You can't keep an X99 down, the Gigabyte X99 Phoenix SLI rises

Subject: Motherboards | September 23, 2016 - 02:42 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, Intel X99, Phoenix SLI

The Gigabyte X99 Phoenix SLI certainly sports some unique colours though the design of the board is similar to other G1 Gaming boards.  It sports a rare U.2 port and an M.2 port which [H]ard|OCP describes as being specifically for a wireless NIC.  There are four PCIe 16x 3.0 slots and thanks to the X99 chipset it can run all four at 8x speeds simultaneously.  Along with a variety of other features the board including USB 3.1 is the Ambient Surround LED feature, which is exactly what it sounds like.  Pop over and take a peek.

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"GIGABYTE’s X99 Phoenix SLI is another entry into the G1 Gaming lineup. While there is little to nothing that’s truly unique about the feature set, the combination of features and unique aesthetics are hard to argue with. The X99 Phoenix SLI offers good features and stellar looks at a reasonable price point."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Dahhhling, we only use Designare boards here. Gigabyte's new Z170X

Subject: Motherboards | September 9, 2016 - 01:55 PM |
Tagged: Z170X-Designare, gigabyte, RGB

At $250 the Gigabyte Z170X-Designare motherboard is a bit on the expensive side for this chipset but it does come with a long list of features which make it interesting.  This ATX board has both three reinforced PCIe 16x and 1x slots as well as onboard U.2, Thunderbolt 3 with dual USB 3.1 Type-C, and dual Intel LAN which is more that you find on a Z170 board.  Modders Inc offers more information on additional features present on this board, including the RGB rash present on it, as well as performance benchmarks in this recent review.

z170xdesignare00.jpg

"The majority of mainstream motherboards are priced under $200. When it comes to describing one situated north of this border, "practical" is not exactly the first word that comes to mind. For the budgetary pragmatic, this is indulgence territory and for the most part that is a correct assessment. But as the old proverb goes, all work and no play …"

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Source: Modders Inc

AMD Officially Launches Bristol Ridge Processors And Zen-Ready AM4 Platform

Subject: Motherboards, Processors | September 7, 2016 - 08:08 PM |
Tagged: Zen, Summit Ridge, Excavator, Bristol Ridge, amd, A12-9800

This week AMD officially took the wraps off of its 7th generation APU lineup that it introduced back in May. Previously known as Bristol Ridge, AMD is launching eight new processors along with a new desktop platform that finally brings next generation I/O to AMD systems.

Bristol Ridge maintains the Excavator CPU cores and GCN GPU cores of Carrizo, but on refreshed silicon with performance and power efficiency gains that will bring the architecture started by Bulldozer to an apex. These will be the last chips of that line, and wil be succeeded by AMD's new "Zen" architecture in 2017. For now though, Bristol Ridge delivers as much as 17% higher per thread CPU performance and 27% higher graphics performance while using significantly lower power than its predecessors. Further, AMD has been able to (thanks to various process tweaks that Josh talked about previously) hit some impressive clock speeds with these chips enabling AMD to better compete with Intel's Core i5 offerings.

Bristol Ridge.png

At the top end AMD has the (65W) quad core A12-9800 running at 3.8 GHz base and 4.2 GHz boost paired with GCN 3.0-based Radeon R7 graphics (that support VP9 and HEVC acceleration). These new Bristol Ridge chips are able to take advantage of DDR4 clocked up to 2400 MHz. For DIY PC builders planning to use dedicated graphics, AMD has the non-APU Athlon X4 950 which features four CPU cores at 3.5 GHz base and 3.8 GHz boost with a 65W TDP. While it is not clocked quite as high as its APU counterpart, it should still prove to be a popular choice for budge builds and will replace the venerable Athlon X4 860 and will also be paired with an AM4 motherboard that will be ready to accept a new Zen-based "Summit Ridge" CPU next year.

The following table lists the eight new 7th generation "Bristol Ridge" processors and their specifications. 

  CPU Cores CPU Clocks Base / Boost GPU GPU CUs GPU Clocks (Max) TDP

A12-98004

4 3.8 GHz / 4.2 GHz Radeon R7 8 1,108 MHz 65W
A12-9800E4 4 3.1 GHz / 3.8 GHz Radeon R7 8 900 MHz 35W
A10-9700 4 3.5 GHz / 3.8 GHz Radeon R7 6 1,029 MHz 65W
A10-9700E 4 3.0 GHz / 3.5 GHz Radeon R7 6 847 MHz 35W
A8-9600 4 3.1 GHz / 3.4 GHz Radeon R7 6 900 MHz 65W
A6-9500 2 3.5 GHz / 3.8 GHz Radeon
R5
6 1029 MHz 65W
A6-9500E 2 3.0 GHz / 3.4 GHz Radeon
R5
4 800 MHz 35W
Athlon X4 950 4 3.5 GHz / 3.8 GHz None 0 N/A 65W

Source: AMD

To expand on the performance increases of Bristol Ridge, AMD compared the A12-9800 to the previous generation A10-8850 as well as Intel's Core i5-6500. According to the company, the Bristol Ridge processor handily beats the Carrizo chip and is competitive with the Intel i5. Specifically, when comparing Bristol Ridge and Carrizo, AMD found that the A12-9800 scored 3,521.25 in 3DMark 11 while the A10-8850 (95W Godavari) scored 2,880. Further, when compared in Cinebench R11.5 1T the A12-980 scored 1.21 versus the A10-8850's 1.06. Not bad when you consider that the new processor has a 30W lower TDP!

