Subject: Motherboards | October 12, 2014 - 01:27 AM | Tim Verry
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.
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.
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.
Subject: General Tech | September 29, 2014 - 02:17 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- ASUS Z97-Deluxe @ X-bit Labs
- Gigabyte GA-Z97X-UD5H Motherboard Review @ Madshrimps
- ASUS Rampage V Extreme @ HardwareHeaven
- MSI Z97 XPOWER AC Motherboard Review @ Madshrimps
- MSI Z97S SLI PLUS @ eTeknix
- MSI X99S Gaming 7 @ Kitguru
- ASUS X99 Deluxe Motherboard Review @ Hardware Canucks
- BIOSTAR A68N-5000 Motherboard Review @ Madshrimps
- MSI 970 Gaming @ Kitguru
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.
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.
Subject: Motherboards | July 24, 2014 - 03:33 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- ASUS Maximus VII Gene micro-ATX @ [H]ard|OCP
- Gigabyte Z97-D3H Motherboard Review @ Modders-Inc
- ASUS Z97I-PLUS mini-ITX Motherboard Review @ Techgage
- MSI Z97 MPOWER MAX AC @ eTeknix
- ASUS Maximus VII GENE Z97 Motherboard Review @ Hardware Canucks
- MSI Z97 Gaming 9 AC Motherboard Review @HiTech Legion
- Asus Maximus VII Ranger & Hero Motherboard @ Kitguru
- ASUS Z97 Gryphon Armor Edition @ eTeknix
- Gigabyte Z97X-GAMING G1 WIFI-BK (Intel LGA 1150) @ techPowerUp
- Gigabyte Z97X-SOC FORCE Motherboard Review @ Madshrimps
- ASUS Z97-A @ X-bit Labs
- ASRock FM2A88X Extreme6+ @ Benchmark Reviews
Subject: Motherboards | June 19, 2014 - 04:45 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Z97X-Gaming G1 WiFi-BK, z97, Ultra Durable BLACK EDITION, lga 1150, gigabyte
The Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming G1 WiFi-BK is serious about PCIe slots, the four 16x slots can all run simultaneously at 8x speeds which is fairly rare for a Z97 board and is due to the presence of a PLX PEX8747 chip. Gigabyte also provided some serious onboard audio with an OP-AMP socket to go with their EMI shielded Sound Core3D chip and a pair of low noise "DAC-UP" USB ports for high end headphones. [H]ard|OCP's review also brings up two points about this board, the aesthetic similarities to the ASUS ROG boards and the 168 hour/7 day stress test done to every single Black Edition board before it is packaged and sold. If you are in the market for a $380 motherboard then this review is a must read.
"GIGABYTE has come to market with a great execution of concept that is shrouded by me-too branding. The Ultra Durable BLACK EDITION motherboards are tested to work before you purchase, and not only that, these motherboards are load tested to work for a full week before you ever open the box."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- MSI Z97 Gaming 7 @ [H]ard|OCP
- MSI Z97 Gaming 7 Review @ OCC
- Biostar Hi-Fi Z97WE @ eTeknix
- ASUS Z97-DELUXE (NFC & WLC) Review @ Hardware Canucks
- ASRock Fatal1ty Z97X Killer @ eTeknix
- Intel Z97 Motherboard Roundup with ASUS, Biostar, Gigabyte and MSI @ Legit Reviews
- ASRock Z97 Extreme6 @ eTeknix
- MSI Z97 MPOWER MAX AC Motherboard Review @HiTech Legion
- ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Performance @ eTeknix
- MSI B85M Gaming Motherboard Review @ Modders-Inc
- Socket FM2+ Mainboards Comparison: Asus A88XM-Plus versus Gigabyte GA-F2A88XM-D3H @ X-bit Labs
A refresh for Haswell
Intel is not very good at keeping secrets recently. Rumors of a refreshed Haswell line of processors have been circulating for most of 2014. In March, it not only confirmed that release but promised an even more exciting part called Devil's Canyon. The DC parts are still quad-core Haswell processors built on Intel's 22nm process technology, but change a few specific things.
Intel spent some time on the Devil's Canyon Haswell processors to improve the packaging and thermals for overclockers and enthusiasts. The thermal interface material (TIM) that lies in between the die and the heat spreader has been updated to a next-generation polymer TIM (NGPTIM). The change should improve cooling performance of all currently shipping cooling solutions (air or liquid), but it is still a question just HOW MUCH this change will actually matter.
You can also tell from the photo comparison above that Intel has added capacitors to the back of the processor to "smooth" power delivery. This, in combination with the NGPTIM, should enable a bit more headroom for clock speeds with the Core i7-4790K.
In fact, there are two Devil's Canyon processors being launched this month. The Core i7-4790K will sell for $339, the same price as the Core i7-4770K, while the Core i5-4690K will sell for $242. The lower end option is a 3.5 GHz base clock, 3.9 GHz Turbo clock quad-core CPU without HyperThreading. While a nice step over the Core i5-4670K, it's only 100 MHz faster. Clearly the Core i7-4790K is the part everyone is going to be scrambling to buy.
