ECS Reveals its First Motherboard with the AMD Kabini - KBN-I

Subject: Motherboards | June 19, 2013 - 02:10 PM |
Tagged: SoC, KBN-I, Kabini, ECS, A6-5200

ECS' new KBN-I board simply needs you to add some RAM and storage to become a fully functional computer.  The integrated 2.0Ghz A6-5200 with its accompanying HD 8400 graphics are enough power for general computing duties and perhaps even newer titles if you turn the settings down somewhat. If you do plan on gaming there is a PCIe 3.0 16x slot for an expansion card, though you might be better served with a TV capture card instead of a graphics card.   

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19th Jun 2013, Taipei, Taiwan - Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS) reveals its latest Mini-ITX motherboard family-KBN-I-featuring the world 1st Quad Core SoC (system-on-a-chip) processor with the newest “Jaguar” 28 nanometer architecture. The ECS KBN-I is integrated AMD Quad Core A6-5200 APU with AMD Radeon HD 8400 Graphics, support new generation DirectX 11.1 graphics, and offer 50% longer battery life performance. The ECS KBN-I with official Windows 8 WHCK certification (Windows Hardware Certification Kit) allows users to take full advantage of the touch browser and function-oriented design of Windows 8. The NM70-I is optimized for home, general computing productivity and multimedia applications.

Up to 25% More Power Efficiency
Designed to save space and energy, the ECS KBN-I is the ideal solution for small-form factor systems, with the AMD Kabini Quad Core SoC processor and maximum of 25W low power consumption. It improves a better power efficiency with up to 25% more power efficiency thru clock gating and unit redesign compared with current generation low power platform. Thanks to new generation design of increasing the amount of core, instructions per clock(IPC), and boost clock speed, the ECS KBN-I reducing energy usage by operating at lower frequencies when performance is not necessary. The ECS KBN-I also has 9W fanless Heat Sink design, full electrostatic discharge protection and 100% solid capacitors to maximize the reliability and longevity of your system.

Excellent Extension Support
Even with the mini-ITX size of the KBN-I, ECS has kept in mind the expansion needs of future-proof minded customers. The ECS KBN-I supports video and storage upgrades with 1 x PCI-E x16, 2 x SATA 6GB/s connections, 2 x USB 3.0 ports and 4 x USB 2.0 ports. For industrial applications, the KBN-I is equipped with Serial port output (COM). The Mini-PCIe slot is designed for laptops and other small-footprint computer systems and supports Mini-PCI card (one full-card and one half-card) for mini-Wireless, mini-TV tuner and so on. Moreover, users can enjoy high definition media as the KBN-I support HD 1080p output including HDMI and standard analog D-Sub VGA output. The NM70-I is bundled with additional software including Norton anti-virus, Muzee, Cyberlink Media Suite, and the ECS iEZ utility, which combines eBLU BIOS Live Update Utility, eDLU Drivers Live Update Utility and the eSF Smart Fan Utility.

Source: ECS

The ASUS Z87-A, short name but long on features

Subject: Motherboards | June 17, 2013 - 06:14 PM |
Tagged: asus, z87, Z87-A

You have a lot of choice in motherboard if you are thinking of moving up to Haswell as there are a huge amount of models available.  At their core the different implementations of the Z87 are very similar, it is the materials used for construction and the add-ons which make a board stand out.  ASUS added 5k long life capacitors, rust proofing on the I/O panel, the new Realtek ALC1150 onboard audio and an ASMedia USB controller to increase the number of available ports, to name just a few features. Head over to [H]ard|OCP for the performance review of the $150 ASUS Z87-A motherboard.

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"We start today with reviewing new Z87 chipset motherboards, which we will surely see a lot of, with ASUS' new Z87-A motherboard. Before we even got the box open we had to stop for a second and enjoy the simplicity of the name. But don't let the name fool you. There is plenty going on here to keep your enthusiast attention."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Computex 2013: Gigabyte Shows Off GA-990FXA-UD7 AM3+ Motherboard That Hints At 5GHz AMD FX Processor

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | June 5, 2013 - 02:13 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, ga-990fx-ud7, computex 2013, computex, amd fx, amd, am3+

Gigabyte is showing off quite a few motherboards at Computex 2013. One of the most interesting motherboards on display is the GA-990FX-UD7 for AMD AM3+ desktop processors. This is a high-end motherboard for enthusiasts and is packed with features.

The GA-990FX-UD7 features an 8+2 power phase, AM3+ CPU socket, four DDR3 DIMM slots, six PCI-E 2.0 x16 (physical) slots, one legacy PCI slot, and eight SATA 3 6Gbps ports. It has a black and glossy orange color scheme with large finned heatsinks around the CPU socket and over the southbridge. The board uses a Realtek ALC889 chipset for onboard audio that supports Dolby Home Theater and has a 108dB SNR rating. Further, the GA-990FX-UD7 supports 4-way SLI or CrossFire, Gigabyte's UEFI DualBIOS, and 3X power which allows faster battery charging for supported USB-connected mobile devices.

Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD7 AM3Plus Motherboard.jpg

The Gigabyte GA-990FX-UD7 at Computex 2013 as spotted by Sweclockers (Click for larger image).

Rear IO includes a single coaxial S/PDIF and six analog audio outputs, four USB 3.0 ports, two eSATA+USB combo ports, and a RJ45 LAN jack.

Interestingly, Gigabyte's Computex display mentions that the new AM3+ motherboard is compatible with AMD's 5GHz AM3+ processor, which lends credibility to previous rumors of a Piledriver-based eight core “Centurion” AMD FX processor clocked at 5GHz with a 220W TDP. That chip was rumored for a summer 2013 release in limited quantities, and it looks like enthusiasts might be able to get their hands on that chip later this year after all!

Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD7 AM3Plus Motherboard Specifications.jpg

Although AMD is not talking, Sweclockers has managed to put together a list of preliminary specifications for the codenamed Centurion processor. Rumors have it that the Centurion chip will be officially named the AMD FX-9000, and that it is a 4-module, 8-core part with a 4.8 GHz base clock and 5.0 GHz turbo clockspeed. It has a total of 8MB L2 cache, and 8MB of L3. Further, this 220W TDP part will support a maximum of DDR3-1866 (officially, before overclocking) and is build on AMD's 32nm SOI HKMG manufacturing process. You will need a beefy air cooler at the minimum to keep this chip happy, but otherwise it should be a fun chip for enthusiasts to tinker with!

Source: Sweclockers

Computex 2013: MSI Launches New Gaming and Overclock Series Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards | June 5, 2013 - 02:17 AM |
Tagged: Z87-GD65 GAMING, uefi, overclocking, msi, haswell, computex 2013, computex

MSI announced new Z87 motherboards today, ready to accept Intel's new 4 Generation Core "Haswell" processors. The new Z87 boards are broken up into the company's "GAMING" series and a new "Overclock" series. Both boards use Military Class IV components that are MIL-STD-810G rated.

The MSI Z87-GD65-GAMING is the company's latest motherboard aimed at PC gamers. It incorporates a Killer NIC and the company's Audio Boost technology. It also supports MSI technology such as V-Check points (to get voltage readings with multi meter), Super RAID, Multi-BIOS II, and Go2BIOS.

MSI Z87-GD65 GAMING.jpg

On its face, the Z87-GD65-GAMING features an Intel LGA 1150 CPU socket, four DDR3 DIMM slots, eight SATA 6Gbps ports, three PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, and four PCI-E 3.0 x1 slots. Rear IO includes a PS/2 port, two USB 2.0 ports, four USB 3.0 ports, coaxial and optical S/PDIF audio outputs, one DVI port, one VGA port, one HDMI output, one Kill NIC-backed Gigabit LAN port, and six analog audio jacks.

The MSI Z87-GD65-GAMING motherboard is currently selling for around $189 at various online retailers. It has earned a Computex 2013 Best Choice Gold award as well as a positive review from PC Perspective's resident motherboard guru Morry Teitelman. You can find our full review of the gaming motherboard here.

MSI also announced three new motherboards under its Overclock series. These boards are intended for PC enthusiasts who like to tinker with hardware and push their chips (CPU and GPU) as far as possible. The new boards include the Z87 MPOWER, Z87 MPOWER MAX, and Z87 XPOWER.

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The Overclock series motherboards also use Military Class components. They also feature MSI's latest Click BIOS 4 UEFI and Control Center software that allows monitory, tuning, and remote controlling of your PC. The MSI Overclock boards also have a tool that allows for automatic overclocking called OC Genie 4 that reportedly operates in two stages. The Z87 MPOWER has a 32-phase digital power system, supports DDR3-3000 memory, and supports 4-way SLI or Crossfire. The MPOWER MAX and XPOWER motherboards are OC (Overclock) Certified and supports MSI's Extreme Tuning Utility for overclocking within Windows.

Rear port layout is similar to the Z87-GD65-Gaming motherboard, except that the new MPOWER boards add a removable Intel Wi-Fi + Bluetooth card that adds 802.11g/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and Intel WiDi (Wireless Display) technology. The highest-end Z87 MPOWER, the XPOWER board, also has additional USB 3.0 ports on the back panel.

You can find more information on the Z87 MPOWER motherboards on this MSI product page.

Also read: MSI Launches 17" GS70 Gaming Notebook @ PC Perspective.

Source: MSI

PCPer Live! ASUS Z87 Motherboard and Intel Haswell Live Event!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Motherboards, Processors | June 4, 2013 - 10:40 AM |
Tagged: z87, video, overclocking, live, i7-4770k, haswell, ASUS ROG, asus

While we run around with our hair on fire trying to get ready for the Intel Haswell and Z87 product launch this weekend, I wanted to let everyone know about a live stream event we will be holding on Tuesday, June 4th.  JJ from ASUS, a crowd favorite for sure, will be joining us LIVE in studio to talk all about the new lineup of ASUS Z87 motherboards.  We'll also discuss performance and overclocking capabilities of the new processor and platform.