With that said, the comparison to Intel is perhaps most interesting to the readers. In this case, the A12-9800 is about where you would expect though that is not necessarily a bad thing. It does pull a bit closer to Intel in CPU and continues to offer superior graphics performance.

  AMD A12-9800 (65W) Intel Core i5-6500 (65W) AMD A10-8850 (95W)

3DMark 11 Performance

3,521.25 1,765.75 2,880
PCMark 8 Home Accelerated 3,483.25 3,702 Not run
Cinebench R11.5 1T 1.21 Not run 1.06

Source: AMD

Specifically, in 3DMark 11 Performance the A12-9800's score of 3,521.25 is quite a bit better than the Intel i5-6500's 1,765.75 result. However, in the more CPU focused PCMark 8 Home Accelerated benchmark the Intel comes out ahead with a score of 3,702 versus the AMD A12-9800's score of 3,483.25. If the price is right Bristol Ridge does not look too bad on paper, assuming AMD's testing holds true in independent reviews!

The AM4 Platform

Alongside the launch of desktop 7th generation APUs, AMD is launching a new AM4 platform that supports Bristol Ridge and is ready for Zen APUs next year. The new platform finally brings new I/O technologies to AMD systems including PCI-E 3.0, NVMe, SATA Express, DDR4, and USB 3.1 Gen 2.

According to Digital Trends, AMD's AM4 desktop platform wil span all the way from low end to enthusiast motherboards and these boards will be powered by one of three new chipsets. The three new chipsets are the B350 for mainstream, A320 for "essential," and X/B/A300 for small form factor motherboards. Notably missing is any mention of an enthusiast chipset, but one is reportedly being worked on and will arive closer to the launch of Zen-based processors in 2017.

The image below outlines the differences in the chipsets. Worth noting is that the APUs themselves will handle the eight lanes of PCI-E 3.0, dual channel DDR4, four USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, and two SATA 6Gbps and two NVMe or PCI-E 3.0 storage devices. This leaves PCI-E 2.0, SATA Express, additional SATA 6Gbps, and USB 3.1 Gen 2 connection duties to the chipsets.

AMD Bristol Ridge AM4 Chipsets.jpg

As of today, AMD has only announced the availability of AM4 motherboards and 7th generation APUs for OEM systems (with design wins from HP and Lenovo so far). The company will be outlining the channel / DIY PC builder lineup and pricing at a later (to be announced date).

I am looking forward to Zen and in a way the timing of Bristol Ridge seems strange. On the other hand, for OEMs it should do well and hold them over until then (heh) and enthusiasts / DIY builders are able to buy into Bristol Ridge knowing that they will be able to upgrade to Zen next year (while getting better than Carrizo performance with less power and possibly better overclocking) is not a bad option so long as the prices are right!

The full press blast is included below for more information on how they got their benchmark results.

Source: AMD

ASUS Introduces X99-E-10G WS Motherboard with 10 Gigabit Ethernet

Subject: Motherboards | August 29, 2016 - 01:28 PM |
Tagged: X99-E-10G WS, workstation, motherboard, Intel X99, asus, 10GbE, 10 gigabit

ASUS has officially announced their latest workstation board for the Intel X99 platform, and the X99-E-10G WS offers a 10GbE NIC. In fact, it has two of the Intel X550-powered 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports onboard (along with many more premium features).

X99E10G_1.jpg

ASUS lists these key features:

  • First workstation board with dual Intel® 10G LANs (X550-AT2) on board
  • 4-Way PCI-E Gen3 x16 link supporting NVidia GeForce SLI® and AMD CrossFireX™ on demand
  • 5-Way Optimization by Dual Intelligent Processors 5 – One click, total system optimization
  • Ultimate transfer speed : the latest 10Gb/s USB 3.1 type-A and type-C, 32Gbit/s M.2 and U.2
  • SafeSlot : reinvented, strengthened PCIe slot utilizes a new insert-molding process for superior retention and shearing resistance

X99E10G_2.jpg

The full list of specifications is daunting, as ASUS has packed just about every imaginable option into this board. Processor support also extends beyond Core i7 processors to include Intel Xeon E5-1600 v3, E5-2600 v3, E5-1600 v4, and E5-2600 v4 series CPUs. (Naturally, ECC memory is supported when using a compatible CPU.)

