MSI Z87I GAMING AC Motherboard and GTX 760 GAMING ITX Video Card

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Motherboards | December 4, 2013 - 12:02 AM |
Tagged: uppercase, msi, mini-itx

MSI is calling these products, "Mini, but Mighty". These components are designed for the mini-ITX form factor which is smaller than 7 inches in length and width. Its size makes it very useful for home theater PCs (HTPCs) and other places where discretion is valuable. You also want these machines to be quiet, which MSI claims this product series is.

The name is also written in full uppercase so you imagine yourself yelling every time you read it.

msi-GAMING-moboandgpu.png

The MSI Z87I GAMING AC Motherboard comes with an Intel 802.11ac (hence, "GAMING AC", I assume) wireless adapter. If you are using a wired connection, it comes with a Killer E2205 Ethernet adapter from Qualcomm's BigFoot Networks (even small PCs can be BigFoot). Also included is an HDMI 1.4 output capable of 4K video (HDMI 1.4 is limited to 30Hz output at 2160p).

Good features to have, especially for an HTPC build.

The other launch is the GTX 760 GAMING ITX video card. This card is a miniature GeForce 760 designed to fit in mini-ITX cases. If your box is a Home Theater PC, expect it to run just about any game at 1080p.

No information on pricing and availability yet. Check out the press release after the break.

Source: MSI

Gigabyte trims the Force and the price but leaves the good stuff on the Z87X-OC

Subject: Motherboards | November 26, 2013 - 02:00 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, z87x-oc, LGA1150

Similar to the Z87X-OC Force that Morry recently reviewed is the Z87X-OC from Gigabyte which will cost you about half as much as the Force.  You give up three PCIe slots, a 16x an 8x and a 1x, but do gain a pair of legacy PCI slots.  As well you lose four SATA 6Gbps ports and the onboard audio codec is slightly downgraded but this makes the board well under $200.  The overall design remains the same, very stable and easy to overclock, enough to win it a Gold Award.

13833581875gOQMQ5Ela_1_9_l.jpg

"GIGABYTE has brought us a few great motherboards over the years with most being just above average. On the surface the Z87X-OC doesn’t have much going for it aside from a Halloween inspired color scheme. All that changes when you dig just a little deeper, as Gigabyte is very much still in the motherboard game."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

ASUS Announces Republic of Gamers Rampage IV Black Edition Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | November 7, 2013 - 01:41 PM |
Tagged: asus, ASUS ROG, rampage iv black edition, lga2011

Fremont, CA (November 7th, 2013) - ASUS today announced the Republic of Gamers (ROG) Rampage IV Black Edition, an E-ATX gaming and overclocking motherboard designed to unleash the full potential of Intel LGA 2011 Core i7 Ivy Bridge-E processors is available for pre-order at select sites.

Based on the Intel X79 Express chipset, the Rampage IV Black Edition includes all of the best ROG technologies and innovations for unrivaled gaming and overclocking performance. With its four PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, two PCI-E 2.0 x1 slots and eight DIMM slots supporting up to 64GB of overclocked DDR3 DRAM, the Rampage IV Black Edition has near limitless expansion possibilities, including support for both 4-way NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFireX.

Every Rampage IV Black Edition includes a free copy of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, allowing gamers to take advantage of premium ROG hardware and software features right out of the box.

image01.jpg

Born to push limits and break records
ASUS designed the Rampage IV Black Edition for those who demand the ultimate feature set. It includes the OC Panel, a real-time system-monitoring and tuning console that is great for gamers and a huge advantage for overclockers. It can be mounted internally for everyday monitoring of temperatures, base clock and fan speeds while also offering one-click CPU Level Up for an instant speed boost. Externally, it can be used to monitor and control multiple parameters in real-time via onboard buttons. Extreme overclocking has never been easier.

Prior to becoming widely available, world-class overclockers have already demonstrated the Rampage IV Black Edition’s record-breaking capabilities as it currently holds chart-topping scores in top benchmarks and numerous other world records on the X79 platform.

Built for the most demanding games and gamers
In order to be able to push the limits, ROG engineers combined thoughtful design with superior quality components.

The Rampage IV Black Edition’s Extreme Engine DIGI+ III voltage-regulator module (VRM) provides highly precise and stable power delivery by employing NexFET MOSFETs, 60A (amp) chokes and high-endurance Japanese-made 10K black metallic capacitors. The motherboard’s black-themed heat-sink is exclusively and cleverly integrated with the MOSFET area to extend to the input/output (I/O) cover for even better cooling and stability.

Built-in SupremeFX Black technology provides sound quality that is on par with high-end dedicated sound cards. Premium components such as ELNA audio capacitors and German-made WIMA film capacitors deliver impeccable clarity, while high-fidelity op-amps (operational amplifiers) and a Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC (digital/analog converter) deliver lossless audio and a brilliant 120dB SNR (signal-to-noise ratio).

