Pushing the 8 Cores
It seems like yesterday when I last talked about an AMD refresh! Oh wait, it almost was. Some weeks ago I was able to cover the latest AMD APU offerings that helped to flesh out the Kaveri lineup. We thought AMD was done for a while. Color us wrong. AMD pulled out all the stops and set up an AM3+ refresh! There is a little excitement here, I guess. I am trying to contain the tongue-in-cheek lines that I am oh-so-tempted to write.
AMD is refreshing their FX lineup in the waning days of Summer!
Let me explain the situation from my point of view. The FX lineup for AM3+ has not done a whole lot since the initial release of the Piledriver based FX-8350 and family (Vishera). Piledriver was a pretty significant update from Bulldozer as it slightly improved IPC and greatly improved power consumption (all the while helping to improve clockspeed by a small degree). There were two updates before this one, but they did not receive nearly as much coverage. These updates were the FX-6350 and the FX-9000 series. The FX-6350 is quite popular with the budget enthusiast crowd who still had not moved over to the Intel side of the equation. The FX-9000 series were OEM only initially and reaching up to $1000 at the high end. During that time since the original Vishera chips were released, we have seen the Intel Ivy Bridge and Haswell architectures (with a small refresh with Haswell with the 2nd gen products and the latest Socket 2011 units).
Subject: Motherboards | August 29, 2014 - 04:15 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: msi, X99, x99s sli plus, X99S GAMING 9 AC, X99S GAMING 7, X99S XPOWER AC, X99S MPOWER
MSI, world leading in motherboard technology, is pleased to announce the launch of the new MSI X99 motherboards line-up. Featuring 5 models, the X99S GAMING 9 AC, X99S GAMING 7, X99S XPOWER AC, X99S MPOWER and X99S SLI PLUS, MSI caters to everyone’s needs. With a long history of unique high performance motherboards under any condition, MSI X99 motherboards are based on Military Class 4 components and come packed with a freight train of features. All MSI X99 motherboards feature Turbo M.2 to maximize M.2 performance up to 32 Gb/s and SATA Express for the latest technology in data storage. MSI X99 also offers full support for Quad SLI and CrossFire configurations, whether you demand the highest performance when GAMING, Overclocking or rendering graphics.
MSI X99 GAMING for the best gaming experience
Inheriting true GAMING DNA, years of building the best motherboards, closely working with world’s best gamers and collecting over 300 awards from worldwide media, MSI proudly presents the next generation of GAMING motherboards. MSI X99 GAMING motherboard comes equipped with the evolution of the best on-board audio solution called Audio Boost 2, Killer networking and support for Turbo M.2 32 Gb/s and SATA Express devices together with other key gaming features. Its masterpiece is Streaming Engine, featured on MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC, which is a dedicated onboard hardware streaming solution for streaming gaming activities at 1080p 60Mbps without impacting FPS. Time for hi-end GAMING with MSI.
A new round of breaking world records
The Overclocking Champion returns. After generations of proven world class overclocking performance, MSI is proud to add the X99S XPOWER AC motherboard to this glorious family. Top overclockers around the world relying on nothing but the best were involved in its birth. With each model built with Military Class 4 components and specifically tuned for an overclocking segment, MSI’s OC Certified models deliver stability and top overclocking performance with the latest Intel HEDT CPUs.
Clever solutions are once again handed to devoted overclockers to help break world records. DirectUSB is available for easy USB flashing and saving scores. This series features a new OC Backplate, a smart solution for overclockers to mount their LN2 pot, and Delid Die Guard to make mounting a cooling solution easier, safer and to help squeeze every last MHz out of the a delidded CPU. The next generation OC Engine is offers a dedicated Clock Generator for more flexible BCLK adjustments, from 100 / 125 / 167 MHz straps. Using these straps prevents system crashing while overclocking on the edge and opens doors to achieve the absolute maximum. The next generation chip offers even lower jitter and power consumption resulting in even higher stability under the most extreme conditions.
Stable and highly efficient, packed with features
The new MSI X99S SLI PLUS motherboard presents an arsenal of new features and improvements as well as technical ingenuity. Offering reliable and fast Gigabit LAN from Intel and Nvidia SLI support for enthusiasts looking to pair up multiple graphics cards. Delivering speeds up to 32Gb/s, Turbo M.2 is more than 5 times faster than a regular SATA III 6 Gb/s connection. Turbo M.2 32 Gb/s is the successor to M.2 10 Gb/s, offering performance up to 3 times more performance. M.2 is packed in a small form factor and is compatible with 3 different sizes to fit all M.2 devices. SATA Express is supported up to 10 Gb/s. Gamers can enjoy blazing fast system boot up and loading of applications and games. GuardPro and Military Class 4 provide all the stability you need through carefully selected and thoroughly tested components and materials.