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ASUS Z87 and Haswell Live Stream

10am PT / 1pm ET - June 4th

PC Perspective Live! Page

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 these prizes:

  • 2 x ASUS Z87 Motherboards
  • 1 x ASUS Graphics card

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!

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ASUS and I also 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 ASUS Z87 products and Haswell processors 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! 

I'll update this post with more information after the reviews and stories start to hit, so keep an eye here for more details!!

Computex 2013: ASUS Reveals New ROG Gaming and Overclocking Hardware

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards, Systems, Shows and Expos | June 4, 2013 - 04:36 AM |
Tagged: z87, ROG, Maximus VI Formula, maximus vi, Intel, haswell, gaming, g30, crosschill, computex 2013, computex, asus

During an ASUS ROG press conference at Computex 2013 in Taipei, Taiwan, ASUS launched a number of new bits of hardware aimed at PC gamers and overclocking enthusiasts. In addition to the mini ITX Maximus VI Impact launch, ASUS showed off the ASUS Maximus VI Formula motherboard, OC Panel accessory, and ROG G30 desktop. The available details on each piece of hardware is as follows:

ASUS Maximus VI Formula Motherboard

While ASUS hinted at several of its Z87 motherboards last month by allowing us to post teaser photos ahead of the launch, until today enthusiasts have not seen the latest "Formula" motherboard. However, now that the board is official, you can see the new Z87 motherboard in high resolution photos below!

ASUS Maximus VI Formula Z87 Motherboard with SupremeFX and CrossChill.jpg

The board comes in red and black colors, and surprisingly, comes equipped with ASUS' thermal armor accessory which includes a plastic shroud for the front of the motherboard and a SECC back-plate with thermal pads to aid in cooling and supporting the motherboard (even with heavy CPU HSFs). In addition to the thermal armor, the board has finned heatsinks on the PCH and VRM hardware. The VRM heatsink in particular uses the company's CrossChill technology which allows user to integrate the VRM heatsink into their water cooling loop or leave it as air-cooled. The board also features a diagnostic display and start/reset buttons.

The ASUS Maximus VI Formula features a LGA 1150 CPU socket, four dual channel DDR3 DIMM slots, three PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, three PCI-E 3.0 x1 slots and a total of 10 SATA 3 6Gbps ports.

ASUS_ROG_Maximus_VI_Formula_with_ROG_Armor.jpg

The rear IO panel includes a mPCI-E Combo II card that supports 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless radios along with a M.2 NGFF (Next Generation Form Factor) SSD slot at the top. Other IO includes:

  • 4 x USB 2.0 ports (one used for BIOS flashing)
  • 6 x USB 3.0 ports
  • 2 x HDMI video outputs
  • 1 x S/PDIF connector
  • 1 x RJ45 Gigabit LAN
  • 6 x analog audio jacks

Overclocking technology includes ASUS' Extreme Engine DIGI+ III power delivery that incorporates 60A BlackWing chokes, (90% efficient) NexFET MOSFETs, and 10K Black Metallic capacitors.

Finally, ASUS has also added a SupremeFX chipset for quality onboard audio. This audio chip is capable of 120dB SNR, a headphone amplifier for 600 ohm cans, EMI shielding, and quality OpAMPs.

ASUS OC Panel Overclocking Accessory

The ASUS OC Panel is a hardware accessory for the company's ROG Maximus VI Extreme motherboard. It allows you to adjust the BCLK and other settings related to overclocking your processor in real time. It also provides CPU temperature feedback on the top of the LED display.

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According to the press release, overclockers Andre Yang and Shamino managed to push a system with a Maximus VI Extreme motherboard, 32GB RAM, and a Core-i7 Haswell processor to 7GHz CPU and 4200MHz clockspeed using liquid nitrogen cooling. It looks like a cool accessory that will allow you to easily adjust the overclocking settings without rebooting into the UEFI BIOS. Pricing and availability have not been announced, but expect it soon.

ASUS ROG G30 Gaming Desktop

The ROG TYTAN G30 desktop PC features a stylized case with red LEDs and a front door with ROG and ASUS logos. Internals include an Intel Core i7 4770K "Haswell" processor and a NVIDIA GTX 780 graphics card. Even better, ASUS is using liquid cooling for the CPU, and offers a 1-button overclock of all four CPU cores to 4.1GHz. The PC also integrates ASUS' SonicMaster and AudioWizard technology which reportedly enhances in-game audio.

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Again, pricing and availability for the haswell gaming PC are still unknown.

What do you think of ASUS' recent ROG product announcements? Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more Computex 2013 news throughout the week!

Also read:

Source: ASUS

Computex 2013: ASUS Unveils First Mini-ITX ROG Motherboard: The Z87 Maximus VI Impact

Subject: Motherboards | June 4, 2013 - 03:12 AM |
Tagged: ROG, mini-itx, mini ITX, maximus vi impact, maximus vi, computex 2013, computex, asus

ASUS held a Republic of Gamers press conference earlier today that focused on new product announcements for its ROG brand. Among the new ROG gear was the company's first Mini-ITX ROG motherboard with the ASUS Maximus VI Impact motherboard.

