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Subject: Motherboards | May 18, 2013 - 03:19 PM | Morry Teitelman
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
ECS motherboard lines
Courtesy of ECS
Subject: Motherboards | May 15, 2013 - 09:37 PM | Josh Walrath
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.
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.
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.
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?
Subject: Motherboards | May 15, 2013 - 03:56 AM | Tim Verry
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.
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.
Subject: Motherboards | May 8, 2013 - 09:51 PM | Josh Walrath
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.
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.
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.
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.
Subject: Motherboards | May 7, 2013 - 12:04 AM | Tim Verry
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.
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.
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.
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?
Subject: Motherboards | April 26, 2013 - 03:32 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- ASRock FM2A85X Extreme6 Socket FM2 @ X-bit Labs
- Asus F2A85-V PRO @ X-bit Labs
- BIOS Option Of The Week - OS Select For DRAM > 64MB @ TechARP
- MSI Z77A-GD65 GAMING Intel LGA 1155 @ techPowerUp
- Asus P8Z77-V LK @ eTeknix
- MSI Z77A-GD65 @ eTeknix
- Asus P8Z77-V @ eTeknix
- MSI Z77A-GD65 @ Kitguru
- Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD5H-WB Intel Z77 Motherboard Review @ PCSTAT
- ASRock Fatal1ty X79 Champion @ eTeknix
Subject: Motherboards | April 10, 2013 - 06:42 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
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.
"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."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming @ Hardware.info
- MSI Z77A-G45 Gaming Motherboard Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD4H Intel Z77 Motherboard Review @ PCSTATS
- GIGABYTE Z77X-UP4 TH @ Tweaktown
- ASUS P8Z77-V PREMIUM @ Tweaktown
- ASUS P8Z77-V Pro/Thunderbolt @ Tweaktown
- MSI Z77 MPower @ eTeknix
- ASRock Fatal1ty X79 Champion @ Tweaktown
- GIGABYTE Z77-HD4 @ Tweaktown
- ASUS P9X79 PRO Motherboard Review @ Techgage
- BIOS Option Of The Week - R/W Queue Bypass @ TechARP
Subject: Motherboards | April 2, 2013 - 11:27 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: asus, p9x79-e, workstation, Sandy Bridge E, quad sli, quad crossfire, lga 2011
Earlier this year at CES, ASUS showed off a high-end workstation board called the P9X79-E WS. The board is meant for Sandy Bridge-E processors, but will likely be compatible with Ivy Bridge-E as well. Unlike Wolverine and Zeus, the P9X79-E WS is a motherboard that will actually see the light of day and has been officially launched. It will be available sometime in May at an as-yet-unannounced price.
The P9X79-E hosts a single LGA 2011 processor, up to 64GB of 2400MHz DDR3, the Intel X79 PCH, and support for 4-Way SLI or CrossFire on four of its seven total PCI-E 3.0 slots. The workstation board uses a 10-layer PCB, ASUS DIGI+ with 10+2 power phases, DR Power PSU monitoring, ASUS SSD Caching II, solid capacitors, and fanless heatsinks connected via copper heatpipes.
Storage options include six SATA 6Gbps ports, four SATA II 3Gbps ports, and two eSATA ports coming from the front panel header. The rear IO has changed a bit since the board seen at CES, however. The now-official ASUS P9X79-E WS includes the following rear IO options:
- 1 x PS/2 combo port
- 10 x USB 2.0 ports (one can be used for BIOS flashing)
- 2 x USB 3.0 ports
- 2 x eSATA ports
- 2 x Gigabit Ethernet ports backed by Intel i210 GbE controller
- 6 x Analog audio ports
- 1 x Optical S/PDIF port
The board can accommodate up to four dual slot graphics cards or seven single slot expansion cards (like PCI-E SSDs and RAID controllers). As a workstation board, it is likely to be pricey, but for those that need 4-way SLI and LGA 2011 (possibly for Ivy Bridge-E though its hard to say for sure if that will work yet) it is shaping up to be a good option. As mentioned above, the P9X79-E WS will reportedly be available for purchase in about a month. Sometime in early May or late April, according to Slash Gear.
Subject: Motherboards | March 19, 2013 - 01:36 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: asrock, Z77 OC Formula, Intel Z77X
If you are shopping for a Z77 motherboard you have a lot of choice in make and model as well as price, they range from sub-$100 models to high end boards like the $225 ASRock Z77 OC Formula. For that extra price you get a motherboard built with 12+4 phase power, premium alloy chokes, dual-stack MOSFETs and 8 layers of copper. It is not just high end components, you also get a pair of PCIe 16x slots, a single PCIe 4x slot and a pair of 1x slots for add-in cards as well as four SATA 6Gbps ports and two SATA 3G ports, 10 USB 2.0 ports and 8 USB 3.0 ports along with onboard audio from Realtec's ALC898. [H]ard|OCP did some testing to see if this board lives up to the OC in its name, which it did rather handily.
