The David of Z97 motherboards, Gigabyte's GA-Z97MX-Gaming 5

Subject: Motherboards | April 15, 2015 - 03:05 PM |
Tagged: z97, SFF, gigabyte, GA-Z97MX-Gaming 5

You could argue that the Z97 chipset is not the freshest but for serious gamers that are on a budget and for whom space is at a premium the $130 Gigabyte GA-Z97MX-GAMING 5 is a smart choice.  Four memory slots which support up to DDR3-3100, four PCI-e slots, an M.2 PCIe slot and even a SATA Express port mean you can support newer technology without breaking the bank, especially if you plan incremental upgrades.  It also has onboard Realtek ALC1150 7.1 surround sound with support for the Creative X-Fi MB3 and a swapable TI Burr Brown OPA2134 OP-AMP along with S/PDIF out also make this a good board for a fledgling sound artist.  Check out the full review at Modders Inc; you don't have to be big nor expensive to provide a long list of features.

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"Long are the days of the SUPER TOWER chassis being the king of the gamers den, in the past few years the SFF (Small Form Factor) has taken over the market. This is not only due to the compact size of mATX and ITX but that both form factors are continuing to squeeze performance into every bit of their tiny …"

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Source: Modders Inc

Gigabyte's Z97X Gaming 7, a decent motherboard all around

Subject: Motherboards | March 30, 2015 - 03:57 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, Z97X Gaming 7, z97, Intel

The Gigabyte Z97X Gaming 7 motherboard offers a nice balance between price and performance, at $172 it is a bit pricey but when on sale for around the $150 mark it is a great deal.  The onboard audio provided by Realtek's ALC1150 produced very good sound and while the Qualcomm Killer NIC E2201 doesn't offer benefits over a more generic NIC there are those who prefer the software which comes with it.  The board overclocked very well for [H] manually, providing noticeable boosts with solid performance, however the EasyTune software provided them with some issues.  Check out the full review right here.

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"GIGABYTE's Z97X Gaming 7 promises solid overclocking and performance. The feature list for the Z97X Gaming 7 is long and includes gamer focused features like a dedicated audio amplifier, Sound Blaster X-Fi MB3 support and more. We've had mixed results with the GIGABYTE lately, so the real question is; does it work?"

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

EVGA would like to give you a GTX 960 SSC and a Z97 FTW motherboard

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Motherboards | February 20, 2015 - 05:10 PM |
Tagged: z97, gtx 960, giveaway, evga, contest

I know, the nerve of some people. Jacob from EVGA emails me this week, complaining about how he has this graphics card and motherboard just sitting in his cubicle taking up space and "why won't I just give it away already!?"

Fine. I'll do it. For science.

So let's make this simple shall we? EVGA wants to get rid of some kick-ass gaming hardware and you want to win it. Why muddle up a good thing?

The Prizes

  • EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SSC
     
    • The EVGA GeForce GTX 960 delivers incredible performance, power efficiency, and gaming technologies that only NVIDIA Maxwell technology can offer. This is the perfect upgrade, offering 60% faster performance and twice the power efficiency of previous-generation cards*. Plus, it features VXGI for realistic lighting, support for smooth, tear-free NVIDIA G-SYNC technology, and Dynamic Super Resolution for 4K-quality gaming on 1080P displays.
       
    • The new EVGA ACX 2.0+ cooler brings new features to the award winning EVGA ACX 2.0 cooling technology. A Memory MOSFET Cooling Plate (MMCP) reduces MOSFET temperatures up to 11°C, and optimized Straight Heat Pipes (SHP) reduce GPU temperature by an additional 5°C. ACX 2.0+ coolers also feature optimized Swept fan blades, double ball bearings and an extreme low power motor, delivering more air flow with less power, unlocking additional power for the GPU.

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  • EVGA Z97 FTW Motherboard
     
    • Welcome to a new class of high performance motherboards with the EVGA Z97 lineup. These platforms offer a return to greatness with a new GUI BIOS interface, reimagined power VRM that focuses on efficiency, and are loaded with features such as Intel® Gigabit LAN, Native SATA 6G/USB 3.0 and more.
       
    • Engineered for the performance users with excellent overclocking features. Includes a GUI BIOS that is focused on functionality, new software interface for overclocking in the O.S., high quality components, M.2 storage option and more.

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The Process (aka how do you win?)

So even though I'm doing all the work getting this hardware out of Jacob's busy hands and to our readers...you do have to do a couple of things to win the hardware as well. 

  1. Fill out the questionnaire below.
     
  2. Enter the "secret phrase" from tonight's 337th episode of the PC Perspective Podcast. We'll be live streaming at 10pm ET / 7pm PT or you can wait for the downloadable version at http://www.pcper.com/podcast or the video version on our PC Perspective YouTube channel

The contest will run for one week so you will have more than enough time to listen to or watch the podcast and get the super-secret answer. We'll ship to anywhere in the world and one person will win both fantastic prizes! Once the contest closes (Wednesday, February 25th at 12pm ET) we'll randomly draw a winner from the form below that got the correct answer!