We await info on pricing and availablity.

Source: ASUS

PCIe 4.0 Will Still Deliver 75W of Slot Power

Subject: Graphics Cards, Motherboards | August 29, 2016 - 01:20 AM |
Tagged: pcie, PCI SIG

Last week, various outlets were reporting (incorrectly) that PCIe 4.0 would provide “at least 300W” through the slot. This would have been roughly equal to the power draw that a PCIe 3.0 GPU could provide with an extra six-pin and an extra eight-pin power connector, but do so all through the slot.

pcielogo.gif

Later, the PCI-SIG contacted Tom's Hardware (and likely others) to say that this is not the case. The slot will still only provide 75W of power; any other power will still need to come from external connectors. The main advantage of the standard will be extra bandwidth, about double that of PCIe 3.0, not easing cable management or making it easier to design a graphics card (by making it harder to design a motherboard).

ASUS tossed everything they could find onto the Rampage V Extreme 10

Subject: Motherboards | August 25, 2016 - 02:39 PM |
Tagged: ROG, rampage v edition 10, asus

Remember in the 90's when all the cool people had lights glowing from underneath their cars?  Now your motherboard can do the same thing, but with extra colour choices and even different effects!  Leaving the RGB disease alone for now, the features on the motherboard are impressive, dual USB 3.1 Type-C ports, support for both M.2 and the Dublin version of storage, PCIe lane switches and even a mulligan button to let you retry a failed POST before having to reset your overclocking settings.  The SupremeFX Hi-Fi audio codec on the board supports proper headphone thanks to the fan controller-like expansion which requires a 6 pin PCI-Express power connector to run; it even comes with coasters. 

That is more than enough about the features, to see how well it performs you can pop by [H]ard|OCP.

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"ASUS celebrates the 10th anniversary of its Republic of Gamers brand in style with the new Rampage V Extreme 10! To properly commemorate its decade of innovation, this motherboard needs to be nothing short of the best motherboard ASUS has ever built and a worthy successor to the Rampage name. "

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

MSI Releases the X99A WORKSTATION Motherboard with ECC Support

Subject: Motherboards | August 15, 2016 - 10:49 PM |
Tagged: X99A WORKSTATION, workstation, socket 2011-3, msi, motherboard, Military Class 5, Intel X99, ECC

MSI’s new X99A WORKSTATION motherboard offers what the company calls “extreme QA testing” to go along with the “industries higher quality components” in a motherboard that doesn’t scrimp on features, either. The ATX motherboard supports ECC Registered DIMMs (with a supported Xeon processor), has dual Intel NICs onboard (with teaming support), and offers Steel Armor PCI-E and DDR4 slots, among other features.

X99A_W_1.jpg

“Engineered to cater even the most demanding professional. By using industries’ highest quality components, with an unmatched R&D design and extreme QA testing, the WORKSTATION motherboards guarantee the best in performance, stability and reliability.

Packed with features, including optimizations for NVIDIA QUADRO graphics cards and industry leading storage solutions, the WORKSTATION motherboard is the perfect multi-tasking powerhouse for demanding productivity applications.”

X99A_W_2.jpg

Features from MSI:

  • Supports New Intel Core i7 Processor Extreme Edition for LGA 2011-3 socket.
  • DDR4 Steel Armor with Best signal stability. Supports ECC Registered memory.
  • MULTI-GPU with Steel Armor: Steel Armor PCI-E slots. Supports Nvidia Quadro SLI.
  • Maximized high speed storage support: Turbo M.2 32Gb/s + Turbo U.2 32Gb/s + SATA-E 10Gb/s
  • USB 3.1 Gen2 2X FASTER: USB 3.1 Gen2 offers performance twice as fast as a regular USB 3.0 connection.
  • Military Class 5: The latest evolution in high quality components featuring the brand new Titanium Chokes.
  • Dual Intel LAN with Teaming: higher networking performance and stability.
  • Audio Boost 3: Reward your ears with studio grade sound quality
  • Guard-Pro: Improved Protection and Power Efficiency
  • EZ Debug LED: Easiest way to troubleshoot
  • Overvoltage Protection:Prevent Unforeseen Damage
  • Click BIOS 5: Award-winning brand new Click BIOS 5 with high resolution scalable font

The MSI X99A WORKSTATION motherboard is not yet listed on Newegg, but the listing is active (though temporarily out of stock) on Amazon with a $389.99 price tag. As to supported processors, that part of the source link currently offers no information, though MSI states "The X99A WORKSTATION supports the latest Intel processors out of the box, both Broadwell-E and XEON based models".

Source: MSI

A mouthfull of a motherboard, the MSI X99A XPower Gaming Titanium Edition

Subject: Motherboards | August 12, 2016 - 03:26 PM |
Tagged: X99A XPower Gaming Titanium Edition, Intel X99, msi

The list of features on this motherboard is as long as the name; five PCIe 3.0 16x slots, the  Game Boost overclocking knob, 10 SATA 6Gbps ports, one each of SEx, M.2 and U.2, 13 USB 3.1 ports including a single Type C, WiFi and Bluetooth ... all it is missing is a game fowl in a fruit tree.  [H]ard|OCP did have problems with XMP settings, but nothing they couldn't overcome via manual settings and the issues they had with the Core-i7 6950X turned out to be caused by the PSU and RAM and not the motherboard at all.  If you need a plethora of storage and add-in cards then check this board out as it can handle almost anything you want to stick in it.

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"MSI’s X99A XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM is a mouthful, but the XPOWER series has been a favorite of ours here at HardOCP for years now. The latest X99 iteration has much to prove. Is the X99A XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM another pretty face, or is it a fitting addition to the venerable XPOWER line?"

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

MSI Announces the X99A TOMAHAWK Gaming Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | August 2, 2016 - 05:11 PM |
Tagged: X99A TOMAHAWK, msi, motherboard, Intel X99, gaming, atx, armor

MSI has announced their newest X99 motherboard, the X99A TOMAHAWK, a premium design with a stealthy black and gray color scheme, and boasting several new features according to MSI.

x99a_tom.jpg

"The X99A TOMAHAWK has been designed from the ground up as completely new X99 GAMING model. It comes packed with several new and unique MSI features and a fully armored IO and audio cover, harnessing optimized gaming audio and industries’ highest quality components, providing gamers with best-in-class features and protection.

Besides its stunning looks, the cover labeled with TOMAHAWK also protects against Electro Magnetic Interference and ensures pure performance and the best audio signal for your gaming rig. Heavy plated heatsinks with MSI’s unique styling, make sure your system can handle anything when and runs cool when racking up frags and climbing the leaderboards when gaming for longer periods of time."

x99a_tom_02.jpg

Here's the rundown of features for the X99A TOMAHAWK, which include dual Intel NICs and USB 3.1 Gen2 support (full specs and more info available on the product page):

  • Supports New Intel® Core™ i7 processors Extreme Edition in LGA 2011-3 socket
  • Supports Quad Channel DDR4-3333+(OC) Memory
  • DDR4 Boost: Give your DDR4 memory a performance boost
  • Support lntel® Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0.
  • USB 3.1 Gen2 2X FASTER: USB 3.1 Gen2 offers performance twice as fast as a regular USB 3.0 connection
  • Turbo M.2 32Gb/s + Turbo U.2 32Gb/s + USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A+C + SATA 6Gb/s
  • TWIN GAMING LAN with LAN Protect, powered by Intel®: The best online gaming experience with lowest latency
  • Audio Boost 3: Reward your ears with studio grade sound quality
  • GAMING Hotkey: Assign macros, launch your favorite games or do real-time overclocking using a single button
  • XSplit Gamecaster v2.5: 1 year free premium license to show off your skills and achievements to the world
  • SteelSeries Certified: Optimized for SteelSeries gaming gear
  • Military Class 5: The latest evolution in high quality components featuring the brand new Titanium Chokes
  • MULTI-GPU with Steel Armor: Steel Armor PCI-E slots. Supports 3-Way NVIDIA SLI™ & AMD Crossfire™
  • Click BIOS 5: Award-winning brand new Click BIOS 5 with high resolution scalable font
  • GAMING CERTIFIED: 24-hour on- and offline game testing by eSports players for the best gaming experience
  • USB Speed Up: for up to 30% performance improvement on USB devices

Pricing and availablity for the X99A TOMAHAWK has not been announced.

Source: MSI

ASRock Releases H110M-STX Mini-STX Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | July 28, 2016 - 10:04 AM |
Tagged: small form-factor, SFF, mini-stx, mini-pc, H110M-STX, asrock

The motherboard within ASRock's DeskMini mini-PC kit has been released as a standalone product, and this H110M-STX motherboard offers Intel processor support up to 65W in its 5" x 5" Mini-STX form-factor.

H110M-STX(L1).jpg

Image credit: ASRock

Specifications from ASRock:

  • Supports LGA 1151 6th Generation Intel Core i7/i5/i3/Pentium/Celeron Processors up to 65W TDP
  • Supports Dual-Channel DDR4 SO-DIMM 2133
  • Graphics output: D-Sub, HDMI, DisplayPort
  • ALC283 Audio Codec
  • 2x SATA3, 1 M.2 (PCIe Gen3 x4)
  • 3x USB 3.0 (Type-A & Type-C from front I/O; 1 from rear I/O)
  • 3x USB 2.0 (2 from onboard header; 1 from rear I/O)
  • Intel Gigabit LAN
  • 1x M.2 (Key E for WiFi + BT module)

Like thin-Mini-ITX motherboards the H110M-STX requires an external 19v power adapter. ASRock recommends a 120W adapter for 65W CPUs, while 35W Intel CPU builds can manage with a 90W adapter.

H110M-STX(L2).jpg

Image credit: ASRock

As to availability/price, this has yet to appear in the usual e-tail channels in the U.S., with no results currently on Amazon or Newegg. ASRock's larger H110-ITX board sells for $69.99, so this may give us an indication of where pricing might be - though the smaller STX form-factor could increase cost.

H110M-STX(L4).jpg

Image credit: ASRock

A sub-mITX form-factor might seem a bit unnecessary, but the smaller board does provide builders with a way to create their own mini-PC boxes with upgradable processors. Naturally, one would need an enclosure for this tiny motherboard, and the only one I have seen thus far came from SilverStone's booth at CES - though ready availability for all products in this newest form-factor is still an issue.

Source: ASRock

This ASUS ROG X99 board comes with no reSTRIXions on GAMING

Subject: Motherboards | July 7, 2016 - 04:27 PM |
Tagged: asus, rog x99 strix gaming, X99

The relatively recent refresh of X99 motherboards have seen several features become standard including an RGB lightshow, USB 3.1 and U.2 ports, though the chipset itself remains unchanged.  [H]ard|OCP tried out ASUS' new ROG X99 Strix Gaming motherboard recently, even suffering for their fans while doing so.  That minor fingernail related incident aside the board proved quite capable, though perhaps not to the extreme level they were hoping to see.  In part that lies in the fact that this is a Gaming board as opposed to one of the extreme overclocking boards, which is also reflected in the pricing.  For those looking for a board that runs out of the box, with some overclocking potential it is worth looking at the full review; those hoping to play with LN2 may wish to shop around more.

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"ASUS’ ROG X99 STRIX GAMING motherboard adds a bit of bling to the ROG line and much needed fresh blood that comes with some cool features and a much lower price point than other ROG X99 chipset offerings. And it has all the pretty lights in any color you want, if that is your thing."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Gigabyte's Z170X-UD3 for the middle of the road enthusiast

Subject: Motherboards | June 8, 2016 - 06:17 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, Z170X-UD3, Intel Z170

At $150 Gigabyte's Z170X-UD3 is within the budget of many system builders but the question remains as to the value you get for that money.  The Tech Report delved into this topic in their recent review and the prognosis is good, especially if you can find it on sale for $120 like they did.  They did find the firmware somewhat limiting, though some of us do like the Classic Mode UEFI the fan speed control is quite limited.  Gigabyte did address that with their System Information Viewer utility for Windows which does allow for fine control and when asked Gigabyte did suggest they may address this in a new UEFI update.  With three PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, USB 3.1 and a pair of M.2 ports you do not suffer for connectivity and the overclocking potential is certainly acceptable for this price point.  Check out their full review here.

00-whole_board.jpg

"Gigabyte's Z170X-UD3 is a mid-range motherboard that gives builders everything the Z170 chipset has to offer and more. We take an in-depth look at this board to see whether it lives up to the promise of its impressive spec sheet."

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Motherboard by Colorful Includes GTX 1070 Graphics

Subject: Graphics Cards, Motherboards | June 6, 2016 - 05:14 PM |
Tagged: pascal, nvidia, motherboard, gtx 1070, GP104, colorful

So here's an interesting bit of news from Colorful, via Videocardz and LG Nilsson. Remember when on-board graphics was a pejorative? Since the GPUs that are attached to many CPUs tend to sufficiently cover everything below a discrete graphics add-in board, there is not a whole lot of mind-share for discrete, on-board GPUs. You get the occasional desktop-style device with a mobile add-in module, but that's about it.

colorful-2016-gtx1070motherboard.jpg

Image Credit: LG Nilsson (via Videocardz)

In this case, it looks like Colorful, the Chinese PC hardware manufacturer, integrated the required components from a GTX 1070 directly onto a motherboard's PCB. We've heard rumors that GP104 would be available in mobile form-factors in a few months, so it's possible that this draws from some laptop initiatives, but it's interesting to see others consider it too. As Videocardz pointed out, this is not an ATX-standard board, so it's possible that Colorful is planning on getting into (or supporting someone getting into) small form factor desktops or is building hardware for all-in-one PCs.

So what's next? A vendor like ASUS making a VRWorks Audio sound card with integrated Pascal?

Source: VideoCardz

You want to see MSI's new motherboards? Well, here's the mother lode

Subject: Motherboards | June 2, 2016 - 02:17 PM |
Tagged: msi, computex 2016

MSI sent along a number of pictures of their upcoming motherboards and there are more than a few of them.  All the pictures are quite large, make sure to click on the ones that interest you as you will be able to make out quite a bit of detail.

IMG_4004.JPG

First is the B150M Mortar Arctic with clean traces, Steel Armor and Crossfire support.

IMG_4005.JPG

Next up is the workstation class C236M with 10GbE ethernet and the Intel C236 chipset.

IMG_4006.JPG

Next is another motherboard designed to pull its weight, the X99A Workstation has dual Gigabit LAN and support for 8 ECC DIMMs

IMG_4026.JPG

We now return to the enthusiast class motherboards with the Z170 MPower Gaming Titanium with U.2, M.2 and USB 3.1 Type-C ports.

IMG_4055.JPG

You can also chose an X99 flavoured MPower Gaming Titanium, sharing the same features as the Z170.

IMG_4057.JPG

The X99A Gaming Pro Carbon sports a different colour scheme and includes the Mystic Light feature to let you program your own light show.

IMG_4059.JPG

Moving away from Intel for a moment, check out the 970A Gaming Pro Carbon for AMD AM3+ processors.

Source: MSI

GIGABYTE Showcases New Motherboards and BRIX at Computex 2016

Subject: Motherboards, Systems | June 1, 2016 - 01:50 PM |
Tagged: Z170, X99, Ultra Gaming, Intel H170, gigabyte, designare, brix

Gigabyte is showing off new X99, B150 and Z170 motherboards, the Ultra Gaming series and the Designare series which they describe as being optimized for content creators, designers, and artists.  The Ultra Gaming series will add Ambient Surround LEDs, found on the motherboard and Pinstripe Headers so that you can have a lightshow while you game. 

ultragamer.PNG

Also new is Hybrid Fan Control which will allows the motherboard headers to support Voltage Calibration and Pulse Width Modulation fans and pumps.  M.2 and U.2 support is of course also added to the new boards.  The new boards include the GA-X99-Ultra Gaming, GA-X99-Phoenix SLI, GA-Z170X-Ultra Gaming, GA-Z170-UD3 Ultra and GA-B150-Gaming TH.

image002.jpg

The Designare series is a bit different, with a focus on storage speed.  USB 3.1 ports offer quick transfer speeds for your external storage and support for three NVMe drives in RAID-0 ensure that the speed of your internal storage does not slow your creative flow down.  This series features the GA-X99-Designare EX, GA-Z170X-Designare and GA-H170-Designare.

brix.jpg

They also offered a teaser as to their new BRIX lineup.  The BRIX Gaming UHD will be tiny, less than 2.6L and less than 2kg but will support Core i5 and i7 processors.  As we well there will be a new GIGABYTE PC which will be slightly larger at about 10L and will support full sized graphics cards.

Click for the full press release.

Source: Gigabyte

ECS launches brand new LEET GAMING motherboard & LIVA mini PC

Subject: Motherboards, Systems, Shows and Expos | May 30, 2016 - 12:31 PM |
Tagged: ECS, leet gaming, liva pro, Z170-LIGHTSABER, computex 2016

It must have been quite a fight for ECS to be able to call their new motherboard the Z170-LIGHTSABER but that is exactly what they have done.  The motherboard features the usual lineup of Z170 features, three 16x PCIe 3.0 slots with an additional 1x, 7.1 sound from an onboard ALC1150 codec and an OPAMP, a pair of USB 3.1 ports along with over a dozen legacy USB ports and support for an M.2 drive.  In addtion higher end Nichicon caps were used, there is an E2400 Killer NIC onboard and seven colour LEDs to make it shine.  They also discuss a brand new USB power supply for use with devices that draw a lot of power, it will be interesting to see if this has the impact on VR devices they imply.

Z170-LIGHTSABER(1.0)01.jpg

They have also announced the new LIVA Pro based on the new SFX motherboard standard.  The brochure has a good example of what this new form factor is and how it compares to others.

sfx.PNG

The LIVA Pro will support any 6th generation Skylake Intel processor with a TDP of 65W or less and a pair DDR4 SO-DIMMs of up to 32GB.  Internal storage is handled by an M.2 drive and the 1.3L case has an external 2.5" drive dock built into it for additional storage.  For external interfaces you have a USB 3.0 Type C port, three USB 3.0 and four USB 2.0, HDMI and DisplayPort.  There is a second M.2 port which is populated by a WiFi/Bluetooth combo card.

LIVA Pro 1.png

Click on through to read the PR.

Source: ECS

ASUS Avalon concept PC merges desktops and DIY with cable-free mindset

Subject: Graphics Cards, Motherboards, Systems, Shows and Expos | May 30, 2016 - 08:04 AM |
Tagged: crazy people, concept, computex 2016, computex, avalon, asus

If you expected Computex to be bland and stale this year, ASUS has something that is going to change your mind. During the company's Republic of Gamers press conference, it revealed a concept PC design it has been working on dubbed Avalon. The goal of this project was to improve on the fundamental design of the PC; something that hasn't changed for decades. ASUS wanted to show that you could build a platform that would allow DIY machines to be "more modular, easier to build, and more tightly integrated."

