the Intel gaming rigs.

MSI GT70 and GT60

The MSI GT 70 is the largest and fastest gaming notebook at the MSI booth with a 17” 1080p display, quad core Core i7 processor, SuperRAID storage, THX certified Dynaudio sound, Turbo Drive Engine, Killer E2200 NIC, and a NVIDIA GTX 680M mobile GPU with GDDR5 RAM. The GT70 utilizes MSI’s SuperRAID to the fullest with two SSDs and a mechanical hard drive for up to 700MB/s read speeds. The system further features a backlit keyboard from SteelSeries that has five LED pattern modes (Normal, Gaming, Wave, Breathing, and Dual Color) and various selectable colors to choose from. The GT70 was pulling about 45 frames-per-second on the Unigine Heaven benchmark and P20,000 on 3DMark Vantage. Consumers should expect it to be available for around 2,500 British Pounds (~$3,894.25 USD).

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The MSI GT70 gaming notebook

The GT60 is a smaller version of the GT70 with 15.6” chassis, slightly slower Ivy Bridge Core i7 processor at 2.9GHz, and only a GTX 670M graphics card. It features the same MSI technology as its bigger brother, the GT70, but may not have the exact SuperRAID setup. Otherwise it has Dynaudio, 1080p display, the backlit SteelSeries keyboard, and lots of other goodies. No price info on this one to report, unfortunately.

MSI GE70 and GE60

The two MSI GE branded gaming laptops are the budget versions of the GT70 and GT60. They feature slower IVY Bridge processors, a downgrade in the Intel chipset to H76M, and a GPU downgrade to a NVIDIA GT650M with 2GB of GDDR5 memory. The displays are still 1080p, but they do not have Dynaudio (only THX TruStudio Pro), and the SteelSeries keyboards are not backlit. Of the two, the GE70 has a slightly faster Intel processor. They do both feature Turbo Drive Engine technology and likely SuperRAID though the setups are likely limited versus the bigger GT70’s chassis. Again, no word on how much these will cost or when they will be shipping.

All the notebooks have a nice black finish to them and the SteelSeries keyboard looks pretty nice. I’m interested in the AMD GX60 myself as I find Trinity neat. The Intel-based systems are definitely power houses though, especially the GT70 and although I don’t expect battery life to be anywhere near great these would be a good choice for gamers that demand the portability of a laptop platform.

Update: the press release does clarify that the GT70 and GE70 have 17.3” 1080p screens while the GT60 and GE60 have 15.6” 1080p screens. It also lists USB 3.0 compatibility on the Intel-based notebooks along with a built-in 720p 30fps webcam for video conferencing.

Below you can find a video by eTeknix that goes into more detail on the MSI gaming notebooks. You can further find the official MSI press release here.

Source: MSI

Computex: MSI Debuts New Z77 Mini-ITX Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | June 6, 2012 - 06:04 PM |
Tagged: Z77, msi, motherboard, mini-itx, Intel, htpc, computex

MSI is showing off a lot of motherboards at Computex 2012. One in particular that stuck out to me was a mini ITX motherboard that sported Ivy Bridge compatibility, four SATA ports (2 which are SATA 6Gbps), and PCI-E 3.0 compliant making it perfect for an high performance HTPC build. The motherboard in question is the MSI Z77IA-E53 and as the name suggests it is based around Intel’s Z77 chipset.

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The mini-ITX form factor motherboard sports MSI’s ClickBIOS II UEFI BIOS and its OC Genie II technology as well as THX TruStudio Pro audio. Other features include an LGA 1155 socket for Ivy Bridge or Sandy Bridge (Core i7, i5, i3, Pentium or Celeron) processors, two DDR3 DIMM slots (up to 16GB of 2800MHz), and a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot at the very bottom of the motherboard.

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On the back of the board, the Z77IA-E53 features HDMI and VGA video outputs, two USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, an eSATA port, Gigabit LAN, PS/2 port, optical audio outpu, three 3.5mm jacks for analog audio output, and WiFi and Bluetooth radios.

Unfortunately, there is no word yet on pricing or availability.

Source: MSI

Computex: Gigabyte Shows Off GA-X79S-UP5 WiFi Socket 2011 Motherboard (Hi-Res Photos)

Subject: Motherboards | June 5, 2012 - 08:40 PM |
Tagged: X79S-UP5 WiFi, x79, socket 2011, Intel, gigabyte, computex

Although Ivy Bridge is the new hotness, socket 2011 is still the company’s top-end enthusiast and workstation platform. And to to be forgotten, Gigabyte dedicated some space at its Computex booth to show off a new high-end X79 socket 2011 motherboard. The Gigabyte GA-X79S-UP5 WiFi is a EATX motherboard with a 2011 socket that is surrounded by heatpipes and VRM heatsinks (we recently reviewed the X79-UD5) The board further supports eight DDR3 DIMM slots, eight SAS connectors, six SATA ports, four PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots (up to 3 way SLI/CrossFireX), one PCI-E 3.0 x1 slot, and one legacy PCI slot at the bottom of the motherboard. It also has internal connectors for front panel audio, SPDIF, Firewire (1394), TPM, one USB 3.0, two USB 2.0 headers, and four fan headers (one of which is for the CPU).

