Video Perspective: MSI Z77A-G45 Thunderbolt for under $160

Subject: Motherboards | December 29, 2012 - 05:15 PM |
Tagged: z77a-g45 thunderbolt, Z77, video, thunderbolt, msi

If you are interested in joining in on the wave of Thunderbolt accessories coming out in 2013 you might want to learn about the new MSI Z77A-G45 Thunderbolt motherboard.  This new board promises to be the least expensive option with an integrated Thunderbolt port while also offering a great overclocking and feature set very similar to that of the MSI Z77A-GD80. 

You can pick it up at Newegg.com today for $159!

Check out our video overview!

 

PS - Let us know if you have any comments on the new video player / configuration!!

MSI cuts the fluff of their Z77 MPower board but keeps the good parts

Subject: General Tech | December 7, 2012 - 12:07 PM |
Tagged: msi, z77 mpower, lga1155

At $200 the MSI Z77 MPower board is neither the most expensive nor the least expensive Z77 board on the market, which makes sense when you consider the board.  With three PCIe 3.0 16x slots (16x, 8x 8x, 8x 4x 4x) you get flexibility in the cards you can install, even before you start to populate the four PCIe 1x slots.  On the other hand the SATA count is a little lower than others as there is no second controller, though many users could be satisfied with four SATA2 and two SATA 6Gbps ports.  On the other hand, seven USB 3.0 ports is quite impressive as is the HDMI and DisplayPort connections thanks to the lack of a DSub port.  [H]ard|OCP enjoyed overclocking this board, as there were a lot of fine controls available in the UEFI BIOS though it is apparent that MSI now belongs to the so called "Turbo Cheaters" club.  Read more here.

H_msiz77mpower.jpg

"Too often you have to buy an insanely expensive board, packed with features you probably won't use in order to get high end performance and overclocking oriented features. MSI is changing that with the Z77 MPower. This board has all the performance without the unnecessary fluff."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

MSI's Z77A-GD55 is a brilliant budget board

Subject: Motherboards | November 19, 2012 - 10:10 AM |
Tagged: msi, Z77A-GD55, lga1155

Right now on NewEgg, the LGA1155 MSI Z77A-GD55 is a great deal at $130 after MIR and comes with a free 8GB dual channel DDR3-1600 Ripjaws kit from G.Skill.  For that low price you get a pair of PCIe 3.0 16x slots, a single 4x and four 1x slots along with two SATA 6Gbs ports and four SATA II ports capable of RAID, 10 USB 2.0 ports and a pair of USB 3.0 ports.  Those ports, along with the array of audio and video connectors on the backplate should provide enough connectivity for the majority of users with space to upgrade. [H]ard|OCP are not fans of the Double-Click BIOS II, with this implementation being no worse than other MSI boards and they did have some problems with the Control Center software, however with the very stable performance and easy overclocking ability of the board they highly recommend it for anyone looking for a budget conscious Ivy Bridge system.

H_gd55.jpg

"This motherboard might be a bit off-the-radar for most enthusiasts since it is a bit "down the scale." However, if you want a lot of bang for your buck, then look no further than MSI's Z77A-GD55. While it's somewhat basic in features it's overclocking performance is stellar for the price, which is very value oriented."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Podcast #225 - Intel's New Low Priced 240GB SSD, Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 Convertible Ultrabook, AMD ARM processors, and more!

Subject: General Tech | November 1, 2012 - 12:04 PM |
Tagged: z77a-gd80, yoga 13, thunderbolt, podcast, pcper, msi, Lenovo, intel ssd, intel 335, Intel, Ideapad, asus, arm, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #225 - 11/01/2012

Join us this week as we talk about Intel's New Low Priced 240GB SSD, Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 Convertible Ultrabook, AMD ARM processors, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts:Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Allyn Malventano, and Chris Barbere

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!

