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Subject: Motherboards | June 6, 2012 - 08:12 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: zeus, wolverine, power phase, motherboard, dual gpu, concept, computex, asus
ASUS has a history of showing off crazy high-end concept motherboards that are not likely to come to market but may help influence future motherboard products by getting the creative sparks of innovation flowing in engineers’ minds.
At this year’s Computex 2012, Asus showed off two concept motherboards that it is calling Zeus and Wolverine. While Zeus tackles Thunderbolt and integrated GPUs, Wolverine approaches the problem of getting clean power to the CPU by pushing the limits of the number of power phases that can be integrated into ATX-sized motherboards.
You will notice on the Zeus motherboard that the bottom of the board holds a bank of two 8 pin and two six pin power connectors. The two eight pin connectors are labeled VGA 1 and VGA 2 while the two six pin connectors are labeled VGA 3 and VGA 4 respectively. At first this seems like a regular X79 chipset (socket 2011) based motherboard with giant heatsinks for overclockers. After doing a double take (at least I did), you will notice that the board has no PCI-E connectors!
Instead, the board has a large heatsink, and under that heatsink are two GPUs in CrossFire configuration. Tech Power Up believes that the GPUs being used are two AMD 7800 “Pitcairn” series mobile graphics cards in CrossFire configuration. While the desktop variants are fairly low power, they would need active cooling or a larger heatsink, which I think is what lead them to consider that ASUS may be using mobile-class cards. Reportedly, ASUS did not create this board to suggest GPU integration, but to show off dual Thunderbolt ports on an X79 motherboard.
Connectivity on the board includes a socket 2011 CPU, eight DDR3 DIMM slots, ten SATA connectors, (and on the rear IO panel) a WiFi radio, eight USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt ports, Gigabit LAN, 7.1 channel analog audio output, optical audio output, HDMI output, DisplayPort output, and two eSATA ports.
As far as the dual GPU integration goes, however... I don’t expect we’ll be seeing a move in the industry like this any time soon, at least not on high-end Enthusiast boards (though I could see an argument for small form factor (SFF) budget gaming systems from OEMs). Dedicated graphics card technology moves at such a rapid pace compared to motherboards that it is just not feasible to market a feature like this to enthusiasts. While they may keep the same motherboard for years, those same users will likely upgrade their graphics cards at least once to stay current. Further, with the cost of these high-end motherboards already approaching exorbitant, adding integrated GPUs that don’t mesh well with the purpose of a high end system pushes the cost higher and demand to a point that these boards just don’t seem realistic.
While Zeus was more of a powerhouse with a twist (albeit one that isn’t really feasible to market), the other motherboard – Wolverine – is a “because we can” board but one that could have an impact on the industry today. ASUS has taken its Digi+ digital power to the extreme by packing as many power phases as it could into an ATX form factor motherboard. In total, they managed to place 40 power phases onto the PCB – notice how the CPU socket had to be shifted to the right to make room!
Other features on the board include eight SATA connectors, four DIMM slots, three PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, LGA 1155 socket, and three PCI 3.0 x1 slots. On the rear the board features four USB 2.0 ports, six USB 3.0 ports, a WiFi radio, Gigabit LAN, BIOS buttons, optical audio output, 7.1 channel analog audio output, and what looks like two eSATA ports.
Granted, I’m not suggesting that we will be seeing motherboards coming out with 40+ power phases anytime soon. I can see this influencing future designs, however. Even heavy overclockers (water and air cooling levels) don’t really /need/ 40 power phases but we could start seeing vendors put out boards with half of that and still have it be a big improvement.
What do you think of the two new ASUS concept motherboards? You can see more images of the boards over at AnandTech's gallery. Do you think they are on the right track? If not what areas do you think motherboard manufacturers need to improve?
Subject: Motherboards | June 6, 2012 - 06:04 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Z77, msi, motherboard, mini-itx, Intel, htpc, computex
MSI is showing off a lot of motherboards at Computex 2012. One in particular that stuck out to me was a mini ITX motherboard that sported Ivy Bridge compatibility, four SATA ports (2 which are SATA 6Gbps), and PCI-E 3.0 compliant making it perfect for an high performance HTPC build. The motherboard in question is the MSI Z77IA-E53 and as the name suggests it is based around Intel’s Z77 chipset.
The mini-ITX form factor motherboard sports MSI’s ClickBIOS II UEFI BIOS and its OC Genie II technology as well as THX TruStudio Pro audio. Other features include an LGA 1155 socket for Ivy Bridge or Sandy Bridge (Core i7, i5, i3, Pentium or Celeron) processors, two DDR3 DIMM slots (up to 16GB of 2800MHz), and a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot at the very bottom of the motherboard.
On the back of the board, the Z77IA-E53 features HDMI and VGA video outputs, two USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, an eSATA port, Gigabit LAN, PS/2 port, optical audio outpu, three 3.5mm jacks for analog audio output, and WiFi and Bluetooth radios.
Unfortunately, there is no word yet on pricing or availability.
Subject: Motherboards | June 5, 2012 - 08:40 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: X79S-UP5 WiFi, x79, socket 2011, Intel, gigabyte, computex
Although Ivy Bridge is the new hotness, socket 2011 is still the company’s top-end enthusiast and workstation platform. And to to be forgotten, Gigabyte dedicated some space at its Computex booth to show off a new high-end X79 socket 2011 motherboard. The Gigabyte GA-X79S-UP5 WiFi is a EATX motherboard with a 2011 socket that is surrounded by heatpipes and VRM heatsinks (we recently reviewed the X79-UD5) The board further supports eight DDR3 DIMM slots, eight SAS connectors, six SATA ports, four PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots (up to 3 way SLI/CrossFireX), one PCI-E 3.0 x1 slot, and one legacy PCI slot at the bottom of the motherboard. It also has internal connectors for front panel audio, SPDIF, Firewire (1394), TPM, one USB 3.0, two USB 2.0 headers, and four fan headers (one of which is for the CPU).
