Just Arrived: MSI 990FXA-Gaming Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | May 21, 2015 - 11:34 PM |
Tagged: msi, amd, 990fx, FX-8370, FX-9590, sli, crossfire, SoundBlaster, killer nic, usb 3.1

Several weeks ago MSI officially announced the 990FXA-Gaming motherboard for the AM3+ market.  The board is based on the tried and true 990FX and SB950 combo, but it adds a new wrinkle to the game: USB 3.1 support.  MSI has released the other AMD based USB 3.1 board on the market, the 970 Krait.

msi_990fxa_g_01.jpg

Quite a few people were excited about this part, as the AM3+ market has been pretty stagnant as of late.  This is not necessarily surprising considering that AMD has not launched a new AM3+ chip since Fall of 2014 with a couple of "efficiency" chips as well as the slightly faster FX-8370.

msi_990fxa_g_02.jpg

There was some speculation based on early photographs that the board could have a more robust power delivery system than previous AM3+ boards, but alas, that is not the case.  Upon closer inspection it appears as though MSI has gone the 6+2 phase route.  If there are good quality components in there, you can potentially run the 220 watt TDP FX-9000 series parts, but these puppies are not officially supported.  In fact, I received an email saying that I might want to be really careful in my choice of CPUs as well as being extremely careful when overclocking.

The board still has some real potential at being a really nice home for the 125 watt TDP and below parts.  The audio portion looks very well designed and features the SoundBlaster Cinema 2.  It supports both SLI and CrossFire in native 2 x 16x (highly doubtful with 3 cards with the way the slots are configured).  It has the Killer NIC ethernet suite which may or may not be a selling point, depending on who you ask.

msi_990fxa_g_03.jpg

Overall the board is an interesting addition to the club, but I really wouldn't trust it with the FX-9000 series chips.  I have a 970 Gaming that came with the FX-9590 that had a similar power delivery system, and it ran like a champ; there is a possibility that the board will run this combination.  This is going to be installed this weekend and I will start the benchmarking!  Keep tuned!

Source: MSI

First Glimpse of the MSI 990FXA-Gaming Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | May 6, 2015 - 10:21 AM |
Tagged: usb 3.1, sli, piledriver, msi, gaming, crossfire, amd, am3+, 990FXA-Gaming, 990fx

Some months ago MSI announced that they are releasing a slew of USB 3.1 compliant parts.  What was surprising was the mention of a brand new AM3+ board based on the now nearly geriatric AMD 990FX chipset.  The 990FX has had quite a lifespan with PCI-E 2.0 support and the accompanying SB950 southbridge with USB 2.0 and SATA6G features.

msi_990fxag.jpg

It looks as if MSI is doing a clean sheet design for the 990FXA-Gaming.  This looks to be a class leading product with plenty of features.  Not only does it have the USB 3.1 support, but it also implements the enhanced audio design that we have seen on other top end boards from MSI.  It also embraces the Killer ethernet software suite (utilizing Qualcomm's Atheros Gig-E chip).

The power delivery system looks to be a full 8+2 unit, so it can officially handle the 220 watt TDP FX-9000 series of CPUs.  It supports both SLI and CrossFire.  The cooling on the board looks to be top notch as well, with a heatpipe stretching from the Southbridge, through the Northbridge, and finally to the VRMs.

We expect these boards to be available sometime around the middle of this month.  We should also be receiving a sample for testing around then.  It is nice to see new support for AMD's FX CPUs, and this should be a cost effective member of the club.  Though AM3+ is a dead end in terms of socket infrastructure, there is still a lot of value in AMD's FX CPU line.

There is no word on pricing at this time, but I would not be surprised to see it hit the $149 mark.  It does not seem as decked out as the 990FXA-GD80 which is priced around $179.  With the robust featureset that they do implement, it does look to be a value if it can hit that aggressive price point.

Source: MSI

The Asus Z97-P; yours for just over $110

Subject: Motherboards | May 5, 2015 - 03:53 PM |
Tagged: asus, Z97-P

If you are looking for a low priced Z97 system you could do worse than base it off of the ASUS Z97-P.  It is a trimmed down ATX board, only 21.3cm wide which unfortunately leads to a relatively crowded CPU socket and you would be wise to double check the size of the cooler you intend to use.  You will also be limited to a single GPU as only one of the PCIe slots is 16x Gen3, the other 16x slot is in fact a 2x though that does leave enough lanes for the board to sport an M.2 slot.  There are sacrifices made on the board but the general high quality of ASUS firmware ensures you get stable performance and, in The Tech Reports' opinion, justifies the slightly higher cost when compared to some of the other budget Z97 boards on the market.

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"Asus' entry-level Z97 board is the Z97-P. Does the P in the model name signify that all it can hope for is a passing grade compared to its straight-As brother, the Z97-A? Read on to find out."

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MSI Launches 8 New FM2+ Motherboards Supporting AMD Godavari CPUs

Subject: Motherboards | May 4, 2015 - 02:49 PM |
Tagged: processor, msi, motherboard, Godavari, FM2+, cpu, APU, amd

MSI has revealed a new FM2+ motherboard lineup with support for upcoming AMD Godavari processors, further indicating the launch of these new CPUs will be very soon though no official announcement has yet been made by AMD.

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As reported back in January when the lineup allegedly leaked the new Godavari SKUs feature higher clocks on both processor and, more significantly, in GPU cores in upcoming APUs like the rumored 8850K. MSI states that "these new models are available in ATX, micro-ATX, and mini-ATX form factors and are backwards compatible with FM2 processors (Kaveri, Richland, Trinity, 6000 and 5000 series)", so it makes sense to consider these new models for future compatibility if shopping for an FM2 motherboard today. It remains to be seen if vendors will offer support for Godavari through BIOS updates, though it does at least seem likely.

For those interested here is the list of new MSI AMD FM2+/FM2 motherboard models:

  • A68HM-E33 V2
  • A88XM-E45 V2
  • A78M-E35 V2
  • A88XM-P33 V2
  • A78M-E45 V2
  • A88X-G41 PC Mate V2
  • A88XM-E35 V2
  • A88XI AC V2

The familiar Military Class 4 and OC Genie 4 branding is visible across the lineup, and the new models also feature "a rich blend of features and technologies, such as onboard LAN, PCI Express 3.0 x16, SATA 6Gb/s, USB 3.0 and multiple display support".

Source: MSI

ASRock EPC612D4I Motherboard: Mini-ITX LGA 2011-3 with Quad-Channel DDR4

Subject: Motherboards | May 1, 2015 - 09:25 AM |
Tagged: sodimm, quad-channel, mini-itx, EPC612D4I, ddr4, ASRock Rack, asrock

They finally did it! A new mini-ITX LGA 2011-3 has been announced by ASRock, the EPC612D4I, and this server-grade product will offer full quad-channel memory support with a switch to SoDIMM RAM.

EPC612D4I-R1.00_45.jpg

Image credit: Tom’s IT Pro

While ASRock had previously released a mini-ITX X99 motherboard (the X99E-ITX/ac) there were concessions made based on the limitations of the form-factor, and the motherboard was limited to dual-channel memory with only two DDR4 DIMM slots. So for a full quad-channel experience it became obvious that a switch to SoDIMM’s would be required. So are there any DDR4 SoDIMMs available? They certainly aren’t cheap, but a quick search for the model number of this new board finds a page from Crucial for compatible DDR4 modules – at a cost of $555.99 for a massive 32GB (4x8GB) of 1.2V DDR4-2133 ECC memory.

Specs for the EPC612D4I from ASRock:

  • LGA 2011 R3 Intel Xeon processor E5-1600/2600 v3 series
  • 4x SO-DIMM slots, supports quad-channel DDR4 2133/1866 ECC
  • 4x SATA 6Gb/s by C612
  • 1x PCIe 3.0 x16                      
  • Integrated IPMI 2.0 with KVM and Dedicated LAN (RTL8211E)
  • Intel Dual GLAN (Intel i210 + Intel i217)

The new board was first reported by Tom's IT Pro and their article lists the retail price for the ASRock EPC612D4I at $265, which isn’t bad for a product like this. While definitely targeting the server market this could potentially be implemented for a very compact workstation setup (and allow creation of a PC to rival the diminutive Mac Pro, perhaps).

Source: ASRock

GIGABYTE Enables 5th Gen Intel Core CPU Support for 9 Series Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards | April 30, 2015 - 10:32 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, Intel, Broadwell, h97, z97, bios, cpu, processor

GIGABYTE has announced support for the upcoming LGA 1150 variants of Intel's 5th-generation Core (Broadwell) processors for all existing 9-series motherboards via BIOS update.

GIGABYTE.jpg

The full press release appears below:


City of Industry, California, April 30th, 2015 – GIGABYTE TECHNOLOGY Co. Ltd., a leading manufacturer of motherboards and graphics cards is proud to announce their entire line-up of Z97 and H97 motherboards now support the soon-to-launch 5th Generation Intel® Core™ processors.

GIGABYTE engineers have tested and validated all GIGABYTE 9 series motherboards including Z97 and H97 chipset-based motherboards to ensure optimal performance for 5th Generation Intel® Core™ processors. Users wanting to take advantage of all the features of 5th Gen Intel® Core™ processors have to offer at launch, simply need to download the latest UEFI BIOS from the GIGABYTE website.

To get the latest UEFI BIOS for your motherboard, please visit the GIGABYTE website: http://www.gigabyte.us

Source: GIGABYTE

The David of Z97 motherboards, Gigabyte's GA-Z97MX-Gaming 5

Subject: Motherboards | April 15, 2015 - 03:05 PM |
Tagged: z97, SFF, gigabyte, GA-Z97MX-Gaming 5

You could argue that the Z97 chipset is not the freshest but for serious gamers that are on a budget and for whom space is at a premium the $130 Gigabyte GA-Z97MX-GAMING 5 is a smart choice.  Four memory slots which support up to DDR3-3100, four PCI-e slots, an M.2 PCIe slot and even a SATA Express port mean you can support newer technology without breaking the bank, especially if you plan incremental upgrades.  It also has onboard Realtek ALC1150 7.1 surround sound with support for the Creative X-Fi MB3 and a swapable TI Burr Brown OPA2134 OP-AMP along with S/PDIF out also make this a good board for a fledgling sound artist.  Check out the full review at Modders Inc; you don't have to be big nor expensive to provide a long list of features.

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"Long are the days of the SUPER TOWER chassis being the king of the gamers den, in the past few years the SFF (Small Form Factor) has taken over the market. This is not only due to the compact size of mATX and ITX but that both form factors are continuing to squeeze performance into every bit of their tiny …"

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Source: Modders Inc

Gigabyte's Z97X Gaming 7, a decent motherboard all around

Subject: Motherboards | March 30, 2015 - 03:57 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, Z97X Gaming 7, z97, Intel

The Gigabyte Z97X Gaming 7 motherboard offers a nice balance between price and performance, at $172 it is a bit pricey but when on sale for around the $150 mark it is a great deal.  The onboard audio provided by Realtek's ALC1150 produced very good sound and while the Qualcomm Killer NIC E2201 doesn't offer benefits over a more generic NIC there are those who prefer the software which comes with it.  The board overclocked very well for [H] manually, providing noticeable boosts with solid performance, however the EasyTune software provided them with some issues.  Check out the full review right here.

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"GIGABYTE's Z97X Gaming 7 promises solid overclocking and performance. The feature list for the Z97X Gaming 7 is long and includes gamer focused features like a dedicated audio amplifier, Sound Blaster X-Fi MB3 support and more. We've had mixed results with the GIGABYTE lately, so the real question is; does it work?"

