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!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store
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- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
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:
Subject: Motherboards | June 25, 2014 - 05:02 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Z97 Gaming 7, msi, LGA1150, Intel Z97, haswell, gaming series
Morry recently reviewed MSI's Z97 Gaming 7 motherboard but if for some reason you would like a second option you can drop by [H]ard|OCP for their review. The systems tested vary slightly and the benchmarks run are slightly different such as [H]'s deferred procedure call latency test. Their overclocking results were also in a similar range, hitting 4.7GHz on their 4770K with the RAM hitting 2400MHz. Read through both reviews because the results you see, the more you know and ...
"We’ve been fans of MSI’s "Gaming" series for some time now. The Z97 Gaming 7 has big shoes to fill and competition is heating up as competitors take a page from MSI’s book and bring some of respective offerings into parity with MSI’s price points. Does MSI still have what it takes to rule this particular market? We are about to find out."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- ASRock Z97 Extreme4 Motherboard @ Hardware Secrets
- Gigabyte Z97MX-Gaming 5 @ eTeknix
- MSI Z97I GAMING AC @ TechPowerUp!
- Biostar Hi-Fi Z97WE Motherboard Review @ Modders-Inc
- Biostar Hi-Fi Z97WE Motherboard Review @HiTech Legion
- ASUS Z97I-PLUS @ eTeknix
- Gigabyte G1.Sniper M5 Motherboard Review @ Madshrimps
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 9, 2014 - 02:53 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, r9 280, msi, R9 280 GAMING OC, factory overclocked
[H]ard|OCP has just posted a review of MSI's factory overclocked
HD7950 R9 280 GAMING OC card, with a 67MHz overclock on the GPU out of the box bringing it up to the 280X's default speed of 1GHz. With a bit of work that can be increased, [H]'s testing was also done at 1095MHz with the RAM raised to 5.4GHz which was enough to take it's performance just beyond the stock GTX 760 it was pitted against. Considering the equality of the performance as well as the price of these cards the decision as to which to go can be based on bundled games or personal preference.
"Priced at roughly $260 we have the MSI R9 280 GAMING OC video card, which features pre-overclocked performance, MSI's Twin Frozr IV cooling system, and highest end components. We'll focus on performance when gaming at 1080p between this boss and the GeForce GTX 760 video card!"
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- Gigabyte R7 250X OC 1GB GDDR5 @ Madshrimps
- HIS R7 250X iCooler 1GB GDDR5 @ Madshrimps
- PowerColor Radeon R9 295X2 Review @ OCC
- MSI Radeon R9 280 OC Review @ TechwareLabs
- Sapphire R9 290 Vapor-X OC Review @ Hardware Canucks
- AMD Kaveri Mobile APU Preview - FX-7600P with Radeon R7 Graphics @ Legit Reviews
- The Performance-Per-Watt, Efficiency Of GPUs On Open-Source Drivers @ Phoronix
- Testing 60+ Intel/AMD/NVIDIA GPUs On Linux With Open-Source Drivers @ Phoronix
- NVIDIA GeForce GT 740: I'd Rather Have Maxwell @ Phoronix
- NVIDIA’s GTX TITAN Z; GK110 Squared @ Hardware Canucks
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