Another interesting change is that both the Core i7-4790K and the Core i5-4690K enable support for both Intel's VT-d virtualization IO technology and Intel's TSX-NI transactional memory instructions. This makes them the first enthusiast-grade unlocked processors from Intel to support them!
As Intel states it, the Core i7-4790K and the Core i5-4690K have been "designed to be used in conjunction with the Z97 chipset." That being said, at least one motherboard manufacturer, ASUS, has released limited firmware updates to support the Devil's Canyon parts on Z87 products. Not all motherboards are going to be capable, and not all vendors are going to the spend the time to integrate support, so keep an eye on the support page for your specific motherboard.
The CPU itself looks no different on the top, save for the updated model numbering.
Core i7-4790K on the left, Core i7-4770K on the right
On the back you can see the added capacitors that help with stable overclocking.
The clock speed advantage that the Core i7-4790K provides over the Core i7-4770K should not be overlooked, even before overclocking is taken into consideration. A 500 MHz base clock boost is 14% higher in this case and in those specific CPU-limited tasks, you should see very high scaling.
Subject: Motherboards | May 22, 2014 - 10:40 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: z97, video, pcper, motherboard, live, gigabyte
Earlier this week we were visited by our good friend Leon Chen from GIGABYTE USA to talk all about his company's new lineup of Z97 motherboards. We discussed the various series' Gigabyte offers (Performance, Gaming, OC, Black Edition) as well as the unique features found on them including some impressive overclocking technology on the OC board and M.2 storage support for 10 Gb/s of bandwidth on others. We streamed the entire event live on http://www.pcper.com/live but if you missed, we have the replays of all the content included directly below for you to watch!
If you want to read our first review of a Gigabyte Z97 motherboard as well, be sure to check out Morry's article covering the GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1-WIFI-BK Black Edition!
Part 1: Gigabyte Z97 Motherboard Overview with Leon!!
Part 2: Gigabyte Z97 Motherboard Software Demo and Q&A
If you want to be sure you know about any of our other upcoming live streaming video events, sign up for our PC Perspective LIVE! mailing list!
Subject: General Tech | May 22, 2014 - 06:42 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: Z97 Gaming 7, z97, xiaomi, video, tegra k1, tegra, SATA Express, podcast, msi, Intel, in win 901, Broadwell, asmedia, amd, 16nm
PC Perspective Podcast #301 - 05/22/2014
Join us this week as we discuss the IN WIN 901 Chassis, MSI Z97 Gaming 7 Motherboard, R9 Price Drops 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
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Allyn Maleventano
Week in Review:
News items of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
Subject: Processors | May 19, 2014 - 11:13 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: Intel, Broadwell, z97, krzanich
Apparently attending Maker Faire gets you more than a look at the latest hacked gadgets produced by the community. Reuters got to talk with Intel CEO Brian Krzanich who confirmed that the company's upcoming Broadwell architecture processors using the new 14nm process technology would be on store shelves in time for the holidays.
"I can guarantee for holiday, and not at the last second of holiday," Krzanich said in an interview. "Back to school - that's a tight one. Back to school you have to really have it on-shelf in July, August. That's going to be tough."
Dissecting that comment we can assume that Broadwell will likely be made available in September or October of this year. This becomes the most precise word from the mouth of Intel about the release of these new parts but of course there wasn't much detail to be had. Though "computers" was mentioned he did not specify notebooks, all-in-ones or desktops. And more importantly for our readers, he did not specify anything about the socketed parts we have been promised would run on the newly released Intel Z97 chipset.
Subject: Motherboards | May 17, 2014 - 11:15 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: z97, video, pcper live, overclocking, motherboards, live, giveaway, gigabyte
With the official release of the new Intel Z97 chipset underway, we are elbow deep in new motherboard reviews and information. Our friends at Gigabyte are making a stop at the PC Perspective offices on May 21st to help educate our readers and viewers on all the changes brought about. This includes the new technologies of the Z97 chipset as well as the Gigabyte-specific features added throughout the multiple motherboard lines. We'll be live streaming the event and of course will archive it for those of you unable to be there.
If you want to catch up on what has been happening in the motherboard world, you should read Morry's Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming G1 Black Edition review.
Gigabyte Z97 Motherboard Live Stream
10am PT / 1pm ET - May 21st
Be sure you stop by and join in the show! Questions will be answered, prizes will be given out and fun will be had! Who knows, maybe we can break some stuff live as well?? On hand to give away to those of you joining the live stream, we'll have a sweet Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming 3 motherboard!!
Methods for winning will be decided closer to the event, but if you are watching live, you'll be included. And we'll ship anywhere in the world!
We want the event to be interactive, so we want your questions. We'll of course being paying attention to the chat room on our live page but you'll have better luck if you submit your questions about the Gigabyte Z97 products before hand, in the comments section below. You don't have to register to ask and we'll have the ability to read them beforehand!