A HUGE thanks goes to our friends at EVGA for supplying the hardware for our giveaway. Good luck!

Source: EVGA

CES 2015: MSI Z97I Gaming ACK Mini-ITX Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2015 - 03:24 AM |
Tagged: z97i gaming ack, z97, video, msi, M.2, ces 2015, CES

We have definitely seen our share of Z97 motherboards using the Mini-ITX form factor by now, but the new MSI Z97I Gaming ACK offers a couple of unique twists worth noting. First, the board features both wireless and wired Killer Networking components, has four SATA 6 Gb/s ports and a total of six USB 3.0 ports. Click BIOS, OC Genie and Command Center are all MSI specific features found on the ACK.

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The most interesting feature though is the rear-mounted M.2 port that allows the user to install a full 10 Gb/s M.2 storage device on the back side of the motherboard! Obviously you will have to be sure that the stand offs on your case will allow the spacing required for an M.2 device, but MSI doesn't think it will be a problem for most cases. It's a very interesting way to integrate more hardware on a design that is incredibly space limited. (Note: you'll have to watch the video to see the rear mounted M.2 port.)

Coverage of CES 2015 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2015 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

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

Consider the ECS Z97I-DRONE for your next Mini-ITX system

Subject: Motherboards | December 16, 2014 - 04:09 PM |
Tagged: z97, ECS, GANK, Z97I-Drone, mini ITX, SFF

We haven't seen an ECS DRONE board here since Morry reviewed the Z87GH3-A3X last January but the series is still alive.  MadShrimps wrapped up a review of the newer ECS Z97I-Drone, a Mini-ITX board which should soon be available for under $100.  The board will support DDR3-3000 and M.2 storage as well as being designed with 5-Phase PWM and ICY Chokes and other features that first appeared on higher end boards but are now available at the lower end as well.  Since it is a Micro-ITX board there is only room for a single PCIe 3.0 16x slot which does limit the system somewhat but still performs up to spec.  Check out the full review to see if this is a board you want to build a SFF system with.

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"ECS does not disappoint with the release of the cheap ECS Z97I-Drone which allows installation of a powerful Haswell processor which can be paired with RAM up to 16GB and eventually a potent VGA card inside the provided PCI Express x16 slot; be warned however that using a beefy CPU cooler will likely cover the PCI-Express slot completely so we would recommend either sticking with the stock Intel cooler or adopting an all-in-one water cooling solution, which is so accessible these days."

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Source: MadShrimps

Podcast #329 - Samsung 850 EVO, AMD Catalyst Omega, NZXT H440 Razer and more!

Subject: General Tech | December 11, 2014 - 03:48 PM |
Tagged: z97, video, Samsung, podcast, plex, nzxt, Maximus VII Impact, h440 razer, h440, FM2+, crossblade ranger, catalyst omega, asus, amd, 850 EVO

PC Perspective Podcast #329 - 12/11/2014

Join us this week as we discuss the Samsung 850 EVO, AMD Catalyst Omega, NZXT H440 Razer 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
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  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

 

 

ECS Launches L337 Gaming Z97I-Drone Mini ITX Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | October 12, 2014 - 01:27 AM |
Tagged: z97, PCI-E 3.0, mini ITX, M.2, L337 Gaming, intel i218v, haswell, ECS

ECS recently introduced the mini ITX Z97I-DRONE under its L337 Gaming series. This new motherboard is aimed at gamers and overclockers looking to put together a high end small form factor system based around Intel’s Haswell processor and Z97 Express chipset.

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The Z97I-DRONE is a mini ITX form factor board measuring 170mm x 170mm. It is based around the Intel Z97 Express chipset and supports Haswell processors. ECS has integrated several features aimed at gamers including Sound Blaster Cinema 2 audio, PCI-E 3.0, and an Intel I218V NIC. Beyond that, the Z97I-DRONE also incorporates high end power management hardware that enables overclocking. ECS uses what it calls “Hybrid Power” technology on the new mini ITX board which entails a 5-phase PWM to manage stable power delivery to the processor and memory, dual MOSFETs (which are reportedly 90% power efficient), Nichicon Japanese capacitors, and Icy Chokes which ECS states are more stable and produces 13% less heat versus ferrite chokes.

The internal layout is unique, with the internal headers, PCH, and five SATA III ports placed along the top half of the motherboard and the LGA 1150 socket sitting in the bottom right corner. The right edge of the board hosts two dual channel DDR3 memory slots that support a maximum of 16GB clocked at 3000+ MHz when overclocked. The power management “Hybrid Power” hardware sits to the left of the processor socket. A single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot sits on the bottom edge of the board. Further, Morry will be ecstatic to know that the CMOS battery is vertically mounted on the opposite side of the GPU slot and sits directly to the left of the M.2 slot above the processor socket (to the right of the southbridge). The board has internal headers for two USB 3.0 ports and two USB 2.0 ports. ECS is using a Realtek ALC1150 8-channel audio codec to drive the audio outputs and an Intel I218V Gigabit LAN NIC for networking.

