Asus Shows Off New X79 Republic Of Gamers Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | October 25, 2011 - 12:33 PM |
Tagged: x79, socket 2011, sandy bridge-e, ROG, asus

Asus recently unveiled a new X79 socket 2011 motherboard specifically for Sandy Bridge-E, and it looks rather impressive. The new motherboard is a red and black affair that hold several overclocking friendly features and plenty of expansion options. Dubbed the Rampage IV Extreme, the X79 motherboard is part of Asus' Republic of Gamers lineup.

The new motherboard supports Intel's new socket 2011 CPU, eight DDR3 quad channel RAM slots, five PCI-E 3.0 slots (one rated at PCI-E x16 speeds and four at X8 speeds), one further PCI-E 3.0 x1 (physical) slot, and a host of SATA ports. Specifically, the X79 chipset powers two SATA 3 6Gbps and four SATA 2 3Gbps ports while the ASMedia controller powers an additional two SATA 3 6Gbps ports.

Asus Rampage IV Extreme.jpeg

Rear IO on the board includes eight USB 2.0 ports, a PS/2 keyboard/mouse port, ROG Connect and CMOS reset buttons, four USB 3.0 ports, two eSATA 6Gbps ports, Gigabit LAN, Realtek audio powered 5.1 surround sound via five 3.5mm jacks or an optical output. The motherboard further supports Bluetooth version 2.1+EDR.

While the basic specifications of the motherboard are really nice, the most important aspects of the republic of gamers Rampage IV Extreme board are the overclocking features and diagnostics, and there are quite a few. Around the processor socket, there are chokes rated up to 50 amps and have VRMs cooled by a large black heatspreader. The RAM power circuitry, CPU VRMs, and chipsets are all cooled by heatspreaders and connected by aluminum heatpipes. The only issue that some people might run into is with CPU coolers that have wide bases as the heatpipe connecting the VRMs and chipset heatspreader is close to the processor socket, though most coolers will likely work fine.

Moving to the right of the Sandy Bridge-E socket, Asus has provided several handy overclocking tools including the "MEMOK!" RAM diagnostic button that will either reset the settings to get the board to boot or switch to overclocked profiles if activated after the motherboard has gotten past POST. Above that is a set of 4 dip switches to enable or disable the various PCI-E slots. A power and reset button are above those switches and will come in handy for overclocking the board outside of a typical case. Further, there is a diagnostic LED display in the upper right as well as a switch to enable a slow boot mode when using LN2 (liquid nitrogen) cooling. On the voltage front, there are numerous measurement points for CPU, RAM, and chipset voltages. Finally, next to the SATA ports is a odd looking four slot block that allows enthusiasts to measure temperatures of the various physical temperature diodes on the motherboard using "K-type thermocouple" device.

Needless to say, this new X79 based motherboard looks to be living up to its Republic of Gamers heritage thanks to its slew of overclocking and expansion features. If you're interested in seeing more pictures of this shiny bit of hardware, check out this VR-Zone story.

Source: VR-Zone

EVGA Shows Off Drool Worthy Dual Xeon Sandy Bridge-E SR3 Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | October 21, 2011 - 10:46 AM |
Tagged: xeon, x79, SB-E, sandy bridge-e, motherboard, Intel, evga

Jacob Freeman of EVGA Google + fame recently posted a teaser photo of a certain shiny piece of X79 chipset baked silicon in the form of a new SR3 Super Record series motherboard. This monster of a board is packed to the brim with features, and mid tower cases need not apply.

photo_black.jpg

Starting at the top of the board and working our way down, we are presented with not one but two socket 2011 Sandy Bridge-E Xeon processor sockets! One processor will have access to eight DDR3 DIMM slots while the other will have access to four DDR3 DIMM slots.  While the RAM configuration may seem odd, EVGA wanted to make the transition from the boards SR2 predecesor as easy as possible, by allowing users to transfer all 12, triple channel DIMMs to the new SR3 motherboard.  When all 12 RAM slots are populated, the board will run in triple channel mode, and when four or eight slots are populated, the motherboard will utilize the new quad channel interface.  The RAM will be fed power via a eight phase PWM (pulse width modulation) circuitry. The board also features two eight pin EPS and two six pin PCI-E connectors, and seven PCI-E 3.0 slots that are all capable of running at least PCI-E 3.0 x8 and four of them are capable of providing PCI-E 3.0 x16 bandwidth, more than enough for even the beefiest SLI setup.

