Just Delivered: MSI Z77A-GD65 Motherboard Preview

Subject: Motherboards, Processors, Chipsets | February 29, 2012 - 09:03 AM |
Tagged: just delivered, z77a-gd65, Z77, sandy bridge, msi, Ivy Bridge, Intel

In preparation for Intel's 3rd generation of Intel Core microprocessor architecture (can you see we are dancing around things already), MSI has started showing a new line of motherboards.  While at CES in January we saw the Z77A-GD65 option that will be available soon and offers some interesting new specs and features. 

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The Z77A-GD65 sports Military Class III components as well as support for a host of new items including PCI Express 3.0 and USB 3.0.  While we can't share much more than that in terms of details I thought it might be worth showing off a few shots of the upcoming motherboard from our friends at MSI.

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See more photos of the MSI Z77A-GD65!!

Apart from the aesthetics, MSI's X79A-GD65 (8D) is a solid choice for LGA2011 processors

Subject: Motherboards | February 28, 2012 - 11:55 AM |
Tagged: MSI X79A-GD65 (8D), msi, lga2011

The MSI Z79A-GD65 (8D) provoked an immediately negative reaction from [H]ard|OCP as two of the first things they noticed were the inconvenient placing of the CMOS battery and the auxiliary power plug for the PCIe slots.  If you are planning on a triple GPU system you are not going to like this board.  However if you plan on only a single or dual GPU system then these points of contention may not apply to you and other features, such as the impressive overclocking potential, make this board a solid choice.  It seems that it could use a BIOS update though, not only because of strange voltage readings but also because of the clunky implementation of the UEFI aka Click-BIOS.

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"MSI is known for high quality motherboards, many of which are targeted toward the enthusiast and gamer. It is one of these products we are looking at today in the form of the MSI X79A-GD65 (8D). A mid-range offering in the LGA2011 motherboard market. Sandy Bridge E processor and 8 DIMM slots for your exploitation!"

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Source: [H]ard|OCP
Author:
Manufacturer: MSI Computer

MSI's Alex Chang Speaks Up

MSI was founded in 1986 and started producing motherboards and video cards for the quickly growing PC market.  Throughout the life of the company they have further diversified their offerings to include barebones systems, notebooks, networking/communication devices, and industrial products.  While MSI has a nice base of products, they are still primarily a motherboard and video card company.  In the past 10 years MSI has become one of the top brands in North America for video cards, and they have taken a very aggressive approach to design with these products.

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I had the chance to send MSI quite a few questions concerning their video card business and how they develop their products.

What is your name, title, and how long have you worked at MSI?

My name is Bob, and I’m…. actually, I’m just Alex Chang. I’m the Associate Marketing Manager. I’ve been with the company for 2 years.

Typically how long does it take from the original reference design card release to when we can first expect to see a Twin Frozr III based card hit retail?  How much longer does it take to create the “Lightning” based products?

Historically, we’ve seen the introduction of a non-reference thermal solution within 2-4 weeks of product launch. As an example, GTX580 was launched in November 2010, and by December there was already a reference PCB GTX580 w/ the Twin Frozr II cooler.

In the case of Lightning cards, the development timeframe is longer due to more R&D, validation, and procurement of components. With GTX580, the timeframe was around 6 months, but moving forward MSI is pulling in the launch timeframe of our flagship products.

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Continue reading our interview with MSI's Alex Chang!!

Author:
Manufacturer: AMD

Southern Islands Get Small

When AMD first started to talk to me about the upcoming Southern Islands GPUs they tried to warn me.  Really they did.  "Be prepared for just an onslaught of card releases for 2012," I was told.  In much the same strategy the company took with the HD 6000 series of cards, the new Radeon HD 7000 cards have been trickling out, part by part, so as to make sure the name "AMD" and the brand "Radeon" are showing up as often as possible in your news feeds and on my keyboard.  In late December we wrote our review of the Radeon HD 7970 3GB flagship card and then followed that up in January with a review of the Radeon HD 7950.  In those briefings were told in a general way about Cape Verde, the Radeon HD 7700 series, and Pitcairn, the Radeon HD 7800 series, but without the details of performance, specifications or release dates.  We have the answer for one more of these families now: Cape Verde.

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Cape Verde is the smallest of the Southern Islands dies and falls into the sub-$175 graphics market depending on card vendors' pricing and overclocking settings.  The real question we all wanted to know is what performance levels these new cards were going to offer and if they could be the TRUE successor to popular Radeon HD 5770.  While the answer will take pages and pages of details to cement into place, I can say that while an impressive card, I wasn't as excited as I had wanted to be.

But I am getting ahead of myself...  Check out our video review right here and then keep reading on for the full evaluation!!

AMD Cape Verde - the smallest of the Southern Islands

GPU companies like to brag when they are on top - you'll see that as a recurring theme in our story today.  One such case is the success of the Radeon HD 5770 that mentioned above - it still today sits on the throne of the most adopted DX11 capable GPU on the Steam Hardware Survey, one of our best places for information on the general PC gamer.  

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While the inclusion of it, as well as the Radeon HD 5870 and HD 5850, on this list are great for AMD a couple of years ago, the lack of a 6000-series card here shows us that users need another reason to upgrade; another card that is mass market enough (ala under $200) and offers performance advantages that really push gamers to spend that extra cheddar.

Bring in the Cape Verde GPU...

Continue reading our review of the Radeon HD 7770 1GB GHz Edition and HD 7750 Graphics cards!!

MSI Announces 7950 Twin Frozr III Graphics Cards

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 31, 2012 - 02:48 PM |
Tagged: msi, HD7950, hd 7950, graphics cards, gpu, amd

MSI today officially announced their new Radeon HD 7950 graphics cards with Twin Frozr III coolers. Specifically, the new cards are part of the "R7950 Twin Frozr 3GD5/OC" series. The new Twin Frozr III cooler features a nickel plated block, two 8mm Superpipes (heatpipes), and dual 80mm propeller blade fans that, according to MSI, delivers up to 10 degrees Celsius lower GPU temperatures versus reference coolers. Further, the dark gray Twin Frozr III cooler reduces noise by 13.7dB by using two slower spinning fans versus the single reference design fan spinning twice or more as fast. This extra bit of overclocking headroom has allowed MSI to claim a large "core and memory voltage potential providing up to 37.5% overclockability" Just like the company's motherboards, they are advertising the new graphics cards as being built with Hi-c CAP Super Ferrite Choke and solid capacitors that pass MIL-STD-810G testing. Based on the AMD 28nm Radeon HD 7950 reference design, the card supports the PCI Express 3.0 interface.  Also, the card features 1 DVI, 1 HDMI, and two Mini-DisplayPort video outputs.

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Further specifications include 3 GB of GDDR5 memory on a 384 bit bus, a core clock speed of 880 MHz, and memory clock of 5,200 MHz (effective, 1,300 MHz base). The card itself measures 261mm x 111mm x 38mm, (just under 10.3") which means that it should fit comfortably inside most Mid Tower (or larger) cases. While the 80 MHz increase in GPU clock speed over the reference design is not saying much, the cards themselves should have plenty of overclocking headroom beyond what MSI does at the factory. In our review of the AMD Radeon HD 7950 graphics card with reference cooler we achieved a nice 1050 MHz clock speed, and the "Supa-pipe" (as Josh likes to say) powered Twin Frozr III 7950 cards should be able to go even further beyond that, specific GPU permitting of course.

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In addition to the new Twin Frozr III cooler powered cards, MSI is releasing a version of the Radeon 7950 with a reference design cooler and another Radeon 7970 card with a reference cooler to provide gamers with plenty of alternative options. Unfortunately, there is no word (yet) on pricing or availability.  The Twin Frozr III version of the 7950 sure looks a lot cooler, so it will be interesting to see if it actually keeps the GPU cooler (heh).

Source: MSI

Five X79 boards to choose from

Subject: Motherboards | January 23, 2012 - 02:22 PM |
Tagged: x79, asus, asrock, Intel, msi, ECS, lga2011, p9x79 deluxe, X79 Extreme9, X79R-AX, DX79SI, X79A-GD65(8D)

There are five usual suspects when discussing the X79 chipset, Asus's P9X79 Deluxe, the Asrock X79 Extreme9, ECS's X79R-AX, Intel's DX79SI and last but not least, MSI's X79A-GD65(8D).  While very similar overall, each board has distinct features that the companies have introduced as standard over the years, from ASUS' Q-LED to MSI's OC Genie.  TechSpot had their work cut out for them, the boards range in price by $100 and the board that they picked as the winner might just surprise you.

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"Those wanting to build the ultimate performance system will naturally turn to Intel’s new LGA2011 platform which recently made its debut with the Sandy Bridge-E processors. This highly refined architecture takes the original Sandy Bridge design and pumps it full of steroids, while adding a few new things. Moreover, the platform is expected to support enthusiast-level Ivy Bridge processors that are slated for release by the end of 2012, adding to the platform's longevity.