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Rear IO on the mini ITX Z97I-DRONE consists of the following ports:

  • 4 x USB 2.0
  • 3 x Video Outputs
    • 1 x DVI
    • 1 x DisplayPort
    • 1 x HDMI
  • 4 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x RJ45 (Intel I218V)
  • 6 x Audio Outputs
    • 5 x Analog Audio
    • 1 x Optical S/PDIF

Pricing and availability have not yet been announced, but if you are interested in this board keep an eye on this ECS product page.

Also read: ECS 2014 Press Event: LIVE, LIVA, LEAD, L337 @ PC Perspective.

Source: ECS

Gigabyte's Z97X G1 Gaming GT is a bit of a step backwards

Subject: General Tech | September 29, 2014 - 02:17 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, Z97X G1 Gaming GT, z97

Calling the GIGABYTE G1 Gaming GT Z97 motherboard trimmed down is a bit of an exaggeration, all that was removed was Bluetooth, WiFi and and Creative's Sound Core3D codec.  It still features AMP-UP audio with swappable OP-AMPs, a E2200 KillerNIC, high quality caps, four PCIe 3.0 16x slots thanks to a PLEX chip as well as an impressive array of SATA and USB ports.  At $270 it will cost you a somewhat less than choosing a new Haswell-E system and the performance in most cases will be very comparable, especially if you desire high quality audio.  However not all was good once [H]ard|OCP started testing the board, while there were no insurmountable issues their overall experiences with setting up the board make this particular model difficult to recommend; read the reasons why in their full review.

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"GIGABYTE’s G1 Gaming GT looks to be a stripped version of the Z97X Gaming G1 WiFi-BK. Like other offerings in the G1 family the G1 Gaming GT is a premium part representing the pinnacle of what GIGABYTE design and innovation can and should offer. We have high expectations for the G1 Gaming GT."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP
Manufacturer: ECS

Introduction

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ECS hosted a press event in the third week of August to unveil its new product lineup and corporate direction. The press event, named "Live, Liva, Lead, L337", lays out the important aspects of the "new ECS" and its intended market direction. They introduced the LIVA mini computer with integrated 32GB and 64GB integrated SSDs, their Z97-based product line-up, and the North America LIVA design contest.

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Their naming of the event was apropos to their renewed corporate vision with the first two terms, Live and LIVA, referencing their LIVA mini-PC platform. ECS developed the name LIVA by combining the words Live and Viva (Life in Spanish), signifying the LIVA line's aim at integrating itself into your daily routine and providing the ability to live a better life. Lead signifies ECS' desire to become a market leader in the Mini-PC space with their LIVA platform as well as become a more dominant player in the PC space. The last term, L337, is a reference to their L337 Gaming line of motherboards, a clear reminder of their Z97 offerings to be unveiled.

ECS seeks to consolidate its product lines, re-focusing its energy on what it excels at - offering quality products at reasonable prices. ECS seeks to leverage its corporate partnerships and design experience to build products equivalent to competitor lines at a much reduced cost to the end user. This renewed focus on quality and the end user led to a much revised Z97 board lineup in comparison to its Z87-based offerings. Additionally, their newly introduced mini-PC line, branded LIVA, seeks to offer a cheaper all-in-one alternative to the Intel NUC and GIGABYTE BRIX systems.

Contine reading our overview of the ECS press event!!

BioStar's Hi-Fi Z97WE motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | July 24, 2014 - 03:33 PM |
Tagged: biostar, z97, Hi-Fi Z97WE

BioStar's Hi-Fi Z97WE is so named for the EMI shield over the Realtek ALC892 audio codec though on the board The Tech Report tested it was less than effective at blocking noise from interfering with the headphone out when the GPU was under heavy load.  On the other hand the Digital S/PDIF audio out is rare to see on a lower priced motherboard and will be attractive to some users, even with the lack of digital encoding. The two PCIe 16x slots can handle dual GPUs at 8x speeds but perhaps the most attractive feature is the M.2 slot for an SSD to be inserted.  Check out how well it overclocks and the overall stability of this $124 motherboard in the full review.

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"Biostar's latest Haswell motherboard sells for only $125, but it's specced like pricier alternatives. You get an overclocking-friendly Z97 chipset, PCIe slots primed for multi-GPU configs, an M.2 slot for next-gen SSDs, and upgraded audio hardware. We spent some quality time with the Hi-Fi Z97WE to see what it's really like, and you might be surprised by what we learned."

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