Rampage-IV-Black-Edition-1-723x1000.jpg

ROG’s Sonic Radar on-screen overlay provides fans of first-person shooter (FPS) games with an ear to the ground, as it displays the precise direction and origin of in-game sounds such as gunshots, footsteps and call-outs — giving ROG gamers a leg-up when trying to pinpoint the enemy.

Ultra-fast Intel Gigabit Ethernet with ROG’s GameFirst II utility optimizes network traffic to keep latency to a minimum and reduce all-important ping times. The ROG RAMDisk utility allows up to 80% of a computer’s available RAM to be used as a high-speed virtual drive — lending a strong performance boost to many modern games that regularly read or write data during gameplay.

Source: ASUS

The suave looking MSI Z87 MPOWER

Subject: Motherboards | October 28, 2013 - 02:27 PM |
Tagged: Z87 MPOWER, widi, msi, lga 1150

The Z87 MPOWER that [H]ard|OCP just reviewed is great at wireless connectivity, including WiFi, BlueTooth and WiDi as well.  It is no slouch on wired connectivity either with 8 available SATA 6Gbps port and a similar number of USB 3.0 ports but what is relatively rare is onboard support for 3 displays.  Those features help sell it as a base for an HTPC but you can also make it a powerful gaming machine as it can handle 3-Way CrossfireX and 2-Way SLI as well as sporting Lucid’s VirtuMVP 2.0.  There were some issues with MSI's bundled software utilities but the physical board its self performed well enough to pick up a Silver Award; check out the full review to see the board in action.

If you missed Morry's review of this board you should definitely go back and read it.

1381386952Q7N8L7Jr6k_1_11_l.jpg

"The "M" series motherboards from MSI have gained a lot of recognition recently being an upper quality not-so-high-priced motherboard for the computer hardware enthusiast. However while MSI brings us some of the best hardware you’ll find on the current market seemingly goes a bit off course with firmware and software."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

The second coming of the X79 chipset

Subject: Motherboards | October 7, 2013 - 02:35 PM |
Tagged: x79, Ivy Bridge-E, ASUS X79 Deluxe, asus

With the release of Ivy Bridge-E the X79 chipset and socket 2011 are making a comeback.  The chipset is not new and the new motherboards coming out sport the same specifications but with added features that were not available when the chipset was first introduced.  ASUS has added USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gbps controllers, improved SSD caching as well as updating both the onboard WiFi and audio; no Thunderbolt though.  [H]ard|OCP took it through its benchmarks and overclocking tests and found that the added features do make this a great choice for a new Socket 2011 system but not really worth purchasing if you are already on an X79 motherboard.

H_1379070691nrp6dre7s6_1_11_l.jpg

"ASUS resurrects the tried and true X79 chipset putting it back in the spotlight with updated features just in time for Ivy Bridge-E CPUs. We take a look at ASUS’ X79 Deluxe and not only see if this motherboard is worth your hard earned cash, but answer the question: is there any compelling reason for existing X79 users to upgrade?"

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

ASUS brings you a fresh breath of X79

Subject: Motherboards | September 13, 2013 - 12:36 PM |
Tagged: x79, ASUS X79 Deluxe, Ivy Bridge-E

With so much of what used to be on the motherboard having been moved directly onto the CPU motherboard launches just aren't what they use to be.  That is why the launch of Ivy Bridge-E has not been accompanied by the arrival of a slew of new motherboards.  Some companies such as ASUS have done a refresh of existing X79 motherboard lines for the new IB-E processors but not a total revision or new chipset.  The X79-Deluxe is a perfect example, based on a mature board but with some new tricks added, as you can see in The Tech Report's review.

TR_board.jpg

"Most motherboard makers are relying on existing LGA2011 models to complement Intel's latest Ivy Bridge-E CPUs. Asus has taken a different approach by rolling its recent innovations into a brand new board: the X79-Deluxe. Join us as we take a closer look at what may be the most advanced X79 board around."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

ASUS ROG Rampage IV Black Edition Motherboard Claims 5 Overclocking World Records

Subject: Motherboards | September 11, 2013 - 07:44 PM |
Tagged: asus, rampage iv black edition, ASUS ROG, overclocking

Fremont, CA (September 11, 2013) - ASUS today announced that the Republic of Gamers Rampage IV Black Edition motherboard has achieved five world records in 3DMark 11, 3DMark Fire Strike, Cinebench, and CPU-Z Memory benchmarks the OC Main Event San Francisco, co-hosted by ASUS and Corsair, sponsored by Intel. In celebration of the 10th anniversary of Intel Extreme Edition, pro-overclockers from around the world gathered with ROG team members Shamino, Raja, and coolice. The team was able to establish five world records using the newly-announced Rampage IV Black Edition Motherboard, Intel 4th Generation Core i7 Extreme Edition Processors and Corsair Dominator Platinum Memory in both 2D and 3D configurations.