Program length: 1:10:09

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Reviews:
    1. 0:01:40 The Windows You Love is Gone
    2. 0:07:30 Intel SSD 335 Series 240GB Full Review - Intel's first 20nm SSD
    3. 0:15:30 MSI Z77A-GD80 with Thunderbolt Motherboard Review
    4. 0:20:20 Video Perspective: Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 Windows 8 Ultrabook Preview
  2. 0:29:22 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
  3. News items of interest:
    1. 0:30:35 Corsair Announces new products
      1. Corsair Announces Vengeance MM200 and MM400 gaming mouse mats
      2. Corsair Announces Updated Hydro Series H60 and New Hydro Series H55
    2. 0:36:10 ASUS Launches Line of VivoBook Laptops Running Windows 8
      1. Asus Zenbook Refresh Introduces Several New Ultrabooks
    3. 0:42:05 How to Build a PC with Windows 8 - PC Perspective Live!
    4. 0:43:50 Microsoft Giving Away Free Media Center Keys For Windows 8
    5. 0:46:30 ASRock Launches Extreme6/TB4 Motherboard With Two Thunderbolt Ports
    6. 0:47:30 AMD Announces It Will Build 64-bit ARM Processors for Server Markets
    7. 0:53:15 Intel Wants To See 48-Core Processors In Future Smartphones
    8. 0:56:30 NZXT Unleashes the Kraken -- World's first all-in-one 140mm & 280mm liquid-cooler
  4. Closing:
    1. 1:00:20 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
      1. Ryan: Symphony on Steam - Free Keys to Give Away!!
      2. Jeremy: Grab media centre, even if you don't plan on getting Win 8 yet
      3. Allyn: Start8 - for you Windows 8 users
      4. Chris: MechWarrior Online
  1. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  2. http://pcper.com/podcast
  3. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  4. Closing/outro

Be sure to subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube channel!!

Author:
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: MSI

Overview

Today we are taking a look at MSI’s flagship Z77 motherboard, the Z77A-GD80. Beyond being the GD80 SKU, which for several generations now has been given MSI’s premiere options, this GD80 in particular is an innovative board. This is due to the Z77A-GD80 being the first Windows motherboard that was certified for Intel’s Thunderbolt technology.

IMG_8239.JPG

As many of you may know, Thunderbolt has 10 Gbps of bandwidth, as well as integrates Mini DisplayPort for video. With all of this bandwidth, Thunderbolt is an exciting standard, which we will focus on in depth later in this review.

Continue reading our review of the MSI Z77A-GD80 Thunderbolt Motherboard!

Factory Overclocked MSI GTX 660 HAWK Pictured

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 22, 2012 - 01:01 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, MSI GTX660 HAWK, msi, gtx 660

This week has certainly had its share of leaked graphics card news, and the latest information on that market indicates that MSI is working on a enthusiast-level HAWK version of the GTX 660 GPU. That card will take the GK106 Kepler chip to the max with the fastest factory overclocks yet.

Last week Nvidia debuted its GTX 660 graphics card, which is currently the lowest-end GPU to use the Kepler GK106 chip. Once the NDA broke, the review of the card went live, and the performance of the reference designs was analyzed.

GK106 features 5 SMX units in 2.5 Graphics Processing Clusters (GPC), which Nvidia has said is the most that the chip will ever have. The GTX 660 version has 960 CUDA cores, 80 texture units, 24 ROPs, and a 192-bit memory bus.

While GK106 will likely not see a version with three complete GPCs, the mid-range Kepler chip still has a bit of performance headroom that can be unleased with overclocking, and several OEMs are preparing factory overclocked GTX 660 graphics cards with custom coolers.

The latest custom GTX 660 to be leaked is the MSI GTX 660 HAWK edition with out-of-the-box overclocked settings, beefed up power management hardware, and a TwinFrozr IV cooler. 

GTX-660-HAWK-MSI.jpg

MSI has gone with a custom PCB and cooler to keep the GK106 fed with power and running cool. The PCB has been fitted with a 10-phase VRM, SSC chokes, and IR DirectFETs to provide the power needed to run at overclocked settings. Of course, MSI has included its GPU Reactor hardware – a feature exclusive to its HAWK branded cards that differentiates them from the lower tier lightning and power edition cards. The GPU Reactor is a set of tantalum capacitors that are said to deliver more stable voltage to the Kepler chip.

The graphics card continues to be powered by two 6-pin PCI-E power connectors. MSI has also added a dual BIOS feature to the HAWK card that will run the GPU at GTX 660 reference speeds (980/1033MHz) or at the overclocked profile, depending on physical BIOS switch position.