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The result is a proof of concept design that looks more like a high end turntable than a PC. In reality, you are looking at a machine that has been totally redesigned, from the power supply to motherboard and case integration to cooling considerations and more. ASUS has posted a great story that goes into a lot of detail on Avalon, and it's clear this is a project the team has been working on for some time.

The brainchild of Jonathan Chu, the Avalon concept takes a notebook-like approach to desktop design. The motherboard is designed in conjunction with the chassis to enable more seamless cooperation between the two.

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The first example of changes to Avalon is something as simple as the front panel connectors on a case. Connecting them to your motherboard is the same today, basically, as it has ever been. But if you are the manufacturer or designer of both the chassis and the motherboard itself, it is trivial to have the buttons, lights and even additional capabilities built into a specific location on the PCB that matches with access points on the case. 

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Re-thinking the rear IO panel was another target: making it modular and connected to the system via PCI Express means you can swap connectivity options based on the user's needs. Multiple Gigabit NICs a requirement? Done. Maximum USB capability? Sure. Even better, by making the back panel IO a connected device, it can host storage and sound controllers on its own, allowing for improved audio solutions and flexible data configurations. 

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ASUS even worked in a prototype power supply that is based on the SFX form factor but that uses a server-style edge connector, removing wires from the equation. It then becomes the motherboard's responsibility to distribute power through the other components; which again is easy to work through if you are designing these things in tandem. Installing or swapping a power supply becomes as simple as pulling out a drive tray.

This is all made possible by an internal structure that looks like this:

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Rethinking how a motherboard is built, how it connects to the outside world and to other components, means that ASUS was able to adjust and change just about everything. The only area that remains the same is for the discrete graphics card. These tend to draw too much power to use any kind of edge connector (though the ASUS story linked above says they are working on a solution) and thus you see short run cables from a break out on the motherboard to the standard ROG graphics card.

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The ASUS EdgeUp story has some more images and details and I would encourage you to check it out if you find this topic compelling; I know I do. There are no prices, no release dates, no plans for sampling yet. ASUS has built a prototype that is "right on the edge of what’s possible" and they are looking for feedback from the community to see what direction they should go next.

Will the DIY PC in 2020 be a completely different thing than we build today? It seems ASUS is asking the same question.

Source: ASUS EdgeUp

Computex 2016: ASUS ROG Rampage V Edition 10: Extreme-performance gaming motherboard

Subject: Motherboards, Shows and Expos | May 30, 2016 - 07:18 AM |
Tagged: ROG, rampage v edition 10, computex 2016, computex, asus

In celebration of 10 years of ASUS ROG motherboards, the company today revealed the new Rampage V Edition 10, an X99 motherboard targeting the release of the Intel Broadwell-E processors that are also set to be announced this week at Computex. This new board has basically every feature and capability an ROG product and buyer could ask for, including more LED and LED control than I know what to do with.

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Some more detail from the ASUS press release:

The Rampage V Edition 10 is a celebratory refresh of ROG’s flagship extreme-performance motherboard designed to let gamers and overclockers break every limit.

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Based on the Intel® X99 chipset, the new motherboard sets new industry standards. It features the ultimate RGB lighting scheme with five independently-controlled onboard LED areas plus one 4-pin 5050 RGB header, and all can be synchronized by the all-new Aura software for stunning aesthetics. ROG has also teamed up with well-known RGB strip-makers and case manufacturers, including CableMod, IN WIN, Deepcool, BitFenix, and Phanteks — helping simplify RGB lighting compatibility and control.

The new motherboard is equipped with multiple ASUS exclusive features to aid extreme overclockers. These include Extreme Engine Digi+ voltage-regulator module (VRM) for the cleanest, smoothest power, ASUS-exclusive T-topology technology for maxed-out DDR4 performance, and 5-Way Optimization for easy overclocking and fan tuning with one click.

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The Rampage V Edition 10 also includes multiple technologies to deliver the best gaming experience. The included SupremeFX Hi-Fi audio amplifier ensures flawless audio, dual Intel Gigabit Ethernet and GameFirst combine forces for low-latency networking, and ASUS Safe Slot reinforcement for PCIe connectors to prevent damage from heavy graphics cards. The new board introduces a patent-pending integrated I/O shield for style, easier construction, and enhanced durability.  There’s also a slew of onboard storage and connectivity options, including U.2, M.2, USB 3.1, and 3x3 Wi-Fi.

According to a post on an ASUS sub-site, the board will retail for $599 and should be on the market very soon!

MSI at Computex, a peek before the show

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards, Systems, Shows and Expos | May 25, 2016 - 02:12 PM |
Tagged: msi, computex 2016, GS63 Stealth Pro

MSI offered a sneak peek at the lineup you can expect to see them showcase at Computex and the list is quite long, with some interesting new additions.

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For laptops you can expect to see the new GS63 Stealth Pro, with a Core i7 6700HQ and GTX970M inside.  The cooling system is also new, a five heatpipe system called the Cooler Boost Trinity with Whirlwind Blades pushing hot air out the exhaust ports.  We should hear more about what this system actually is during the show.

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The GT83 and GT73 Titan SLI laptops are built with VR in mind, as well as supporting output to multiple monitors and 4K resolutions; though perhaps not both at once.  The GT83 contains desktop class GTX 980s while the GT73 uses the mobile versions, the GTX 980M or a single desktop GTX 980 if you prefer.

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The GS73 focuses on a slimmed down design while still incorporating a GTX970M and the aforementioned Cooler Boost Trinity system.  It will also sport a SteelSeries gaming keyboard, an ESS SABRE HiFi headset AMP and Nahimic 2.0 sound system.

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Something far more unique is the 'Backpack PC', allowing you to strap a Core i7 and GTX 980 to your back so that you are not tied to a desk when using VR.  With that amount of power you will still need mains power as the weight of the battery required to power that system for more than a few minutes would be prohibitive.  On the other hand the cables from your VR headset and controllers would be connected to the backpack which would theoretically direct the cables out of your way.

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The Aegis Gaming Desktop is a far more familiar desktop machine, though it too offers a nod towards VR usage by locating an HDMI connection at the front of the 19.6L case.  It will also have a Dragon Button, reminiscent of the old Turbo button from the original 8086 processor, which will boost your 'speed and performance' by 15%.  Likely this is an overclocking preset which one assumes can be enabled on the fly.

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The Vortex G65 SLI desktop is a little less plain, a round case which is a mere 6.5L in volume but still contains two GTX 980s and an i7-6700K, with their proprietary Silent Storm Cooling system.  MSI continues the pattern of building systems around VR compatibility with the Vortex.

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Continuing on to their Cubi 2 Plus, a SFF system powered by a Skylake-S class processor a wee 5x5" mini-STX motherboard.  The CPU is not BGA and so can be upgraded and there is enough space in the system for a 2.5" SSD upgrade, albeit just barely.

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On to their motherboards, first up is the X99A GAMING PRO CARBON which offers a few new features to tempt users to upgrade.  Not only does it have USB Type-C connectors but they are described as being located at the front, presumably on a header. It also sports Audio Boost 3, Turbo M.2 32 Gb/s, SEx ports and Dynamic Mystic Light, an LED systems with software that supports more than 16.8 million colors.

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For those more concerned with overclocking than having an impressive light show, the X99A XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM features Military Class 5 components and a specially designed thermal system to ensure a solid overclock.  It also has support for U.2 32Gb/s drives.

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The last of the trio of motherboards will be the Z170A MPOWER GAMING TITANIUM, similar to the X99A model apart from the socket. You will get all the features of the TITANIUM series for your LGA1151 processors.

Expect to see much more information about these products and others once Computex gets underway.

Source: MSI

ASUS Announces ROG STRIX X99 Gaming Motherboard for Intel Core i7 X-Series

Subject: Motherboards | May 10, 2016 - 10:45 AM |
Tagged: X99, ROG, Republic of Gamers, Intel, asus

ASUS Republic of Gamers has announced a new X99 motherboard for the upcoming Intel Core i7 X-series processors, and the ROG STRIX X99 Gaming packs a number of features into its ATX form-factor.

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"ROG Strix has taken on a brand-new look and the time has come to debut the first motherboard in the ROG Strix Series. ROG Strix X99 Gaming is a new ATX motherboard based on the Intel X99 chipset, retrofitted with exclusive technologies to maximize the potential of the new Intel Core i7 X-series processor for socket LGA 2011-v3. ROG Strix X99 Gaming delivers performance you'll notice, while the bold new design featuring customizable colors highlights the centerpiece of a system others will notice"

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There is certainly no shortage of features with this new gaming board, including the company's SupremeFX audio, Intel NIC, 2x2 dual-band Wi-Fi with MU-MIMO support, SATA Express, M.2, and U.2 storage support, Thunderbolt 3, and a reinforced PCI-E slot for heavier GPUs. But the feature that will be the hardest to miss with the STRIX X99 Gaming motherboard has to be the customizable RGB lighting.

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"ROG Strix X99 Gaming features the aesthetics for gamers looking to personalize an illuminate gaming rig. Ten LED effects can be customized using ASUS Aura, an intuitive lighting control software for the built-in RGB LEDs and attached RGB strips (via the integrated 4-pin RGB strip header like the ones you can find on the ROG Maximus VIII Formula and Hero Alpha), allowing easy custom illumination that can be perfectly synchronized across the system or even the whole gaming desk with additional RGB strips."

As is often the case with new product announcements, pricing and availabilty were not revealed.

Source: ASUS ROG