ROG Overclocking: Five Major World Records!
Furthering its commitment to the pro-overclocking community, ASUS invited world-class overclockers 8 Pack, Gunslinger, Rbuass, Dumo and Fugger to join forces with ROG team members and engineers Shamino, Raja and coolice. Each brought their unique professional experience, working together to push the Intel Core i7-4960X processors and NVIDIA GeForce TITAN graphics cards to their limits.

image01.jpg

Shamino, Rbuass, 8 Pack and Gunslinger focused on the demanding 4-way SLI 3DMark 11 and Fire Strike benchmarks. On 3DMark 11, the team posted scores of 38,231 marks and 38,227 marks in 4-Way SLI on Entry and Performance presets respectively. On 3DMark Fire Strike, a score of 31,998 marks was achieved.

Using the 2D hardware configuration, the team was able to post a score of 17.55 points on 6-core Cinebench, a category record for the Intel Core i7-4960X. Lastly, the team achieved a memory overclock of 3900 MHz using Corsair Dominator Platinum memory, an unprecedented speed for quad-channel memory configurations.

"We are proud that previous ASUS X79 motherboards have dominated overclocking rankings by breaking 26 world records since the chipset launch," said Jackie Hsu, ASUS Corporate Vice President and General Manager of Worldwide Sales, Open Platform Business Group. "The accomplishments we demonstrated here at the OC Main Event San Francisco are a testament to what is achievable by combining world-class R&D with incredible talents from the enthusiast community.”

Xavier Laurent, Director of Product Marketing for Corsair adds "As a company that creates products by enthusiasts for enthusiasts, collaborating with like-minded partners ASUS and Intel to break world benchmarking records using Corsair Dominator Platinum and Vengeance Pro memory was a natural fit. The success of the OC Main Event San Francisco demonstrates the continued strength of the enthusiast community and validates our commitment to this portion of the ecosystem."

Rampage-IV-Black-Edition-1-723x1000.jpg

I for one welcome our new overclocking overlord

Source: ASUS

ASUS Announces X79 Rampage IV Black Edition at OC Main Event

Subject: Motherboards | September 10, 2013 - 09:15 PM |
Tagged: x79, rampage iv black edition, asus

Tonight at the OC Main Event sponsored by ASUS, Intel and Corsair, a new X79 motherboard was announced.  The ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition is being called "bullet proof" by some ASUS personnel I spoke with and should be one of the (if not THE) best X79 platform for Ivy Bridge-E processors available.

black1.jpg

ASUS takes a lot of pride in its motherboard development and they claim to have put 5x as many hours into developing the intricacies of things like memory traces compared to previous X79 offerings.  Over 500 engineering samples of the Black Edition were made prior to finalization and more than 10,000 man hours were put into the design.

black2.jpg

The Rampage IV Black Edition combines features of the Formula series with those of the Extreme boards to really make the ultimate flagship offering.  Things the advanced audio layout for gamers as well as the perfected overclocking capability will make this motherboard impressive, but also pretty damned expensive. 

I was told that unlike the previous Black Edition this motherboard is not a limited edition and will run until the market demands otherwise.

black3.jpg

Keep an eye out for news from the OC Main Event as ASUS has some plans for these overclocking records...

Core i7-4960X Ivy Bridge-E Overclocking Update: ASUS P9X79 Pro Results

Subject: Motherboards, Processors | September 3, 2013 - 06:19 PM |
Tagged: x79, P9X79 PRO, Ivy Bridge-E, Intel, i7-4960X, asus

If you read our Intel Core i7-4960X Ivy Bridge-E review posted earlier today, you likely saw our overclocking results.  After publication I got contacted by ASUS asking why we didn't attempt to overclock our CPU sample with one of their updated motherboards.  In truth we were unable to get any of the pre-release UEFI firmware updates to apply to our P9X79 Pro or Rampage IV Extreme motherboards. 

asusoc3.jpg

Move on to this afternoon and we were finally able to patch up the v1.02 of the P9X79 Pro and tossed in the same Core i7-4960X sample we used in our initial story.  What were the results?

asusoc1.jpg

Click to Enlarge

As you can see above we were able to overclock the processor to 4.413 GHz at UEFI set voltage of only 1.40v.  Previously we were only reaching a 4.3 GHz overclock and even had to up the voltage a bit higher.

I was hoping that I would be able to reach the 45x multiplier but alas it wasn't meant to be.  I will keep messing with our 4960X to see how much further can push it.

Trimming off the extras and keeping the good stuff, the ASUS Maximus VI Hero

Subject: Motherboards | August 26, 2013 - 06:29 PM |
Tagged: asus, z87, ASUS ROG, Maximus VI Hero

If there is one thing that has slowed the adoption of ASUS' impressive ROG line of motherboards it is the price to pick one up, high quality and extensive features do cost after all.  The new Maximus VI Hero, if you can find it, retails for a bit over $200 and comes with a long list of reasons to make it the Z87 of choice.  A pair of 16x, a 4x and three 1x PCIe slots offer a lot of choice for addin cards, ROG SupremeFX 8 channel sound will challenge many discrete audio cards and eight SATA 6Gbps ports will handle your storage needs.  It isn't just about the peripherals though, Hardware Canucks proved that this board can overclock just like one of it's $400+ siblings which is what most enthusiasts are truely looking for.  Check out the full review for the full list of reasons to consider this board.

