Subject: Motherboards | September 9, 2015 - 12:16 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Z170X-UD5 TH, USB 3 Type-C, thunderbolt 3, motherboard, gigabyte
Intel announced Thunderbolt 3 at Computex back in June, and now the technology comes to the desktop enthusiast market with the first Thunderbolt 3 certified motherboard, Gigabyte's Z170X-UD5 TH.
"Powered by Intel’s own Thunderbolt controller the new Thunderbolt 3 protocol, which is available over two USB Type-C connectors on the back I/O of the GIGABYTE Z170X-UD5 TH, brings an unprecedented single-wire bandwidth of up to 40 Gb/s -- twice more than the previous generation of Thunderbolt! This incredible increase in bandwidth is also accompanied with support for different protocols such as DisplayPort 1.2 and USB 3.1, which is backwards compatible with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0, opening up a world of new possibilities."
Supporting dual 4K/60Hz displays (or one 5K display), the Thunderbolt 3 over USB Type-C offers Power Delivery 2.0 for up to 36W, and you will be able to daisy-chain up to 12 devices given the dual USB Type-C ports.
The Z170X-UD5 TH also features HDMI 2.0 output for the Intel processor graphics, support for PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 and SATA Express storage, and 2-Way SLI or 3-Way CrossFire multi-GPU support.
Some more of the featured specs from Gigabyte include:
- Thunderbolt 3 brings Thunderbolt to USB Type-C at speeds up to 40 Gbps
- Intel USB 3.1 with USB Type-C support Power Delivery 2.0 for up to 36W
- 3-Way Graphics Support with Exclusive Ultra Durable Metal Shielding over the PCIe Slots
- PCIe Gen3 x4 M.2 Connector with up to 32Gb/s Data Transfer (PCIe & SATA SSD support)
- 3 SATA Express Connectors for up to 16Gb/s Data Transfer
- HDMI 2.0 for 4K@60Hz and 21:9 aspect ratio provide the finest viewing experience
- 115dB SNR HD Audio with Built-in Rear Audio Amplifier
- High Quality Audio Capacitors and Audio Noise Guard with LED Trace Path Lighting
- Intel GbE LAN with cFosSpeed Internet Accelerator Software
- Gold Plating for CPU Socket, Memory DIMMs with 2X Copper PCB
Pricing and availability for the Z170X-UD5 TH are not yet available.
Subject: Motherboards | September 1, 2015 - 09:00 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Skylake, motherboard, LGA 1151, Intel Q170, Intel H170, Intel H110, Intel B150, asus
ASUS has announced a number of new motherboards today, all of which feature new Intel chipsets for LGA 1151 processors.
We've seen quite a few Z170 motherboards show up on the market in the past month, and now prepare for the onslaught of the alphabet soup of variations. In addition to Z170 you will now be seeing H170, B150, H110, and Q170 (and who knows what else might manifest itself?). Fortunately, ASUS has announced boards with all of these new chipsets so you can find one precisely tuned to your build's needs - since we don't all need overclocking or multi-GPU support after all.
The boards will be segmented into a couple of classes, Signature and Pro Gaming. As ASUS describes:
- ASUS Signature: H170, B150, H110 and Q170 chipsets in ATX, mATX and mITX, with 5X Protection II, USB Type-C, and LED-illuminated audio
- ASUS Pro Gaming: High-value H170 and B150 boards with gaming-optimized audio and networking, USB 3.1 and M.2 connectivity, and smart DIY features
Taking a look at the Signature series first, the H170-PRO, H170M-PLUS, and Q170M-C motherboards all require DDR4 memory, each supporting up to 64 GB 2133 MHz DDR4 RAM with 4 DIMM slots. The H170I-PLUS D3, on the other hand, makes use of the existing DDR3 standard for a less expensive upgrade path to Skylake, which natively supports both DDR3L (1.35V) and DDR4.
All four boards have Realtek ALC887 audio, and both “PLUS” boards offer Intel NICs with the Q170M-C sporting Intel vPro Gigabit LAN.
Moving down to the B150-PRO D3, B150M-PLUS D3, H110M-PLUS D3, and H110I-PLUS D3 we find a series of lower-cost boards that all make use of DDR3 memory, the same Realtek ALC887 audio, and Realtek Gigabit LAN. Both Intel B150 based boards also feature USB 3.1 (Gen 1) Type-C along with standard USB 3.0 ports.
Finally, we have the Pro Gaming tier, with the H170 PRO GAMING and B150 PRO GAMING D3. As you might have guessed the PRO GAMING D3 uses DDR3 memory, while the H170 version uses the new DDR4 standard. Both motherboards feature Intel NICs, Realtek ALC1150 audio, and USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A and Type-C.
Specifics on pricing and exact availability have not been disclosed, but the boards will be available “soon”.
Subject: Motherboards | August 27, 2015 - 03:41 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Z170i Gaming Pro AC, Z170, msi, motherboard, mini-itx, Intel Skylake
MSI has announced a new mini-ITX motherboard for Intel's latest chipset, the Z170I Gaming Pro AC.
Mini-ITX boards have been hard to come by for Skylake thus far, with very few models and limited availability in the first month (though not quite as elusive as the i7-6700K). With this new gaming-oriented board MSI offers another option, and it looks pretty impressive with 5-phase power delivery, 802.11ac wireless, an Intel onboard NIC, and M.2 support from a slot on the back of the PCB.
Pricing isn't immediately available, but the existing Mini-ITX Z170 motherboards (EVGA and ASRock each have one) have been selling for $199 so I'd expect something in that vicinity.
Subject: Motherboards | June 2, 2015 - 09:00 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: X99A GODLIKE GAMING, RGB, msi, motherboard, Intel X99, gaming, computex 2015, computex
In the spirit of being un-subtle (and writing things in all-caps) MSI has introduced its new ultra high-end X99 platform motherboard, the X99A GODLIKE GAMING.
MSI says the X99A GODLIKE GAMING is the “world’s first RGB LED motherboard, supporting more than 2000 colors and many style presets such as breathing, flashing and waving”. Flashing and waving? Two things my motherboard has always needed. And breathing? Well, we all have to do that.
In all seriousness however (that name notwithstanding) the X99A GODLIKE GAMING looks like a really interesting product for a gaming market permeated by RGB-adorned peripherals and enclosures.
“The X99A GODLIKE GAMING employs the latest Audio Boost 3 PRO technology to deliver crystal clear sound quality and lossless audio compression. For efficient data transfer, Turbo M.2, SATA Express and USB 3.1 are supported. The X99A GODLIKE GAMING also adopts the latest Killer DoubleShot-X3 PRO. Smart teaming with two Killer Ethernet chips and Killer 1535 Wi-Fi module, X99A GODLIKE GAMING can provide up to 2.867Gbps of network bandwidth for hardcore gamers. The Mystic Light, another special feature, lets users easily control the LED light effects with the MSI Gaming APP on OS and the Mystic Light APP on Android mobile devices.”
No details yet on pricing or availability for this “god-like” motherboard just yet.
Subject: Motherboards | May 4, 2015 - 02:49 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: processor, msi, motherboard, Godavari, FM2+, cpu, APU, amd
MSI has revealed a new FM2+ motherboard lineup with support for upcoming AMD Godavari processors, further indicating the launch of these new CPUs will be very soon though no official announcement has yet been made by AMD.
As reported back in January when the lineup allegedly leaked the new Godavari SKUs feature higher clocks on both processor and, more significantly, in GPU cores in upcoming APUs like the rumored 8850K. MSI states that "these new models are available in ATX, micro-ATX, and mini-ATX form factors and are backwards compatible with FM2 processors (Kaveri, Richland, Trinity, 6000 and 5000 series)", so it makes sense to consider these new models for future compatibility if shopping for an FM2 motherboard today. It remains to be seen if vendors will offer support for Godavari through BIOS updates, though it does at least seem likely.
For those interested here is the list of new MSI AMD FM2+/FM2 motherboard models:
- A68HM-E33 V2
- A88XM-E45 V2
- A78M-E35 V2
- A88XM-P33 V2
- A78M-E45 V2
- A88X-G41 PC Mate V2
- A88XM-E35 V2
- A88XI AC V2
The familiar Military Class 4 and OC Genie 4 branding is visible across the lineup, and the new models also feature "a rich blend of features and technologies, such as onboard LAN, PCI Express 3.0 x16, SATA 6Gb/s, USB 3.0 and multiple display support".
Subject: Motherboards | February 12, 2015 - 03:01 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: motherboard, Kaveri, Intel Gig-E, FM2+, DDR-3 2133, crossblade ranger, audio, asus, A88X
It has been a while since Josh reviewed the ASUS Crossblade Ranger so it seems appropriate to put up a reminder that there are some impressive AMD boards out there with The Tech Report's review of the board. This board has just about everything except an M.2 port, from the Asus SupremeFX 2014 with high end caps and EMI shielding to HDMI, DVI, and VGA display outputs to a BIOS button on the backplate which allows you to update the upgrade the motherboard's firmware without a CPU or RAM installed. Check out the full review to get a list of the other features as well as a glimpse into the personality traits the board displayed during testing.
"Asus' Crossblade Ranger is a tweaker-friendly, top-of-the-line motherboard for AMD's Socket FM2+ processors. We kicked the tires and turned up the clocks to see whether the Ranger lives up to its top billing."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- ASUS Rampage V Extreme Review @ OCC
- ASRock X99 OC Formula @ HardwareHeaven
- ASRock Fatal1ty X99M Killer mATX @ Kitguru
- ASRock X99X Killer @ HardwareHeaven
- ASUS X99-PRO Haswell-E Motherboard Review @ Hardware Canucks
- MSI's X99S MPower @ The Tech Report
Subject: Motherboards | January 17, 2015 - 05:22 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: SFF, nuc, motherboard, mini-itx, Intel
Bay Trail-M has been at the heart of several interesting micro-PC products in the past few months, but the limitations of the SoC have thus far kept these ultra-low power devices from becoming serious PC contenders. New products with AMD APUs look promising, and we will see how they perform once they become available. Meanwhile, Intel might be changing the mini-PC landcape soon with a new motherboard form-factor.
It doesn't have a name but the 5.5" square board looks like a smaller version of a thin mini-ITX design, with flush mounted DIMM slots and support for M.2 SSD storage. SemiAccurate is reporting that "it will support up to 16GB of DDR3L, an M.2 SSD and 2.5″ HD, 4x USB 3.0, 2x HDMI, GbE, audio, and Wi-Fi". A mini-ITX board on the other hand, though slightly larger at 6.7" x 6.7", has the advantage of supporting full-size GPUs (except the thin-mini variant). But when size and power consumption are the primary concern the lack of PCIe expansion is less important, and this sub-ITX board offers socketed CPU support rather than a soldered BGA solution, permitting customization and potentially offering a more desktop-like upgrade path.
No word on availability of the prototype board from Intel, which the report said was seen at this year's CES. It would make sense that Intel has learned from their experience with the NUC and created a smaller form-factor, but it remains to be seen whether such a product will enter the retail channel or become an OEM part.
A Step Up for FM2+
I have been impressed by the Asus ROG boards for quite a few years now. I believe my first encounter was with the Crosshair IV Formula, followed by the CH IV Extreme with that crazy Lucidlogix controller. These were really outstanding boards at the time, even if one was completely overkill (and not terribly useful for multi-GPU via Lucidlogix). Build quality, component selections, stability, and top notch features have defined these ROG products. The Intel side is just as good, if not better, in that they have a wider selection of boards under the ROG flag.
Asus has had a fairly large hole in their offerings that had not been addressed until fairly recently. The latest AMD APUs based on FM1, FM2, and FM2+ did not have their own ROG member. This was fixed in late summer of this year. Asus released the interestingly named Crossblade Ranger FM2+ motherboard for the AMD APU market.
FM2+ motherboards are, as a rule, fairly inexpensive products. The FM2+ infrastructure does not have to support processors with the 219 watt TDPs that AM3+ does, instead all of the FM2+ based products are 100 watts TDP and below. There are many examples of barebones motherboards for FM2+ that are $80 and less. We have a smattering of higher end motherboards from guys like Gigabyte and MSI, but these are hitting max prices of $110 to $120 US. Asus is offering users in the FM2+ market something a little different from the rest. Users who purchase an AMD APU will be getting much the same overall experience that the top end Intel based ROG customers if they decide to buy the Crossblade Ranger, but for a much lower price.
The bundle is functional, but not overly impressive.
Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | November 4, 2014 - 03:19 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: msi, X99, motherboard, motherboards, qualcomm, killer, 802.11ac
The MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC motherboard is built for the Haswell-E architecture, and Morry did a review of it just a couple of week ago. He liked it, giving it a gold award. Now MSI has released a new model, the X99S GAMING 9 ACK, which is basically identical except for its wireless adapter. While the original AC-variant had Intel 802.11ac with dual antennas, the ACK comes with Qualcomm Killer-branded 802.11ac.
Again, for the rest of the motherboard, I will refer you to Morry's review. The only real difference is the Killer NIC and Wireless-AC combo, which is actually more than it seems. If I understand it correctly, "Smart Teaming" will monitor the specific applications using the network and split them between LAN and WiFi, with the more latency-dependent programs getting the wired connection. In theory, this is interesting except that both streams would need to merge in order to get out the internet, which will be your bottleneck. On the other hand, if this works with multiple internet connections, then I could see a use case. For instance, someone has a solid DSL connection alongside their high-bandwidth Cable ISP.
Or, of course, that could not work at all and the outbound internet will, in fact, be your bottleneck.
Pricing and availability is also not available. You can find the original X99S GAMING 9, with the Intel wireless network controller, for about $405. An upgraded wireless adapter should not increase the cost much at all.
Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | November 4, 2014 - 01:12 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: X99, overclocking, msi, mpower, motherboards, motherboard
The X99S XPOWER is MSI's top-of-the-line overclocking motherboard. The company has just introduced the X99S MPOWER to complement it on their product stack. It is a similar motherboard with a smaller price tag that was reduced by removing a few optional features (I will outline the major differences, below). These are basically unrelated to performance and overclocking, minus the buttons to set the base clock on the motherboard itself and a couple of accessories (the XPOWER comes with a free Delid Die Guard and temporary fan stand). It is more things like the number of I/O ports.
The main differences with the MPOWER are:
- It does not have the fifth, eight-lane PCIe slot, just the four provided by Haswell-E.
- It has one Intel Gigabit Ethernet adapter, instead of two.
- It does not have built-in 802.11ac WiFi or Bluetooth.
- It has two less USB 3.0 ports (external).
- It has one less USB 2.0 port (internal, seemingly the "Direct USB" port for BIOS updates).
- It does not come with a Delid Die Guard or fan stand.
There are a few other differences, such as the XPOWER having an I/O port cover and a few extra on-board overclocking switches and buttons, but I cannot see anything that stands out. The current price difference is about 115$ at Newegg, which is a healthy saving if nothing is a deal-killer.