Subject: Motherboards | August 5, 2014 - 05:38 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: msi, Intel, X99, x99s sli plus
Well, this just happened.
So there you have it, the X99 chipset is a thing, the MSI X99S SLI Plus is a thing, and it looks damned sexy.
— MSI Computer U.S. (@msiUSA) August 5, 2014
I lightened up the photo some to show off more of the features as the black coloring on everything made it all hard to see. Revealed are a total of 8 DIMM slots (DDR4 we assume), four PCI Express x16 slots (though we don't know how many lanes each is connected to), 8 SATA ports, 1 SATA Express and some more goodies. What do you guys think? Stoked for the pending Haswell-E / X99 release?
Subject: Mobile | August 5, 2014 - 02:24 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: msi, WS60, mobile workstation, Quadro K2100M
Weighing in under 5lbs and thinner than 1" the MSI WS60 is very small but yet houses a Quadro K2100M which is powerful enough for professional design work. With Thunderbolt 2 connectivity it is capable of outputting 4k video and the Super RAID will give you very impressive performance even when working with large files.
City of Industry, Calif. – August 5, 2014 – MSI Computer Corp, a leading manufacturer of computer hardware products and solutions, unveils the world’s thinnest and lightest mobile workstation, the WS60. Powered by state-of-the-art technologies, including NVIDIA Quadro K2100M 3D graphics, Intel Core i7 processor and MSI’s Super RAID technology, MSI’s newest workstation weighs only 4.36 lbs., measures less than 0.8-inches thick, and delivers superior performance in an unprecedented sexy design.
“The WS60 is the perfect workstation for mobile designers and CAD CAM Engineers,” says Andy Tung, president of MSI Pan America. “It combines the versatility of an ultrabook with the performance of a workstation and takes it to another level with Thunderbolt connectivity, MSI’s Shortcut Manager, and an array of gaming components.”
MSI’s WS60 offers the fastest processing speed available in an ultra-slim workstation. Featuring the latest 4th generation CPU from Intel and NVIDIA Quadro K2100 professional graphics, the WS60 can blaze through even the most demanding tasks. MSI enhances its prowess by adding Super RAID to seamlessly integrate 2x SSDs and 1x HDD storage for over 1000 MB/s of read speed, dual fan technology for maximum heat dissipation while remaining whisper quiet, and Thunderbolt 2 connectivity. Thunderbolt 2 comes with 4K and 3D video output and dramatically increases transfer speeds up to 20 GB/s, 4 times faster than a USB 3.0 port.
The WS60 sheds the bulky and boxy design of traditional workstations. Inspired by the acclaimed look of MSI’s gaming notebooks, the WS60 has a full metallic body with MG-Li alloy parts that guarantee utmost durability, visual appeal and feather-like weight. Measuring less than 0.8-inches thick and weighing only 4.36 lbs., the WS60 is a featherweight notebook with ultra-heavyweight performance.
Creating digital art requires a screen that accurately displays true-to-life colors and captures every minute detail. MSI has outfitted the WS60 with a vibrant WQHD+ 3K display for those who demand a high level of detail in their work.
Certified for Professionals
All MSI workstation laptops, including the WS60, guarantee optimal performance with professional 3D programs like SolidWorks and more with certification from these software giants.
MSI’s WS60 is packed with professional-grade parts, including a SteelSeries full-color backlight keyboard with Anti-Ghost keys to guarantee superior tactile feedback, Killer Game Networking chip to optimize internet bandwidth, and MSI’s Shortcut Manager. MSI’s Shortcut Manager allows designers and engineers to program keys and combines multiple keys into a single command key, increasing efficiency and speed.
The WS60 is currently available in two different configurations starting at $2,299.99.
Subject: Motherboards | August 5, 2014 - 01:14 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: msi, Z97S SLI Plus
MSI's Z97S SLI Plus has a very clean socket area with nothing intruding into the space around it allowing for the use of a wide variety of CPU coolers. Three 16x PCIe 3.0 slots will support multiple GPU configurations and the pair of PCIe 2.0 and PCI lots leave you a lot of space for add-in cards. Possibly the best feature is the bootable M.2 slot for the newest type of SSDs but for others perhaps it will be the overclocking features which [H]ard|OCP were quite impressed with. The only warning is to avoid installing the full suite of software that MSI shipped with this board, otherwise you will spend time uninstalling the software you do not want on your machine.