HC_Intro.jpg

"Combining price and performance isn't something ASUS' ROG motherboards are known for but the Maximus VI Hero bucks that trend by delivering an incredible array of features at a lower than expected cost."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

GIGABYTE Launch Intel H81 Series Motherboards - Bringing Ultimate Durability to Entry-Level Platform Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards | August 23, 2013 - 05:52 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, H81, GA-H81-D3, GA-H81M-S2PV, GA-H81M-S2PH, ga-h81m-ds2, GA-H81M-HD3, H81M-H, H81.AMP-UP

City of Industry, California, August 23rd, 2013 – GIGABYTE TECHNOLOGY Co. Ltd., a leading manufacturer of motherboards and graphics cards, today announced its latest range of 8 series motherboards based on the new Intel H81 Chipset (PCH) supporting the latest 4th generation Intel Core processors. GIGABYTE Intel H81 series motherboards include ATX and Micro-ATX models, bringing together a unique blend of features and technologies that offer the absolute best in terms of quality, durability and overall lifespan.

image031.png

GIGABYTE H81 series motherboards stand out from the competition with signature features that guarantee the utmost in both performance and reliability. High quality components for key areas of the motherboard are joined by an updated and improved UEFI DualBIOS which offers a customizable, full HD BIOS environment, plus the new GIGABYTE App Center, which combines key GIGABYTE applications in a simple, unified interface. GIGABYTE H81 series motherboards also provide additional USB 3.0 ports and support the latest 4K resolution displays on both HDMI and DisplayPort.

image008.jpg

GIGABYTE Ultra Durable 4 Plus
GIGABYTE Ultra Durable 4 Plus focuses on “Ultra Performance” and “Ultra Safe”, with a range of features and component choices that provide optimal performance, cool and efficient operation and extended motherboard lifespan.

Ultra Performance
GIGABYTE uses All Solid Caps (Capacitors) and Low RDS(on) MOSFETs which are rated to work at higher temperatures to provide a longer lifespan. specially designed to produce lower switching for faster electric current charging and discharging, Low RDS(on) MOSFETs have lower power consumption during the switching process, resulting in a faster switching process and less heat generation.

Ultra Safe
GIGABYTE motherboards feature GIGABYTE DualBIOS, an exclusive technology from GIGABYTE that protects arguably one of your PC's most crucial components, the BIOS GIGABYTE DualBIOS means that your motherboard has both a 'Main BIOS' and a 'Backup BIOS', making users protected from BIOS failure due to virus attack, hardware malfunction, improper OC settings or power failure during the update process.

High ESD Protection for USB and LAN (USB 3.0 only)
3199GIGABYTE H81 Series motherboards raise the bar in terms of protecting your system, providing advanced electrostatic discharge (ESD) protection for both your Ethernet LAN and USB ports, both common sources of ESD-related failures. Each LAN and USB port is paired with a dedicated protection filter that can withstand high electrostatic discharges, protecting your system from common electrical surges and even direct lighting strikes.

Additional USB 3.0 Ports
GIGABYTE H81 series motherboards feature an onboard USB 3.0 host controller that provides an additional four USB 3.0 ports. Together with USB 3.0 ports provided by the Intel H81 chipset, users can enjoy SuperSpeed connectivity on a total of six USB 3.0 ports.

image016.png

4K Ultra HD Support
GIGABYTE H81 series motherboards provide native 4K support with integrated Intel HD Graphics via HDMI or DisplayPort. 4K resolution is the next technological milestone in high-definition content delivery, utilizing approximately 4,000 pixels on the horizontal axis, more than four times today’s standard HD pixel density.

New GIGABYTE UEFI DualBIOS with Dashboard Mode
Take control of how your BIOS looks and feels with the new GIGABYTE UEFI DualBIOS, a fully customizable user interface that allows you to adjust overclocking and performance settings in real-time. With smooth mouse control and shortcuts for fast navigation, the new and exclusive Dashboard Mode gives users complete access to all data related to your motherboard, including CPU, graphics and memory clocks, temperatures and voltages.

New GIGABYTE App Center
GIGABYTE App Center gives you easy access to a wealth of GIGABYTE apps that help you get the most from your GIGABYTE motherboard. Using a simple, unified user interface, GIGABYTE App Center allows you to launch all GIGABYTE apps installed on your system. The GIGABYTE App Center is also customizable with three attractive color schemes.

The GIGABYTE App Center Includes:

  • EasyTune
  • @BIOS
  • EZ Setup
  • Live Updates
  • USB Blocker
  • Smart Recovery
  • Smart Time Lock
GA-H81-D3 GA-H81M-S2PV

GA-H81M-S2PH

GA-H81M-DS2
GA-H81M-HD3

H81M-H

H81.AMP-UP  

Source: Gigabyte

ASUS Never Sold ThunderboltEX. Intel Has Bigger Plans?

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | August 18, 2013 - 12:22 AM |
Tagged: thunderboltex, thunderbolt

Thunderbolt has not exactly caught on for mainstream devices. Outside of media production, USB has a strong brand and carries less of a premium than Thunderbolt. Motherboard vendors and system builders can also more easily implement USB 3.0. Intel, according to VR-Zone, addresses this problem with a reference PCI Express x4 add-in card to be produced and marketed by select Original Design Manufacturer (ODM) partners.

The select partners are, according to current plans, ODMs with existing Thunderbolt motherboard designs.

ASUS_ThunderboltEX Card_4.jpg

ASUS TB_Header Add-in Card, about 19 months ago

Thunderbolt is, basically, the marriage between PCIe and DisplayPort as an external interface. Motherboards can either ship with Thunderbolt ports or a header for non-existent add-in cards. These TB_Headers, on ASUS motherboards, are General Purpose I/O (GPIO) connections used for a fairly unclear task. Officially, they help facilitate a DisplayPort connection to the integrated GPU although they are required even if using DisplayPort pass-through. The card has been stuck in certification woes.

In the Intel's reference design plans, both a GPIO header and internal DisplayPort connection are required on motherboards wishing to support this add-in card. This ends the hope of current system owners wishing to upgrade most existing rigs.

This initiative more seems like an attempt to defer most of the cost of Thunderbolt implementation to a down-the-line upgrade option. I do feel bad for ASUS. They appear to have the problem solved over a year ago with a solution very similar to the one Intel is working on now. If certification were not an issue, they could have very well been first to market. Now it appears they will be in the first wave.

Source: VR-Zone

Quad GPU on the MSI Z87 XPower thanks to the PLX chip

Subject: Motherboards | August 13, 2013 - 02:17 PM |
Tagged: msi, Z87 XPower, PEX 8747 PLX

MSI's Z87 XPower is a brilliant board to base a multi-GPU system on as it's 5 PCIe slots are capable of running two cards at 16x if you are not using the other three, for triple GPU you can manage 16x/8x/8x or even four slots at 8x if you go to the utter extreme thanks to the PEX 8747 PLX chip found on board.  If you are only using one GPU you can choose the slot which avoids the PLX chip altogether to avoid the latency penalty it adds.  A Killer NIC, MSI's Super RAID SSD caching, Multi-BIOS II, Debub LED, Go2BIOS, V-Check Points and Direct OC all add to the benefits you get from choosing this board.  If the $440 price tag doesn't immediately scare you off check out the full review at [H]ard|OCP.

You can also check out Morry's indepth look at the slightly less expensive GIGABYTE GA-Z87X-OC Force right here.

H_Xpower.jpg

"Higher end products are niche items which don’t make a lot of sense for the vast majority of users. Even gamers and enthusiasts sometimes shy away from these products unless the feature set aligns with their needs, desires, and budgets. The feature-packed MSI Z87 XPower is a fine example of this high end motherboard category. "

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Supermicro Launches C7Z87-OCE LGA 1150 Enthusiast Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | August 2, 2013 - 04:50 PM |
Tagged: supermicro, overclocking, lga 1150, haswell, c7z87-oce

Supermicro is a company well-known for its server-class motherboards, but its latest motherboard is actually aimed at consumers. The Supermicro C7Z87-OCE is an overclocking friendly board that features the Intel Z87 chipset and a LGA 1150 socket that is ready to be paired with an Intel Haswell processor.

C7Z87-OCE Motherboard.jpg

The board has a simple but effective layout. There are no fancy heatsinks or armor plating here, just a small heatsink over the VRMs. Beyond the CPU socket, features include four DDR3 DIMM slots (32GB max), eight SATA III 6Gbps ports, three PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, three PCI-E 2.0 x1 slots, and a AMI UEFI BIOS. Six of the SATA III ports are powered by the Intel Z87 chipset while the other two ports go through the ASMedia ASM1061 controller. Users can use RAID 0, 1, 5, or 10 with this board. The PCI-E 3.0 slots can run at x16, x8+x8, or x8+x4+x4 depending on the number of cards used. An interesting feature of the Supermicro C7Z87-OCE are four green buttons that are numbered 1 through 4. These can be used to overclock the processor by 15% (button 1), 23% (button 2), a user-adjustable amount (button 3), and to clear CMOS (button 4).

The rear IO options on the board include:

  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 4 x USB 3.0
  • 2 x Gigabit Ethernet (Intel i217V and i210AT NICs)
  • 5 x analog audio
  • 1 x S/PDIF
  • 1 x Thunderbolt
  • Video out:
    • 1 x VGA
    • 1 x DVI
    • 1 x DisplayPort (via the Thunderbolt connector)
    • 1 x HDMI

I'm glad to see another player enter the consumer motherboard arena, and I find it interesting that that player is Supermicro. According to TweakTown's review, the company's first consumer board is not perfect, with the BIOS in particular lacking, but it is an overall decent option for those users wanting a reliable motherboard to support their next system build.