On the storage and IO front, the SR3 motherboard has 14 SATA ports, HD Audio via six 3.5mm jacks, USB 3.0 ports (the total amount is unclear), and eSATA support.  The bottom right corner of the board lies a handy diagnostic screen to report error codes.  Further, the motherboard will come with the new UEFI BIOS.  Mr. Freeman states that the x79 motherboard is fully furnished with solid state capacitors from Sanyo (specifically POSCAP).

In short, this motherboard is a total beast. Please excuse me as I try to remove my jaw from the floor cartoon style.

Source: EVGA

The many faces of Sandybridge motherboards

Subject: Motherboards | October 18, 2011 - 03:21 PM |
Tagged: Z68XP-UD3, x68, sapphire, sandybridge, Pure Platinum Z68, p67, Maximus IV Extreme B3, Intel, gigabyte, G1.Sniper, asus

When building a SandyBridge system you have several types of motherboard chipset to choose from, some with more capabilities than others.  The ASUS Maximus IV Extreme B3 is the odd duck in this roundup, being the only P67 board in an Z68 round up which means that it loses out on Intel SRT, which is not a drawback for those planning on using an SSD with a high enough capacity to be used as a main drive.  The two Gigabyte boards and the Sapphire board are Z68 and therefore sport all of the bells and whistles that come with that chipset.  In terms of pure performance and overclocking ability it is not the feature set that matters, it is the ability of the board its self.  Check out which of these 4 boards reigns supreme in Neoseeker's benchmarks here.

NS_Sapphire 4.jpg

"A quartet of motherboards based the Intel P67 and Z68 chipsets arrives at Neoseeker's labs, covering both the value and enthusiast market spectrums. There just might be something for everyone with a Intel LGA 1155 socket CPU in our latest motherboard roundup."

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Source: Neoseeker

EVGA Demos X79 Classified Motherboard at GeForce LAN 6

Subject: Motherboards, Chipsets | October 16, 2011 - 07:23 PM |
Tagged: evga, x79, classified

NVIDIA held its 6th GeForce LAN this weekend on the USS Hornet aircraft carrier based in Oakland, CA and at that event EVGA took the time to show off its upcoming X79 Classified motherboard.  As reported by the guys over at Legit Reviews, there will apparently by three different models available at the time of the Socket 2011, Sandy Bridge-E launch sometime in November. 

evgax791.jpg

Image from Legit Reviews.com

With plans to release an SLI, FTW and Classified model, EVGA was showcasing the flagship Classified model on stage with overclocker Kingpin.  You can see that the board above has some very unique layout points and features including five x16 PCIe slots (with a single x1) and support for Quad SLI all spaced out for large graphics cards.  EVGA is using their enthusiast expertise to design a board specifically for power users it appears. 

evga792.jpg

Image from Legit Reviews.com

From the back panel it looks like the board will have 8 total USB 3.0 ports, dual Gigabit Ethernet, eSATA and Bluetooth. 

Intel was also on the stage and showed off its new Socket 2011 and LGA1366/1155/1156 compatible self-contained water cooler with a custom design from Asetek.  It should be available around the same time as the pending Sandy Bridge-E platform release, boxed and sold separately.  Interestingly it was pointed out that the fan was designed and built by Intel directly which will "offer a superior single fan cooling solution also optimized for outstanding acoustics."  I am eager to see what Intel was able to do differently than other cooling vendors.

There are more photos and details on the EVGA X79 Classified motherboard over at Legit Reviews so head over there for more!

ASUS P8Z68 Deluxe GEN3 Board Spotted with PCI Express 3.0 Support

Subject: Motherboards | October 14, 2011 - 01:09 PM |
Tagged: z68, pcie 3.0, gen3, asus

Spending time the San Francisco bay area usually results in some interesting finds.  The first one I can talk about?  An upcoming launch of refreshed Z68 motherboards from ASUS that include support for PCI Express 3.0 technology coming next year.

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At first glance the board doesn't appear to be anything really different - it looks much like the Z68 boards currently on the market and the P67 boards before that.  The heatsink and blue/black color scheme and the Deluxe moniker has been in use by ASUS since the initial Sandy Bridge processor releases.  There are still 4 DIMM slots, 8 SATA ports, USB 3.0, Bluetooth, dual Gigabit Ethernet and more sitting right there, easy for us to see.

asus03.jpg

But unlike previous boards from ASUS, this one is the first we have seen to offer and validate support for the upcoming PCI Express 3.0 standard rated at 32GB/s rather than 16GB/s.  ASUS is actually the last to market with the so-called "PCIe 3.0 ready boards" as we have seen boards from MSI, Gigabyte, ASRock and others on PC Perspective previously.  In fact, we just published a review of the MSI Z68A-GD80 (G3) board yesterday that offers the same feature. 