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

MSI Unveils First AMD AM3+ Motherboard With USB 3.1

Subject: Motherboards | March 25, 2015 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: usb 3.1, usb, msi, amd, am3+, 10Gbps

Last week, MSI launched a slew of new USB 3.1 equipped motherboards. Today, the company is releasing more details on one of the AMD-based products: the MSI 970A SLI Krait Edition. This upcoming motherboard is geared towards gamers using AMD FX (AM3+) processors and supports multi-GPU setups (both SLI and CrossFire). The 970A SLI Krait Edition has a black and white color scheme with rich expansion options and large aluminum heatsinks over the VRMs and northbridge.

MSI 970A SLI Krait Edition Motherboard.png

The AM3+ processor socket sits to the left of four DDR3 memory slots. Six expansion slots take up the majority of the lower half of the board and include two PCI-E x16, two PCI-E x1, and two PCI slots. Six SATA ports occupy the bottom-right corner with four at 90-degree angles. MSI is using its latest “Military Class 4” capacitors and other hardware along with gold audio traces connecting the rear IO audio jacks to the onboard sound chip.

Speaking of rear IO, you will find the following ports on the 970A SLI Krait Edition.

  • 2 x PS/2
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.1
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 6 x Analog Audio

The main feature that MSI is pushing with this new board is the addition of two USB 3.1 (Type A) ports to the AMD platform. This is the first AM3+ motherboard to support the faster standard – up to 10 Gbps using an Asmedia ASM1352R controller – while also being backwards compatible with older USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 devices.

MSI has not yet released pricing or availability, but expect it to launch soon for less than $100.

Josh's Thoughts

Few specifications have been released about this board so far, as well as no timetable for the launch.  It is a finished product and should be out "soon" as Tim mentioned.

There are a few things we can gather from the photo of the board.  The audio solution is not nearly as robust as we saw with the 970 Gaming motherboard.  I doubt it will have the headphone amplification, and the filtering is going to be less due to fewer caps used.  The audio is still physically isolated on the PCB, but it has not received the same focus as what we saw on 970 Gaming.

It looks like it is a full 8+2 power phase implementation, as it is taking up more space on the board than the 6+2 unit on the 970 Gaming did.  This should allow for a greater selection of CPUs to be used, as well as potentially greater overclocking ability.  It does not feature a separate SATA controller, so all 6 SATA ports on the board are handled by the SB950.  There are no external e-SATA ports, which really is not a big deal as those are rarely used.

This looks to be a nice addition to the fading AM3+ market.  For those holding onto their AMD builds and wish to upgrade, this looks to be an inexpensive option with next generation connectivity.  MSI looks to have paid the licensing fee necessary to support SLI, plus they utilize the same AMD 970 chipset on the 970 Gaming that is not supposed to be able to split the 1 x 16X PEG connection to 2 x 8X slots.  Some interesting design and chippery are required to that.

Source: MSI

When is an SoC not an SoC? When it is the GIGABYTE X99-SOC Champion

Subject: Motherboards | March 20, 2015 - 06:31 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, x99-soc champion, Intel, X99

Relatively new to the market is the $360ish Gigabyte X-99-SOC Champion, expensive compared to previous Intel boards but a decent price for an X99 board.  It has four PCIe 16x slots of which two can only run at 8x maximum as well as three PCIe 1x slots, a single M.2 and a single SEx connector as well as a half dozen SATA 6Gbps ports which can run in RAID and another 4 which are only able to run in AHCI mode.  There are no C-type connectors but there are a plethora of USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports as well as a Thunderbolt header.  This is definitely a board for power users and manual overclockers as you can see in Hardware Canucks review here

You can also expect to see Morry's review of this Gigabyte board in the very near future.

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"GIGABYTE's X99-SOC Champion seems to have everything it takes to become a legendary motherboard. It has high end overclocking built into its bones and a low price but will that lead to success?"

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MSI Announces New AMD And Intel Motherboards With USB 3.1

Subject: Motherboards | March 14, 2015 - 12:33 AM |
Tagged: usb 3.1, msi, FX, atx, asmedia asm1352r, amd, am3+

MSI recently announced a torrent of new motherboards that feature USB 3.1 ports. The refreshed lineup includes ten Intel models and, in an interesting twist, two AMD motherboards. MSI’s new motherboards support USB 3.1 by using an Asmedia ASM1352R controller that interfaces with the system via two PCI-E 2.0 lanes (PCI-E 2.0 x2). The controller is rated for the full 10Gbps USB 3.1 speeds. 

MSI X99 Z97 990FA 970A Motherboards WIth USB 3-1.png

It is worth noting that the boards use the traditional USB Type-A connector with one exception. The MSI Z97A Gaming 6 features the new reversible Type-C connector in the form of a single Type-C USB 3.1 port on the rear I/O panel. The other boards have at least two USB 3.1 ports on their rear I/O panels.

The new USB 3.1-supporting lineup is listed below:

  • AMD (970 chipset):
    • SLI Krait Edition
  • AMD (990FX chipset):
    • 990FXA Gaming
  • Intel (Z97 chipset):
    • Z97A Gaming 9 ACK
    • Z97A Gaming 7
    • Z97A Gaming 6
  • Intel (X99 chipset):
    • X99A Gaming 9 ACK
    • X99A Gaming 7
    • X99A Xpower AC
    • X99A Mpower
    • X99A SLI Krait Edition
    • X99A SLI Plus
    • X99A Raider

These new boards are all essentially minor refreshes of previous versions that add the Asmedia controller and faster USB 3.1 ports. You can expect all the multi-GPU and overclocking-friendly features to remain present on these new motherboards.

MSI USB 3.1 Motherboards.jpg

MSI's X99 Xpower AC (left) and Z97A Gaming 9 ACK (right) now support 10Gbps USB 3.1 ports.

AM3+ is still technically AMD's enthusiast platform, but it is still somewhat odd that MSI chose to add USB 3.1 support to AM3+ motherboards with AMD’s aging 990FX and 970 chipsets rather than FM2+ boards with the newer A88X chipset. On the other hand, you can now add much faster external storage to your AM3+ system to give it a bit more life. 

There is no word on pricing but expect the USB 3.1 models to come at a slight premium over the older models in each respective series.

Source: MSI

Report: ASRock to Reveal Mini-ITX Haswell-E Motherboard at CeBIT - The X99E-ITX/ac

Subject: Motherboards | March 13, 2015 - 11:34 PM |
Tagged: X99, mini-itx, Haswell-E, CeBIT 2015, asrock

AnandTech is reporting that motherboard maker ASRock will be showing off a new Haswell-E motherboard at CeBIT 2015, and it would represent an industry first as this new X99 board is in the mini-ITX form factor.

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Cramming an X99 system into mini-ITX does limit the platform, as the form-factor's two-DIMM limitation means this can only support dual-channel memory. The other obvious penalty is the single x16 PCI Express slot, though ASRock has incorporated an M.2 connector that may be using a x4 connection (the article points out the "Ultra M.2" listing on the box).

The LGA 2011-3 socket is apparently a slim version according to the report, but it still dominates the tiny motherboard. Dual Intel NICs and included 802.11ac WiFi make this very capable from a networking standpoint, but with limited expansion and reduced memory bandwidth this will appeal to only a limited number of users. Very compact micro-ATX enclosures and existing X99 motherboards in the mATX form-factor can already provide a platform for a very powerful small build, but there is something to be said for the engineering that has made the move the mini-ITX possible.

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Image credit: SweClockers

One item of interest is the inclusion of a heatsink and fan with the motherboard, and given the unusual layout and socket design it is unclear what the aftermarket cooler support might be like with this motherboard. We should see further details soon as CeBIT 2015 kicks off next week.

Source: AnandTech

ASUS Announces UEFI Update with Socketed 5th-Gen Intel Broadwell Support for 9 Series Motherboards

Subject: Processors | March 10, 2015 - 10:20 AM |
Tagged: uefi, motherboards, lga 1150, Intel, Broadwell, bios, asus

ASUS has announced that all current Intel 9 Series motherboards will support the upcoming 5th-Generation Intel Broadwell LGA 1150 CPUs with an UEFI update.

ASUSIntel.jpg

We reported last week that Intel’s 5th-generation Broadwell CPU had been demonstrated at GDC using Intel’s Iris Pro graphics, though official details about the new LGA versions of Broadwell are not yet public. The desktop variants will no doubt use the same 14nm process technology of the current BGA parts, and it has been rumored that the new CPUs will initially launch in both Core i5 and i7 versions, with the potential for Core i3 and Pentium branded parts to follow (though any potential product information is mere speculation at this point).

It will be interesting to see if the upcoming LGA 5th-Generation CPUs will be able offer any higher perfomance for desktop users compared to existing Haswell parts (such as the i7-4790K), or if there will even be unlocked processors. Considering Broadwell is a mobile-focused part designed for efficency and lower power consumption the chips could offer a compelling solution for small form-factor computers such as HTPCs, as they will presumably provide lower heat and higher IPC than existing parts.

Update.png

The UEFI updates will go live later today (some updates have already been released) and include all ASUS motherboard models with Z97 and H97 chipsets.

Source: ASUS

Gigabyte's Super OverClocking X99 board

Subject: Motherboards | March 9, 2015 - 02:49 PM |
Tagged: x99 soc champion, X99, gigabyte

There are a lot of features on the Gigabyte X99 SOC Champion and if you want Haswell-E and can afford DDR4 it is currently on sale at Amazon for $310, expensive but in range with other flagship boards.  It is capable of supporting triple and quad GPU setups, has 10 SATA 6Gbps ports, a SEx port and even M.2 along with a half dozen USB 3.0 ports and eight legacy USB ports.  [H]ard|OCP had a few issues with the UEFI BIOS, nothing deal breaking but it certainly made overclocking more of a chore than on other X99 boards and may have reduced the top frequencies below what the board is actually capable of.

We will see if a newer UEFI release and other skilled hands can coax some more performance out of this board soon, as Morry will be reviewing this board in the near future.

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"The X99 SOC Champion LGA 2011-v3 socketed motherboard from GIGABYTE has all the ingredients for record breaking performance, rock solid stability, and outstanding performance. GIGABYTE's hardware design has been moving in the right direction lately so how does this "Super OverClocking" motherboard hold up to stress?"

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

EVGA would like to give you a GTX 960 SSC and a Z97 FTW motherboard

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Motherboards | February 20, 2015 - 05:10 PM |
Tagged: z97, gtx 960, giveaway, evga, contest

I know, the nerve of some people. Jacob from EVGA emails me this week, complaining about how he has this graphics card and motherboard just sitting in his cubicle taking up space and "why won't I just give it away already!?"

Fine. I'll do it. For science.

So let's make this simple shall we? EVGA wants to get rid of some kick-ass gaming hardware and you want to win it. Why muddle up a good thing?

The Prizes

  • EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SSC
     
    • The EVGA GeForce GTX 960 delivers incredible performance, power efficiency, and gaming technologies that only NVIDIA Maxwell technology can offer. This is the perfect upgrade, offering 60% faster performance and twice the power efficiency of previous-generation cards*. Plus, it features VXGI for realistic lighting, support for smooth, tear-free NVIDIA G-SYNC technology, and Dynamic Super Resolution for 4K-quality gaming on 1080P displays.
       
    • The new EVGA ACX 2.0+ cooler brings new features to the award winning EVGA ACX 2.0 cooling technology. A Memory MOSFET Cooling Plate (MMCP) reduces MOSFET temperatures up to 11°C, and optimized Straight Heat Pipes (SHP) reduce GPU temperature by an additional 5°C. ACX 2.0+ coolers also feature optimized Swept fan blades, double ball bearings and an extreme low power motor, delivering more air flow with less power, unlocking additional power for the GPU.

evgacontest1.jpg

  • EVGA Z97 FTW Motherboard
     
    • Welcome to a new class of high performance motherboards with the EVGA Z97 lineup. These platforms offer a return to greatness with a new GUI BIOS interface, reimagined power VRM that focuses on efficiency, and are loaded with features such as Intel® Gigabit LAN, Native SATA 6G/USB 3.0 and more.
       
    • Engineered for the performance users with excellent overclocking features. Includes a GUI BIOS that is focused on functionality, new software interface for overclocking in the O.S., high quality components, M.2 storage option and more.

evgacontest2.jpg

The Process (aka how do you win?)

So even though I'm doing all the work getting this hardware out of Jacob's busy hands and to our readers...you do have to do a couple of things to win the hardware as well. 

  1. Fill out the questionnaire below.
     
  2. Enter the "secret phrase" from tonight's 337th episode of the PC Perspective Podcast. We'll be live streaming at 10pm ET / 7pm PT or you can wait for the downloadable version at http://www.pcper.com/podcast or the video version on our PC Perspective YouTube channel

The contest will run for one week so you will have more than enough time to listen to or watch the podcast and get the super-secret answer. We'll ship to anywhere in the world and one person will win both fantastic prizes! Once the contest closes (Wednesday, February 25th at 12pm ET) we'll randomly draw a winner from the form below that got the correct answer!

A HUGE thanks goes to our friends at EVGA for supplying the hardware for our giveaway. Good luck!

Source: EVGA

A flagship A88X board for well under $200, remember the ASUS Crossblade Ranger

Subject: Motherboards | February 12, 2015 - 03:01 PM |
Tagged: motherboard, Kaveri, Intel Gig-E, FM2+, DDR-3 2133, crossblade ranger, audio, asus, A88X

It has been a while since Josh reviewed the ASUS Crossblade Ranger so it seems appropriate to put up a reminder that there are some impressive AMD boards out there with The Tech Report's review of the board.  This board has just about everything except an M.2 port, from the Asus SupremeFX 2014 with high end caps and EMI shielding to HDMI, DVI, and VGA display outputs to a BIOS button on the backplate which allows you to update the upgrade the motherboard's firmware without a CPU or RAM installed.  Check out the full review to get a list of the other features as well as a glimpse into the personality traits the board displayed during testing.

topdown.jpg

"Asus' Crossblade Ranger is a tweaker-friendly, top-of-the-line motherboard for AMD's Socket FM2+ processors. We kicked the tires and turned up the clocks to see whether the Ranger lives up to its top billing."

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Tom's Hardware Tests USB 3.1 on MSI's X99A Gaming 9 ACK

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards, Storage | February 11, 2015 - 09:59 PM |
Tagged: usb 3.1, usb, msi, asmedia

UPDATE: Not to be self-serving, but we have our own story online now looking at the performance of early USB 3.1 hardware on PC Perspective as well! Be sure to check that out!

USB 3.0, for storage, is fast. If you are using an external, spindle-based hard drive, it will perform basically as fast as an internal sibling would. Apart from my two SSDs, I do not even have an internal drive anymore. You can safely install games to external hard drives now.

usb-ss-logo.png

But with USB 3.1, the spec doubled to 10 Gbps, which matches the first generation Thunderbolt connector. A couple of weeks ago, Tom's Hardware put it to the test with an ASMedia USB3.1 to SATA 6 Gbps developer board. Sure enough, when you are raiding a pair of Intel 730 SSDs, you can achieve over 700 MB/s read/write in CrystalDiskMark.

About the most interesting part of Tom's Hardware testing is their CPU usage benchmark. While USB 3.0 on Intel's controller choked a CPU thread, USB 3.1 on ASMedia's controller did not even reach half of a thread's maximum (the CPU in question is a Core i7-5930K Haswell-E at 3.5 GHz).