Integrated Gigabyte technology includes the company’s all-digital and “3D Power,” dual UEFI BIOSes, 8 phase VRM, Gigabyte Bluetooth 4.0 and WiFi card, 110dB SNR (signal-to-noise ration) HD audio, and 3X USB power and On/Off Charge to charge iPads and tablets even when the computer is powered down. Quad channel memory and socket 2011 processors give CAD engineers, video editors, and other 3D modelers the most performance possible out of a single socket workstation system.
Rear IO for the X79S-UP5 WiFi board includes a PS/2 port, four USB 2.0 ports, a firewire port, UEFI BIOS reset and overclock profile buttons, four USB 3.0 ports, two eSATA ports, a USB/eSATA combo port, Gigabit LAN, optical audio output, and five analog audio outputs.
In short, this is a motherboard that Gigabyte has packed to the brim with features for enthusiasts. Below you will find several high-resolution images of the new socket 2011 motherboard. If your internet connection is ready, dive right in!
Gigabyte GA-X79S-UP5 WiFi Motherboard Images
Even considering my bias of my favorite color being blue, the board looks really nice, especially the heatsink designs which really make the board stand out.
CPU socket area:
Here we can see the 2011 socket, VRMs, and DDR3 DIMM slots.
More photos after the break!
Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | June 5, 2012 - 08:04 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: thunderbolt, motherboard, gigabyte, ga-z77x-up5 th, computex
Intel’s 10Gbps copper-based Thunderbolt technology is big at this year’s Computex show, and Gigabyte was not shy about showing off their Thunderbolt hardware. Not to be outdone by the Intel booth, Gigabyte had on display a Thunderbolt motherboard and no less than 13 pieces of Thunderbolt hardware!
The motherboard in question is Gigabyte’s GA-Z77X-UP5 TH which is an ATX form factor board that supports Intel Ivy Bridge processors, dual UEFI BIOS technology, SLI and CrossFireX multi-GPU setups, four DDR3 DIMM slots, six SATA 6Gbps ports, three PCI-E 3.0 x1 slots, three PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, and a single legacy PCI slot. It also, of course, features a Thunderbolt port.
The list of Thunderbolt-enabled peripherals was impressive – they only seemed to be missing Thunderbolt docks. The full list of devices is available in the table below, but Gigabyte had the Apple Thunderbolt display, several Thunderbolt external hard drives, a Thunderbolt SSD, Thunderbolt-equipped RAIDed NAS boxes from several vendors, and the active Thunderbolt cables themselves (from Sumitomo Electric).
|Blackmagic design||UltraStudio 3D||Video editing|
|Blackmagic design||Intensity Extreme||Video editing|
|LaCie||eSATA Hub Thunderbolt||Hub|
|Promise Technology, Inc||Pegasus R6||Storage|
|Seagate||GoFlex ThunderBolt Adapter||HDD Adapter|
|Seagate||GoFlex Desk ThunderBolt Adapter||HDD Adapter|
|Sonnos||Sonnet ECHO ExpressCard||ExpressCard|
|Sumitomo Electric||Thunderbolt Cable||Cable|
|Western Digital||My Book Thunderbolt Drive||Storage|
Although Thunderbolt is going to be a niche connection (mostly due to expense of cables and components vs the “good enough” and much cheaper USB 3.0 standard) for the foreseeable future, Computex 2012 is trying its best to drive home the idea that Thunderbolt is not going away. There are definitely more Thunderbolt devices than I had originally predicted to show up at the show in Taipei.
Subject: Motherboards | June 5, 2012 - 06:40 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: trinity, msi, htpc, fm2, computex, amd
Located at Booth L0810 in Nangang Hall 4F, MSI is showing off a tong of new hardware. One of the interesting displays is a wall of new motherboards based on AMD’s desktop Trinity APUs. Using the company’s Hybrid Digital Power design, the FM2 socket-based motherboards come in three sizes: EATX, ATX, and mini-ITX to meet various project needs.
MSI's Trinity display at Computex 2012. Source: MSI
The smallest of the bunch is the MSI A85IA-E53 motherboard, which is designed for HTPC use. Based on AMD’s A75 chipset, the mini-ITX board features an AMD FM2 socket in the middle, with two DDR3 DIMM slots (a maximum of 16GB of memory) below, a single PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot to the left, and four SATA 6Gbps ports to the right of the FM2 socket.
Rear IO on the board includes a combo PS/2 port, optical audio (TOSLink) output, VGA and HDMI video outputs, three eSATA ports, two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, a Gigabit LAN port, and analog audio out via three 3.5mm jacks. The motherboard also features integrated WiFi and Bluetooth radios. Built with the company’s military class III components, the A85IA-E53 comes packed with the ClickBIOS II, OC Genie II, and support for HD7000 series graphics cards.
MSI has two mid-sized ATX form factor motherboards with the the MSI A55M-P33 (F2) and MSI A85MA-35. The former is intended for traditional desktop use cases while the latter is rather shallow in depth and is meant to be used in living room HTPCs.
MSI A55M-P33 (F2)
The MSI A55M-P33 (F2) is the company’s budget desktop motherboard. It supports OC Genie II and ClickBIOS II technologies as well as AMD Dual Graphics which allows the pairing of a Trinity APU integrated graphics card and discrete AMD GPU. In adition to the FM2 socket, the board features two DDR3 DIMM slots (maximum of 16GB of 1866MHz memory), four SATA 3Gbps ports, one PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot, one PCI-E 2.0 x1 slot, and one legacy PCI slot.
This motherboard is actually based on the AMD A55 chipset which explains the lack of 6Gbps ports and USB 3.0 support. The company describes the board as the “value choice” for those upgrading to a new Trinity-based system. Rear IO on the A55M-P33 (F2) includes eight USB 2.0 ports, six 3.5mm jacks for analog audio output, Gigabit Ethernet, and DVI and VGA display outputs.