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Integrated Gigabyte technology includes the company’s all-digital and “3D Power,” dual UEFI BIOSes, 8 phase VRM, Gigabyte Bluetooth 4.0 and WiFi card, 110dB SNR (signal-to-noise ration) HD audio, and 3X USB power and On/Off Charge to charge iPads and tablets even when the computer is powered down. Quad channel memory and socket 2011 processors give CAD engineers, video editors, and other 3D modelers the most performance possible out of a single socket workstation system.

Rear IO for the X79S-UP5 WiFi board includes a PS/2 port, four USB 2.0 ports, a firewire port, UEFI BIOS reset and overclock profile buttons, four USB 3.0 ports, two eSATA ports, a USB/eSATA combo port, Gigabit LAN, optical audio output, and five analog audio outputs.

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In short, this is a motherboard that Gigabyte has packed to the brim with features for enthusiasts. Below you will find several high-resolution images of the new socket 2011 motherboard. If your internet connection is ready, dive right in!

Gigabyte GA-X79S-UP5 WiFi Motherboard Images

Overhead view:

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Even considering my bias of my favorite color being blue, the board looks really nice, especially the heatsink designs which really make the board stand out.

CPU socket area:

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Here we can see the 2011 socket, VRMs, and DDR3 DIMM slots.

More photos after the break!

Source: Gigabyte
Author:
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Features

Introduction

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Courtesy of ASUS

ASUS continues to optimize their hardware for the overclocking and PC gaming crowds, but they are also catering to a niche audience looking for ultra stable and durable PC components. ASUS's Sabertooth X79 motherboard is their one of their latest products to bear the TUF series label and sport customized hardware and thermal components as well as a desert camo color scheme to complete the military look. This $329 motherboard comes with a five-year warranty, digital power management system, rugged chokes, solid capacitors, and MOSFETs that have been certified through third party, military-grade testing.

 

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Courtesy of ASUS

The Sabertooth X79 also comes with a host of other features to improve SSD caching and give users quad GPU support for CrossfireX and SLI graphics card configurations. This board also includes a unique UEFI BIOS and natively supports 2TB hard drives with 64-bit operating systems. The USB BIOS "Flashback" feature also helps new users update their motherboard BIOS without entering the BIOS. ASUS states that users can use any USB storage device with the latest BIOS, push the BIOS button located on the back I/O panel for three seconds, and the board will automatically update the BIOS using standby power. Very cool!

 

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Courtesy of ASUS

The back I/O panel on the Sabertooth X79 is no slouch either as it gives users a healthy amount of USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and eSATA 6GB/s ports for greater performance and expandability options. They also added a small fan over the back I/O panel as part of their "TUF Thermal Armor" feature that will help cool and exhaust heat from ther motherboard out the back of the chassis. Let's move on to the rest of the Saberbooth X79's features where we will get our first out-of-the-box look at this motherboard.

Continue reading our review of the ASUS Sabertooth X79 LGA2011 Motherboard!!

ASRock Reveals New Technology Advances at COMPUTEX 2012

Subject: Motherboards, Shows and Expos | June 5, 2012 - 01:06 AM |
Tagged: Z77, x79, trinity, sandy bridge-e, PLX PEX 8747, Ivy Bridge, Intel, fm2, asrock, amd

Four new Intel motherboards from ASRock were revealed at Computex, the X79 Extreme11, Z77 Extreme9 and Z77 OC Formula.  All use their new XFast 555 Technology software for XFast RAM, XFast LAN and XFast USB which should at the very least allow you great control over all the frequencies on your motherboard. 

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The motherboard for power users supports Sandy Bridge E processors, the X79 Extreme11 sports PLX PEX 8747 bridges which means this motherboard can run multi-GPU 4-Way SLI/CrossFireX at PCIe Gen3 x16/x16/x16/x16 and puts EVGA's Classified SR-2 in serious trouble on the Leaderboard when released.  24 + 2 Power Phase Design, onboard Creative Sound Core3D and an LSI SAS2308 chip which gives you ten SATA3 connectors with 8 of the able to be set to SAS mode.

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The  Z77 Extreme9 also sports the PLX PEX 8747 bridge which allows a surprising full PCIe Gen3 x8/x8/x8/x8 quad GPU mode.  The included T2R Dual Band WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n + BT v4.0 Module supports dual band WiFi and BlueTooth and combines with the Wi-SB BOX to provide better signal and an extra pair of USB 3.0 connectors.