Pricing and availability have not been announced.

Source: Supermicro

The Sabertooth Z87 is one TUF motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | July 30, 2013 - 01:45 PM |
Tagged: ASUS Sabertooth, ASUS Gryphon Z87, tuf

Along with the very obvious TUF Thermal Armour you can see in the picture below the board comes with ASUS' TUF warranty which lasts for 5 years.  The TUF series is different from the ROG series as the focus is more on durability than extreme performance but that doesn't mean that this board is lacking in speed or features.  It has three PCIe 16x slots with one running at 4x along with three PCIe 1x slots, a total of 10 SATA ports and a half dozen USB 3.0 ports.  [H]ard|OCP found overclocking on this board took a little more effort but did pay off in the end but it was the reliability of the board that truly impressed them.  If you are looking at picking up a pair of the biggest GPUs on the market this board would be a good choice as it is strong enough to support that weight without flexing.

H_sabreZ78.jpg

"The motherboard we are examining today is part of the ASUS "TUF" series which is an acronym for "The Ultimate Force." The Sabertooth Z87 looks like a promising follow up to the Sabertooth Z77 and given the Sabertooth pedigree, our expectations are high for this entry into the series which sets itself apart in the ASUS product stack."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Gigabyte Releases Three New Budget H81 LGA 1150 Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards | July 30, 2013 - 06:01 AM |
Tagged: H81, gigabyte, ga-h81m-ds2, ga-h81m-d3v, ga-h81m-d2v, budget

Gigabyte recently launched three new motherboards based on Intel’s budget H81 chipset. The new motherboards include the Gigabyte GA-H81M-D3V, GA-H81M-D2V, and the GA-H81M-DS2. The boards feature a 3-phase VRM, UEFI BIOS, two DIMM slots, four SATA ports (two SATA 3, two SATA 2), and a LGA 1150 CPU socket that supports Intel’s latest Haswell processors. They are all ATX and identical in featuresets, but differ in the rear IO ports and number of PCI-E x1 slots.

Gigabyte H81 motherboards. From right to left: GA-H81M-DS2, GA-H81M-D2V, and GA-H81M-D3V. (Click on images for larger versions.)

The GA-H81M-DS2 comes with a single PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot and two PCI-E x1 slots. Rear IO includes:

  • 2 x PS/2
  • 1 x LPT
  • 1 x COM
  • 1 x VGA
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 3 x analog audio
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet

Meanwhile, the GA-H81M-D2V includes the same PCI-E slot configuration as the GA-H81M-DS2 above, as well as the following IO:

  • 1 x PS/2
  • 1 x COM
  • 1 x VGA
  • 1 x DVI
  • 4 x USB 3.0
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 3 x analog audio
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet

Finally, the Gigabyte GA-H81M-D3V steps up the PCI-E options to a single PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot and three PCI-E x1 slots. Rear IO on this budget H81 board includes:

  • 1 x PS/2
  • 1 x VGA
  • 1 x DVI
  • 4 x USB 3.0
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 3 x analog audio
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet

All of the H81 Gigabyte boards should be available in the US soon for around $50. More information on the idividual boards can be found on the Gigabyte product pages linked above.

Source: Gigabyte

ASUS Releases BIOS Updates To Support Ivy Bridge-E CPUs On Its X79 Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards, Processors | July 30, 2013 - 05:00 AM |
Tagged: P9X79, Ivy Bridge-E, IVB-E, bios, ASUS ROG Rampage IV GENE X79, asus

ASUS has released BIOS updates for all of its LGA 2011 X79 motherboards that add support for Intel's upcoming Ivy Bridge-E processors. The update enables enthusiasts to upgrade from their existing Sandy Bridge-E CPU to an Ivy Bridge-E model which adds marginal improvements in performance and power efficiency. Supported processors include the Core i7-4960X Extreme Edition, Core i7-4930K, and the Core i7-4820K. According to benchmarks by Tom's Hardware, the top-end Ivy Bridge-E i7-4960X exhibits up to 30% improvements in performance per watt along with being slightly faster in multi-threaded performance than SB-E. Of course, single threaded performance was shown to be similar to that of Sandy Bridge-E but slower than Haswell.

All of ASUS' X79 boards (including the ROG Rampage, TUF, and P9X79 series) will be getting a BIOS update which will be made available for download on the company's support website or via the individual motherboard product pages. The following chart indicates the motherboard and associated BIOS version number that adds support for IVB-E.

Motherboard BIOS Version Supporting IVB-E
ROG Rampage IV Extreme 4206
ROG Rampage IV Formula 4004
ROG Rampage IV Gene 4206
TUF Sabertooth X79 4104
P9X79 Series 4104

To grab the update, head over to the ASUS support site and type in your motherboard model name to get the appropriate BIOS file.