"Generally speaking our ASRock experiences have been positive save for one or two minor complaints. We’ve looked inexpensive but very popular ASRock model motherboards. Today we are taking a look at a higher end more expensive ASRock offering. The Z77 OC Formula caught our eye and will hopefully perform as good as it looks."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- ASRock Z77 Pro4-M @ [H]ard|OCP
- Gigabyte Z77X-UD4H @ Funky Kit
- Gigabyte GA-H77N-WiFi Motherboard Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- ASUS P8Z77-V LK Motherboard @ Hardware Secrets
- GIGABYTE Z77N-WiFi @ Tweaktown
- MSI's Z77IA-E53 Mini-ITX @ The Tech Report
- BIOS Option Of The Week - SDRAM Tras Timing Value @ TechARP
- Biostar Hi-Fi A85W @ Kitguru
- ECS A85F2-A GOLDEN @ Tweaktown
- ECS A970M-A Deluxe Motherboard Review @ OCC
Subject: Motherboards | March 19, 2013 - 12:55 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Intel, qualcomm
The slowdown of PC sales has finally even impacted Intel's supply chain as they reduce the number of chips stocked in inventory. Even after these years of domination over AMD on the desktop Intel has not been reducing their supplies of chips as they were still selling them at a brisk pace. It is obvious that has changed over the past year as the lowering sales of PCs and laptops finally lead to Intel reducing the number of chips they have on hand. They were not the only ones to make this move, with AMD and others also reducing their stocks somewhat. One area The Register did not report on is GPUs, with the short lifespan of a GPU the stocks of new silicon are also goign to be quite reduced and you should see more discounts on lower end GPUs as resellers try to offload them. As we have seen before people are still buying electronics, just smaller, more portable devices; Qualcomm's available stock has had to increase by 24% over the same time period.
"Bean counter iSuppli reckons the major manufacturers acted swiftly to prevent expensive backlogs of baked silicon forming: the average number of days between producing inventory and selling it declined five per cent. The value of the inventory piles also fell five per cent, or $600m, from Q3 to Q4 of 2012, we're told."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- How Fusion-io redlined its PCIe flash motor to hit 9.6 MEEELION IOPS @ The Register
- EA Origin vuln puts players at risk @ The Register
- Oracle Virtual Box Virtual Machine Tips @ PCSTATS
- Win an Asus GeForce GTX 650 Ti TOP Graphics Card @ eTeknix
Subject: Motherboards | March 8, 2013 - 06:30 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: roundup, motherboards, mini-itx, celeron 847, APU, amd e-450
While high end motherboards and processors tend to get the most attention from enthusiasts, sometimes less is better (*waits for Josh to stop laughing on the podcast). More often than not seen integrated in small form factor OEM boxes, there are a few motherboards out there that come as a bare board and integrated processor to be the basis of low power desktops, network devices, and home theater PCs. Both Intel and AMD have hats in the low power game, and Hartware.de has pitched four such low power boards against each other. The MSI C847MS-E33-847 and Biostar NM70I pack Intel Celeron 847 CPUs, The Zotac D2550-ITX WIFI hosts an Intel Atom D2550 processor plus a NVIDIA GT 610 IGP, and the ASUS E45MI-M Pro is powered by an AMD E-450 APU.
Hartware.de puts several low power boards into the thunderdome to see which one(s) reign supreme.
As it turns out, the results are nearly in line with what one might expect. The Atom D2550-powered system was the slowest, the APU and ASUS motherboard was the fastest, and the Celeron was somewhere in the middle. The AMD E-450 APU used the most power, and the system was one of the most expensive, however. Interestingly, the Atom system was not all that much more power efficient than the Celeron despite the lower performance and weaker hardware. The Celeron 847 chip had decent CPU performance, and mid-range power and some of the best thermals. All of the configurations were able to playback media, but the AMD system gave the most fluid results.
If you are in the market for low power system parts, the review is worth checking out.
Here are some additional Motherboard reviews from around the web:
- GIGABYTE Z77N-WiFi Mini-ITX @ TweakTown
- ASRock Z77 Pro4-M LGA 1155 @ HardOCP
- Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4 FM2 @ PC Perspective
- ASRock's Z77E-ITX Mini ITX @ The Tech Repot
- ASUS Sabertooth 990FX R2.0 @ OCaholic
I'm pleasantly surprised at all the Mini-ITX motherboards being made lately.
Subject: General Tech, Networking, Motherboards | March 5, 2013 - 03:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: qualcomm, msi, killer nic, Intel Z77
MSI says “JUST GAME!”... but... I must write up their announcement first...
The computer components company would like us to “JUST GAME!” on their gaming motherboards, of course. This press release is for the MSI Killer Z77 gaming motherboard. The board supports the DDR3-3000, Creative Sound Blaster Cinema with Crystalizer, OC Genie II, and Military Class III initiatives.
But to call yourself Killer, you got some big shoes to fill.
Yes MSI, we get it. Challenge accepted.
What makes it a “Killer” announcement is the addition of a Killer E2200 LAN chip from Qualcomm's Bigfoot Networks. We have a fair amount of experience with the gamer networking hardware company; Ryan wrote a review all the way back in 2006. Since then, the company found themselves scooped up by Qualcomm where they found their technology integrated into motherboards from various manufacturers. They have also dabbled into wireless technology.
MSI proclaims with the E2200 LAN chip, their motherboard will have to use less space to house the chip when compared to the earlier Killer E2100. Also, for users running Windows 8, the E2200 was designed to support that operating system. Linux gamers? You too, but not until the second half of 2013.
If you want to see what the PR people have to say, check out Qualcomm's blog post.
Subject: Motherboards | February 22, 2013 - 03:33 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: thin mini-itx, mini ITX, gigabyte, AIO
Gigabyte recently launched two new motherboards that conform to the Thin Mini-ITX specification. This new spec is essentially Mini-ITX but keeps heatsinks and rear IO height to a minimum--allowing for thinner All-In-One PCs and HTPC chassis. The two new boards are the GA-H77TN and GA-B75TN, and they support Intel Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge processors, SODIMMs, and mSATA SSDs. Considering the boards measure a mere 17cm x 17cm and are 2.5cm high, it is a lot of power in a small package (I can hear Josh laughing on the podcast next week already).
The GA-H77TN (rev. 1.1) motherboard is based on the Intel H77 chipset while the GA-B75TN (rev. 1.1) is based on the Intel B75 chipset. They boards are fairly similar, but the cheaper B75 chipset does not support as many SATA 6Gbps ports. Both boards use laptop-style DDR3 SODIMM memory at up to 8GB of dual channel DDR3 1600 and either an Intel Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge processor. Also, both thin mini ITX motherboards include a PCI-E 3.0 x4 expansion slot (up to 25W), mini PCI-E slot, and mSATA expansion slot.
The motherboards also include support for Intel’s onboard CPU graphics (ie. HD 4000) and Realtek ALC887 audio codecs. The video oputs include HDMI 1.3, DisplayPort, and LVDS, with DisplayPort providing support for up to 2560x1600 resolutions. The onboard audio chip can support 7.1 channel audio, but only when using the front panel audio.
Rear IO on both the GA-H77TN and GA-B75TN includes;
- 1 x DC-input
- 1 x Gigabit Ethernet jack
3 x Video outputs
- 1 x HDMI 1.3 @ 1920x1200
- 1 x DisplayPort @ 2560x1600
- 1 x LVDS
- 4 x USB 3.0 ports
- 2 x audio jacks (line in/out)
The Gigabyte GA-H77TN has two SATA 6Gbps ports, two SATA 3Gbps ports, and one mSATA port. On the other hand, the GA-B75TN supports a single SATA 6Gbps port, three SATA 3Gbps ports, and one mSATA port.
The two thin mini-ITX motherboards should be available for purchase soon, but there is no word on a specific release date. While currently listed as out of stock on Newegg, the site does provide a hint at pricing. The GA-H77TN has a price of $125 while the GA-B75TN is retailing for approximately $110. Thin Mini-ITX cases are somewhat rare, but the form factor can certain enable some neat designs and the more motherboards avaialble, the more likely it is that new thin chassis will be developed.
The full press release is below:
Subject: Motherboards | February 18, 2013 - 04:30 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Samsung, ATIV Smart PC 500T, Surface Pro, tablet
Samsung has produced a Surface Pro tablet they call the ATIV Smart PC 500T, which comes paired with a keyboard/docking station. Powered by an 1.5GHz Atom Z2760 and 2GB of DDR2-800 with a 64GB e.MMC iNAND SSD for storage the device the performance will beat a WinRT tablet but it is not going to compete with a laptop. Strangely one of the most advertised features, the S Pen, was not present in the Canadian package so it is not included in this review. Silent PC Review noticed that Samsung are working on the 500T's page, though they do not know if it was to correct the erroneous text stating the S Pen comes with the basic model or simpy to give time to have S Pens shipped and attached. The 11.6" 1366 x 768 screen was washed out in comparison to the Microsoft Surface Pro and it did not seem as sturdy as the Microsoft product either. Check out the full review to get a better idea how this tablet performs.
"Windows 8 is making possible a new class of mobile convertibles that flip between tablet and notebook. The Samsung ATIC Smart PC 500T is one example, based around a new Atom core and built around a big (for tablets) 11.6" screen, but there's an Ivy Bridge upgrade available in the 700T. Meanwhile, Microsoft's Surface Pro shows us a different vision of the convertible."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- HP Pavilion Sleekbook 15z-b000 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Vizio Thin+Light CT15: Something New and Edgy @ AnandTech
- Origin EON11-S Gaming Notebook @ Tweaktown
- Microsoft Surface Windows 8 Pro Review @ TechReviewSource
- NZXT Cryo X60 Laptop Cooler @ Rbmods
- Sony Xperia Tablet S @ Tweaktown
- Otterbox Defender for Nokia Lumia 920 @ Kitguru
- Analogix SlimPort adapter with the Nexus 4 @ LanOC Review @ LanOC
- verclockersUK Ultima 10.1" IPS Android 4.1 Tablet @ eTeknix
- Google Nexus 7 Tablet 16GB @ Funky Kit
- Nokia Lumia 620 @ The Inquirer
- Google Nexus 4 Smartphone Review 2.0 - Two Months with Google's Superstar Smartphone @ Tweaktown
Subject: Motherboards | February 18, 2013 - 02:45 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Z77, asrock, Z77 Extreme4
ASRock has been steadily gaining popularity with system builders that want a balance between price, features and performance without sacrificing support or stability. At $120, the ASRock Z77 Extreme4 seems to fit the first criteria, the pair of PCIe 3.0 16x slots capable of handling two cards at 8x speeds, four SATA 6Gbps ports and a half dozen USB 3.0 ports meet the second. [H]ard|OCP tested the performance and stability of the board recently, getting an stable 4.8GHz overclock on their i7 3770K, demonstrating that even a value board can compete with expensive models. The sacrifice made was in the thickness of the PCB, it is much thinner than most motherboards and while [H] did not break the PCB they had a few stressful moments; drop by to read about them.
"While ASRock is a well known new comer in the motherboard market, we’ve not exactly been fans of ASRock products based on past experiences. ASRock’s popularity grows and as a result we are taking another look at a motherboard from in the hope of understanding this popularity. Is it just price, or is there more to ASRock’s offerings?"
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- Zotac's Z77-ITX WiFi Mini-ITX @ The Tech Report
- ASRock's Z77E-ITX Mini-ITX @ The Tech Report
- GIGABYTE Z77X-UP7 Intel Z77 Motherboard Review @ Legit Reviews
- Gigabyte Z77X UD4H Motherboard Review @ Ninjalane
- ASRock Z77 Extreme11 @ Tweaktown
- ASRock Fatal1ty X79 Champion and X79 Professional Review: From a Gamer to Gamers @ AnandTech
- ASUS ROG Maximus V Extreme Intel LGA1155 @ techPowerUp
- ECS A85F2-A Golden Review @ OCC
- ASRock 990FX Extreme9 Motherboard @ Hardware Secrets
- AMD Trinity A10-5800K & GIGABYTE F2A85X-UP4 @ Overclockers.com
- ASRock 990FX Extreme9 @ Kitguru
Subject: Motherboards | February 5, 2013 - 06:00 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: asus, Intel Z77, P8Z77-I Deluxe, mini-itx, lucid
The most instantly noticeable thing about the ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe has to be the riser card sporting an array of capacitors and providing 8+2 power phase VRMs. What isn't as noticeable until you use the motherboard is the Intel SRT support, Lucid Virtu and the overclocking options available in the UEFI BIOS. Being a Mini-ITX board, the singly PCI Express x16 slot and dual memory slots are to be expected but the spacing is such that you should have no problems with full sized DIMMs or oversized GPUs, depending on the cooler and case you choose. The included dual Wi-Fi antennas are a nice bonus from ASUS as well. Drop by The Tech Report to see this board in action.
"The P8Z77-I Deluxe packs a lot of goodness into a tiny package. We take a closer look at the board's features, performance, and overclocking potential."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- ECS NM70-I2 (V1.0) Mini-ITX Motherboard Review @ Madshrimps
- GIGABYTE Z77X-UD4H LGA1155 Motherboard Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Gigabyte Force M7 Thor @ LanOC Reviews
- ASRock Z77 OC Formula Motherboard Review @ Madshrimps
- ECS Z77H2-A2X (v1.0) Review: "Golden" LGA 1155 Mainboard from the "Black" Series @ X-bit Labs
- MSI Z77 MPOWER Review: OC Certified LGA 1155 Mainboard from the Big Bang Series @ X-bit Labs
- Gigabyte Z77X-UP7 @ eTeknix
- ASRock Z77 Extreme3 @ X-bit Labs
- MSI Z77 MPower Review: The XPower’s Little Brother @ AnandTech
- BIOS Option Of The Week - DRAM Act to PreChrg CMD @ TechARP
- ASRock FM2A85X Extreme6 for AMD Socket FM2 APUs @ techPowerUp
- Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4 @ X-bit Labs
- BIOSTAR Hi-Fi A85W Motherboard Review @ Legit Reviews
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Motherboards | February 4, 2013 - 06:36 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: msi, 3dmark
Do you have a beastly system with MSI parts, intense overclocking knowledge, and a desire for even more high-end parts? In honor of the new 3DMark's release, the motherboard and graphics card manufacturer is letting users of their parts enter in a contest for the highest 3DMark scores.
In a partnership with the benchmarking leaderboard site, HWBot, MSI wants to see top scores for the Fire Strike test on the newly released 3DMark. The contest will run until March 3rd for entries looking to post top ranks. Beyond that, anyone with an MSI Z77 motherboard who enters before February 10th will be entered in a “Lucky Draw” for the MSI Z77A-GD55 Motherboard.
Winners of the leader contest will receive the MSI R7970 Lightning Boost Edition card for first place and an MSI Z77A-GD80 for second place. Note that we are not affiliated with this contest, we just think that our readers might like to know.
Subject: Motherboards | February 3, 2013 - 05:09 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: trinity, mini-itx, htpc, asrock, APU, amd, A85X
Taiwanese motherboard manufacturer ASRock has shown off a new mini-ITX motherboard aimed at home theater PC (HTPC) users called the FM2A85X-ITX. The new motherboard uses AMD’s A85X chipset and supports the company’s latest Trinity accelerated processing units (APUs).
The FM2A85X-ITX motherboard features an AMD FM2 socket surrounded by two DDR3 DIMM slots (max of 32GB 1866MHz RAM), a PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot, and seven SATA 6Gbps ports. A six phase VRM, two USB 3.0 headers, 8 channel audio chip, and RAID 0/1/10 support round out the package.
External IO on the mini-ITX motherboard includes:
- 1 x PS/2
- 4 x USB 2.0
- 2 x USB 3.0
- 1 x eSATA 6Gbps
- 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
- 1 x Optical S/PDIF
- 5 x Analog audio jacks
- 1 x DVI
- 1 x HDMI
- 1 x VGA
According to Tech Power Up, the new motherboard will cost around $110 USD. Thanks to the form factor, APU support, and multitude of storage connectivity options, the board would make for an excellent addition to a HTPC build!
Read about other mini-ITX motherboard options at PC Perspective!
Subject: Motherboards | January 24, 2013 - 04:26 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: asus, maximus v formula, ThunderFX
While we have seen ASUS' Maximus V Formula before and it still sports three PCIe 3.0 16x ports, up to 32GB of DDR3, six SATA 6G ports, 8 USB 2.0 ports, six USB 3.0 ports, wireless 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth and mSATA with the mPCIe combo card. The new part to this version of the motherboard is the ThunderFX external USB audio DAC, which uses the C-Media 6631 audio processor and [H]ard|OCP found it superior to the onboard SupremeFX solution in every way. Read on to see why.
"Not one to rest on their laurels, ASUS adds another Z77 Express chipset based board to its Republic of Gamers lineup. This time in Formula trim. The Maximus V Formula / ThunderFX gives us most of what the Extreme version gave us and a couple of things it didn’t. What’s so special about the Maximus V Formula ThunderFX? Let's find out."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- MSI BIG BANG Z77 MPOWER Socket 1155 Mainboard Review @ Madshrimps
- ASRock Z77 OC Formula Review: Living In The Fast Lane @ AnandTech
- Intel 847 with NM70 ECS NM70-I2 @ Guru of 3D
- Gigabyte Z77N-WiFi mITX Intel LGA 1155 @ techPowerUp
- BIOS Option Of The Week - SDRAM Row Active Time @ TechARP
- ECS A85F2-A Golden Review: All That Glitters @ AnandTech
- ASRock FM2A85X Extreme6 @ Tweaktown