asus02.jpg

Still, ASUS isn't one to sit by and let the competition pass so they built their own Z68 board that is now 100% ready for PCIe 3.0 devices and the pending Ivy Bridge processor from Intel.  The board will support full speed PCIe 3.0 speeds in both single GPU and SLI/CrossFire configurations.  In fact, ASUS says that both the BIOS and PCIe switches are ready, out of the box, with this new P8Z68 Deluxe GEN3 model, something that some other vendors' boards may not actually be.  That would mean the necessity to have a Sandy Bridge processor on-hand to flash the BIOS before an Ivy Bridge CPU would POST.  Just something to keep in mind.

asus04.jpg

ASUS is hesitant to call the PCIe 3.0 support anything but future-proofing for consumers worried about the next-generation of graphics solutions from NVIDIA and AMD, though I would point out to our readers that any cards that come out in 2012 that do run PCIe 3.0 will still work just fine on PCIe 2.0 boards. 

That being said, an ASUS rep did mention in passing that they MIGHT have found another benefit to PCIe 3.0 on current systems and graphics cards: a reduction in microstuttering in PC gaming.  Now, I have yet to see this benefit in person and my initial thought was that this was simply a placebo effect, but I am eager to try it out when I get this board at the labs.  

Source: ASUS

UEFI comin' down the road ahead

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | October 13, 2011 - 09:02 AM |
Tagged: x79, uefi, roadmap

To call The Tech Report obsessed about motherboards is an understatement, like here at PC Perspective there is never enough information to satisfy us fully.   That is probably why we are such suckers for sneak peeks and hints of what is coming up in the next generation of parts.  Today it is the new UEFI implementation that we will be seeing from ASUS that will be present on the new family of X79 motherboards.  This new type of BIOS is obviously maturing as you can get the same functionality we are used to seeing from GUI based overclocking and monitoring programs except now you are much closer to the metal.  Check out the sneak peek and keep an eye out for more information from this super secret meeting.

TR_ez.jpg

"Later this week, I embark on a super-secret mission to Silicon Valley to get a sneak peek at Asus' upcoming X79 motherboards. At a similar preview event for Sandy Bridge motherboards last year, I got my first hands-on time with the UEFI—that is, the better, more flexible BIOS replacement—that went on to outclass everything in the industry. Asus will probably have a few new UEFI tricks to show off this time around, and I'm curious to see what's in store. I also have some rather specific thoughts on what should be incorporated in new firmware implementations. When you've been reviewing motherboards for more than a decade, you spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about such things—and have a somewhat inflated sense of the value of your opinions."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

A tale of two tiny Llano motherboards

Subject: Motherboards | October 11, 2011 - 01:47 PM |
Tagged: mITX, llano, amd, asus, F1A75-I Deluxe, zotac, A75-ITX WiFi

If you are planning a microITX Llano build, it will be well worth your time to drop by The Tech Report as they are comparing two different mITX A75 boards.  The ASUS F1A75-I Deluxe and Zotac A75-ITX WiFi boards have many similarities, a pair of DDR3 slots, a single PCIe 16x slot, 4 SATA 6Gbps slots, DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort video outputs with audio from the Realtek ALC892.  The differences lie in the outputs, where ASUS only has a pair of USB 3.0 ports, Zotac managed to squeeze a half dozen in at the cost of lowering the USB 2.0 port count.  To find out if there are any performance differences, you will have to read the full article.

TR_money.jpg

"The tight integration of AMD's Llano platform is perfectly suited to Mini-ITX motherboards. We test two of 'em from Asus and Zotac to see what's what."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

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How do you surpass the ASUS Maximus III? Add a V and go for four

Subject: Motherboards | October 3, 2011 - 10:19 AM |
Tagged: asus, maximus iv extreme, lga1155, p67, NF200, x68

The ASSU Republic of Gamers is a fast growing family line, the newest arrival being the ASUS Maximus IV Extreme.  That pairs the Intel X68 chipset with the nForce 200 MCP to give you additional PCIe lanes.  In fact you can manually tweak the PCIe lanes assigned to the PCI3 16x slots, a feature that experienced overclockers will probably use frequently.  Speaking to the overclockers, [H]ard|OCP wanted to stress two very important capabilities of the board, not only did it hit 5.1GHz at a CPU voltage of 1.475v, it also boasted the lowest temperatures that [H] saw on their watercooling rig.  This board is not for the plug and play crowd but for the enthusiast crowd it will shine.

H_maxumusivexreme.jpg

"ASUS expands its Intel based Republic of Gamers line once again with the Maximus IV Extreme. This motherboard has a lot to live up to as each Maximus before this was nothing short of excellent and quite possibly the best motherboards available at the time of release. The Maximus IV Extreme continues the tradition and exceeds expectations."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

AMD Bulldozer FX CPUs dated: October 12th. Shhh.

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards, Processors | September 30, 2011 - 10:55 PM |
Tagged: FX, bulldozer, amd, am3+

AMD has not been too well received in the upper end of CPUs for quite some time now. Once Intel started pushing for performance with their Conroe core, AMD was forced to stay competitive in the mainstream market to survive and that is pretty much where we have been for the last 5 years. Also returning after a nearly 5-year hiatus is the FX moniker for AMD’s flagship products. According to leak(s) from Microcenter that floated past our desks we should see a resurgence of at least one of those two on October 12th, 2011:

"AMD is launching their new AM3+ FX series processors on 10/12/11. We currently have a number of AM3+ compatible motherboards in stock. These motherboards will support the new AM3+ FX processors as well as legacy AM3 processors."

AMD-FX-2.jpg

Personally, I would shy away from the words "Bull" and "Dozer" in my product line.

Also from the memo we learned that the new AM3+ FX SKUs that will launch includes: FX-6100, FX-8120, and the FX-8150. The 6000-series parts constitute 6-core processors where the 8000-series parts constitute 8-core parts. To support those processors we shall see three Gigabyte motherboards, four ASUS motherboards, and four ASRock motherboards. Update Oct 1 @ 2pm: There may be more motherboards at launch but since this is a Microcenter leak it only considers their stock.

Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD3
Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD5
Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD7
ASUS Sabertooth 990FX
ASUS M5A88-V EVO
ASUS M5A99X EVO
ASUS M5A97 EVO
ASRock 990FX Extreme4
ASRock 890FX Deluxe 5
ASRock 880G PRO 3*
ASRock 890GX PRO 3*

 

Each of these motherboards will require a BIOS update to be serviceable though the leak suggests that the update would be performed by Microcenter themselves. If for some reason you have the board on your own you will need an older AM3 processor to perform the update. Also, the last two ASRock motherboards (asterixed) do not yet have a BIOS update for AM3+. AMD is expected to post an official blog about the topic on October 3rd at AMD.com.

Putting the PCIe 3.0 slot before the card, MSI's new Z68 board

Subject: Motherboards | September 26, 2011 - 01:56 PM |
Tagged: z68, msi, Z68A-GD65-G3, sandy bridge, lga1155

When [H]ard|OCP reviewed the MSI Z68A-UD3H B3, they took some time examining MSI's version of UEFI called Click BIOS; it did not come out well, they panned it as horrible.  MSI listened to their suggestions as well as comments from other sites and users and developed the Click BIOS 2, which is first hitting the market in the Z68A-GD65-G3.  That BIOS, barring a few small issues, came out much better and seemed more in line with the other main release of the UEFI from ASUS.  Apart from that feature, the board also a pair of PCIe 16x slots (which happen to be Version 3.0) as well as three PCIe 1x slots.  Externally it sports HDMI and DVI out, as well optical and analog SP/DIF ports, two USB 3.0 ports as well as four USB 2.0 ports; internally four SATA 6GB/s and four SATA II ports will keep storage fanatics happy.  The bundled control software received poor marks but for manual overclockers [H] leaves you with this comment ... "the only motherboard we have ever tested that allowed us to stably overclock our 2500K CPUs to 5GHz"

h_MSI_clickbios2.jpg

"In the motherboard business, it’s about differentiating the product. Once in awhile a motherboard manufacturer like MSI does just that before "the other guy." And that’s where the Z68A-GD65-G3 comes in bringing PCI-Express Generation 3 support and a new UEFI interface to the table."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

ZOTAC Announces A75-ITX WiFi

Subject: Motherboards | September 22, 2011 - 09:37 AM |
Tagged: SFF< Zotac, llano, A75-ITX WiFi, a75

HONG KONG – Sept. 22, 2011 – ZOTAC International, a leading innovator and the world’s largest channel manufacturer of graphics cards, motherboards and mini-PCs, today announces the A75-ITX WiFi platform that enable users to embrace the power of AMD accelerated processing units, or APUs, in a compact mini-ITX form factor to form the perfect gaming capable home theatre PC.

The ZOTAC A75-ITX WiFi features an FM1 socket to take advantage of the latest AMD A8, A6, A4 and E2 series APUs with AMD Radeon™ HD 6000 series graphics processors for the perfect synergy of CPU and GPU performance power. Two memory slots enable users to install up to 8GB of high-speed DDR3 memory with speeds up to 1866 MHz, depending on the APU installed, for maximum system responsiveness for media playback, gaming and every-day use.

“Our goal at ZOTAC is to pack as many features and capabilities into the smallest form factory possible. The ZOTAC A75-ITX WiFi is no different – we’ve packed it with features and expansion capabilities typical of larger ATX offerings,” said Carsten Berger, marketing director, ZOTAC International.

There is plenty of expansion with the ZOTAC A75-ITX WiFi, including a PCI Express x16 slot, up to eight USB 3.0 and four SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports, for maximum internal and external upgrade potential from a compact form factor. Dual Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth 3.0 networking technologies enable the ZOTAC A75-ITX WiFi to deliver lightning-fast network transfers over wires or wireless and easily connect to wireless peripherals and phones.

It’s time to play with the ZOTAC A75-ITX WiFi mini-ITX platform.

A75ITX-A-E_image1.jpg

General details

  • New ZOTAC A75-ITX WiFi mini-ITX platform
  • AMD A75 chipset
  • AMD A8, A6, A4 & E2-series APU compatible (socket FM1)
  • 2 x DDR3 DIMM slots (up to 1866 MHz, speed varies by APU, up to 8GB)
  • DVI, HDMI & VGA (with included adapter) outputs
  • PCI Express x16 expansion
  • 4 SATA 6.0 Gb/s w/RAID 0, 1, 0+1 support
  • 8 USB 3.0 ports (6 on back panel, 2 via pin header)
  • 2 USB 2.0 ports (2 via pin headers)
  • Dual Gigabit Ethernet
  • Hardware accelerated Blu-ray playback ready
  • Dolby TrueHD & DTS-HD Master Audio bitstream capable
  • Digital S/PDIF output (optical)
  • 8-channel high-definition audio
  • Microsoft DirectX 11 compliant
  • Onboard 802.11n WiFi & Bluetooth 3.0 technology
  • Mini-ITX form factor

 

Source: Zotac

A home for your Bulldozer, the ASUS Crosshair V Formula

Subject: Motherboards | September 16, 2011 - 12:27 PM |
Tagged: asus, Crosshair V Formula, am3+

The ASUS Republic of Gamers is already waiting for Bulldozer to arrive as the Crosshair V Formula was designed for it.  Seven SATA III 6Gb/s ports in total, a dozen USB 2.0 and a half dozen USB 3.0 ports will give you as much connectivity as you want.  SupremeFX X-Fi 2 8-channel HD audio codec provides sound and four PCIe 16x slots will ensure even multiple GPUs will be running full out.  There will even be a Thunderbolt version, though that was not the one that took Gold at [H]ard|OCP.

H_crosshair_formulaV.jpg

"The Crosshair V Formula is ASUS' ROG-based answer for the next generation AMD silicon, codenamed "Bulldozer." Built with all the bells and whistles you've come to expect from a Republic of Gamers' motherboard, the Crosshair V Formula looks to be the perfect companion for any AMD processor."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

IDF 2011: MSI Shows Off Upcoming X79 Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards, Processors | September 14, 2011 - 07:59 AM |
Tagged: x79, sandy bridge-e, msi, idf 2011, idf

Many of Intel's partners are on hand at IDF to showcase upcoming products and I was able to stop by the MSI booth yesterday to get a peek into the future of the X79 chipset.  This chipset will launch with the upcoming Sandy Bridge-E processors (for enthusiast) sometime later this year and introduce a new processor socket (Socket 2011) as well as some new features like dozens of PCI Express connections and quad-channel memory.

msi02.jpg

The flagship board on display was the X79A-GD65 (8D) that is one of the few X79 boards I have seen sporting 8 DIMM slots (hence the name) and capacities as high as 64GB!  Most of the MSI features we have come to love on current motherboards are going to be on this line as well including Military Class components, OC Genie II and the much updated and improved ClickBIOS II.

msi04.jpg

The board is completely 3-Way SLI ready (and CrossFire as well) and sports three total PCI Express 3.0 slots at x16 bandwidth but also adds in three more PCIe 2.0 slots for good measure. 

msi03.jpg

There are 4x USB 3.0 ports, 12x USB 2.0 ports, 4x SATA 6G ports and 4x SATA 3G ports.  Needless to say the X79 platforms are going to be an enthusiast's dream.

msi05.jpg

MSI is also likely to include a new breakout box with X79 motherboards that will reside in a 5.25-in bay slot on your case (and honestly I need more things to use up there these days) and give you a couple of USB ports, an OC Genie button that will double as a BIOS reset button when held down, and even integrated WiFi and Bluetooth.  The above photo is just a mock up but the plans are in place to deliver them with these new boards.

msi01.jpg

Finally, MSI did have the much improved and updated ClickBIOS II UEFI on display and without a doubt it kicks the first version's ass.  We are working on a review that includes this new implementation so expect more on that soon.

Source: PCPer

IDF 2011: Lucid HyperFormance Technology Improves Game Responsiveness

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Motherboards | September 13, 2011 - 11:12 PM |
Tagged: virtu, mvp, lucid, idf 2011, idf, hyperformance, hydra

Lucid has a history of introducing new software and hardware technologies that have the potential to dramatically affect the PC gaming environment.  The first product was Hydra shown in 2008 and promised the ability to use multiple GPUs from different generations and even different vendors on the same rendering task.  Next up was Lucid Virtu, a software solution that allowed Sandy Bridge processor customers to take advantage of the integrated graphics features while also using a discrete graphics card.  Lucid added support for AMD platforms later on and also showcased Virtual Vsync earlier this year in an attempt to improve user gaming experiences. 

mvp04.jpg

That is a nice history lesson, but what is Lucid discussing this time around?  The technology is called "HyperFormance" (yes, like "High-Performance") and is included in a new version of the Virtu software called Virtu MVP.  I'll let the Lucid press release describe the goals of the technology:

HyperFormance, found in the new model Virtu Universal MVP, boosts gaming responsiveness performance by intelligently reducing redundant rendering tasks in the flow between the CPU, GPU and the display. 3D games put the greatest demands on both the CPU and GPU. And as the race for higher performance on the PC and now in notebooks never ends, both CPUs and GPUs keep gaining performance.

First, a warning.  This software might seem simple but the task it tries to accomplish is very complex and I have not had enough time to really dive into it too deeply.  Expect an updated and more invasive evaluation soon.  There are a couple of key phrases to pay attention to though including the idea of boosting "gaming responsiveness performance" by removing "redundant rendering tasks".  The idea of boosting responsiveness pertains to how the game FEELS to the gamer and should be evident with things like mouse movement responsiveness and the stability of the on-screen image (lack of tearing).  Lucid's new software technology attempts to improve the speed at which a game responds to your actions not by increasing the frame rate but rather by decreasing the amount of time between your mouse movement (or keyboard input, etc) and what appears on the screen as a result of that action. 

How they do that is actually very complex and revolves around the Lucid software's ability to detect rendering tasks by intercepting calls between the game engine and DirectX, not around dropping or removing whole frames.  Because Lucid Virtu can detect individual tasks it can attempt to prioritize and learn which are being repeated or mostly repeated from the previous frames and tell GPU to not render that data.  This gives the GPU a "near zero" render time on that current frame and pushes the next frame through the system, to the frame buffer and out to the screen sooner. 

To think of it another way, imagine a monitor running at 60 Hz but playing a game at 120 FPS or so.  With Vsync turned off, at any given time you might have two to four or more frames being rendered and shown on the screen.  The amount of each frame displayed will differ based on the frame rate and the result is usually an image some amount of visual tearing; you might have to top 35% of the screen as Frame1, the middle 10% of the screen as Frame2 and the bottom 55% as Frame3.  The HyperFormance software then decides if the frame that is going to take up 10% of the screen, Frame2, has redundant tasks and if it can be mostly removed from the rendering pipeline.  To replace it, the Lucid engine just uses 65% of Frame3. 

mvp05.png

The result is an output that is more "up to date" with your movements and what is going on in the game engine and in "game time".  Like I said, it is a very complex task but one that I personally find very interesting and am looking forward to spending more time visualizing and explaining to readers.

Interestingly, this first implementation of HyperFormance does require the use of a multi-GPU system: the integrated GPU on Sandy Bridge or Llano along with the discrete card.  Lucid is working on a version that can do the same thing on a single GPU but that application is further out.

mvp01.png

Frame rate without HyperFormance 

There is a side effect though that I feel could hurt Lucid: the effective frame rate of the games with HyperFormance enabled are much higher than without the software running.  Of course, the GPU isn't actually rendering more data and graphics than it did before; instead, because HyperFormance is looking for frames to report at near zero frame times, benchmarking applications and the games themselves *think* the game is running much faster than it is.  This is a drawback to the current way games are tested.  Many gamers might at first be fooled into thinking their game is running at higher frame rates - it isn't - and some might see the result as Lucid attempting to cheat - it isn't that either.  It is just a result of the process that Lucid is trying to get to work for gamers' benefits.

mvp03.png

Frame rate with HyperFormance

Instead, Lucid is attempting to showcase the frame rate "increase" as a responsiveness increase or some kind of metric that indicates how much faster and reactive to the user the game actually feels.  It might be a start, but claiming to have 200% responsiveness likely isn't true and instead I think they need to spend some time with serious gamers and have them find a way to quantify the added benefits that the HyperFormance application offers, if any. 

There is a LOT more to say about this application and what it means to PC gaming but for now, that is where we'll leave it.  Expect more in the coming weeks!

Source: PCPer

IDF 2011: Intel Developer Forum Coverage Coming Soon!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Motherboards, Processors, Chipsets | September 12, 2011 - 07:22 AM |
Tagged: Intel, idf 2011, idf

It is once again time for our annual pilgrimage to the land of the Golden Gate to spend a few days with our friends at Intel and the Intel Developer Forum.  IDF is one of the most informative events that I attend and I am always impressed by the openness and detail with which Intel showcases its upcoming products and future roadmap.  This year looks to be no different.

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What do we have on the agenda?  First and foremost, we expect to hear all about Ivy Bridge and the architecture changes it brings to the Sandy Bridge CPUs currently in the market.  Will we see increased x86 performance or maybe increases in the likelihood of us recommending the integrated graphics?  More information is set to be revealed on the 22nm tri-gate transistor as well as the X79 chipset and the Sandy Bridge-E enthusiast platform.  SSDs and Ultrabooks are also set on the docket.  It's going to be busy.

But what would a week in downtown San Francisco be without visits from other companies as well?  We are set to meet with Lucid, MSI, ASUS, Gigabyte, Corsair, HP and of course, AMD.  I expect we will have just as much to say about what each of these companies has on display as we do Intel's event.  

I am planning on live blogging many of the sessions I will be attending so stay tuned to PC Perspective all week for the latest!!

Source: Intel

The new ASUS Maximus IV boards are "twins"

Subject: Motherboards | September 8, 2011 - 10:48 AM |
Tagged: Maximus IV Extreme-Z, Maximus IV Gene-Z, asus, uATX, lga1155

If you are looking for a top of the line Z68 motherboard then two of the models you should consider are the ASUS Maximus IV Extreme-Z and Maximus IV Gene-Z.  While they share many characteristics you can think of the Extreme-Z as the gaming board because of the four PCIe 16x slots and the Gene-Z as the media motherboard as it sports an HDMI out which the Extreme-Z does not.  As well as the difference in output, the Extreme-z has the common Realtek ALC 889 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC while the Gene-Z has the higher end SupremeFX X-Fi 2 built-in 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC.  The final difference and perhaps the easiest to spot is that the Extreme-Z is a full ATX board while the Gene-Z is uATX.  Check out the performance of both boards in Legit Reviews latest article.

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"The ASUS Maximus IV Extreme-Z is aimed at those looking to squeeze every last Megahertz out of their second generation Intel Core processor. With features like the LN2 switch that will help get past that pesky little cold bug problem, we know this board is meant for the extreme user. When we were performing our overclocking with the ASUS Maximus IV Extreme-Z it was a very smooth process. We were able to increase our multiplier to x51 and our Bclk to 100.4, though it showed up as 100.5 in CPUz. These settings brought us past the 5.1GHz mark and we were there in under an hour..."

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A Sapphire and platinum motherboard; gaudy or a work of art?

Subject: Motherboards | August 31, 2011 - 09:06 AM |
Tagged: x68, sandy bridge, sapphire pure platinum

Sapphire has been busy making a name for themselves as a high end motherboard maker in addition to their graphics card models.  The Sapphire Pure Platinum Z68 is their first foray into SandyBridge and comes with a long host of features common to the Z68 platform as well as features common to Sapphire's GPUs such as a dual BIOS.  Hi Tech Legion had a great time overclocking with this board both manually and with the help of Sapphire's TriXXX software, getting a i5-2500K all the way to 4.74GHz.  Read on to see this impressive board in action.

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"The Pure Platinum Z68 is the Sapphire's first entry for the Z68 chipset of Intel, which is capable of technologies such as Smart Response and Virtu. The Sapphire Pure Platinum Z68 includes 4 DIMM slots with support of up to 16GB of RAM with speeds of up to 1600+MHz. For network connectivity, the Sapphire Pure Platinum Z68 has a Marvell chip controlled Gigabit LAN port and wireless capability via a Bluetooth 2.1 receiver. Storage options are many in the Pure Platinum Z68, with 8 total SATA ports; 4 SATA II with RAID 0,1,5,10 and AHCI controlled by the Z68 chipset, while there are 2 SATA III ports also controlled by the Z68 and the last 2 are controlled by Marvell's controller. Peripherals on the Z68 Pure Platinum are 2 USB 3.0 with up to 12 total USB 2.0 ports (including the USB headers), with 4 on the rear panel."

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New Gigabyte Tool Switches SATA Mode In Windows

Subject: Motherboards | August 30, 2011 - 04:17 AM |
Tagged: Utility, p67, motherboard, Intel, gigabyte, bios

According to Tech Power UP, Gigabyte recently released a Windows tool that allows users to change the SATA controller mode without digging into the BIOS. The SATA controller mode relates to how the controller on the motherboard or add-on card communicates with the hard drive or SSD. Users will be able to choose from legacy IDE, AHCI, and RAID modes. From the brightly colored Windows tool, users can change the setting accordingly. The utility will then write the setting to the CMOS and prompt the user to reboot the computer so that the change can take effect.

The tool will work with any Gigabyte motherboards with the Intel H61, H67, P67, or Z68 chipsets. Further, the utility will run on both 32 bit and 64 bit versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7 operating systems. It is available to download from here.  The package comes as a zip file containing an executable that does not need to be installed, which is a welcome touch.

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While the Gigabyte Disk Mode Switch tool will make changing the setting easier than digging through the BIOS, it effectively accomplishes the same thing. What this means from a practical standpoint is that the Windows tool for changing the SATA mode suffers from the same issues that changing it in the BIOS does; mainly that the (Windows) operating system does not like such drastic changes and the user may encounter problems with Windows recognizing the drive and/or assigning the proper drivers. This is an issue primarily when changing the SATA mode of the drive that the operating system is installed on. While there are some registry tweaks that promise to help smooth the process, it is generally recommend to ensure the proper SATA mode is set before installing Windows onto the drive. Therefore, this tool’s usefulness is somewhat questionable.

Have you encountered any issues in changing the SATA mode post-install? Is this gigabyte tool useful or just another piece of manufacturer "helpware" that DIYers will never use?

Buy the Gigabyte Z68XP-UD3-iSSD; get a 20GB Intel SSD for free!

Subject: Motherboards | August 24, 2011 - 01:33 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, Z68XP-UD3-iSSD, Intel SRT, intel 311

Gigabyte has been talking about releasing a Z68 board with an integrated Intel 310 series drive since CES and they have finally released it.  The Gigabyte Z68XP-UD3-iSSD ships with a 20GB Intel 311 SSD already installed to let you take advantage of Intel SRT right off the bat.  Power users will be glad to know it is not integral and can be swapped out with a 40GB or 60GB model if you deem it necessary for your continued happiness.  That is just one of the huge list of features on Gigabyte's new board, which only seems to be missing support for 4 way CrossFire or SLI which when you look at the minuscule gains it provides is not a problem at all.  Head over to Legit Reviews to see this $240 monster run.

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"It's not very often that something throws me for a loop, at least not when it comes to motherboards any more. That's exactly what happened when I first heard about the GIGABYTE Z68XP-UD3-iSSD! My first thoughts were that it's a great idea, followed by that boards has to cost a pretty penny! After today's testing, I will stand by my initial though of that's a great idea. What truly blew my mind was the price. As I said above, I thought the GIGABYTE Z68XP-UD3-iSSD was going to cost a pretty penny, somewhere in the $350-$400. Imagine my surprise when I found out that the Z68XP-UD7-iSSD retails for only $239.99! Needless to say I was a bit shocked!"

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Motherboards

The new B3 revision of the ASUS P8P67 Pro is more Solid than Snake

Subject: Motherboards | August 17, 2011 - 12:43 PM |
Tagged: lga1155, asus, P8P67 Pro rev b3

When testing the ASUS P8P67 Pro, [H]ard|OCP managed to get 4.8GHz out of an Intel i5 2500K; about as good a recommendation as you could hope for.  That is in addition to ASUS' specific BIOS which will disable Turbo scaling, pegging the CPU to the top speed whenever it is in use, which explains the higher scores in some of the benchmarks they ran.  The built in OC Tuner BIOS application will overclock the board for you, in the tests after about 5 minutes and a few reboots it stabilized a 2600K on the board at 43x102.1 or 4.39GHz and could be pushed higher if you manually raised the multiplier. The board may not have some of the extras available on other makes but as far as stability goes this board is hard to beat.

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"ASUS' latest foray in to the Intel LGA1155 market shows up in a competitive package, the P8P67 Pro. The board combines the features and technologies you've come to expect from ASUS and promises not to disappoint. This motherboard also happens to target the sub-$180 market so it will be on the list for budget minded builds."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

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Source: [H]ard|OCP