Will you be upgrading your LGA 2011 rig to Ivy Bridge-E?

Source: TechPowerUp

ASUS Launches ROG Maximus VI Formula Z87 Gaming Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | July 30, 2013 - 03:33 AM |
Tagged: Maximus VI Formula, maximus vi, atx, ASUS ROG, asus

ASUS has officially launched the Maximus VI Formula motherboard which the company showed off earlier this year. This board has extensive IO and other enthusiast friendly features and is a complement to the Maximus VI Extreme that PC Perspective reviewed back in June.

The Maximus VI Formula uses the Intel Z87 chipset and supports Intel’s latest 4th Generation Core “Haswell” processors. The board is is clad in ASUS technology and a red and black Republic of Gamers color scheme. A 8+2-phase DIGI+ III VRM feeds the processor and memory on the board and is cooled by a massive CrossChill heatsink that can air cool the VRMs or integrate into your custom water loop. The LGA 1150 socket is paired with four DDR3 DIMM slots, and the board supports a maximum of 32GBs at 3100MHz. The DIGI+ III VRM uses NoFET MOSFETs, 60A BlackWing chokes, and 10K Japanese capacitors.

ASUS Z87 ROG Maximus VI Formula Gaming Motherboard (2).jpg

An integrated SupremeFX audio chipset, Mini-PCI-E Combo II card (802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0, and a NGFF slot for SSDs), Intel Gigabit NIC, UEFI BIOS, and ROG Armor with SECC back-plate are also featured on this board. The board also supports the company's OC Panel, which is a hardware box that sits outside the case and allows real time overclocking and monitoring.

ASUS Z87 ROG Maximus VI Formula Gaming Motherboard (1).jpg

The Maximus VI Formula further includes 10 SATA 3 6Gbps ports, three PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots (x8+x8 or x8+x4+x4 when in SLI or 3-way CrossFire), and three PCI-E 2.0 x1 slots. ASUS is bundling GameFirst II (QoS that prioritizes gaming traffic), Sonic Radar (visual cues point out direction noise is coming from in games), and ROG RAMDisk software with the motherboard.

ASUS Z87 ROG Maximus VI Formula Gaming Motherboard (3).jpg

Rear IO on the Maximus VI Formula is extensive and surpasses even the Maximus VI Extreme. Port options include:

  • 4 x USB 2.0
  • 6 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 jack (Intel NIC)
  • Video outputs
    • 1 x HDMI
    • 1 x DisplayPort
  • Audio outputs
    • 1 x optical S/PDIF
    • 6 x analog audio

The Maximus VI Formula is shaping up to be a beastly flagship board that enthusiasts should get a lot out of when it comes to features and overclocking ability.

ASUS_ROG_Maximus_VI_Extreme_with_OC_Panel_Extreme_Mode.jpg

ASUS has not provided official pricing or release dates, but postings around the Internet suggests that it will be available sometime within the first half (first or second week) of August for around $310. An ASUS representative on the company's ROG channel stated that "currently the projected price is 300 to 310." You can find the product page with more photos and specifications on the ASUS website.

Source: ASUS

ASUS Shows Off FM2+ Motherboards Compatible With AMD Kaveri APUs

Subject: Motherboards | July 28, 2013 - 07:40 PM |
Tagged: hUMA, Kaveri, hsa, fm2, asus, APU, A88X, A55, PCI-E 3.0, mATX

ASUS recently announced two new socket FM2+ motherboards that are compatible with AMD’s upcoming “Kaveri” Accelerated Processing Units (APUs). The new boards are the A88XMA and A55BM-A/USB3 and use the A88X and A55 AMD chipsets respectively. Pricing and availability have not yet been released, but the new boards confirm that users will need new motherboards in order to take advantage of AMD’s next generation APUs (though the new FM2+ boards are backwards compatible with the existing APUs, it will not work the other way around). Both motherboards should be available around the time of the Kaveri processor launch (2H 2013).

ASUS A88XMA Kaveri Motherboard (2).jpg

The AMD A88XMA FM2+ Motherboard.

Both the ASUS A88XMA and A55BM-A/USB3 motherboards come in the mATX form factor. The boards both have FM2+ processor sockets and expansion slots including a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot, one PCI-E 2.0 x1 slot, and one legacy PCI slot. The support for PCI-E 3.0 is new for AMD motherboards, and the extra bandwidth may prove useful for as graphics cards get faster and AMD works on its hUMA and HSA architectures to create a layer of virtual memory that can be simultaneously addressed by CPUs and GPUs. There will still be latency to deal with over the PCI-E bus, but more data can be moved back and forth in the same amount of time.