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The Z77 OC Formula wants to step on ASUS' toes; while the score is impressive, the overclocks need a little work.  They don't say much about this board but from the preliminary testing it looks like great fun for the serious overclocker.

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Last but not least is the Z77 Extreme6/TB4 which features four channel Thunderbolt, for that you can read two Thunderbolt ports.  ASRock mentions that this "allows one port to be connected to the onboard graphics and the other one can be used for discrete graphics card." which could lead to all sorts of speculation.

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On the AMD side we have the ATX FM2A75 Pro4, and microATX FM2A75 Pro4-M and FM2A75M-DG which support Trinity processors but unfortunately we don't have much more than their names.  TechPowerUp did get some pictures of the boards recently.

They are also showing the EN2C602-4L, E3C204-V, E3C204-4L and H77WS-DL server boards which come with a full suite of software to ensure an easy setup, an IPC motherboard for those small purpose-built applications and an intriguing HTPC box called the ASRock VisionX Series.  This is reputed to featuring Ivy Bridge, Radeon HD 7850M graphics and AMD HD3D Technology with dual band WiFi but might cost a bit more than the alternative, the ASRock MINI Series which has and AMD E2-1800 backed up by a Radeon HD7340.

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Source: ASRock

Computex: Intel Showing Off Thunderbolt Controllers and Hardware

Subject: General Tech | June 4, 2012 - 05:28 AM |
Tagged: thunderbolt controller, thunderbolt, motherboards, Intel, computex

Anandtech stopped by the Intel booth at Computex 2012 to check out their Thunderbolt display. Intel has three upcoming controllers, with the smallest being only 5.6mm wide. The company is also showing off several motherboards and Thunderbolt peripherals at their booth.

Intel has started off their Computex 2012 showings but showing off several bits of Thunderbolt hardware. They displayed three Thunderbolt controllers in various sizes (and accompanying capabilities), Thunderbolt-equipped motherboards such as this Asus motherboard we were able to get a video demonstration of, Thunderbolt docks, and other Thunderbolt peripherals.

Anandtech was able to get some photos of Intel’s booth display. One of the cool shots that they managed to take shows off three of Intel’s Thunderbolt controllers. From left to right are the Light Ridge, Cactus Ridge, and Port Ridge controllers. While the Cactus Ridge controller is capable of being a host and supporting attached devices, the smaller Port Ridge controller can only connect to Thunderbolt peripherals and only supports a single Thunderbolt port–this chip will see use primarily in tablets and other mobile devices.

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In addition to the controllers themselves, Anand spotted several motherboards on display that all sported Thunderbolt controllers. These boards are further aimed at running Windows powered PCs, which is an important consideration with Apple having a large lead on adoption of the technology. Among the motherboards on display are the ASRock Extreme6 and ASRock TB, ASUS P8Z77-V Premium (LINKAGE), a Foxconn board of unknown make, Intel DZ77RE-K75, Gigabyte Z77X-UP5 TH, Gigabyte Z77X-UP4 TH, and a MSI Z77A-GD80 (LINKAGE).

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A Thunderbolt Equipped Motherboard: The MSI Z77A-GD80

It does seem like Computex 2012 is the year for an explosion of Thunderbolt devices. As Ryan mentioned on This Week In Computer Hardware, the cost of Thunderbolt devices and the cost of cables versus the “good enough” (and much cheaper) USB 3.0 technology is going to really hold Thunderbolt back from widespread adoption. There is no doubt that Thunderbolt has the potential to be very useful, but the market of people that could really use the technology to it’s fullest is relatively small. Expect Thunderbolt to stick around, at least for a while, but it will likely not rival that of USB 3.0 as far as integration with computers and user adoption. On the other hand, if they can get the cost of cables and related hardware down far enough such that the difference between it and USB 3.0 is not much it could take off...

What do you guys think of all the Thunderbolt technology coming out of Computex (and it’s only day 1!)?

Other Thunderbolt news:

Source: AnandTech

Video Perspective: AMD A10-4600M vs Core i7-3720QM on Diablo III

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | June 1, 2012 - 10:52 AM |
Tagged: video, trinity, Ivy Bridge, Intel, i7-3720QM, diablo iii, APU, amd, a10-4600m

So, apparently PC gamers are big fans of Diablo III, to the tune of 3.5 million copies sold in the first 24 hours.  That means there are a lot of people out there looking for information about the performance they can expect on various harware configurations with Diablo III.  Since we happened to have the two newest mobile processors and platforms on-hand, and because many people seemed to assume that "just about anything" would be able to play D3, we decided to put it to the test.

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In our previous reviews of the AMD Trinity and Intel Ivy Bridge reference systems, the general consensus was that the CPU portion of the chip was better on Intel's side while the GPU portion was still weighted towards the AMD Trinity APU.  Both of these CPUs, the A10-4600M and the Core i7-3720QM, are the highest end mobile solutions from both AMD and Intel. 

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The specifications weren't identical, but again, for a mobile platform, this was the best we could do.  With the AMD system only having 4GB of memory compared to the Ivy Bridge system with 8GB, that is one lone "stand out" spec.  The Intel HD 4000 graphics offer a noticeable upgrade from the HD 3000 on the Sandy Bridge platform but AMD's new HD 7660G (based on Cayman) also sees performance increase. 

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We ran our tests at 1366x768 with "high" image quality settings and ran through a section of the early part of the game a few times with FRAPs to get our performance results.  We did also run some tests to an external monitor at 1920x1080 with "low" presets and AA disabled - both are reported in the video below.  Enjoy!

Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Intel

Introduction, Product Specifications And Line-Up

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Earlier this year I penned an editorial about ultrabooks. It wasn’t all that nice. I pointed out that they are slow, that they require design sacrifices that not everyone will enjoy and that ultraportables often provide a better experience at the same price or lower. 

Since then I’ve also discovered, through various reviews, that ultrabooks so far have not shown any battery life advantage over ultraportables. The advantage of a low-voltage processor is consistently negated by the smaller batteries squeezed into Intel’s thin form-factor.

I’m not on the bandwagon. This, however, should not come as a surprise. It’s exceedingly rare for a company, even of Intel’s size, to knock a new product out of the park on its first try. The models that released so far were decent products in some ways, but they were also the hardware equivalent of a beta. Intel and laptop manufacturers are now responding to what they’ve discovered.

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This brings us to Ivy Bridge. As I noted in my Ivy Bridge for mobile review, Intel’s architectural update seems to be more exciting for laptops than for desktops. The Core i7-3720QM we received in our Ivy Bridge reference laptop was a beast, easily defeating all previous processor benchmarks and also posting surprisingly good results in gaming tests. Despite this, battery life seemed to at least remain the same. 

Continue reading our review of the Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5-3427U for Ultrabooks!!

Know CPUs were made of sand? Yes, but I like your video.

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Processors | May 30, 2012 - 06:42 PM |
Tagged: Intel, fab

Intel has released an animated video and supplementary PDF document to explain how Intel CPUs are manufactured. The video is more “cute” than anything else although the document is surprisingly really well explained for the average interested person. If you have ever wanted to know how a processor was physically produced then I highly recommend taking about a half of an hour to watch the video and read the text.

If you have ever wondered how CPUs came to be from raw sand -- prepare to get learned.

Intel has published a video and accompanied information document which explains their process almost step by step. The video itself will not teach you too much as it was designed to illustrate the information in the online pamphlet.

Not shown is the poor sandy bridges that got smelted for your enjoyment.

Rest in got

My background in education is a large part of the reason why I am excited by this video. The accompanied document is really well explained, goes into just the right amount of detail, and does so very honestly. The authors did not shy away from declaring that they do not produce their own wafers nor did they sugarcoat that each die even on the same wafer could perform differently or possibly not at all.

You should do yourself a favor and check it out.

Source: Intel (pdf)

AMD and Intel both need to improve their Linux support

Subject: General Tech | May 28, 2012 - 01:00 PM |
Tagged: linux, Intel, amd, Ivy Bridge, llano, opencl

Two different stories today focus on how both major CPU vendors have allowed their support for the new features present in their architectures to fall behind for Linux OSes.  From The Inquirer we hear about the how poor OpenCL support from AMD is leaving APU accelerated computing for Linux to lag behind Windows development.  This goes far beyond purely graphical tasks and the complaints we have heard from gamers as OpenCL is a computing language that can handle far more than just pushing pixels.  The two most common OpenCL applications that people are familiar with are the GPU clients for BOINC and Folding@Home, which enable you to chug work units on your graphics card or the graphics cores on your CPU.  AMD's Neal Robinson who is the current senior director of Consumer Developer Support has taken up the challenge of promoting Linux OpenCL support from within AMD, so keep your eyes peeled for news from his team.

Intel's Ivy Bridge is no better according to Phoronix, as testing shows very little improvement on the default Ubuntu Unity desktop with Compiz.  That is what allows Ubuntu users to show the iconic Desktop Cube on the Gnome desktop environment and using it shows negative effects on the general performance of the system.  Switching to KDE and OpenGL generally resulted in better performance as did Xfce.  Phoronix does not hold out much hope for the improvement of Compiz on Ivy Bridge processors or Intel's open source drivers for the near future, either for graphics or GPU accelerated computation.

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"For AMD flaky Linux support isn't just a matter of gamers complaining, but now with its APUs, standard applications are simply not making use of the compute power that AMD needs to compete with Intel."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Inquirer