So until we get flash drives that are constrained by USB 3.0's fairly high ceiling, we might be able to have reduced CPU usage.

GIGABYTE's clean looking X99 Gaming 5

Subject: Motherboards | January 27, 2015 - 02:17 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, X99 Gaming 5, X99

If you like a nice clean black motherboard design with a few red highlights then the Gaming Series from Gigabyte is a great choice and their new X99 Gaming 5 will let you update to DDR4 and Haswell-E.  The four PCIe 3.0 slots can support up to x16/x0/x16/x8 or x8/x8/x16/x8 with the appropriate processor and the storage system is rather impressive with up to 10 SATA 6Gbps ports, a single SATA Express port, M.2, eight USB 3.0 port and eight USB 2.0 ports of which four are shielded for use with external DACs.  Speaking of sound, there is an OP-AMP socket and dedicated audio capacitors to let you get the best out of the onboard Realtec codec.  To see how it performs, overclocks and even more check out [H]ard|OCP's full review or if you need even more features you can look back at Morry's review of the Gaming G1.

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"GIGABYTE’s latest X99 Gaming 5 promises to be a solid overclocker with great features and a reasonable price tag. It comes with features like "Server Level Chokes" from Cooper Bussman and an all digital power solution from Power IR. Long Lifespan Durable Black capacitors and single package MOSFETs make the list as well."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Intel's 5.5-inch Socketed Motherboard is 28% Smaller than Mini-ITX

Subject: Motherboards | January 17, 2015 - 05:22 PM |
Tagged: SFF, nuc, motherboard, mini-itx, Intel

Bay Trail-M has been at the heart of several interesting micro-PC products in the past few months, but the limitations of the SoC have thus far kept these ultra-low power devices from becoming serious PC contenders. New products with AMD APUs look promising, and we will see how they perform once they become available. Meanwhile, Intel might be changing the mini-PC landcape soon with a new motherboard form-factor.

 

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Intel's 5.5" motherboard (Image credit: SemiAccurate)

It doesn't have a name but the 5.5" square board looks like a smaller version of a thin mini-ITX design, with flush mounted DIMM slots and support for M.2 SSD storage. SemiAccurate is reporting that "it will support up to 16GB of DDR3L, an M.2 SSD and 2.5″ HD, 4x USB 3.0, 2x HDMI, GbE, audio, and Wi-Fi". A mini-ITX board on the other hand, though slightly larger at 6.7" x 6.7", has the advantage of supporting full-size GPUs (except the thin-mini variant). But when size and power consumption are the primary concern the lack of PCIe expansion is less important, and this sub-ITX board offers socketed CPU support rather than a soldered BGA solution, permitting customization and potentially offering a more desktop-like upgrade path.

No word on availability of the prototype board from Intel, which the report said was seen at this year's CES. It would make sense that Intel has learned from their experience with the NUC and created a smaller form-factor, but it remains to be seen whether such a product will enter the retail channel or become an OEM part.

Source: SemiAccurate

CES 2015: ASUS Talks 500 Million Motherboard Mark, Ecosystem Goals

Subject: Motherboards, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2015 - 02:51 AM |
Tagged: video, ces 2015, CES, asus, 500 million motherboards

In 2014, ASUS crossed the 500 million motherboards sold mark for total units, an achievement to be proud of for certain. And while I would have thought that the awesome keychains made for the occasion that feature the X99-Deluxe on one side and the ISA-386C from 1989 on the other would be enough, ASUS is going to go further. Expect a several month long celebration that will feature unique content, prizes and giveaways as well as special edition hardware like the Sabertooth Z97 Mark S and its all white PCB.

I got the chance to speak with Dennis Pang about the 500 million mark, what the company sees as its vision for the immediate future and how it has used its experience to move into other consumer markets like keyboards, mice, monitors, networking and more.

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