The second ATX motherboard is the MSI A85MA-E35. This motherboard has been designed wider and shallower than traditional desktop ATX boards so that it can fit into slim HTPC cases (that usually have more room longways than height-wise as they need to be able to fit into AV racks and other short spaces). It is essentially the mATX A85IA-E53’s big brother as it takes the AMD A75 chipset and takes advantage of the larger PCB area to add additional functionality. The motherboard features MSI’s OC Genie II and ClickBIOS II technology and AMD’s Dual Graphics support for pairing a dedicated GPU with the Trinity APU’s graphics portion.
The board is rather spaced out as the PCB is stretched out to keep things as shallow as possible. It does feature two DDR3 DIMM slots (maximum of 16GB 1866MHz RAM), the AMD FM2 processor socket, one PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot, two PCI-E 2.0 x1 slots, and one legacy PCI slot. The only motheboard component with a heatsink attached is the southbridge, which is powering six SATA ports, at least four of which are 6Gbps (MSI only lists four 6Gbps ports in the documentation, seen above and to the right of the board [TechPowerUp indicates that all six are 6Gbps, however]). Rear IO includes four USB 3.0 ports, six analog audio out jacks, Gigabit LAN, and what is likely a PS/2 port and optical audio output.
Finally, the FM2 motherboard to rule them all (or at least the company’s AMD lineup) is the MSI A85XA-G65. The board comes packed with MSI technology including Military Class III components, OC Genie II, ClickBIOS II, Hybrid Design Power, THX TruStuio Pro, AMD Dual Graphics (APU+discrete card), AMD CrossFire, NVIDIA SLI, and AMD Eyefinity.
In other words, MSI has bolted just about everything it could to this board. They confidently labeled the motherboard as the board for enthusiasts to use to push Trinity overclocks as far as possible. The first thing I noticed about the image (seen below) of the A85XA-G65 was the massive heatsinks on the VRMs and southbridge – did I mention they were huge? In addition to the well-cooled VRMs, the motherboard features four DDR3 DIMM slots (max of 32GB 1866MHz RAM), two PCI-E 2.0 x16 slots, three PCI-E 2.0 x1 slots, and two legacy PCI slots towards the bottom of the board. To the right is the southbridge (with relatively large heatsink) powering eight SATA 6Gbps ports.
The A85XA-G65 supports DisplayPort, DVI, HDMI, and VGA video outputs. Beyond that, rear IO includes a combo PS/2 port, four USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, Gigabit LAN, six 3.5mm jacks for multi-channel analog audio outputs, and an optical audio output. If you want to push desktop Trinity to the max, this board definitely seems like a good place to start.
MSI has definitely come out in full force with a slew of AMD Trinity motherboards. The HTPC ones, and the mini-ITX one in particular, interest me. The beastly A85XA-G65 is also pretty neat for overclocking potential. Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more Computex 2012 coverage! What do you guys want to see from the show? You can see a few more photos after the break.
Subject: Motherboards, Shows and Expos | June 5, 2012 - 01:06 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Z77, x79, trinity, sandy bridge-e, PLX PEX 8747, Ivy Bridge, Intel, fm2, asrock, amd
Four new Intel motherboards from ASRock were revealed at Computex, the X79 Extreme11, Z77 Extreme9 and Z77 OC Formula. All use their new XFast 555 Technology software for XFast RAM, XFast LAN and XFast USB which should at the very least allow you great control over all the frequencies on your motherboard.
The motherboard for power users supports Sandy Bridge E processors, the X79 Extreme11 sports PLX PEX 8747 bridges which means this motherboard can run multi-GPU 4-Way SLI/CrossFireX at PCIe Gen3 x16/x16/x16/x16 and puts EVGA's Classified SR-2 in serious trouble on the Leaderboard when released. 24 + 2 Power Phase Design, onboard Creative Sound Core3D and an LSI SAS2308 chip which gives you ten SATA3 connectors with 8 of the able to be set to SAS mode.
The Z77 Extreme9 also sports the PLX PEX 8747 bridge which allows a surprising full PCIe Gen3 x8/x8/x8/x8 quad GPU mode. The included T2R Dual Band WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n + BT v4.0 Module supports dual band WiFi and BlueTooth and combines with the Wi-SB BOX to provide better signal and an extra pair of USB 3.0 connectors.
The Z77 OC Formula wants to step on ASUS' toes; while the score is impressive, the overclocks need a little work. They don't say much about this board but from the preliminary testing it looks like great fun for the serious overclocker.
Last but not least is the Z77 Extreme6/TB4 which features four channel Thunderbolt, for that you can read two Thunderbolt ports. ASRock mentions that this "allows one port to be connected to the onboard graphics and the other one can be used for discrete graphics card." which could lead to all sorts of speculation.
On the AMD side we have the ATX FM2A75 Pro4, and microATX FM2A75 Pro4-M and FM2A75M-DG which support Trinity processors but unfortunately we don't have much more than their names. TechPowerUp did get some pictures of the boards recently.
They are also showing the EN2C602-4L, E3C204-V, E3C204-4L and H77WS-DL server boards which come with a full suite of software to ensure an easy setup, an IPC motherboard for those small purpose-built applications and an intriguing HTPC box called the ASRock VisionX Series. This is reputed to featuring Ivy Bridge, Radeon HD 7850M graphics and AMD HD3D Technology with dual band WiFi but might cost a bit more than the alternative, the ASRock MINI Series which has and AMD E2-1800 backed up by a Radeon HD7340.
Subject: Motherboards, Displays | June 4, 2012 - 09:30 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: Z77, thunderboltex, thunderbolt, h77, computex, asus
Ever since we posted our series of videos with ASUS on the new Z77 chipset and the features ASUS was introducing on their P8Z77 lineup, we have had countless questions about the Thunderbolt header, the implementation and finally the required add-on card to enable it. Well thankfully at Computex this week ASUS is revealing the product that users of the P8Z77 motherboards will need to enable the Thunderbolt connection, the ASUS ThunderboltEX.
Even though we have already had some hands-on time with the new ASUS P8Z77-V Premium motherboard that integrates a Thunderbolt header on the board directly, the rest of the P8Z77-V line has a 9-pin header labeled "TB_header" that will allow users to purchase the ThunderboltEX card and enable the technology in their system. ASUS was the only company to really plan ahead for Thunderbolt technology across the entire series of Z77 motherboards and as such should enjoy the feature benefits of TB for some time.
The ThunderboltEX will plug into the bottom PCIe slot using up the x4 connection and will be required to use a header cable to connect to the TB_header shown above. This header serves a dual purpose - it allows the integrated graphics of the Ivy Bridge (and even discrete graphics) to pass through to the ThunderboltEX card and then out to either a Thunderbolt enabled display or a DisplayPort monitor in a daisy chain of devices. It also allows ASUS to make sure this card is ONLY used on their own lineup of motherboards - sorry, you won't be able to buy the ASUS ThunderboltEX and use it on your Gigabyte or MSI or even your non "TB_header" ASUS motherboard.
You will also have to install an included full-size DisplayPort cable from the output on the Z77 motherboard back panel to the full-size DP input on the ThunderboltEX itself. This allows the pass through of all the video data.
Once everything is configured, users will have a full speed 10 Gbps ready Thunderbolt connection to use with external storage, break out boxes and other accessories coming down the pipeline rapidly. ASUS claims this implementation will still support 6 daisy-chained devices with a seventh device as either a Thunderbolt or mini-DisplayPort monitor. Even better, hot plug support will still be enabled!
ASUS stands committed to the belief that motherboard design is not just about pure spec but ensuring a quality design and overall implementation. This is achieved through many means such as sensible layout, flexible I/O connectivity and robust control over parameters of operation. In addition foresight in design can play an important role. ASUS recently launched the world’s first certified native Thunderbolt motherboard with the P8Z77-V Premium. While the Premium leads the industry in respect to connectivity and overall functionality it carries a flagship price for its premium feature set. ASUS had kept this in mind along with thinking about how to best support the advanced new interconnect that is Thunderbolt. With this in mind ASUS is proud to unveil its exclusive Thunderbolt upgrade solution for its line of Z77 and H77 motherboards. The ThunderboltEX card is the first add-on card on the market enabling an easy way to upgrade ASUS motherboards with the latest I/O. This is proof in having foresight in design as compatible boards had to have a special TB header in place to support this upgrade.
Currently, the ThunderboltEX is awaiting Thunderbolt device certification and ASUS will obviously announce when that occurs.
Obviously this implementation of Thunderbolt is not as elegant as the one you will find on the ASUS Premium Z77 motherboard or the MSI Z77A-GD80, but it does enable other ASUS Z77 motherboard users to add the feature to their systems without REQUIRING to the cost up front to everyone. It does remind me a little bit of the first days of ATI CrossFire but I think most of you would agree that this solution is better than forcing users to buy a $450 motherboard.
I don't have any information on pricing or availability but you can be sure as soon as our questions are answered by ASUS we will update this post!
If you are looking for more information on Thunderbolt devices and performance, check out our stream of posts on the subject and take a look at the Thunderbolt / ASUS video below!
Subject: Motherboards, Shows and Expos | June 4, 2012 - 06:46 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ultra durable 5, IR3550 PowIRstage, International Rectifier, gigabyte, computex 2012, computex
City of Industry, California, June 4th , 2012– GIGABYTE TECHNOLGY Co. Ltd., a leading manufacturer of motherboards and graphics cards, today introduced their latest Ultra Durable 5 technology, featuring a range of high current capable components including the industry’s highest rated 60A IR3550 PowIRstage ICs that provide the best quality power delivery to the CPU for record-breaking performance, cool and efficient operation and extended motherboard lifespan.
GIGABYTE is yet again raising the bar of motherboard quality and durability with their Ultra Durable 5 technology, which includes high current capable components for the CPU power zone including the highest rated and awarded IR3550 PowIRstage ICs from International Rectifier, 2X Copper PCB and high current Ferrite Core Chokes rated up to 60A which together are able to deliver up to 60°C* cooler temperatures than traditional motherboards. Featured on a range of new motherboards based the Intel X79 and Z77 Express Chipsets, GIGABYTE Ultra Durable 5 technology is the next evolution in quality motherboard design.
“As the exclusive motherboard manufacturer to utilize the amazingly efficient IR3550 PowIRstage ICs from International Rectifier, GIGABYTE has spent a considerable amount of engineering resources to ensure our Ultra Durable 5 motherboards are our best Ultra Durable motherboards yet,” commented Henry Kao, Vice President of GIGABYTE Motherboard Business Unit. “GIGABYTE Ultra Durable 5 motherboards are especially optimized for water cooled systems and overclocked Intel Core i7-3770K Ivy Bridge “K” SKU CPUs due to their exceptionally low operating temperatures, and make the perfect match for anyone looking to push their system to limits.”
“We are delighted that IR’s award winning IR3550 PowIRstage provides the high current, thermal capability and outstanding performance to power GIGABYTE’s new Ultra Durable 5 motherboard series,” said Deepak Savadatti, Vice President and General Manager, IR’s Enterprise Power Business Unit.
Subject: Motherboards, Shows and Expos | June 4, 2012 - 04:14 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: computex, gigabyte, Z77, thunderbolt, Z77X-UP5 TH
Anandtech has the scoop on a new motherboard being shown at Computex this week from Gigabyte that features not just Thunderbolt support, not just a single Thunderbolt port but DUAL Thunderbolt connections. The Z77X-UP5 TH is the first such PC platform to offer support for four channels of the new connectivity technology.
Image source: Anandtech.com
Both ports can run at the full 10 Gbps speeds thanks to the inclusion of a PLX PCI Express bridge chip so bandwidth restrictions shouldn't be a concern. We don't know the pricing or availability of this new board quite yet but Gigabyte is finally jumping into the world of Thunderbolt after the MSI and ASUS announcements last month.
Hit up the Anandtech link above for more photos of this board!