ASUS A88XMA Kaveri Motherboard Rear IO.jpg

The two ASUS FM2+ motherboards also share the same rear IO options, which include:

  • 2 x PS/2
  • 3 x Video outputs:
    • 1 x HDMI
    • 1 x DVI
    • 1 x VGA
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 3 x Analog audio jacks

The RJ45 jacks are backed by a Realtek 8111G Gigabit Ethernet controller and the audio jacks are handled by a Realtek ALC887-VD chipset. Finally, they also have UEFI BIOSes in common, but from there the two boards diverge in hardware capabilities.

The ASUS A88XMA is the higher-end of the two boards, and features a FM2+ socket, four DDR3 DIMM slots, and six SATA 3 6Gbps ports. It utilizes the AMD A88X chipset which is aimed at enthusiast platforms.

ASUS A55BM-AUSB3 Kaveri Motherboard.jpg

ASUS' A55BM-A/USB3 budget motherboard.

On the other hand, the A55BM-A/USB3 motherboard uses the cheaper A55 chipset. That motherboard features an FM2+ socket, two DDR3 DIMM slots, and six right angle SATA 2 3Gpbs ports. The A55Bm-A/USB3 should be significantly cheaper as a result of the A55 chipset and resulting hardware reductions. In most other respects, ASUS has managed to make the two baords remarkably similar, including aesthetics and basic board layout.

According to Bit-Tech, the two boards are are part of a larger family of boards with the new FM2+ sockets. As such, we should see additional ASUS boards that fill in the gaps between the two models closer to AMD's Kaveri launch. As noted above, ASUS has not provided official pricing or release date information yet.

Source: Bit-Tech

Hardware Flashback: Asus P2B

Subject: Motherboards | July 17, 2013 - 08:34 PM |
Tagged: Pentium II, Pentium !!!, pentium, P2B, Intel, hardware flashback, asus, 440 BX

Retro hardware is so much fun.  Today we have the Asus P2B, and while it was not a game changer for the time, it was a popular board.  This popularity sprang from its excellent compatibility with older Pentium II processors and a wide variety of AGP cards.  It was one of the last series of boards that Asus released that did not feature the jumperless BIOS options that we take for granted these days.

p2b_01.jpg

3 ISA ports staring us in the face!  ATA-33?  Oh yeah!

There are some things that really spring out when looking at the board.  Having 3 ISA slots seems pretty much overkill as most people used perhaps two of them (modem and sound card), but I can see this being popular with people who also utilize older SCSI cards (such as those used with scanners of the time).  Having 3 ISA meant that there were only 4 PCI slots.  Remember, ISA and PCI slots situated next to each other would share the same backplate slot, so PCI and ISA could not be used adjacent to each other.  Remember as well that we often saw issues with the first PCI slot as it shared resources with the AGP slot.  This essentially gives only two usable PCI slots if a user was full up on ISA cards.

The board features 3 DIMM slots at a time when it was popular to use a buffer chip to allow up to four DIMM slots.  These buffer chips were often a big performance hit in memory operations and they quickly fell out of favor with most enthusiasts and power users.  Having 3 DIMM slots did lower the maximum potential installed memory, but not by all that much.  The performance benefits of slightly less memory but better performance often outweighed having that fourth DIMM.

p2b_02.jpg

These old boards look so bare even compared to current low-end motherboards.  Excellent for someone who needs two serial ports, though!

The BX boards supported the 100 MHz bus speed for the latest Pentium IIs and upcoming Pentium !!!s.  This particular board was quite popular with people that had older Pentium IIs with the 66 MHz FSB.  Running these at 3 x 100 or 3.5 x 100 would give a nice overall boost for these aging processors.  Users who were early implementers of Pentium II CPUs were stuck with the old 440FX chipset which did not feature SDRAM or AGP support.  This would have been a nice upgrade in performance and functionality for those users as they could pop in their Pentium II 266 or 300 and tweak their way to performance nirvana.

This board was released before we saw the change to the colored peripheral connections, so every plug on the back of the board is black.  Color coding was for wimps anyway.  It also does not include integrated sound.  So there goes one of those ISA slots.  Users of the time would have probably installed a soundcard, modem, PCI Ethernet card, and their AGP card.  So where would the Voodoo 2 go?  How about two of them?  Things would get awful crowded very quickly.

p2b_03.jpg

That dust may or may not have been deposited around 1999...

The AGP support on these boards was of course excellent.  That is primarily because Intel was the main driver of the specification and everyone else developed their cards to run in these slots.  VIA, SiS, and others of course had compatibility issues with a wide variety of cards.  This is why we saw other folks like 3dfx make their products run at below AGP specs.  For instance, the Voodoo 3 was essentially a PCI 66 MHz device in the AGP slot.  This disabled features like sideband addressing and reading textures from main memory.

This was still a popular board even in the face of competition with superior features.  The Asus brand and name goes far.  Plus it was a fast board for the time that was a bit no-frills.  Recipe for success?  I guess so.  This particular board and CPU were running in a homebuilt server for around 10 years until it was replaced.  I guess it was money well spent.

Source: Asus