ASUS Maximus VI Impact Mini-ITX Z87 Motherboard.jpg

This board may be tiny, but it is packed with features and overclocking-friendly hardware! This Mini-ITX motherboard is clad in the red and black ROG color scheme and features ASUS' Impact Power add on card that takes the VRMs and other electrical regulation hardware up off of the mainboard and into a separate add in card above the CPU. This Impact Power riser card includes a 8+2 digital power phase for both the CPU and memory. The board also includes a SupremeFX Impact sound card and a mPCIe Combo II card. The SupremeFX Impact module uses ELNA audio capacitors and features a headphone amplifier and 115dB SNR (Signal-to-Noise Ratio). Further, the mPCIe Combo II card provides a NGFF (think of this as next-generation mSATA) slot as well as 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless radios.

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Apart from the bundled ASUS cards, the board provides a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot, two DDR3 memory slots, four SATA 3 ports, and (of course) the LGA 1150 CPU socket ready to accept an Intel Haswell processor. The board comes with a standard 24-pin ATX and 8-pin CPU power connectors.

The rear IO panel includes:

  • 2 x HDMI
  • 1 x S/PDIF
  • Impact Control and BIOS reset buttons
  • 4 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x eSATA
  • 4 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet
  • 3 x Audio jacks (via SupremeFX sound card)

ASUS has not yet announced pricing or availability for this Mini-ITX Maximus VI Impact motherboard, but it looks like a solid board and I am anxious to see how well it overclocks!

Also read: ASUS Z87 Motherboard Lineup Preview @ PC Perspective.

Source: ASUS

An avalanche of Haswell motherboards

Subject: Motherboards | June 3, 2013 - 07:15 PM |
Tagged: z87, socket 1150, Q87, Q85, haswell, H87, B85

Somehow the gang at Hardware.Info made it through 33 different Socket 1150 boards in time for the release date, not just Z87 but also H87, Q87, Q85 and B85 based boards from the five major motherboard suppliers.  They also tested 22 different USB 3.0 devices on the boards and saw errors generated in over half of the devices, something you should take note of if you plan to upgrade immediately.  The benchmark charts are something to behold, though the performance holds relatively stable on all of the boards showing that once again it is the features which make a board stand out against the competition.  There was one measure that separated the boards, power consumption varies greatly between these motherboards, attributable in no small part to the aforementioned features.

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"Today Intel introduced the fourth generation of its Core processors, also known as Haswell. The desktop processors in the Haswell generation use a different type of processor socket, called Socket 1150. That means if you want to use one of the new processors, you will have to buy a new motherboard as well. Intel also created a new chipset series, the 8 series or Lynx Point, for desktop motherboards: the Z87, H87, Q87, Q85 and B85. Hardware.Info tested 33 of these new Socket 1150 Haswell motherboards, 26 with the Z87 chipset, four with H87 and three with B85. ASRock, ASUS, Gigabyte, Intel and MSI participated."

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Can't get enough Z87 previews!

Subject: Motherboards | May 31, 2013 - 05:41 PM |
Tagged: z87, asus, preview, Maximus VI Hero, Sabertooth Z87, TUF Gryphon

Previews of the upcoming Z87 boards from all the major manufacturers are appearing everywhere as the release date draws nigh, to the joy of tech enthusiasts everywhere.  ASUS was kind enough to give The Tech Report a breakdown of their upcoming boards, both full sized and mATX.  One of the more intriguing is the TUF Gryphon which has the same heatshield as the previous TUF series but is in an mATX form for those who want a powerful SFF system.  Pictured below is the new Deluxe model, The Tech Report finds the colour scheme reminiscent of a "1978 Firebird Trans Am"; perhaps you can mod a blower into your case if this is the board you chose?

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"A few weeks ago, we got an early preview of Asus' upcoming Haswell motherboards. We can now tell you what's in store for the next generation."

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ASUS Maximus VI Formula Supreme FX Evolution

Subject: Motherboards | May 29, 2013 - 02:08 PM |
Tagged: SupremeFX, Maximus VI Formula, Intel Z87, asus

Today, ASUS released a preview of the audio functionality to be designed into their upcoming Maximus VI Formula board. They are continuing in their evolution of the SupremeFX audio solution to deliver the best audio experience possible to the end user.

SupremeFX_Teaser.jpg

Courtesy of ASUS

Stay tuned for more information about the upcoming Intel Z87-based Maximus VI Formula motherboard and its slew of integrated features including the SupremeFX audio solution.

Source: ASUS

MSI Z87-GD65 GAMING - The No. 1 and Only Best Choice Golden Awarded Motherboard

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | May 28, 2013 - 02:58 PM |
Tagged: Z87-GD65 GAMING, msi, z87

[May 28th, 2013/ City of Industry, California] In its 33rd year and as Asia’s largest B2B (Business to Business) computer exhibition, COMPUTEX TAIPEI 2013 is kicking off on June 4. Today, the winning list of Best Choice Award, the official award of COMPUTEX TAIPEI, is unveiled. MSI’s Z87-GD65 GAMING motherboard and Funtoro HD MOD (Media on Demand) vehicle infotainment system have proudly stood out from over 400 competitions. The only Golden Award winner in the IC & Components category, the Z87-GD65 GAMING motherboard literally sparkles in every way and proves MSI to be a true pioneer of mid-range/high-end motherboards.

The Best Choice Award has always focused on Functionality, Innovation and Market Potential as the main judging guideline. Bringing the Z87-GD65 GAMING to global gaming enthusiasts’ attention, the Best Choice Golden Award also highlights the industrial and official affirmation toward MSI’s technical innovation and design capabilities. Specifically designed for operators and passengers of long-distance coaches and high-end tour buses, the HD MOD System integrates infotainment and telematics in one pack and is clearly the top choice for multimedia entertainment on mass transportation.

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Z87-GD65 GAMING, the No. 1 and Only Best Choice Golden Awarded Motherboard

The Z87-GD65 GAMING motherboard is the latest joint effort of MSI and FNATIC, the world-renowned gaming champion team. Consolidating the cutting-edge Intel 8 series chipset and Killer E2205 Game Networking, the Z87-GD65 GAMING effectively eliminates latency-induced errors and automatically prioritizes game traffic. Gamers will experience smooth gameplay even in heavily loaded networks. As for sound, the innovative Audio Boost technology significantly enhances sound clarity. To give gamers the edge in speed, the OC Genie 4 one-second overclocking technology boosts the system performance in no time.

Source: MSI

MSI Z87 MPOWER Motherboard Series

Subject: Motherboards | May 25, 2013 - 12:15 AM |
Tagged: Z87 MPOWER MAX, Z87 MPOWER, z87, msi, mpower, Intel Z87

MSI unveiled their plans for the next revision of their award winning MPOWER motherboard series. With the Z87 series of boards, MSI decided to release two different versions of the MPOWER motherboard - the Z87 MPOWER and the Z87 MPOWER MAX.

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MSI Z87 MPOWER motherboard
Courtesy of MSI

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MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX motherboard
Courtesy of MSI

Continue reading our preview of the MSI Z87 MPOWER motherboard lineup!

Source: MSI

ECS Z87 Motherboard Series Preview

Subject: Motherboards | May 18, 2013 - 03:19 PM |
Tagged: Z87H3-A3, Z87H3-A2, z87, ECS

ECS unveiled their plans for the next generation of Intel 8-series chipsets and 4th Generation Intel® Core processor family.  These motherboards will be released in Q2 2013 and are categorized into four lines:

  • Unnamed series - optimized for gaming and high performance processing
  • Pro series - optimized for power computing
  • Deluxe series - optimized for small office and home
  • Essentials series - optimized for home and multi-media

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ECS motherboard lines
Courtesy of ECS

Continue reading our preview of the ECS Z87 motherboard lineup!

Source: ECS

Hardware Flashback: Asus P5A

Subject: Motherboards | May 15, 2013 - 09:37 PM |
Tagged: asus, P5A, ALi, Aladdin V, 100 MHz, Super 7, amd, K6, K6-2, SDRAM

 

I first got into computers in the 8088 days, but I started to do it professionally when Socket 5 was transitioning to Socket 7.  The Pentium 133 based Quantex system I bought after the Atlanta Olympics catapulted me into the modern computer age (I was previously using an Intel 386SX-16 MHz system from DAK… don’t get me started on that company).  It was also when AOL was the only internet service in Laramie, WY.  I started browsing hardware retailers and then moved onto independent review sites that were only then just popping up.  Tom’s and Anandtech were very new and did not feature many pictures because digital cameras were still quite rare.

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Remember when the 1/5/2 setup was considered optimal?  It allowed for the good modem and good soundcard to be installed!

One of the big shifts of the time is when Intel abandoned Socket 7 and forged ahead with Slot 1.  AMD had fit the K6 into the Socket 7 infrastructure, though it was initially designed for a proprietary socket.  Intel had the Pentium II line and things were moving fast in those days.  AMD was providing competition for Intel with excellent integer performance and adequate floating performance, as well as providing a socketed product that was cheaper to produce for both AMD and its motherboard partners.  Socket 7 was then morphed into Super 7 with support for 100 MHz FSB speeds.  This was a big jump for AMD as they spearheaded this move.  Cyrix, IBM, and Winchip all went along for the ride, but they often supported oddball bus speeds that did not always translate well into bus dividers for AGP and PCI.

The first wave of AGP enabled chipsets that also supported bus speeds above 66 MHz finally hit the market, and one of the first was the SiS 5591.  One of the first boards to support this chipset was the MTech R581A.  The board showed jumper settings that supported 100 MHz, but it was far from stable at that speed.  It did fully support 83.3 MHz, which gave many socket 7 users a nice boost when overclocking.  The first true 100 MHz chips were the VIA MVP-3 and the ALi M1571 (Aladdin V).  These natively supported the 100 MHz bus and ran it perfectly fine.  These chipsets allowed the later K6-2 and K6-3 chips to exist and compete successfully with the 100 MHz based Pentium IIs.

p5a_02.jpg

This particular model included the onboard ESS sound chip.  Pretty posh for the time.  Oh yes, there was a time before USB 2.0...

I had a heck of a time getting a hold of a VIA MVP-3 based motherboard at first, and I never actually laid hands upon any Aladdin V based unit during that time.  There was no Newegg or Tiger Direct back then, and most major distributors like Tech Data did not always stock a wide selection of products.  I was also not making a whole lot of money.  I was particularly jealous of all these other sites getting access to review hardware, but then again at this time I had only a handful of articles out and I had not even started Penstarsys.com yet.  So when guys like Tom and Anand got their hands on the Asus P5A, it was most definitely must-read material.

This was one of the first 100 MHz Super 7 based boards out there, as VIA was having some real issues with their MVP-3 chipset.  Eventually VIA fixed those issues, but not before ALi had a good couple of months’ lead on their primary competitor.  Of great interest for this board was the ability to run at 120 MHz FSB.  Very few boards could handle that speed well, but the 115 MHz setting seemed very stable.  I/O performance was also a step above the VIA chipsets, but VIA was fairly well known for having strange I/O issues at that time (not to mention AGP compatibility issues).  The Asus P5A was a great board for the time, and it did not suffer much from the AGP issues that plagued VIA.  Oddly enough, though ALi had the better overall chipset, they did not sell as well as the VIA products.  Asus still shipped a lot of them, so I guess that made up for the more limited selection.

p5a_03.jpg

That is a single phase power... array?  Look at all that open space throughout the board!

Super 7 was a dying breed by 1999 with the introduction of the K7 Athlon, but the P5A sold very well throughout its entire lifespan.  The board I acquired had the K6-2 500 in the socket, and a BIOS update would provide support for the later K6-3+ and K6-2+ processors.  What perhaps strikes me most is the overall simplicity of the boards as compared to modern products.  The P5A looks like it has a single power phase going to the CPU, does not feature integrated Ethernet or other amenities, and only has two ATA-33 ports.  Interestingly enough, it does feature a ESS based audio codec.  Rare for those days!  Compare that to the monster products like the Crosshair V Formula Z or the G1.Sniper.3, I guess simplicity is overlooked these days?

Source: Asus

AMD Open 3.0 Server Hardware Now Available To Reduce TCO In A Data Center Near Your

Subject: Motherboards | May 15, 2013 - 03:56 AM |
Tagged: server, open source hardware, open source, open compute project, open 3.0, amd

Throughout last year, AMD worked with the Open Compute Foundation to develop open source hardware for servers. The goal of the project was to bring lower-cost, efficient motherboards (compatible with AMD processors) to the server market. Even better, the AMD-compatible hardware is open source which gives companies and OEM/system integrators free reign to modify and build the hardware themselves. The latest iteration of the project is called Open 3.0 and motherboards based on the design(s) are available now from a number of AMD partners.

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An AMD Open 3.0 motherboard.

According to a recent AMD press release, Open 3.0 motherboards will be available from AVnet.inc, Hyve, Penguin Computing, and Zt Systems beginning this week. The new motherboards strip out unnecessary and "over-provisioned" hardware to cut down on upfront hardware costs and electrical usage. Open 3.0 uses a base open source motherboard design that can then be further customized to work with a variety of workloads and in various rack/server configurations. Servers based on OPen 3.0 will range from 1U to 3U in size and can slot into standard 19" racks or Open Rack environments. The boards with their dual Opteron 6300-series processors will reportedly be suitable for High Performance Computing (HPC), Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), Cloud applications, and storage servers. AMD claims that its Open 3.0 motherboards can reduce the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of servers by up to 57% in data centers. AMD claims that a server based on Open 3.0 has a TCO of $4,589 while one based on a traditional OEM motherboard costs up to 57% more at $10,669. The AMD-provided example sound nice. Despite the example likely being the best-case-scenario, the idea behind the Open Compute Project and the AMD-specific Open 3.0 hardware does make sense. Customers should see more competition with motherboards that are cheaper to produce and run thanks to the open source nature. Further details on the status of Open 3.0 and the available hardware is being discussed at an invitation-only industry round-table this week between partners, interested enterprise customers, and a number of companies (including AMD, Broadcom, and Quanta).

For the uninitiated, the Open 3.0 hardware features a motherboard that measures 16" x 16.7" and is intended for 1U, 1.5U, 2U, and 3U servers. Each Open 3.0 board includes two AMD Opteron 6300 series processors, 24 DDR3 DIMM slots (12 per CPU, 4 channels with 3 DIMMs each), six SATA ports, 1 managed dual-channel Gigabit Ethernet NIC, up to four PCI-E slots, and a single Mezzanine connector for custom modules (eg. the Mellanox IO or Broadcom Management card). Board IO will include a single serial port and two USB ports.