Subject: General Tech | June 4, 2012 - 05:28 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: thunderbolt controller, thunderbolt, motherboards, Intel, computex
Anandtech stopped by the Intel booth at Computex 2012 to check out their Thunderbolt display. Intel has three upcoming controllers, with the smallest being only 5.6mm wide. The company is also showing off several motherboards and Thunderbolt peripherals at their booth.
Intel has started off their Computex 2012 showings but showing off several bits of Thunderbolt hardware. They displayed three Thunderbolt controllers in various sizes (and accompanying capabilities), Thunderbolt-equipped motherboards such as this Asus motherboard we were able to get a video demonstration of, Thunderbolt docks, and other Thunderbolt peripherals.
Anandtech was able to get some photos of Intel’s booth display. One of the cool shots that they managed to take shows off three of Intel’s Thunderbolt controllers. From left to right are the Light Ridge, Cactus Ridge, and Port Ridge controllers. While the Cactus Ridge controller is capable of being a host and supporting attached devices, the smaller Port Ridge controller can only connect to Thunderbolt peripherals and only supports a single Thunderbolt port–this chip will see use primarily in tablets and other mobile devices.
In addition to the controllers themselves, Anand spotted several motherboards on display that all sported Thunderbolt controllers. These boards are further aimed at running Windows powered PCs, which is an important consideration with Apple having a large lead on adoption of the technology. Among the motherboards on display are the ASRock Extreme6 and ASRock TB, ASUS P8Z77-V Premium (LINKAGE), a Foxconn board of unknown make, Intel DZ77RE-K75, Gigabyte Z77X-UP5 TH, Gigabyte Z77X-UP4 TH, and a MSI Z77A-GD80 (LINKAGE).
A Thunderbolt Equipped Motherboard: The MSI Z77A-GD80
It does seem like Computex 2012 is the year for an explosion of Thunderbolt devices. As Ryan mentioned on This Week In Computer Hardware, the cost of Thunderbolt devices and the cost of cables versus the “good enough” (and much cheaper) USB 3.0 technology is going to really hold Thunderbolt back from widespread adoption. There is no doubt that Thunderbolt has the potential to be very useful, but the market of people that could really use the technology to it’s fullest is relatively small. Expect Thunderbolt to stick around, at least for a while, but it will likely not rival that of USB 3.0 as far as integration with computers and user adoption. On the other hand, if they can get the cost of cables and related hardware down far enough such that the difference between it and USB 3.0 is not much it could take off...
What do you guys think of all the Thunderbolt technology coming out of Computex (and it’s only day 1!)?
Other Thunderbolt news:
- What is Thunderbolt?
- mLink PCI-E Thunderbolt enclosure shown off at NAB 2012
- External graphics with the MSI GUS II
- Thunderbolt discussion on the PC Perspective Podcast
Subject: Motherboards | June 1, 2012 - 10:06 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: trinity, motherboard, fm2, ECS, desktop, a85f2-a
Taiwan-based motherboard maker ECS (Elitegroup Computer Systems) recently announced an ATX form factor motherboard based on the AMD A85X chipset. The most exciting feature is that this motherboard uses the AMD FM2 CPU socket, and it is ready to accept desktop Trinity processors!
The A85F2-A Deluxe motherboard comes equipped with two PCI-E 2.0 x16 slots for CrossfireX mutli-GPU setups, three PCI-E 2.0 x1 slots, and two legacy PCI slots. With four DDR3 DIMM slots, the board can support up to 64GB of memory. It further supports memory up to 2300MHz (officially). It also features seven 6Gb/s SATA ports with RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 support.
External expansion (rear IO) includes six USB 3.0 ports, eight USB 2.0 ports, Gigabit LAN, and an eSATA connector. The A85F2-A Deluxe also features HDMI, DVI, and VGA video outputs as well as 8 channel analog audio.
On the software side of things, the motherboard has GUI uEFI BIOS, ECS MIB X, and support for multiple languages. The FM2 socket based motherboard also comes bundled with Norton AntiVirus, Muzee, Cyberlink Media Suite, and ECS iEZ (which is the driver and BIOS update (and fan control) utility.
The board has undergone numerous in-house tests (though be sure to also check out independent reviews), and has been rated ECS Nonstop Certified. The company also includes gold plated contacts and solid capacitors with the motherboard. It has also been rated for ESD protection on the VGA, USB, LAN, and HDMI ports.
The Trinity processor is the best part about the motherboard, however as it enables several new technologies including up to four displays, AMD Turbo Core 3, Open CL 1.1, and hardware video decoding with AMD’s UVD engine.
In addition to the A85F2-A Deluxe, ECS will also be releasing four other FM2 socket based motherboards including the A75F2-A2, A75F2-M2, A55F2-A2, and A55F2-M3. Unfortunately, there is no word yet on pricing or availability. Expect to see more details on these boards soon (possibly at Computex 2012?).
Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | June 1, 2012 - 01:17 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: asus, maximus v gene, p8z77-V deluxe, overclocking, smackdown
Earlier this week, we and several other sites reported that a Gigabyte Z77X-UD3H motherboard managed to take the Ivy Bridge i7-3770 with a single core enabled all the way to 7.03GHz and ASUS would like to know what all the fuss is about. It seems that on January the 5th, ASUS took the i7-3770 to 7.06GHz on a P8Z77-V Deluxe which not only beats Gigabyte's overclock but did so long enough ago we needed to be reminded of it.
That was not even the best overclock that ASUS managed, the tiny Maximus V Gene could support a speed of 7.07GHz. That speed was hit yesterday by Andre Yang and seems to demonstrate that for extreme overclockers it is ASUS' Z77 boards which you should be counting on.
Hopefully this little correction will start an overclocking war between the two manufacturers, as both host events for overclockers as does MSI who have not chimed in to this contest yet. LN cooling is not for the faint of heart but it is what you need to practice in order to compete at this level. Gigabyte does seem to have one record which does still stand, DDR3-3280 MHz is quite spectacular.
ASUS master overclocker Andre Yang has managed another benchmarking world record, once more using the Intel Z77-based ROG Maximus V GENE mATX. Utilizing a quad-core/eight threaded Intel i7-3770 Ivy Bridge processor, Andre was able to overclock the CPU to an impressive milestone frequency of 7074.7MHz, again breaking the fabled 7GHz processor threshold and overtaking the previous record of 7.06GHz ( which was previously set and held by ASUS with the P8Z77-V Deluxe ). The CPU multiplier and BCLK were set to 112.69 x 63. The Maximus V GENE had 4GB of G.Skill DDR3 RAM, clocked to 1197.8MHz. The graphics card used was an ASUS GeForce GTX 680, set to 705MHz/3004MHz. Keep in mind quad-core and eight-threaded overclocking presents a much tougher challenge than more traditional single-core and double-threaded tuning in terms of stability and consistency, making the feat even more impressive.
Subject: Motherboards | May 30, 2012 - 04:12 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: motherboard, gigabyte, Ivy Bridge, Gigabyte Z77X-UD3H
Who doesn’t love some good ‘ole fashioned overclocking? Professional overclocker HiCookie employed liquid nitrogen cooling to push an Intel Ivy Bridge Core i7 3770K processor to 7.03 GHz, breaking the previous world record. In addition, he managed to push four DIMMs of G.Skill Trident X DDR3 memory to an amazing 3.28 GHz!
Popular motherboard manufacturer Gigabyte announced today that its motherboards have been used to shatter the previous Ivy Bridge CPU and DDR3 RAM world records. Using liquid nitrogen and a Gigabyte Z77X-UD3H motherboard, the overclocker pushed the i7 3770K to 7.03 GHz. The overclock is only running on a single core (two threads), but it does show that at least some Ivy Bridge processors are capable of high overclocks despite the issues some CPUs are having. The CPUz validation and HWBot submission are available here: CPUz, HWBot.
The Z77-UD3H motherboard used to take Ivy Bridge to 7.03 GHz.
As far as memory overclocking, the company used it’s GA-Z77X-UD5H motherboard and four G.Skill Trident X DDR3 DIMMs rated for 2800 MHz to achieve 3,280 MHz speeds under heavy overclocking. Gigabyte claims that the feat was due in part to their memory tuning capabilities and motherboard engineering. It seems crazy to think that only a few years ago, people were running 800 MHz memory–and this overclocked RAM is currently running faster than my i7 860 processor!
Deputy Director of Motherboard Marketing Tim Handley stated in the press release that "these new world records highlight our belief that top notch quality and design deliver truly world-class, record breaking performance.” They also hinted that a new series of motherboards that will be released at Computex 2012 are showing even better overclocking abilities.
It will be interesting to see how long it takes for Gigabyte’s new world record to be broken. I hope that whoever does break it manages to do it with more than one core as well. The full press release is available here.
Subject: Motherboards | May 28, 2012 - 02:58 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: P8Z77-V, lga1155, Ivy Bridge, asus
At $185, the ASUS P8Z77-V is technically a value board for Ivy Bridge as motherboards with this chipset tend to carry a high price. There are lower priced boards but they are missing some of the features which make this board stand out among its competition. While it does support CrossFire and SLI, with only three PCIe slots in total you will only get 8x speeds when you are using two graphics cards, although testing has shown there is little difference between that and a full 16x. ASUS also included legacy PCI slots for those of you with old cards that you simply cannot live without. [H]ard|OCP gave this board a Gold Award thanks to the decent feature set included in a sub-$200 board as well as the rock solid performance it displayed during their testing.
"The ASUS P8Z77-V is among the latest entries into the ASUS motherboard Intel Z77 Express Chipset series. The P8Z77-V is poised as a more value oriented solution, potentially representing a great bang for your buck option if a Z77 chipset motherboard and Ivy Bridge processor get you excited."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- ASRock Z77E-ITX Motherboard @ Hardware Secrets
- Gigabyte GA-Z77MX-D3H Review – Z77 and MicroATX @ AnandTech
- ASUS Maximus V Gene @ Bjorn3D
- Asus Z77 Roundup @ LanOC Reviews
- Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 @ eTeknix
- Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 Motherboard @ Hardware Secrets
- ASRock Fatal1ty Z77 Professional Review - IDE and Floppy on Z77 @ AnandTech
- ECS Elitegroup Z77H2-AX Golden Board (Z77) Motherboard Review @ eTeknix
- ASUS P8 Z68-V/GEN3 @ LanOC Reviews
- GIGABYTE G1.Assassin 2 Motherboard Review @ Techgage
- Sapphire Pure Platinum Z77K Review @ OCC
- ASUS Maximus V GENE @ Tweaktown
- 16 Intel X79 Socket 2011 motherboards round-up @ Hardware.Info
- BIOS Option Of The Week - Asynclat @ TechARP
- Motherboard Sizing @ LanOC Reviews
Subject: Motherboards | May 23, 2012 - 05:15 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Z77, thunderbolt, msi, motherboard
The MSI Z77A-GD80 motherboard that was first shown off at CES 2012 has officially launched today. The new motherboard is based on the Z77 chipset and supports Intel’s latest 22nm Ivy Bridge processors as well as the new Thunderbolt interface (a demo of Thunderbolt can be found here).
The MSI board further utilizes their “Military Class III” components, UEFI / Windows GUI ClickBIOS II firmware, and their automatic overclocking OC Genie II software. The board also features four DIMM slots for up to 32GB of DDR3 2800MHz memory, three PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, four PCI-E 3.0 x1 slots, four SATA II and four SATA III. It also supports two-way SLI or three-way Crossfire for multi-GPU setups and has an additional USB 3.0 header for expansion cards or front panel ports.
Rear IO includes 4 USB 2.0 ports, a combination PS/2 mouse/keyboard port, digital and optical audio outputs, HDMI, Gigabit LAN, two USB 3.0 ports, VGA output, and 6 port analog audio output.Last but not least the Thunderbolt port, resting under the VGA output. MSI is pushing the new transfer technology hard in the press release because of the super fast transfer rates (theoretically up to 10Gbps).
Unfortunately, there is no word on pricing or availability for this motherboard (yet). Stay tuned to future updates as more information is released. More photos of and specification details for the new Thunderbolt equipped motherboard can be found here.
Subject: General Tech, Motherboards, Storage | May 21, 2012 - 06:57 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: Z77, thunderbolt, p8z77-v premium, msi, asus
We have really been waiting for this since we first saw the release of Thunderbolt on the Apple MacBooks last year, but we finally have it: Thunderbolt support for PC users! Both MSI and ASUS today announced availability of motherboards with integrated Thunderbolt connectivity: the ASUS P8Z77-V Premium and the MSI Z77A-GD80 will both get you a single integrated Thunderbolt port.
"Intel and ASUS have worked closely on the implementation of Thunderbolt technology onto Asus motherboards”, said Jason Ziller, Intel’s Director of Thunderbolt Marketing. “The P8Z77-V PREMIUM is the first Thunderbolt certified motherboard in the industry, a testament to its solid design and compatibility."
With its long history of working with high tech vendors, ASUS is able to show its strength and commitment to innovation with a close relationship to three of the leading brands currently producing products with Thunderbolt technology, Elgato, LaCie, and PROMISE.
Thunderbolt is a new, high-speed I/O technology designed for performance, simplicity and flexibility, with lightning fast transfer speeds that are twice that of USB 3.0 and up to 20 times faster than USB 2.0. It offers simultaneous bi-directional 10Gbps transfer speeds over a single cable, with the flexibility to daisy-chain up to six Thunderbolt-ready devices with a single connection as well as offering full display port support for a 7th Thunderbolt or display port equipped monitor. This allows for a clutter-free computing experience while offering unprecedented levels of performance. Users can connect multiple Thunderbolt-enabled external storage drives to a Thunderbolt-enabled display and transfer files while watching HD movies, all without experiencing any lag. In addition for content professional this connection has been designed form the ground up for multimedia offering low latency with highly accurate time synchronization for professional audio and video applications. PC enthusiast and gamers can take immediate advantage combining Thunderbolt and on-board Lucid Virtu MVP to enjoy top-notch graphics performance.
Even better, we have some in-action video of the new ASUS Thunderbolt-implementation including performance!
This video was recorded well before today's launch during our Z77 Live Review and clearly shows some of the benefits of Thunderbolt, as well as some of the limitations, you'll find if you pick up the ASUS P8ZZ77-V Premium motherboard!
Subject: Motherboards | May 16, 2012 - 01:36 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: msi, z77a-gd65, lga1155
MSI's Z77A-GD65 comes with a nice set features including THX TruStudio PRO, Lucid’s VirtuMVP, active phase switching, and HDMI 1.4 along with support for both SLI and CrossFireX. It supports PCIe 3.0 on its three 16x slots, running 8x, 4x, 4x or 8x, 8x, 0x which should still offer enough bandwidth for multiple GPU based systems. Overclocking Ivy Bridge on this board was not difficult, ignoring the voltage and heat issues common to all Ivy Bridge processors and overall [H]ard|OCP has found the Z77 to be one of the better designed chipsets recently released and like that it doesn't exhibit the growing pains many others have felt on initial release. MSI took that solid design and pushed it further, something we've come to expect from their GD65 series motherboards.
"MSI has been on a roll with its motherboards as of late. It’s because of this that our expectations for MSI’s foray into the world of Z77 chipset based motherboards are so high. MSI’s "GD65" series of motherboards have been an especially solid value and the Z77A-GD65 looks to be no different."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- Gigabyte address Z77X-UD5H @ Kitguru
- ASRock Z77 Professional Motherboard @ Hardware Secrets
- MSI Z77A-GD65 (Z77) Motherboard Review @ eTeknix
- ECS Z77H2-AX Black Extreme Motherboard Review @ Madshrimps
- Intel DZ77GA-70K Motherboard Components @ Benchmark Reviews
- Gigabyte Z77-D3H (Z77) Motherboard Review @ eTeknix
- Gigabyte Z77X-UD3H @ Funkykit
- A First Look at Thunderbolt on Windows with MSI's Z77A-GD80 @ AnandTech
- ASUS P8Z77-V Deluxe @ AnandTech
- ECS Z77H2-AX Golden Edition Review @ OCC
- Intel Z77 Motherboard Review with Ivy Bridge - ASRock, ASUS, Gigabyte, and MSI @ AnandTech
- ECS X79R-AX Deluxe Review @ Neoseeker
- BIOS Option Of The Week - CPU Direct Access FB @ TechARP
- Gigabyte Sniper M3 Review @ Bjorn3D
- Gigabyte A75M-D2H and A75-UD4H Motherboard Review @ OCC
Subject: Motherboards | May 7, 2012 - 04:07 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gigabyte, 990FXA-UD5, amd, am3, 990fx
If you need your Intel fix then scroll to the reviews below the fold where you will find a plethora of Z77 and X79 boards, but to provide a little variety check out the Gigabyte 990FXA-UD5 which is available for $180. As you can tell from the pricing this is from the higher of end AMD motherboards, with four PCIe 16x slots of which two can manage a full 16x, a total of ten SATA6Gb/s ports, two of which are eSATA, fourteen USB 2.0, four USB 3.0 and even a pair of Firewire ports are available. The variety and number of I/O ports is this boards strongest feature, Neoseeker would not recommend it for heavy overclockers but for someone who needs a workhorse that will handle a huge amount of drives and peripherals it is a very strong choice.
"The Gigabyte 990FXA-UD5 is a solid motherboard with a nice feature set for the AM3 and AM3+ processors. We pit it against the ASUS Crosshair V Formula, provided with the AMD FX-8150 review kits back at launch, to see how it compares with the incumbent AM3 champ."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- ASUS Maximus V GENE Z77 mATX Motherboard Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Intel DZ77GA-70K Motherboard Benchmark Tests @ Benchmark Reviews
- ASUS P8Z77-V LGA1155 Motherboard Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- ECS Z77H2-A2X Black Edition @ PCStats
- Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 Intel Z77 Express LGA 1155 Preview @ techPowerUp
- Intel DZ77GA-70K Motherboard Features @ Benchmark Reviews
- Asus Maximus V Gene @ eTeknix
- Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H @ Kitguru
- Biostar TZ77XE4 @ Kitguru
- MSI Z77A-GD65 @ Tweaktown
- Gigabyte Z77MX-D3H @ OC3D
- ECS Z77H2-AX @ Guru of 3D
- ASUS P8Z77-V Deluxe Benchmark Performance @ Benchmark Reviews
- Sapphire Pure Platinum Z77K @ Kitguru
- GIGABYTE Z77X-UD5H @ Tweaktown
- ASUS Maximus V GENE Z77 @ Guru of 3D
- MSI Z77A-GD65 Motherboard @ Hardware Secrets
- Asus P8Z77-V Deluxe @ Kitguru
- MSI Z77A-GD65 @ Guru of 3D
- ASUS P8Z77-V Deluxe LGA1155 Motherboard @ Benchmark Reviews
- BIOS Option Of The Week - Internal Graphics Mode Select @ TechARP
- MSI X79A-GD65 (8D) @ X-bit Labs
- ASRock X79 Extreme9 Motherboard Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Gigabyte X79-UD3 Motherboard Review @ Madshrimps
- Six SSDs in RAID 0: Intel vs AMD - which chipset scales the best? @ Hardware.Info
Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | April 27, 2012 - 02:48 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Z77, msata, Ivy Bridge, asus
ASUS announces their upcoming P8Z77-V Premium flagship motherboard for Intel processors. Many features have been included such as 4-way SLi and onboard MSATA support with a 32GB MSATA SSD.
Does anyone know where I can get 4 GTX 680s?
In case you missed it, JJ from ASUS was recently at the PC Perspective offices to announce their Z77 lineup of motherboards. Lots of stuff was given away to live viewers. JJ stuck around after the live stream to record a couple of videos about overclocking Ivy Bridge and WiDi support which were released publicly earlier this week.
Now they reached out to us to announce their flagship P8Z77-V Premium Z77-based motherboard.
Two antennas, why-fi not?
The main features of the motherboard are as follows:
- USB3 Boost support
- USB Bios Flashback
- Dual Intel Gigabit Nics featuring iNetwork Control Packet Priority
- 4 way SLI and 4 way Crossfire support via a new PLX Gen 3 switch
- Dual Band Wifi with BT 4.0 featuring WiFi Go! Software Suite ( for DLNA Streaming/Serving, Easy file transfer to android/iOS devices and remote desktop functionality )
- Onboard MSATA support with 32GB MSATA SSD
- Digi+ VRM with 3 way Digital power design ( CPU/VRM – DRAM – iGPU )
- 9 SATA Ports
- 6 4 Pin PWM Fan Headers featuring Fan Xpert 2 Fan Technology ( for advanced control in UEFI and OS as well as automatic fan calibration )
The feature which sticks out to me the most is the 32 GB mSATA SSD allegedly packaged with the motherboard. That would certainly be nothing to sneer at. Judging by the photos provided by Asus the flash cells appear to be produced by Toshiba.
Want to see half of a pegasus flashing?
Also visible on the MSATA drive is a chip produced by Nanya which is commonly known for producing RAM. I am, however, not Al and as such will not speculate further about the SSD -- except that my guess is the chip is probably cache. So unfortunately, I do not know which controller it will utilize.
The other feature which catches my eye is the support for 4-way SLi or Crossfire. Not much else to say about that except that knowing somewhere out there someone will be gaming with four GTX 680s and there better be more than a single 60hz 1080p monitor.
Subject: Motherboards | April 24, 2012 - 11:17 PM | Tim Verry
ASUS recently unveiled a slew of Z77 motherboards for Intel’s latest 22nm Ivy Bridge processors (Check out our coverage of ASUS’ new lineup and new features in video form). Included in the new Z77 lineup is the P8Z77-V DELUXE and Maximus V GENE motherboards which ASUS has managed to push to the extreme.
Specifically, they used their P8Z77-V DELUXE motherboard and a little LN2 to push an Intel Core i7 3770K to a 7 GHz clock frequency. Further, they pushed 16 GB of 2800 MHz DDR3 to 3 GHz+ frequencies. ASUS has stated that the massive overclock is due to their VRM technology and UEFI tuning options.
The company also used a micro ATX Maximus V GENE motherboard to break five world overclocking records. The new records include:
- AquaMark 3: 536638 marks using a Radeon™ HD 7970 graphics card clocked at 1600MHz core and 1900MHz GDDR5
- PiFast: 10.3 seconds with Intel® Core™ i7-3770K set to 6930MHz
- 3DMark®2001 SE: 164589 marks using a GeForce® GTX 580 clocked at 1553MHz core and 1250MHz GDDR5
- 3DMark®2001 SE: 164589 marks using a GeForce® GTX 580 clocked at 1553MHz core and 1250MHz GDDR5
- SuperPi 32M: 4 minutes 52 seconds and 953ms with Intel® Core™ i7 set to 6735MHz (awaiting independent verification)
ASUS claims the records on this board were also the result of their “Extreme Engine Digi+ II” VRM technology and UEFI BIOS.
ASUS further states in the press release that they offer the best performing Z77 motherboards for enthusiasts.
“These accomplishments all point to the investment by ASUS in enabling better and more readily accessible performance tuning. ASUS remains fully committed to the power user and enthusiast markets, offering a range of Intel® Z77-based motherboards designed for overclocking. This includes better materials, smarter layout, and tougher components, but also covers user-friendly features that make tapping computing potential easier. ”
To get a look at some of the other Z77 motherboards available, check out the archived version of this PC Perspective Live stream! Also, please check out our Ivy Bridge processor review to learn about the latest Intel CPUs.