So if you're already spending $600+ on a processor alone, you'll want to make sure your motherboard is equally impressive. Today we are checking out five high-end X79 motherboards from Asus, Asrock, ECS, Intel and MSI."

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Source: TechSpot

CES 2012: MSI GUS II External Thunderbolt Graphics Upgrade System

Subject: Graphics Cards, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 10, 2012 - 04:41 PM |
Tagged: CES, thunderbolt, msi, gus ii, gus, external graphics

While wandering around the MSI suite at The Venetian today I came across a very interesting new device.  The GUS II is an external discrete graphics card dock that connects to a notebook PC (or small-form factor, etc) via a Thunderbolt connection. 

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Thunderbolt is a somewhat new interface that extends the PCI Express bus outside of the machine allowing for performance as high as 10 Gb/s per channel in its full implementation.  Current Intel implementations that ship with the Macbook Air and likely included in the first batch of Thunderbolt-capable Ultrabooks are built around Eagle Ridge that offers two bi-directional channels.  Still, even with a 10 Gb/s rating, we are seeing more than enough bandwidth for a discrete graphics card.

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You can see that device obviously won't fit your new Radeon HD 7970 3GB in there but the GUS II will support cards with as much as 150 watts of power consumption via the included external power brick.  75 watts of power is supplied by the internal PEG slot while the internal 6-pin ATX power connector supplies another 75 watts.

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MSI was running an HD 5770 inside the GUS II on a MacBook Pro running Windows 7.  Unigine Heaven was playing on the graphics card outputs and it was definitely running at speeds and quality settings that the GPU in the Macbook would not have been able to.

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MSI mentioned they were hopeful the price would be in the $150 range which is actually quite a good surprise considering they are going to be including the Thunderbolt cable in the box - an accessory that is notoriously expensive today. 

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All that is holding up the GUS II from release at this point is compatibility and driver support from AMD and NVIDIA.  Because you are essentially adding in another PCI Express graphics card to system that might only have been prepared and QA'd for a single one, there are some issues to work out.  Even with the hardware in a basically complete state, there is no time table for release though hopefully we can get this pushed into the mainstream soon.

Thunderbolt might finally bring us the dockable and upgradeable graphics we have always envisioned for notebooks.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Take a closer look at MSI's new Z77 motherboards

Subject: Motherboards, Shows and Expos | January 10, 2012 - 03:19 PM |
Tagged: Z77, msi, lga1155, Ivy Bridge, CES

You probably saw Scott's coverage of the unveiling of the new Z77 chipset based motherboards from Gigabyte which will support Intel's soon to be released Ivy Bridge family of processors.  This spells a return to LGA 1155, though don't expect your old Sandy Bridge processor to be able to take advantage of all the features of this new high end chipset.

MSI has two brand new boards they are showing off at CES 2012, the Z77A-GD80 and the Z77A-GD65.   The first will be their new flagship motherboard and will feature new versions of ClickBIOS, their UEFI implementation and Multi-BIOS overclocking helper which will allow you to save profiles and recover from BIOS corruption.  The board will continue their tradition of PCIe 3.0 compliance with three 16x slots and it will have four dual dual channel DIMM slots that can accept up to DDR3-2667.  They've also included four USB 3.0 and four SATA 6Gbps ports for your storage needs.

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 The Z77A-G65 below sports the same overall features as the GD80 with some changes to the PCB.  Looking to the top of the board you can see the GD65 lacks a heatsink at the very top edge but you can still see that MSI has used Military Class III components on the motherboard and the always on USB charging port.

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*update*  The missing link has been found that seperates the GD80 from the GD65 and that difference is none other than Thunderbolt.  The Z77A-GA80 has Thunderbolt support, the new interface which allows an external peice of hardware direct access to the PCIe bus and will allow transfer speeds of up to 10Gbps. That speed allows the use of devices like MSI's GUS II, an external video card enclosure that comes with an expensive and sometimes hard to find Thunderbolt cable.  That interface is not limited to GPUs, it will be interesting to see what use enthusiasts who purchase the Z77A-GD80 will put Thunderbolt to.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: MSI

MSI Launches Military Inspired Interceptor Computer Case Series

Subject: Cases and Cooling | January 7, 2012 - 04:08 PM |
Tagged: msi, cases, atx, interceptor, raptor, CES

It seems to be "Diversification Season" here in the tech world, as Vizio adds computers to their portfolio and now MSI, a company most well known for motherboards and graphics cards, is launching a series of computer cases. The new MSI cases have a military inspired theme and have been dubbed the Interceptor Series. Currently, there are two mid tower ATX form factor cases in the lineup including the Raptor and Nighthawk.

Both the Nighthawk and Raptor cases are constructed of black steel , have included ball-bearing fans, and plenty of ventilation, tool-less drive bays and expansion slots, and a three year manufacturer's warranty. Also, both cases have seven expansion slots and can accommodate graphics cards up to 12.2" in length.

The Raptor is the least flashy of the two, though it still manages to look nice. The side panel has a large mesh ventilation area over the CPU and VRM area. Meanwhile, the front of the case features a blue LED fan behind a mesh grill with MSI logo, and supports three 5.25" drive bays. Further, the case comes with a 12-in-1 card reader accessible on the front panel as well as two USB ports, 1 USB 3.0 port and two audio ports (mic and headphone). Last up, the case is ready for water cooling radiators and has a bottom mounted PSU rack.

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The Raptor

If the Raptor is the little brother, the Nighthawk is the big guns and the case is definitely more flashy in its military theme inspiration. The side panel has a larger mesh grill that breaks out of the case and has what may resemble bullet holes throughout. The front panel is more stylized as well with a large mesh grill minus logos to facilitate the most airflow with a blue LED fan behind it. The front panel support three USB 2.0 ports, 1 USB 3.0 port, and two audio jacks for microphone and headphones. This case also has the 12-in-1 card reader and the front of the case can hold up to four 5.25" drives. The case is a bit taller than the raptor and has larger feet so it sits higher off of the ground. MSI claims the case is ready to roll with liquid cooling solutions as well.

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The Nighthawk

MSI says that the cases will be available for purchase by the end of December in North America. The Nighthawk has an MSRP of $79.99 while the Raptor has an MSRP of $59.99. Not a bad start, MSI. The cases may yet be something that Ryan and the crew will be able to see first-hand at CES.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: MSI

MSI Launches New X79 Flagship Big Bang-XPower II Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | January 5, 2012 - 10:44 AM |
Tagged: x79, msi, motherboard, big bang II, big bang 2

MSI is hoping to make a "big bang" with their new flagship Big Bang-XPower II X79 based motherboard. The board itself is full sized ATX, and sports a dark matte gray PCB with glossy black connectors and heat-sinks. The rear IO is aluminum and the PCH heat-sink has six copper heat-pipes (or supa' pipes as we like to call them around the office). The board has quite a few overclocker and enthusiast friendly features.

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Specifically, the new Big Bang II is based on the X79 chipset and is ready to accept a Sandy Bridge-E (Socket 2011) processor. A total of 8 DIMM slots makes for some quad channel goodness, and MSI claims that the board will be able to support up to 128 GB (RAM Drive anyone!?) of RAM when 16GB DIMMS become available. Further, the motherboard is PCI-E 3.0 compliant and is ready for 4-way SLI or Crossfire multi-gpu setups in addition to sound cards and RAID controllers thanks to its seven total PCI-E expansion slots.

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All this kit is going to need quite a bit of power, and MSI has gone so far as to brand their motherboard with the "Xtreme Power Design," which seems to indicate they mean serious business. More than the name, the two 8 pin and 1 6 pin (in addition to traditional 24 pin ATX power) connectors for the CPU and Graphics/PCI-E 3 devices respectively. The two CPU power connectors deliver 300 watts while the VGA connector can provide an additional 150 watts of power to compliment the total maximum power draw of 770 watts (!). (Needless to say, I would need a new PSU to push this board to its max). Managing this power is a 22 phase PWM "with hybrid design power" using solid and Hi-c capacitors. The VRM area of the board is massive, in other words.

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The overclocker friendly features include voltage check pins for CPU, RAM, and chipset, and a backup BIOS with accompanying switch. Further, a Direct Overclock button to adjust the CPU BCLK (in intervals as small as .1MHz), and power and reset buttons on the board itself are also included. Last up is a feature called PCI-E CeaseFire, which allows users to completely turn off graphics cards without needing to physically remove them from the motherboard by using a series of switches next to the Direct OC buttons. MSI claims that the Big Bang-XPower II is "the optimal weapon for enthusiast overclockers to break world records."

Rear IO includes a PS/2 port, six USB 2.0 ports, four USB 3.0 ports, dual Gigabit Ethernet, six analog audio jacks, S/PDIF optical and coaxial audio outputs, a Clear CMOS button, and a Firewire port.

Needless to say, this board boasts quite a few features! More information can be found here.

Source: MSI