I'm glad to see AMD's side of the Open Compute Project come to fruition with the company's Open 3.0 hardware. Anything to reduce power usage and hardware cost is welcome in the data center world, and it will be interesting to see what kind of impact the open source hardware will have, especially when it comes to custom designs from system integrators. Intel is also working towards open source server hardware along with Facebook and the Open Compute Project. It is refreshing to see open source gaining traction in this market segment, to say the least.

You can read more about the hardware availability announcement as well as an overview of the Open 3.0 specification (PDF) on the AMD website

Source: AMD

Hardware Flashback: Asus K7M

Subject: Motherboards | May 8, 2013 - 09:51 PM |
Tagged: asus, K7M, Irongate, AMD-751, VIA 686a, retro, Slot A, K7, athlon

 

It might not be entirely obvious to viewers, but I love old hardware.  I came across a stash of old machines at my workplace that we were going to just throw away.  I was able to grab a couple of pretty interesting products from years past that I wanted to share and chat about.  The first of this series should be very familiar to most of you, especially those around when Ryan started his first website.

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It is fun to reminisce about old hardware.  The K7M is a classic.

The Asus K7M was one of the first Slot A motherboards out.  It was arguably the most fully featured of the group.  Its primary competition was the FIC SD-11 and the Gigabyte GA-7IXE.  If you remember that monster of a board (with one very strange layout) then you  most certainly have fond memories of what Asus was able to bring to the table.

The K7M was based on the AMD “Irongate” northbridge (AMD-751).  This was a pretty fully featured chip at the time.  It supported SDRAM up to 100 MHz and featured AGP 2X.  This chip was rumored to contain IP from VIA, but it had distinctly better performance than the competing AGP 2X chipsets from VIA at the time.  I distinctly remember having fewer AGP issues with these boards than products from VIA.  The K7M eschewed the AMD 756 southbridge and instead used the VIA 686A controller.  This was an updated (and fixed) southbridge from VIA that supported up to ATA-66 speeds and USB 1.1.

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Integrated audio was still uncommon back in the day.  If you thought mobo audio quality is bad now...

The K7M was a decent overclocker for the time, but little was known about the EV-6 bus and how it reacted to overclocking.  Bus speeds up to 107 MHz or so were common, but anything above that got pretty flaky fast.  Later BIOS revisions helped a bit, but the 751 was not going to be pushed much further.  It was not until official 133 MHz support came in did we see some legroom with overclocking.

The K7M was a very solid board for being an introductory product.  One thing that always amused me greatly was that Asus, Gigabyte, and other motherboard manufacturers would refuse to show Slot A boards on the floor of Comdex because they feared that Intel would come down upon them like a ton of bricks.  If a person wanted to see a Slot A board, they would have to go into a back room and view it from there, but only upon request.  It was not until the next year that some manufacturers cautiously showed off their AMD offerings.

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Name that mini-slot above the AGP!

I ran this particular board for a while.  I believe I ran the SD-11 longer.  I was doing reviews all the time, so I was swapping out motherboards pretty frequently.  The Asus had a luxury feel about it as compared to the FIC and Gigabyte offerings.  It even had integrated audio and a game port.  Few other products of the time included such a perk.  AMD was on a roll with the original K7 Athlon, and Asus was one of the first partners to really produce a world class motherboard for the architecture.

Source: Asus

ASRock Announces Its Z87 Motherboard Lineup

Subject: Motherboards | May 7, 2013 - 12:04 AM |
Tagged: Z87 OC Formula, z87, lga 1150, fatal1ty, asrock

The launch of Intel’s next-generation Haswell processors and Z87 chipset is getting closer, and the various motherboard vendors have started teasing their upcoming product lines. Taiwan-based motherboard manufacturer ASRock is the latest company to detail its initial Z87 lineup, and it is fairly extensive.

ASRock will be launching LGA 1150 boards under its Extreme, OC, and Fatal1ty series. The Z87 Extreme series is intended for enthusiasts that need the the most connectivity options possible, including having the highest number of PCI-E slots. The Z87 OC Formula motherboards have beefy VRM hardware and are built to be pushed to the limit by overclockers. Finally, the Fatal1ty-branded motherboards are aimed at PC gamers and support 3 way multi-GPU setups and Creative Sound Core 3D audio chips. Many of the ASRock boards and an alternative SKU with an included 802.11ac Wi-Fi card. These boards are identified by the “/ac” text in their product names.

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The initial ASRock Z87 Extreme series launch will include the following boards:

  • Z87 Extreme 11
  • Z87 Extreme 9
    • Z87 Extreme 9 with 802.11ac WLAN
  • Z87 Extreme 6
    • Z87 Extreme 6 with 802.11ac WLAN
  • Z87 Extreme 4
  • Z87M Extreme 4 (Micro-ATX)

All of these boards will provide plenty of PCI-E slots and rear IO options that include eSATA, USB 3.0, at least one Gigabit LAN port (and dual on some boards), HDMI video outputs, and both digital and analog audio outputs. Note that the top three PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots are rather close together on the Extreme 9 board. This lends credence to the Extreme series use as more of an enthusiast’s work rig with PCI-E SSD accelerator or hardware RAID cards rather than strictly a multi-GPU setup.