"MSI once again brings us a solid, stable, and reliable motherboard with some great overclocking and positions it in the multi-GPU category. Usually when we see marketing moves like this we think of $200, $300, or even $400 motherboards. This MSI platform rings in at the $138 mark, which spikes this motherboard in the value category as well."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- MSI Z97I Gaming AC mini-ITX Motherboard Review @ Techgage
- ASUS Z97-DELUXE Motherboard @ Hardware Secrets
- ECS Z97 Machine Motherboard Review @ Madshrimps
- Biostar Hi-Fi Z97WE @ techPowerUp
- MSI Z97 Gaming 9 AC @ Kitguru
- Gigabyte Z97X SOC Force Overclocking Motherboard Review @ Hardware Asylum
- MSI Z97 MPower Overclocking Motherboard Review @ Hardware Asylum
- Gigabyte GA-Z97N Gaming 5 Mini ITX @ Hardwareoverclock
- Biostar Hi-Fi Z97WE Review @ OCC
- ASUS Z97-PRO Motherboard @ Hardware Secrets
- Gigabyte GA-Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK Motherboard Review @HiTech Legion
Redefining Price/Performance with AMD Motherboards
Motherboards are fascinating to me. They always have been. I remember voraciously reading motherboard reviews in the mid-90s. I simply could not get enough of them. Some new chipset from SiS, VIA, or ALi? I scoured the internet for information on them and what new features they would bring to the table. Back then motherboards did not have the retail presence they do now. The manufacturers were starting to learn to differentiate their products and cater to the enthusiasts who would not only buy and support these products, but also recommend them to friends/family/the world.
Today motherboards are really the foundation for any PC build. Choosing a motherboard is no longer just picking up some whitebox board that has a 440 BX chipset. Now users are much more active in debating what kind of features they need, what kind of feedback has this manufacturer received from consumers, what kind of ratings the board has on Amazon or Newegg. Features like build quality or overclocking performance sway users from company to company and product to product.
In the past 15 years or so we have seen some pretty rigid guidelines for pricing of motherboards. The super cheap “PC Chips” style motherboards existed below the $90 range. The decent, but unexciting motherboards with the bare minimum of features would go from $90 to $150. The $150 and beyond products were typically considered enthusiast class motherboards with expanded features, better build quality, and more robust power delivery options. Thankfully for consumers, this model is being shaken up by the latest generation of products from AMD.
MSI insures that everything is nicely packed and protected in their black and red box.
I mentioned in the previous Gigabyte G1.Sniper.A88X review that AMD and its partners do not have the luxury of offering a $150 and above FM2+ motherboard due to the nature (and pricing) of the latest FM2+ APUs. I am fairly sure the amount of people willing to spend $200 on a motherboard to house a $179 APU that seemingly overclocks as well on a cheap board as it does a more expensive one (meaning, not very well at all) is pretty low. If there is one bright side to the latest Kaveri APUs, it is that the graphics portion is extremely robust in both graphics and OpenCL applications. The hope for AMD and users alike is that HSA will in fact take off and provide a significant performance boost in a wide variety of applications that typically require quite a bit of horsepower.
Subject: Processors | July 9, 2014 - 05:42 PM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: nvidia, msi, Luxmark, Lightning, hsa, GTX 580, GCN, APU, amd, A88X, A10-7850K
When I first read many of the initial AMD A10 7850K reviews, my primary question was how would the APU act if there was a different GPU installed on the system and did not utilize the CrossFire X functionality that AMD talked about. Typically when a user installs a standalone graphics card on the AMD FM2/FM2+ platform, they disable the graphics portion of the APU. They also have to uninstall the AMD Catalyst driver suite. So this then leaves the APU as a CPU only, and all of that graphics silicon is left silent and dark.
Who in their right mind would pair a high end graphics card with the A10-7850K? This guy!
Does this need to be the case? Absolutely not! The GCN based graphics unit on the latest Kaveri APUs is pretty powerful when used in GPGPU/OpenCL applications. The 4 cores/2 modules and 8 GCN cores can push out around 856 GFlops when fully utilized. We also must consider that the APU is the first fully compliant HSA (Heterogeneous System Architecture) chip, and it handles memory accesses much more efficiently than standalone GPUs. The shared memory space with the CPU gets rid of a lot of the workarounds typically needed for GPGPU type applications. It makes sense that users would want to leverage the performance potential of a fully functioning APU while upgrading their overall graphics performance with a higher end standalone GPU.
To get this to work is very simple. Assuming that the user has been using the APU as their primary graphics controller, they should update to the latest Catalyst drivers. If the user is going to use an AMD card, then it would behoove them to totally uninstall the Catalyst driver and re-install only after the new card is installed. After this is completed restart the machine, go into the UEFI, and change the primary video boot device to PEG (PCI-Express Graphics) from the integrated unit. Save the setting and shut down the machine. Insert the new video card and attach the monitor cable(s) to it. Boot the machine and either re-install the Catalyst suite if an AMD card is used, or install the latest NVIDIA drivers if that is the graphics choice.
Windows 7 and Windows 8 allow users to install multiple graphics drivers from different vendors. In my case I utilized a last generation GTX 580 (the MSI N580GTX Lightning) along with the AMD A10 7850K. These products coexist happily together on the MSI A88X-G45 Gaming motherboard. The monitor is attached to the NVIDIA card and all games are routed through that since it is the primary graphics adapter. Performance seems unaffected with both drivers active.
I find it interesting that the GPU portion of the APU is named "Spectre". Who owns those 3dfx trademarks anymore?
When I load up Luxmark I see three entries: the APU (CPU and GPU portions), the GPU portion of the APU, and then the GTX 580. Luxmark defaults to the GPUs. We see these GPUs listed as “Spectre”, which is the GCN portion of the APU, and the NVIDIA GTX 580. Spectre supports OpenCL 1.2 while the GTX 580 is an OpenCL 1.1 compliant part.
With both GPUs active I can successfully run the Luxmark “Sala” test. The two units perform better together than when they are run separately. Adding in the CPU does increase the score, but not by very much (my guess here is that the APU is going to be very memory bandwidth bound in such a situation). Below we can see the results of the different units separate and together.
These results make me hopeful about the potential of AMD’s latest APU. It can run side by side with a standalone card, and applications can leverage the performance of this unit. Now all we need is more HSA aware software. More time and more testing is needed for setups such as this, and we need to see if HSA enabled software really does see a boost from using the GPU portion of the APU as compared to a pure CPU piece of software or code that will run on the standalone GPU.
Personally I find the idea of a heterogeneous solution such as this appealing. The standalone graphics card handles the actual graphics portions, the CPU handles that code, and the HSA software can then fully utilize the graphics portion of the APU in a very efficient manner. Unfortunately, we do not have hard numbers on the handful of HSA aware applications out there, especially when used in conjunction with standalone graphics. We know in theory that this can work (and should work), but until developers get out there and really optimize their code for such a solution, we simply do not know if having an APU will really net the user big gains as compared to something like the i7 4770 or 4790 running pure x86 code.
In the meantime, at least we know that these products work together without issue. The mixed mode OpenCL results make a nice case for improving overall performance in such a system. I would imagine with more time and more effort from developers, we could see some really interesting implementations that will fully utilize a system such as this one. Until then, happy experimenting!
The Radeon R9 280
Though not really new, the AMD Radeon R9 280 GPU is a part that we really haven't spent time with at PC Perspective. Based on the same Tahiti GPU found in the R9 280X, the HD 7970, the HD 7950 and others, the R9 280 fits at a price point and performance level that I think many gamers will see as enticing. MSI sent along a model that includes some overclocked settings and an updated cooler, allowing the GPU to run at its top speed without much noise.
With a starting price of just $229 or so, the MSI Radeon R9 280 Gaming graphics cards has some interesting competition as well. From the AMD side it butts heads with the R9 280X and the R9 270X. The R9 280X costs $60-70 more though and as you'll see in our benchmarks, the R9 280 will likely cannibalize some of those sales. From NVIDIA, the GeForce GTX 760 is priced right at $229 as well, but does it really have the horsepower to keep with Tahiti?
Introduction and Technical Specifications
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.
Courtesy of MSI
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.
Courtesy of MSI
Subject: General Tech | June 26, 2014 - 02:36 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: xeon, video, seiki, podcast, nvidia, msi, Intel, HDMI 2.0, gt70 2pe, gt70, gameworks, FX-9590, displayport 1.3, coolermaster, amd, 4k
PC Perspective Podcast #306 - 06/26/2014
Join us this week as we discuss our Budget PC Shootout, the Coolermaster Elite 110, an AMD GameWorks competitor and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Allyn Maleventano
Welcome to our beta podcast!
Quakecon is coming up, as is our Hardware Workshop!
Week in Review:
0:24:00 Noctua NH-U12S CPU Cooler Review
News items of interest:
0:42:00 You got your FPGA in my Xeon!
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week: