Subject: Motherboards | March 14, 2015 - 12:33 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: usb 3.1, msi, FX, atx, asmedia asm1352r, amd, am3+
MSI recently announced a torrent of new motherboards that feature USB 3.1 ports. The refreshed lineup includes ten Intel models and, in an interesting twist, two AMD motherboards. MSI’s new motherboards support USB 3.1 by using an Asmedia ASM1352R controller that interfaces with the system via two PCI-E 2.0 lanes (PCI-E 2.0 x2). The controller is rated for the full 10Gbps USB 3.1 speeds.
It is worth noting that the boards use the traditional USB Type-A connector with one exception. The MSI Z97A Gaming 6 features the new reversible Type-C connector in the form of a single Type-C USB 3.1 port on the rear I/O panel. The other boards have at least two USB 3.1 ports on their rear I/O panels.
The new USB 3.1-supporting lineup is listed below:
- AMD (970 chipset):
- SLI Krait Edition
- AMD (990FX chipset):
- 990FXA Gaming
- Intel (Z97 chipset):
- Z97A Gaming 9 ACK
- Z97A Gaming 7
- Z97A Gaming 6
- Intel (X99 chipset):
- X99A Gaming 9 ACK
- X99A Gaming 7
- X99A Xpower AC
- X99A Mpower
- X99A SLI Krait Edition
- X99A SLI Plus
- X99A Raider
These new boards are all essentially minor refreshes of previous versions that add the Asmedia controller and faster USB 3.1 ports. You can expect all the multi-GPU and overclocking-friendly features to remain present on these new motherboards.
MSI's X99 Xpower AC (left) and Z97A Gaming 9 ACK (right) now support 10Gbps USB 3.1 ports.
AM3+ is still technically AMD's enthusiast platform, but it is still somewhat odd that MSI chose to add USB 3.1 support to AM3+ motherboards with AMD’s aging 990FX and 970 chipsets rather than FM2+ boards with the newer A88X chipset. On the other hand, you can now add much faster external storage to your AM3+ system to give it a bit more life.
There is no word on pricing but expect the USB 3.1 models to come at a slight premium over the older models in each respective series.
Subject: Mobile | March 12, 2015 - 02:46 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: msi, gs30, gamingdock
The MSI GS30 Shadow is a high powered laptop with the first external GPU that you can actually buy. The GamingDock is indeed rather unattractive and hefty on the outside but it is what is on the inside that counts, a full GTX 980 with its own dedicated PSU. The external connection is a rear mounted PCIe slot which allows the 980 to run at the speeds you would expect it it were inside a desktop PC. The laptop itself has a Haswell i7-4870HQ, 16GB of DDR3-1600 and pair of Kingston 256GB M.2 SSDs in RAID 0, with the only internal graphics being the Iris Pro 5200 on the CPU. Kitguru has posted a review here, though it would be interesting another review featuring a head to head competition with the GTX980M.
"When we previewed the MSI GS30 Shadow and GamingDock at the end of 2014 we were blown away by the combination of Core i7-4870HQ CPU in the laptop and the desktop GTX 980 graphics card in the GamingDock. The concept of using an external dock to add proper gaming graphics to a thin and light laptop worked superbly well and we could hardly wait for the official release of the final package of hardware."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- HP Spectre x360 @ The Inquirer
- Club3D SenseVision Adapters @ Kitguru
- FSP PB Runner 10400mAh Power Bank Review @ NikKTech
- Apple Watch vs Pebble Time Steel @ The Inquirer
- S6 vs S6 Edge @ The Inquirer
- KingSing T8 Smartphone Review @ Madshrimps
Subject: Graphics Cards | March 10, 2015 - 07:35 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: nvidia, msi, gtx 960, geforce, 960 Gaming, 4GB GTX 960
Manufacturers announcing 4GB versions of the GeForce GTX 960 has become a regular occurrence of late, and today MSI has announced their own 4GB GTX 960, adding a model with this higher memory capacity to their popular MSI Gaming graphics card lineup.
The GTX 960 Gaming 4GB features an overclocked core in addition to the doubled frame buffer, with 1241MHz Base, 1304MHz Boost clocks (compared to the stock GTX 960 1127MHz Base, 1178MHz Boost clocks). The card also features their proprietary Twin Frozr V (5 for non-Romans) cooler, which they claim surpasses previous generations of their Twin Frozr coolers "by a large margin", with a new design featuring their SuperSU heat pipes and a pair of 100mm Torx fans with alternating standard/dispersion fan blades.
The card is set to be shown at the Intel Extreme Masters gaming event in Poland later this week, and pricing/availability have not been announced.
Subject: General Tech | March 10, 2015 - 12:36 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Q1, gigabyte, earnings, msi, TSMC, amd, Intel, nvidia
There is quite a bit of news on how various component manufacturers have fared at the beginning of 2015 and not much of it is good. Gigabyte has seen revenues drop almost 20% compared to this time last year and a significantly higher overall drop and while MSI is up almost 4% when compared to this quarter in 2014, February saw a drop of over 25% and over the total year a drop of nearly 8%. TSMC has taken a hit of 28% over this month though it is showing around 33% growth over the past year thanks to its many contract wins over the past few months. Transcend, Lite-On and panel maker HannStar all also reported losses over this time as did overseas notebook designers such as Wistron, Compal and Inventec.
Intel is doing well though perhaps not as profitably as they would like, and we know that NVIDIA had a great 2014 but not primarily because of growth in the market but by poaching from another company which has been struggling but not as much as previous years. The PC industry is far from dead but 2014 was not a kind year.
"Gigabyte Technology has reported consolidated revenues of NT$3.216 billion (US$101.93million) for February 2015, representing a 39.31% drop on month and 26.75% drop on year.
The company has totaled NT$8.515 billion in year-to-date revenues, down 18.47% compared with the same time last year."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- The SHOCKING storage truth: Everyone's buying spinning rust @ The Register
- iOS 8.2 shoves a non-deletable Apple Watch app onto your iPhone @ The Inquirer
- Ouch! Google crocks capacitors and deviates DRAM to root Linux @ The Register
- 2015 Hackaday Prize: Build Something that Matters @ Hack a Day
Followers of PC Perspective have likely seen a pair of stories previewing the upcoming performance and features of USB 3.1. First we got our hands on the MSI X99A Gaming 9 ACK motherboard and were able to run through our very first hands-on testing with USB 3.1 hardware. The motherboard had built-in USB 3.1 support and a device that was configured with a RAID-0 of Intel SSD 730 Series drives.
We followed that up with a look at the ASUS USB 3.1 implementation that included a PCIe add-on card and a dual-drive mSATA device also in RAID-0. This configuration was interesting because we can theoretically install this $40 product into any system with a free PCI Express slot.
Performance was astounding for incredibly early implementations, reaching as high as 835 MB/s!
In that last article I theorized that it would be some time before we got our hands on retail USB 3.1 hardware but it appears I wasn't giving the industry enough credit. ASUS passed us a list of incoming devices along with release schedules. There are 27 devices scheduled to be released before the end of April and ~35 by the middle of the year.
It's a daunting table to look at, so be prepared!
The product categories are mostly dominated by the likes of the a USB 3.1 to 2.5-in adapter; that would be useful but you aren't going to top out the performance of the USB 3.1 with a single 2.5-in SATA device. Iomaster has one listed as a "USB 3.1 to MSATA & M2 SSD enclosure" which could be more interesting - does it accept PCI Express M.2 SSDs?
Minerva Innovation has a couple of interesting options, all listed with pairs of mSATA or M.2 ports, two with Type-C connections. What we don't know based on this data is if it supports PCIe M.2 SSDs or SATA only and if it supports RAID-0.
A couple more list dual SATA ports which might indicate that we are going to see multiple hard drives / SSDs over a single USB 3.1 connection but without RAID support. That could be another way to utilize the bandwidth of USB 3.1 in a similar way to how we planned to use Thunderbolt daisy chaining.
We don't have pricing yet, but I don't think USB 3.1 accessories will be significantly more expensive than what USB 3.0 devices sell for. So, does this list of accessories make you more excited to upgrade your system for USB 3.1?
Introduction and Background
We first got a peek of USB 3.1 at CES 2015. MSI had a cool demo showing some throughput figures including read and write speeds as high as 690 MB/s, well over the ~450 MB/s we see on USB 3.0 options shipping today.
We were of course eager to play around with this for ourselves, and MSI was happy to oblige, sending along a box of goodies:
Stuff we will be testing today (Samsung T1 was not part of the MSI demo).
For those unaware, USB 3.1 (also known as Superspeed+), while only a 0.1 increment in numbering, incorporates a doubling of raw throughput and some dramatic improvements to the software overhead of the interface.
Don't be confused between the USB 3.1 standard and the new USB Type-C connector - they are unrelated and independent of each other.
Yes, you’re all going to have to buy *more* cables in the future.
Type-C connectors will enable more simple cable design and thinner connections going forward but USB 3.1 will exist in both Type-A/B and Type-C going forward. Our benchmarking today will utilize Type-A.
Subject: Graphics Cards | February 12, 2015 - 01:41 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: overclocking, nvidia, msi, gtx 960, GM206, maxwell
While Ryan was slaving over a baker's dozen of NVIDIA's GTX 960s, [H]ard|OCP focused on overclocking the MSI GeForce GTX 960 GAMING 2G that they recently reviewed. Out of the box this GPU will hit 1366MHz in game, with memory frequency unchanged at 7GHz effective. As users have discovered, overclocking cards with thermal protection that automatically downclocks the GPU when a certain TDP threshold has been reached is a little more tricky as simply upping the power provided to the card can raise the temperature enough that you end up with a lesser frequency that before you overvolted. After quite a bit of experimentation, [H] managed to boost the memory to a full 8GHz and the in game GPU was hitting 1557MHz which is at the higher end of what Ryan saw. The trick was to increase the Power Limit and turn the clock speed up but leave the voltage alone.
"We push the new MSI GeForce GTX 960 GAMING video card to its limits of performance by overclocking to its limits. This NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 GPU based video card has a lot of potential for hardware enthusiasts and gamers wanting more performance. We compare it with other overclocked cards to see if the GTX 960 can keep up."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- Five GeForce GTX 960 cards overclocked @ The Tech Report
- NVIDIA GTX 960 Reference Review @ Hardware Canucks
- MSI GTX 960 Gaming GPU, The Sweet Spot @ Bjorn3d
- MSI GTX 960 Gaming 2G @ Modders-Inc
- 6-way GeForce GTX 960 Shootout @ Legion Hardware
- Testing Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 960 2GB Graphics Cards In SLI @ eTeknix
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 Video Card Review - EVGA SSC Edition @ NitroWare
- Gigabyte GTX 980 G1 Gaming 4GB @ Modders-Inc
- Sapphire R9 290X Tri-X OC 8GB @ Kitguru
- Corsair H105 on 4770K and R9 290 @ HardwareOverclock
Subject: General Tech, Motherboards, Storage | February 11, 2015 - 09:59 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: usb 3.1, usb, msi, asmedia
USB 3.0, for storage, is fast. If you are using an external, spindle-based hard drive, it will perform basically as fast as an internal sibling would. Apart from my two SSDs, I do not even have an internal drive anymore. You can safely install games to external hard drives now.
But with USB 3.1, the spec doubled to 10 Gbps, which matches the first generation Thunderbolt connector. A couple of weeks ago, Tom's Hardware put it to the test with an ASMedia USB3.1 to SATA 6 Gbps developer board. Sure enough, when you are raiding a pair of Intel 730 SSDs, you can achieve over 700 MB/s read/write in CrystalDiskMark.
About the most interesting part of Tom's Hardware testing is their CPU usage benchmark. While USB 3.0 on Intel's controller choked a CPU thread, USB 3.1 on ASMedia's controller did not even reach half of a thread's maximum (the CPU in question is a Core i7-5930K Haswell-E at 3.5 GHz).
So until we get flash drives that are constrained by USB 3.0's fairly high ceiling, we might be able to have reduced CPU usage.
A baker's dozen of GTX 960
Back on the launch day of the GeForce GTX 960, we hosted NVIDIA's Tom Petersen for a live stream. During the event, NVIDIA and its partners provided ten GTX 960 cards for our live viewers to win which we handed out through about an hour and a half. An interesting idea was proposed during the event - what would happen if we tried to overclock all of the product NVIDIA had brought along to see what the distribution of results looked like? After notifying all the winners of their prizes and asking for permission from each, we started the arduous process of testing and overclocking a total of 13 (10 prizes plus our 3 retail units already in the office) different GTX 960 cards.
Hopefully we will be able to provide a solid base of knowledge for buyers of the GTX 960 that we don't normally have the opportunity to offer: what is the range of overclocking you can expect and what is the average or median result. I think you will find the data interesting.
The 13 Contenders
Our collection of thirteen GTX 960 cards includes a handful from ASUS, EVGA and MSI. The ASUS models are all STRIX models, the EVGA cards are of the SSC variety, and the MSI cards include a single Gaming model and three 100ME. (The only difference between the Gaming and 100ME MSI cards is the color of the cooler.)
To be fair to the prize winners, I actually assigned each of them a specific graphics card before opening them up and testing them. I didn't want to be accused of favoritism by giving the best overclockers to the best readers!
Subject: Graphics Cards | January 30, 2015 - 03:42 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nvidia, msi gaming 2g, msi, maxwell, gtx 960
Sitting right now at $220 ($210 after MIR) the MSI GTX 960 GAMING 2G is more or less the same price as a standard R9 280 or a 280x/290 on discount. We have seen that the price to performance is quite competitive at 1080p gaming but this year the push seems to be for performance at higher resolutions. [H]ard|OCP explored the performance of this card by testing at 2560 x 1440 against the GTX 770 and 760 as well as the R9 285 and 280x with some interesting results. In some cases the 280x turned out on top while in others the 960 won, especially when Gameworks features like God Rays were enabled. Read through this carefully but from their results the deciding factor between picking up one or the other of these cards could be the price as they are very close in performance.
"We take the new NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 GPU based MSI GeForce GTX 960 GAMING 2G and push it to its limits at 1440p. We also include a GeForce GTX 770 and AMD Radeon R9 280X into this evaluation for some unexpected results. How does the GeForce GTX 960 really compare to a wide range of cards?"
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- Gigabyte GTX 960 G1 Gaming 2 GB @ techPowerUp
- Asus GeForce GTX 960 DirectCU II OC STRIX @ eTeknix
- ASUS GeForce GTX 960 Strix @ Benchmark Reviews
- Asus GeForce GTX 960 Strix OC @ Silent PC Review
- Gigabyte G1 Gaming GeForce GTX 960 @ eTeknix
- GeForce GTX 960 Article Round Up @HiTech Legion
- Linux Benchmarks Of NVIDIA's Early 2015 GeForce Line-Up @ Phoronix
- Corsair HG-10 gpu bracket @ HardwareOverclock