The OC series will include the following boards geared for Intel’s Haswell processors:

  • Z87 OC Formula
  • Z87M OC Formula
    • Z87M OC Formula with 802.11ac WLAN

The Z87 OC Formula series will launch with two boards, one that is full ATX and one that is Micro-ATX. These boards are similar in features and design to the Extreme 6 motherboard, but have additional hardware to facilitate overclocking.

Finally, the gamer-centric Fatal1ty series is aimed at high-end gaming PCs. The series will launch with the following boards:

  • Z87 Fatal1ty Professional
  • H87 Fatal1ty Performance

The Fatal1ty Professional uses Intel’s Z87 chipset and is aimed at high-end gaming PCs while the H78 Fatal1ty Performance uses the lower-cost H87 chipset and is aimed at midrange gaming systems. Multi-GPU and higher-end onboard sound are the main features of this ASRock series.

Pricing and availability are still unknown, but the company has quite the lineup planned, and the boards should cover a wide breadth of price points. It is nice to see the Micro ATX options as well as the standard ATX models. Now, we just need some Mini-ITX Z87 boards! Additional photos of the Z87 motherboards are available over at Tech Power Up.

Source: TechPowerUp

Gigabyte Teases Its New UEFI BIOS For Z87 Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards | May 6, 2013 - 05:32 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, z87, uefi, bios

Over the weekend, Gigabyte posted a new photo to its Facebook page that teased the interface of the company’s upcoming UEFI BIOS. The new UEFI DualBIOS interface features an orange and black theme with a black background, orange accents, and white text. From the preview photos of Gigabyte’s Z87 motherboards, the BIOS colors will match up nicely with the actual black and orange colored hardware.

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The middle pane occupies the most space and brings all of your standard BIOS setup and overclocking settings front and center. Gigabyte has laid out the various settings into tabbed categories. Users can further customize a shortcut menu on the right-most tab. This settings pane is surrounded on all sides by various bars and columns with status information.

The top bar includes graphs on the system’s voltages, fan speeds, and temperatures. The bottom bar displays system information such as the total amount of RAM installed, CPU and BIOS identification, and other information. On the left of the main settings panel is a column with readouts on the installed processor. The information it provides at a glance includes CPU voltage, frequency, temperature, and core ratio. It also lists the CPU fan speeds. Meanwhile, the column on the right-hand side of the display hosts temperature and fan speed information for the PCH, system/case sensor, and up to five case fans.

While some enthusiasts might balk at the orange, black, and white color scheme, in all it looks like a nice improvement. Most of the information is available at a glance, and the customizable shortcut menu is a useful feature.

You can find the original photo as well as several other preview photos on Gigabyte’s Facebook page.

What do you think about the new UEFI BIOS UI?

Source: Gigabyte

MSI's FM2-A85XA-G65, an inexpensive start to a great HTPC

Subject: Motherboards | April 26, 2013 - 03:32 PM |
Tagged: msi, FM2-A85XA-G65, socket fm2, amd

Compared to most current Intel boards, MSI's FM2-A85XA-G65 is very clean looking, especially around the CPU socket.  This particular board benefits from LucidLogix's Virtu MVP in addition to hybrid Crossfire present on FM2 boards and will handle proper Crossfire as it does have a pair of PCIe 16x slots.  You could build an agile HTPC with this motherboard, with 8 channel sound available and D-Sub, DVI-D, HDMI and DisplayPort output all present.  The board is currently available for $110, a full review can be found over at X-bit Labs.

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"MSI mainboards look great, have very convenient layout and use only high-quality components. These boards are energy-efficient, fast and work well with default settings. However, there are quite a few things in their BIOS that could use some extra work and the boards do not keep the power-saving technologies up and running during overclocking. Everything we have just said is true for the main hero of our today’s review."

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Source: X-bit Labs

Gigabyte's basic black Z77X-UD4H

Subject: Motherboards | April 10, 2013 - 06:42 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, Z77X-UD4H, Intel Z77, lga1155

Like many Z77 boards, the Gigabyte Z77X-UD4H has a rather crowded socket area, if you are not going with a watercooling solution consider purchasing low profile DIMMs.  One thing it has that most other boards do not have is an auxiliary power plug next to the SATA ports which takes a SATA power plug, not a molex connector.  It also sports a significant number of slots, three PCIe 3.0 16x slots, three PCIe 1x slots and even a PCI slot.  [H]ard|OCP had an interesting time overclocking this board, you should familiarize yourself with their experiences if you plan on picking this board up and overclocking your CPU.

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"It’s been awhile since we’ve looked at a motherboard from Gigabyte. We haven’t forgotten Gigabyte and decided to take the Z77X-UD4H for a little test drive. The Z77X-UD4H is a sub-$170 motherboard with a great look and a solid feature list for the price point that has the computer hardware enthusiast in mind."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP