Sneak Peak at the MSI 990FXA-GD65

Subject: Motherboards | May 24, 2011 - 05:20 PM |
Tagged: sb950, msi, amd, am3+, 990fx

 

AMD’s 900 series chipsets are coming.  Not exactly news here.  What is news it that we will be seeing them very soon.  Details are scarce, but from what all we can gather the 900 series will not be all that different from the 800 series.  The SB950 looks to be a tweaked SB850, but with no real new features over the older part.  The Northbridge portions should remain relatively unchanged, but again we could see a few tweaks and fixes applied throughout.  So in other words, no PCI-E 3.0 here or a significant die shrink.

We have on hand a few “spy shots” for the upcoming MSI 990FXA-GD65.  For those who pay attention, this sounds very familiar to the 890FXA-GD65.  When we take a look at the snapshots, we will see that the resemblance is more than just the name.

990FXA_GD65_1.jpg

 

More after the break...

The tough get tougher - meet the ASUS Sabertooth P67

Subject: Motherboards | May 23, 2011 - 05:42 PM |
Tagged: asus, Sabertooth, p67, tuf

[H]ard|OCP took a look at the ASUS Sabertooth P67, which is a member of ASUS' armour plated TUF series.  The two PCIe 16x slots, three PCIe 1x slots and two SATA 6Gb/s ports do not look unusual the TUF Thermal Armour does not.  Almost all of the components are covered by the heatsink, don't worry though as ASUS' Thermal Radar can see them.  That feature will keep an eye on your components temperatures, which is good thing as the TurboV EVO software makes overclocking a breeze.  The review was not barren of complaints, there are several improvements that [H] felt were necessary but that was not enough to spoil the overall stellar performance of the board.

H_ASUS_Sabertooth.jpg

"The Sabertooth P67 motherboard is the latest member of ASUS' TUF series of products. The board is built to be champion, with some of the best performance we have seem to date out of the Intel P67 platform."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

ASUS Sabertooth Motherboard Supporting 990FX Chipset Pictured

Subject: Motherboards | May 21, 2011 - 03:12 AM |
Tagged: asus, amd, 990fx

Soon, Intel based ASUS motherboards will be joined at the high end by one based on the AMD 990FX chipset.  TechPowerUp has the scoop on an upcoming Sabertooth motherboard.

While Intel seems to get the honors of the majority of high end motherboards, AMD enthusiasts will soon be able to get their hands on an ASUS 990FX Sabertooth motherboard with an AM3+ socket. ASUS is bringing out both the Republic of Gamers (ROG) as well as their "The Ultimate Force" branding. Let's see what that marketing speak purports to give AMD enthusiasts:

AMDSabertooth.jpg

According to TechPowerUp, the Sabertooth board for the AMD 990FX chipset "is designed to run up to four discrete graphics cards." Further, The board hosts an AM3+ socket, 10-phase digital VRMs, four DDR3 RAM slots connected to the CPU via a HyperTransport 3.1 link. TechPowerUp claims that the board will be able to accomodate up to 1866 MHz memory modules. The black PCB and green heatsinks keep with ASUS' TUF branded motherboards, and supports such features as UEFI BIOS and MemOK.

Connectivity options include:

   ASUS 990FX Sabertooth AMD Motherboard
PCI-E 4x PCI-E 2.0 (x16/x4/x16/NC or x16/x4/x8/x8)
PCI 1x PCI
SATA 6x SATA 3 ports and 2x SATA 2 ports

USB

1x USB 3 header, 1x USB 2
Firewire 1x Internal Firewire header
SPDIF-Out 1x Internal header
Rear I/O

1x PS/2 mouse/keyboard port

1x Optical Out

1x Firewire

6x USB 2.0

2x USB 3.0

2x eSATA (one powered)

1x Gigabit Ethernet

6x HD Audio ports (2.1 out + mic in or 5.1 output)

It's nice to see that AMD is still getting some high end motherboard love from manufacturers and consumers.  You can find more photos over at TechPowerUp.

Source: TechPowerUp

ECS Reveals Computex 2011 Hardware Lineup

Subject: Motherboards, Systems, Mobile | May 21, 2011 - 03:11 AM |
Tagged: hardware, ECS, computex

 

ECSComputex2011.png

ECS (Elitegroup Computer Systems) will be attending this years Computex 2011 convention, and they plan to unveil a slew of new hardware.  During the week, they will be showing off new motherboards, a new graphics card, four All-In-One PCs, two tablets, two notebooks, and an eBook reader of all things.

For the DIY enthusiasts, ECS will be showing off a AMD 990FX chipset motherboard, which will support AMD's Bulldozer processors, as well as a new series of motherboards "for cloud computing, home server, (and) work station."  While they were not willing to give out details at this time, they will have live high end gaming setups for attendees to demo at the show.  Further, ECS is releasing a NVIDIA GeForce 560 graphics card.  Again, they did not share any specifications, they claim that their card is 40% faster than its 460 predecessor.

All-In-One PCs will also be receiving a large showing at the ECS booth, with three SKUs of their "PC—G11" touch screen computer with wireless connectivity.  The DS110, MS300, and MS150 specifically will provide different levels of performance thanks to three differing levels of hardware (they mention CPUs and chipsets).

On the mobile front, ECS is unveiling two tablets.  The S10 is a 10.1" Atom Z670 tablet with a resolution of 1366x768 and HDMI out along with 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 3.0, and "3G or GPS."  The V07 is a 7" tablet based on similar specifications that will be released in August 2011.  The MB40 and MB50 are 14" and 15" Sandy Bridge powered notebooks with LED displays at 1366x768 and featuring a 6-in-1 card reader.  Further, ECS is debuting a 6" and 8" touch screen eBook reader with WiFi, Bluetooth, and 3G.  The eBook reader will feature either a monochrome or multicolor display, and will run the Android mobile operating system.

Source: ECS

More high end SandyBridge goodness, the ASUS P8Z68-V Pro

Subject: Motherboards | May 16, 2011 - 05:00 PM |
Tagged: asus, z68, sandybridge

The expiration of the NDA on the Z68 chipset has launched an impressive amount of reviews, which represents just how much choice you will have if you upgrade to a high end SandyBridge motherboard.  That is also easy to see if you search NewEgg for Z68 based boards, which range from $120ish to over $350 depending on the features.  One possibility is the ASUS P8Z68-V Pro, a middle of the road $210 board sporting two PCIe x16 slots running 8x is you use dual GPUs along with an impressive array of output and input ports and 7.1 sound.  Legit Reviews didn't hand it an Editors Choice Award for nothing, this board has a lot going for it.

LR_asus-p8z68-v-pro-1.jpg

"Prior to the Intel Z68 chipset, you would have to choose. Either you could have integrated graphics and no overclocking capabilities, or overclocking abilities as well as the need to invest in a discrete graphics card. Fortunately that is no longer the case. We now have the best of both worlds at our fingertips with motherboards like the ASUS P8Z68-V Pro that we have been looking at today. Every gaming benchmark that we ran, the ASUS P8Z68-V Pro was able to out perform the GIGABYTE P67A-UD7..."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

First Look At The Asus Maximus IV Gene FLP

Subject: Motherboards | May 13, 2011 - 06:56 PM |
Tagged: z68, motherboard, asus

Interested in a first look at Asus' latest Gene series offering for z68? PC Perspective has you covered with quite a few photos of the up and coming motherboard for you to drool over!

To start off with, here is the proposed box art along with a view of the entire motherboard:

PR ROG Maximus IV GENE-Z motherboard with box.jpg

As you can see, the motherboad is adorned in bright red and dark black colors, and the area around the LGA 1155 socket is accented with black finned heatsinks covering the VRMs.  A close-up of the heatsinks can be seen below:

For even more detailed shots, and a run down of the connectivity and overclocking friendly hardware, please use the "Read More" link.

Source: Asus

Testing out the Intel Z68's "best of both worlds" mode with a 20GB SSD

Subject: Motherboards, Storage | May 13, 2011 - 03:26 PM |
Tagged: z68, ssd, larson creek, intel 311, smart response technology

One of the more interesting things about the Z68 is Intel's SRT which allows you to utilize a small SSD as a cache for your HDD, allowing you the speed benefits of an SSD in most applications without having to spend the money to buy an SSD large enough to hold all your favourite programs. Legit Reviews tests a 20GB Intel 311 SSD paired with a 600GB WD Velociraptor in both modes, enhanced and maximized to see which offers the greatest benefits. Check out their findings.

LR_larson-creek-ssd.jpg

"The Intel SSD 311 Series 20GB 'Larson Creek' drive proved itself to be a great cache drive. If you have an Intel Z68 platform that can run Intel Smart Response Technology, it's worth looking into if you have a hard drive for the primary drive and don't want to splurge on an SSD and having to re-install your OS!"

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Gigabyte Launches World's First Z68 Motherboards With Support for mSATA Intel SLC SSDs and Smart Response Tech

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | May 11, 2011 - 05:23 PM |
Tagged: z68, srt, motherboard, gigabyte

Popular enthusiast motherboard maker Gigabyte has today announced 4 additional motherboards to their already expansive Z68 chipset based lineup at launch.

4277.jpg

In addition to the features discussed in the previous announcement, including Lucid Virtu technology, the four new models feature a mSATA connection for onboard Intel SLC SSDs such as the new Intel 311 20GB SLC SSD. The 20GB drive can be used in conjunction with the Intel Smart Response Technology to boost system performance.

While Intel's SRT technology is also included in the other Gigabyte Z68 Motherboards, these 4 specific models differ in the implementation. Specifically, they allow consumers to attach the small solid state drive directly onto the motherboard. This will free the standard SATA ports of a SRT SSD for another hard drive or optical drive.

news10.jpg

Gigabyte has found as much as a 471% improvement in PC Mark Vantage scores in using a 20GB Intel 311 SLC SSD and a SATA 2 hard drive versus solely a SATA 2 hard drive. PC Perspective also examined Intel's Smart Response Technology and found that in trace based testing, the SLC SSD greatly improved performance once the data had been cached to the SSD. As for improvements in boot performance, PC Perspective found that:

"Boot times were just 3 seconds shy of those achieved with the OS cached on the SSD entirely. Of significant note here is that the SSD 310 was able to edge out (0.5 secs) faster boot times than the SSD 320 *and* the SSD 510, which we tossed in for an additional point of comparison."

Intel's SRT technology can definitely improve performance in the right situations, and Gigabyte is offering even more options to implement it in their newly announced models; the Z68XP-UD3, Z68XP-D3, Z68AP-D3, and Z68P-DS3. The new models are due to be released in June 2011.

Source: Gigabyte

S-M-R-T, I am so smart. Intel's new Z68 with SRT is faster than a Homer

Subject: Motherboards | May 11, 2011 - 03:17 PM |
Tagged: z68, ssd, srt, msi, Intel

The wait is finally over and we can talk about the high end Sandy Bridge chipset which goes by the moniker Z68.  Finally you can use the GPU present in your Intel CPU and a discreet GPU at the same time and be able to overclock as well, which puts the H67 and P67 firmly back into the mid-range where they were intended to be.  That is not the only thing that has had enthusiasts waiting, Intel's Smart Response Technology, aka SRT but mostly known as SSD caching which implements cached I/O in a new way.  Check out [H]ard|OCP's full review to see what the impact of this technology has on your computing experience while you are waiting for the X79 to arrive.

You can see our coverage here.

i-am-so-smart-i-am-so-smart-s-m-r-t-i-mean-s-m-a-r-r-t-65762.jpg

"Cache I/O isn't a new advancement in storage technology but does play a large role in the future of storage on many Intel systems. Today we look at Intel's new Smart Response Technology and give our thoughts while keeping an eye on the future of consumer storage advances."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Fancy a peek at the Z68 even without any benchmarks?

Subject: Motherboards | May 10, 2011 - 02:47 PM |
Tagged: z68, sandy bridge, preview, lga1155, Intel

We here at PC Perspective are not big fans of the preview, as seeing a board without any accompanying benchmarks does not really provide us with the level information we crave.  However the wait for this high end Sandy Bridge chipset has been long and painful, as we want to see what the i7 2600K can do when it has a board that can really utilize its abilities.  To that end we take you to VR-Zone who have some pictures of Gigabyte's upcoming GA-Z68X-UD3H-B3.  Now to hope for someone to accidentally release some SSD cache benchmarks!

VR-Z_z68x_ud3h_2.jpg

Click for a bigger view.

"There has been some "concern" from Gigabyte's competitors that the company wasn't going to offer any Z68 motherboards with display connectivity, in fact, some of its competitors have been so "concerned" that they've sent out material stating this to media in certain parts of the world. Well, it turns out that it couldn't be further from the truth and yesterday you saw the GA-Z68MX-UD2H-B3 and today we have a few hands on pictures of the GA-Z68X-UD3H-B3 for your ogling pleasure."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: VR-Zone

Gigabyte Z68MX-UD2H-B3 Motherboard Pictured

Subject: Motherboards, Chipsets | May 9, 2011 - 09:11 AM |
Tagged: gigabyte, z68

The slueths over at VR-Zone have come across some photos of the upcoming Gigabyte Z68 motherboard option, the Z68MX-UD2H-B3.  The VRM setup is a 6+1 design which is pretty basic though the inclusion of three full-size PCI Express slots should allow for at least dual-card configurations of SLI and CrossFire and possibly even three cards.  

gbyte_z68.jpg

VR-Zone has more info on the configuration options as well:

Moving on we have a header for two front USB 3.0 ports via an Etron host controller, no less than five headers for 10 USB 2.0 ports, seven SATA ports of which three are SATA 3Gbps and four are SATA 6Gbps and for some reason a serial port header.

Around the back we have four USB 2.0 ports, another two USB 3.0 ports using another Etron controller, an eSATA port, a Gigabit Ethernet port, a PS/2 port, 7.1-channel audio with optical S/PDIF out and a set of four display ports consisting of a D-Sub, DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort.

For those of you that love the mATX form factor seeing reasonable designs like this one are good indicators that the Z68 market is going to have just many options as the P67 one did.

Source: VR-Zone

AMD commits support to coreboot for the foreseeable future

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | May 7, 2011 - 10:51 PM |
Tagged: coreboot, amd

When you boot your computer, you probably see a splash screen from whatever motherboard manufacturer or system builder you purchased from. Under that splash screen your computer is busily preparing itself to accept your operating system of choice with a lot of proprietary code. coreboot, formerly LinuxBIOS, is an Free Software project first released over a decade ago designed to replace your aforementioned proprietary BIOS with their own lightweight code. They claim boot times to a Linux console of just 3 seconds.

8-amd.png

AMD Embedded: In this article.

Thursday, AMD announced on their blog that they have committed to supporting coreboot for all future products starting with Llano APU. They claim that support will continue for the foreseeable future for both features and products.

We are not expecting our readers to replace their BIOSes with coreboot except for a small segment of hardcore enthusiasts with a decent understanding of C. That said, the motivation of coreboot is not currently in the consumer market: the embedded market is the focus and AMD’s pledge of continued support should mean that cash registers, kiosks, and set-top boxes will have a little more AMD inside driving them.

Source: AMD Blog

Gigabyte Partners With Lucidlogix To Bring Switchable Graphics To Desktop Enthusiasts

Subject: Motherboards | May 6, 2011 - 10:18 AM |
Tagged: z68, switchable desktop graphics, Lucidlogix, gigabyte

Gigabyte, maker of quality motherboards that are recommended by many enthusiasts for DIY builds, has today announced a long term partnership with Lucidlogix to bring switchable graphics to its Z68 desktop chip set based motherboards.

While notebook users have enjoyed switchable graphics technology like Nvidia's Optimus and AMD's Switchable Graphics for some time, desktop users have not had a widely available solution. DIY (do it yourself) builds have been even further from a workable solution. Today; however, Gigabyte has stepped up to the plate to offer OEMs and enthusiast builders the opportunity to use switchable graphics by using the Lucidlogix Virtu technology.

news1.jpg

So far, Gigabyte has announced three motherboard models that will ship with Lucidlogix’s Virtu technology; the Z68X-UD3H-B3, Z68A-D3H-B3, Z68MX-UD2H-B3, and Z68MA-D2H-B3 specifically. These motherboards support both Virtu and Intel’s LGA 1155 “Sandy Bridge” processors, which include an integrated GPU that Intel dubs “processor graphics.”

While these Intel processor graphics’ gaming capabilities are extremely limited, they do very well running Windows 7’s Aero desktop while sipping power. Dedicated graphics cards on the other hand, tend to draw relatively large amounts of power even at idle. Until now, enthusiasts have had to choose between low power machines that are unable to run the latest games or gaming machines that remain power hungry in everyday non-gaming usage.

What Ludiclogix’s Virtu technology promises for Gigabyte customers is the best of both worlds. By allowing enthusiasts to use both a powerful dedicated graphics card for gaming and a low power card for everyday use, better control, efficiency, and choices become available.

virtu-diagram.png

The way in which this switchable graphics technology works is that Lucidlogix presents a sort of virtualized graphics card to the operating system. There is then a bit of logic that determines which graphics card will process the various Direct X API calls. When only using the Aero desktop and IntelMedia processor graphics instructions, the dedicated card can be in a low power state while the integrated GPU handles the workload. When running games or when activated by a user (or their profile settings), the virtualized card passed the dedicated card instructions to process that are then routed out the Sandy Bridge video output connection. This allows enthusiasts the best of both power draw and performance worlds that mobile users have enjoyed for some time.

Another important benefit of the Virtu technology is that it will allow enthusiasts to use programs that benefit from Intel's Quick Sync technology.  Programs optimized with Intel Quick Sync in mind use fixed function transistors in the processor graphics of Sandy Bridge CPUs to hardware accelerate such task as video transcoding.  GPU accelerated software such as this is able to generate higher quality encodes at a faster frame rate (using Intel's Quick Sync) than both current Nvidia and AMD graphics cards.  According to Anandtech, when converting The Dark Night from a 12mbps 1080p x264 source video to a 1.5mbps 480p video optimized for the Ipod Touch, the Sandy Bridge's GPU was able to achieve 264.8 frames per second, which results in Quick Sync being "almost 4x faster than the Radeon HD 6970 and twice as fast as everything else."  PC Perspective also found marked improvements in transcoding time using Quick Sync to convert a 450mb Cannon 7D's video file to an ipad optimized format.  In PC Perspective's testing, they saw a 5.2x faster transcode time using Quick Sync versus without (no gpu acceleration). Until now enthusiasts with high end graphics were unable to use the graphics processor in Sandy Bridge CPUs as it automatically disables itself when it detects that a discrete graphics card is present in the system. 

The only drawback for high end gamers lies in issues with setting up multi-monitor rigs as the Virtu technology outputs over the motherboard’s single video output instead of, say, a dedicated card’s traditional multiple video outputs. For single screen gamers; however, Gigabyte motherboards with Virtu technology will be a boon.

Source: Gigabyte

An armour plated Sabertooth from ASUS

Subject: Motherboards | May 5, 2011 - 02:28 PM |
Tagged: p67, thermal, armour, armor, lga1155

The ASUS P67 Sabretooth sports Thermal Armor, a shell over most of the PCB giving it a unique look, but that's not all.  It also helps to spread the heat generated from your components and caps and has thermal sensors embedded within to give you a really good look at the temperature of portions of your board.  The UEFI BIOS caught The Tech Report's eye as did the performance.  They aren't convinced that the board should have you upgrading before the looming release of the Z68 but if that is not within your budget, this board might be.

TR_p67asusabre.jpg

"Asus' Sabertooth P67 motherboard offers five-year warranty coverage, loads of temperature sensors, and a novel shroud designed to cool motherboard components. We take a closer look at whether Asus has built the perfect premium P67 board for enthusiasts."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

ZOTAC Introduces FUSION-ITX WiFi A-series

Subject: Motherboards | April 29, 2011 - 07:31 PM |
Tagged: zotac, itx, fusion, amd

“ZOTAC International, a leading innovator and the world’s largest channel manufacturer of graphics cards, motherboards and mini-PCs, today introduces the new FUSION-ITX WiFi A-series – a world-class mainboard that combines the power of AMD Radeon™ HD graphics processing with class-leading energy-efficiency for the ultimate flexible mini-ITX form factor.
 
The ZOTAC® FUSION-ITX WiFi A-series features the AMD E-350 APU platform that incorporates a dual-core 1.6 GHz processor with Microsoft® DirectX® 11 compatible AMD Radeon™ HD 6310 graphics for the ultimate synergy of CPU and GPU performance. The combination enables flawless high-definition Blu-ray and streaming Internet video playback capabilities for a visually rich computing experience in a mini-ITX platform.”
 
pic1.jpg
 
Specifications:
Product Name
FUSION-ITX WiFi A-series
Chipset
AMD E-350 APU Platform
South Bridge
AMD M1
GPU
AMD Radeon™ HD 6310
CPU Compatibility
Integrated dual-core 1.6 GHz
System Bus
N/A
Memory support
2 x DDR3-1066 SO-DIMM slots
Memory capacity
Up to 8GB
Expansion
PCI Express x4 (open-end)
Mini-PCI Express (occupied by WiFi card)
SATA
4 SATA 6.0 Gb/s
1 eSATA
Display outputs
DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI-I & VGA (with included adapter)
WiFi
802.11n
Ethernet
10/100/1000Mbps
USB
4 USB 3.0 ports (2 on back panel, 2 via pin headers)
6 USB 2.0 ports (4 on back panel, 2 via pin headers)
Audio
8-channel high-definition audio
HDMI audio output (lossless bit stream ready)
Digital S/PDIF (optical) output
DirectX® support
DirectX® 11 with Shader Model 5
Other hardware features
OpenGL® 3.2, AMD Avivo™ HD technology, AMD Stream technology, dual simultaneous display support
Windows® 7 capability
Certified for Windows® 7 premium®

184c.jpg

184d.jpg

 The ZOTAC FUSION-ITX WFi A-series is a great motherboard for a home theater or low power small form factor PC. Being a mini-ITX size motherboard does not mean it lacks features. This mini-ITX motherboard includes the AMD Fusion E350 APU W/ AMD Radeon HD 6310 graphics, 2 DDR3 SO-DIMM slots, an open ended PCI Express x4 slot with the capacity of handing a full x16 card, 4 SATAIII ports, 1 eSATA port, 802.11n wireless, gigabit Ethernet, a total of 10 USB ports and 8 channel audio with HDMI audio output.
 
 It is uncommon for any motherboard to include four USB 3.0 ports. The ZOTAC FUSION-ITX WFi A-series has two on the back and two in the front. One thing to keep in mind is most cases don’t officially support USB 3.0 front ports as of yet. Will the current USB 2.0 front panel ports work at USB 3.0 speed?
 
The biggest advantage the AMD Fusion APU’s has over Intel’s Atom’s CPU is the graphics portion. Intel’s Atom graphics have problems with HD 1080p video, unless it is paired with NVidia’s ION graphics. This motherboard supports up to 8GB of ram and should be enough for any HTPC or SFF computer build. No fan over the APU makes for a quiet pc, and thats important if your using this motherboard for a home theater pc.
Source: Zotac

The Biostar THX1138 ... make that TH67XE

Subject: Motherboards | April 29, 2011 - 07:01 PM |
Tagged: biostar, sandy bridge, htpc

Biostar is still kicking and is doing it in style with the Sandy Bridge based TH67XE. With a 7.1 +2 channel Realtek ALC892 HDA codec onboard, Firewire, 2 USB 3.0 ports, up to 14 USB 2.0, VGA, DVI, HDMI 1.4,DisplayPort and even eSATA this is one incredible HTPC board.  Of course this comes with a price as the features leave few PCIe lanes open and overclocking is not good, though not overclocking an HTPC seems like a small sacrifice.  Check iXBT Labs for more.

ixbt_THX1138.jpg

"Biostar currently offers as many as five microATX motherboards based on the H67 chipset. And today we shall review the most advanced of those, TH67XE."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: iXBT Labs

Gigabyte demos TouchBIOS configuration tool

Subject: Motherboards | April 29, 2011 - 12:52 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, bios, touchbios

For pretty much all of my life, the BIOS of a motherboard has been the same old boring DOS-sytle coloring and controls.  Arrow keys, enter, that's pretty much it.  The recent adoption of the EFI standard is changing that quite a bit and if you look at some of our recent motherboard reviews, you'll notice that BIOS manipulation is now much more intuitive and graphical interesting.  

Gigabyte sent over a link to a video demonstrating their latest enhancement to the BIOS known as "TouchBIOS".  As the name implies, the interface has been tweaked for a touch screen though you can obviously also use a mouse to get the job done.  This is a Windows application however, so keep that in mind - you aren't actually able to use a touch screen when entering the BIOS.  Applying the changes also requires a reboot, so there is no additional magic there.

So what do you guys think?  Is this is a useful addition to the world of BIOS controls?

Source: Gigabyte

More on the Z68's love affair with SSDs

Subject: Motherboards, Storage | April 28, 2011 - 06:49 PM |
Tagged: z68, ssd, ssd caching, Intel

Since it would be cruel to leave you only with the leaked SSD family from Intel and a few hints from ASRock about the performance increase from even a 20GB SSD, here is some more information from VR-Zone.  Bear in mind we are still in the territory of leaked info and informed guessing but the topic is one worth keeping up with.

VRZ_Z68.png

"Intel plans to officially launch Z68 Express chipset on May 18th but you will be able to see reviews online from 12th onwards. Of course, those who can't wait for the official launch can already purchase the Gigabyte Z68X-UD7-B3 board from the retail market, first available in Taiwan and then the rest of the world in the coming weeks. Other brands like ASUS and ASRock are set to hit the retail next. Those enthusiasts hoping they can overclock their Sandy Bridge better on Z68 than the P67 will probably be disappointed but there is one important feature of Z68 that matters, and that is the SSD caching."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: VR-Zone

AMD 990FX, 990X and 970 chipsets to get NVIDIA SLI Support

Subject: Graphics Cards, Motherboards, Chipsets | April 28, 2011 - 09:45 AM |
Tagged: sli, nvidia, amd, 990x, 990fx, 970

In a move that is long overdue, NVIDIA's Tom Peteresen announced on a blog post that SLI multi-GPU support was finally going to be offered on AMD platforms with the upcoming launch of the AMD 990FX, 990X and 970 chipsets.  On previous AMD platforms users have not been able to use multiple NVIDIA graphics cards in SLI because NVIDIA simply did not allow licensing of the technology on them.  As of this month, that policy is changing.

amdsli2.png

According to the post, NVIDIA has had a change of heart and wants to "make sure gamers can benefit from the new CPU competitive landscape and ensure they have NVIDIA SLI – the highest performance, most stable multi-GPU solution - to game on!"  The lack of SLI on previous chipsets was the result of Intel being the dominate CPU platform of choice for gamers in recent years. 

ASUS, Gigabyte, ASRock, and MSI are going to be the first out of the block with motherboard based on the AMD 990FX, 990X and 970 chipsets with SLI support according to NVIDIA's Petersen. 

amdsli.png

This doesn't change NVIDIA's stance on the whole licensing and charging motherboard vendors to integrate SLI thing, however.  In an ideal world, NVIDIA would have announced that they were opening up SLI to work on ANY motherboard, future or present, that has enough PCI Express slots on them, just like we see today with AMD's own CrossFire technology.  Despite pressure to do that, NVIDIA is standing by its current formula and expanding into the realm of AMD chipsets.  

Regardless, today is a good day for AMD fans and gamers alike that want more choice and more variety in their system build options for the future.  The AMD Llano and Bulldozer-based processors just got a little more gaming friendly.

Source: NVIDIA

Back In Full Black…The Rampage III Black Edition

Subject: Motherboards | April 26, 2011 - 03:12 PM |
Tagged: X58, rampage III, rampage 3, lga1366, ich10r, black edition, asus

Fremont, CA (April 25, 2011) - ASUS Republic Of Gamers (ROG), the most innovative and award winning enthusiast and gaming motherboard brand, is excited to introduce the Rampage III Black Edition. Team ROG is resetting the bar by which motherboards are judged by incorporating new levels of design, quality, functionality and connectivity that enthusiasts and gamers demand in current products.

RampageIIIBlack.jpg

Years of Refinement – Today’s Latest Technology
The Rampage III Black Edition combines the years of continued refinement and innovative design its industry leading engineering staff brings to the ROG brand into one board. Not only does the Black Edition board sport the latest design aesthetics featuring a superb layout, ultra-modern finishes, and a revised thermal cooling solution it also features incredible performance.

ASUS has always pushed the performance envelope and the limits of designs with ROG motherboards and the Black Edition is no exception. After listening closely to the gaming and enthusiast communities’ feedback and combining the expertise of ASUS’ performance gurus Peter “Shamino” Tan and Andre Yang, the Rampage III Black Edition provides the most robust and extensive BIOS, software and connectivity options available on a motherboard. It is this dedication to the user community and continual product improvements that separates ASUS ROG from the imitators.

Leading Connectivity for the Gamer and PC Enthusiast
The Rampage III Black Edition meets the needs of gamers and enthusiasts alike when it comes to expandability options. The board begins by offering dual-slot GPU spacing to optimize airflow along with (4) PCI-E x16 expansion slots. In addition the Black Edition offers a multitude of leading I/O standards such as USB 3 , SATA 6G, eSATA, Bluetooth 3.0 and 802.11N WiFi. In addition the board features both Intel Gigabit LAN and BIGFOOT Networks Killer™ NIC LAN technology for the best possible online multimedia and gaming experience. The Black Edition motherboard ensures the latest connectivity standards are available for gamers and enthusiasts alike, something the imitators are unable to offer.

Digital Power Delivery and Design – Only the Best for ROG
Like all ROG motherboards, the Rampage III Black Edition uses the latest in high quality and durable components to ensure trouble free operation and long life. Leaving the constraints of analog designs from imitating brands behind, the Black Edition takes the performance leading and award winning ASUS Extreme Engine Digi+ design of the Rampage III Extreme and pushes it even further. Utilization of a super alloy choke and a high-quality dual proadlizer design ensures extremely low ESL and ESR as well as high capacitance and current capabilities for cooler operation while gaming along with leading performance when overclocking. These superior design elements are brought together with ASUS’ other innovative designs such as ROG Connect, OC Zone and AI Suite to give gamers and enthusiasts gamers a board that stands above the rest.

Ultimate Immersion and Superior Performance
Republic Of Gamers always pushes the limits of hardware design and now takes this commitment to the next level with the ThunderBolt card. The ThunderBolt combines the award winning designs of ASUS’ Xonar audio cards as well as specifically designed high performance DAC and headphone amp for the ultimate in ear fidelity and in game positioning. In addition the ThunderBolt card integrates cutting-edge gaming technology from BIGFOOT Networks Killer™ NIC series and brings them together into one card. Plugging the Thunderbolt card into an open PCI-E slot ensures an immersive audio experience and stunning networking performance in a unique design that competing imitators do not offer.

Specifications
Intel LGA1366 socket for Intel Corei7 Processor Extreme Edition / Core™i7 Processor with optimizations for Gulftown 32m based CPUs.

  • Intel® X58/ ICH10R
  • ROG ThunderBolt LAN/Audio Combo with High Quality AMP for headphones , Based on Xonar Audio Design and Killer™ NIC E2100 NPU  (that is the add-in card you can see on the board)
  • Bluetooth v3.0+HS with 802.11n WIFI Support
  • Extreme Engine Digi+ - Powerful combination of analog and digital design elements for Ultimate VRM Performance
  • True USB 3.0 & SATA 6Gb/s Support.
Source: ASUS