Clockspeeds are where the MSI GTX 660 HAWK really gets interesting, however. The base clockspeed of 1100MHz is more than most GTX 660 cards run at /boost/ speeds, and the 1176MHz boost speed is the fastest boost speed we’ve seen yet. In an interesting twist, MSI has not touched the clockspeed for the 2GB of GDDR5 memory. Instead, it has left the graphics card clocked at 6008MHz memory (the reference speed). It may be that the memory chips simply cannot overclock much beyond the reference clockspeeds as there are no other factory overclocked GTX 660s that I know of that push the memory clocks beyond reference.

MSI-GTX-660-HAWK-Front.jpg

Of course, the other big selling point of this MSI card is the custom cooler – one that Josh seems to like thanks to the addition of “supa pipes!” The Twin Frozr IV is a dual fan cooled aluminum fin array that is connected to the block over the GPU by five heat-pipes. There does not appear to be much information on the HSF beyond that, unfortunately. Judging by past iterations, it should be more than capable of running at the factory overclocked speeds, however.

Display outputs will include two DVI, one DisplayPort, and one HDMI. Pricing and availability are still unknown, but expect it to command a small premium over the standard GTX 660’s $229 price tag.

EXPreview was the source of the photos, however the webpage seems to be down at the moment. Fortunately, WCCF Tech manged to grab them before the original page was lost, and you can see more photos of the MSI GTX 660 HAWK (SKU: N660GTX HAWK) on that page.

A comparison chart of the various GTX 600 series cards.

Note: GTX 650 is GK107, GTX 660 is GK106, GTX 660Ti and above is GK104.

Read more about Nvidia's Kepler graphics card architecture at PC Perspective!

Source: Guru 3D

ASUS Launches the GeForce GTX 660 DirectCU II Lineup

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 13, 2012 - 02:09 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, msi, kepler, gtx 660, gk106, geforce, evga, factory overclocked

As those of you who have already read the post below this one know, ASUS decided to create a DirectCU II model for their GTX 660, with the famous heatpipe bearing heatsink.  They have overclocked the GPU already and the card comes with tools to allow you to push it even further if you take the time to get to know your card and what it can manage.  Check the full press release below.

Fremont, CA (September 13, 2012) - ASUS is excited to release the ASUS GeForce GTX 660 DirectCU II series featuring the Standard, OC and TOP editions. Utilizing the latest 28nm NVIDIA Kepler graphics architecture, the OC and TOP cards deliver a factory-overclock while all three cards feature ASUS exclusive DirectCU thermal design and GPU Tweak tuning software to deliver a quieter, cooler, faster, and more immersive gameplay experience. The ASUS GeForce GTX 660 DirectCU II series set a new benchmark for exceptional performance and power efficiency in a highly affordable graphics card. The ASUS GeForce GTX 660 DirectCU II is perfect for gamers looking to upgrade from last-generation graphics technology while retaining ASUS’ class-leading cooling and acoustic performance.

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Superior Design and Software for the Best Gaming Experience ASUS equips the GeForce GTX 660 DirectCU II series with 2GB of GDDR5 memory clocked up to 6108MHz. The TOP edition features a blistering GPU core boost clock of 1137MHz, 104MHz faster than reference designs while the OC edition arrives with a factory-set GPU core boost speed of 1085MHz. Exclusive ASUS DIGI+ VRM digital power delivery and user-friendly GPU Tweak tuning software allows all cards to easily overclock beyond factory-set speeds offering enhanced performance in your favorite game or compute intensive application.

The ASUS GeForce GTX 660 DirectCU II series feature exclusive DirectCU technology. The custom designed cooler uses direct contact copper heatpipes for faster heat transduction and up to 20% lower normal operating temperatures than reference designs. The optimized fans are able operate at lower speeds providing a much quieter gaming or computing environment. For enhanced stability, energy efficiency, and overclocking margins the cards feature DIGI+ VRM digital power deliver plus a class-leading six-phase Super Alloy Power design for the capacitors, chokes, and MOSFETs meant to extend product lifespan and durability while operating noise-free even under heavy workloads.

ASUS once again includes the award winning GPU Tweak tuning suite in the box. Overclocking-inclined enthusiasts or gamers can boost clock speeds, set power targets, and configure fan operating parameters and policies; all this and more is accessible in the user-friendly interface. GPU Tweak offers built-in safe guards to ensure all modifications are safe, maintaining optimal stability and card reliability.

Source: ASUS

New Kepler on the Block, meet the vanilla GTX 660

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 13, 2012 - 01:49 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, msi, kepler, gtx 660, gk106, geforce, evga

The non-Ti version of the GTX 660 has arrived on test benches and retailers, with even the heavily overclocked cards being available at $230, like EVGA's Superclocked model or MSI's OC'd card once you count the MIR.  That price places it right in between the HD 7850 and 7870, and ~$70 less than the GTX 660 Ti, while the performance is mostly comparable to a stock HD7870 though the OC versions can top the GTX660.

[H]ard|OCP received ASUS' version of the card, a DirectCU II based version with the distinctive heatpipes.  ASUS overclocked the card to a 1072MHz base clock and 1137MHz GPU Boost and [H] plans to see just how much further the frequencies can be pushed at a later date.  Their final word on this card for those looking to upgrade, for those of you with "a GTX 560 Ti, and even the GTX 570, the GTX 660 is an upgrade".

H_660gtx.gif

"NVIDIA is launching the new GeForce GTX 660 GPU, codenamed GK106. We have a retail ASUS GeForce GTX 660 DirectCU II custom video card fully evaluated against a plethora of competition at this price point. This brand new GPU aims for a price point just under the GTX 660 Ti but still promises to deliver exceptional 1080p gaming with AA."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP
Author:
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

GK106 Completes the Circle

The release of the various Kepler-based graphics cards have been interesting to watch from the outside.  Though NVIDIA certainly spiced things up with the release of the GeForce GTX 680 2GB card back in March, and then with the dual-GPU GTX 690 4GB graphics card, for quite quite some time NVIDIA was content to leave the sub-$400 markets to AMD's Radeon HD 7000 cards.  And of course NVIDIA's own GTX 500-series.

But gamers and enthusiasts are fickle beings - knowing that the GTX 660 was always JUST around the corner, many of you were simply not willing to buy into the GTX 560s floating around Newegg and other online retailers.  AMD benefited greatly from this lack of competition and only recently has NVIDIA started to bring their latest generation of cards to the price points MOST gamers are truly interested in. 

Today we are going to take a look at the brand new GeForce GTX 660, a graphics cards with 2GB of frame buffer that will have a starting MSRP of $229.  Coming in $80 under the GTX 660 Ti card released just last month, does the more vanilla GTX 660 have what it takes to replace the success of the GTX 460?

The GK106 GPU and GeForce GTX 660 2GB

NVIDIA's GK104 GPU is used in the GeForce GTX 690, GTX 680, GTX 670 and even the GTX 660 Ti.  We saw the much smaller GK107 GPU with the GT 640 card, a release I was not impressed with at all.  With the GTX 660 Ti starting at $299 and the GT 640 at $120, there was a WIDE gap in NVIDIA's 600-series lineup that the GTX 660 addresses with an entirely new GPU, the GK106.

First, let's take a quick look at the reference card from NVIDIA for the GeForce GTX 660 2GB - it doesn't differ much from the reference cards for the GTX 660 Ti and even the GTX 670.

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The GeForce GTX 660 uses the same half-length PCB that we saw for the first time with the GTX 670 and this will allow retail partners a lot of flexibility with their card designs. 

Continue reading our review of the GeForce GTX 660 graphics card!

MSI's new budget board, the Z77A-G41

Subject: Motherboards | September 12, 2012 - 04:06 PM |
Tagged: msi, MSI Z77A-G41, lga 1155

MSI adds to the value end of their Z77 based motherboard lineup with the Z77A-G41 at a mere $100, $90 after MIR.  For that price you get a board with a pair of PCIe 16x slots as well as a pair of both PCIe 1x and PCI slots.  [H]ard|OCP were less than impressed with the SATA ports, while there are six in total they are vertical and so add to the clutter of the machine as well as being in the way of the second PCIe slot.  They have never been fans of MSI's ClickBIOS, an opinion this board did not change nor were theu impressed with the overclocking abilities of the board, no matter how long they spent adjusting setting in the UEFI implementation.  That is not to imply that this board is not a good choice for everyone, it is only the enthusiast that will be disappointed, those looking for a stable motherboard to build an inexpensive machine will find this board fully up to the task.

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"While it's usually the high end boards that get the most attention, it's often the lower end and mid-range boards that many people purchase. With this in mind we get back to basics with the Z77A-G41 which is an entry level offering from MSI that boasts many enthusiast features."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP