ASUS' P8Z77V-Pro; trimming the cost without paring off the features

Subject: Motherboards | August 21, 2012 - 03:52 PM |
Tagged: asus, P8Z77-V Pro

At $208 the ASUS P8Z77-Pro might surprise you, with three PCIe 3.0 16x slots (dual GPUs are limited to 8x speeds), two of both PCIe 1x and legacy PCI slots, four each of SATA2 and SATA 6Gbps ports, eight USB 2.0 ports, a half dozen USB 3.0 ports and built in WiFi it is not exactly a basic Z77 board.  It does suffer from the common ailment of Z77/Ivy Bridge systems, the overclocking potential is good but not excellent, though it was rock solid at the 4.79GHz that [H]ard|OCP managed to push it to.  ASUS does offer better Z77 boards at higher prices for the hard core enthusiasts which may be why this board didn't pick up an award.  For those not looking to overclock much and would rather save a few dollars the P8Z77-Pro is a solid contender for your hard earned money.

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"The P8Z77-V Pro is a perfect example of how powerful the ASUS P8xxx series is and what it has to offer. While many would consider it a stripped down model, it is anything but. While not as feature rich as some in the series, the P8Z77-V Pro does have a lot to offer, especially given its price point."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

MSI MPower Motherboard Q&A - Ask your questions!!

Subject: Editorial, Motherboards | August 21, 2012 - 07:18 AM |
Tagged: Z77, msi, mpower, live

Tomorrow on our PC Perspective Live! channel we are going to be hosting MSI's Alex Chang, the man in charge of product marketing for motherboards and GPUs - so you'll definitely want to stop by and see what he has to say!  In preparation for his visit we wanted to give our readers a chance to ask some questions about the new product line coming from MSI, the MPower motherboards. 

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Starting with the Z77 model that has been teased at various locations (including our own PC Perspective Hardware Workshop at Quakecon 2012), the MPower motherboards will be doing some unique things like extending warranties to overclockers and running overclocking tests on EACH motherboard board it ships to retailers.  Here is a quick note from MSI on the topic:

MPower introduces a 24-hour burn-in test that is one of a kind. Electronic components are manufactured on an assembly line and then statistical sampling is used to ensure quality of construction. Every MPower board is tested using a full Prime95 burn-in test for 24 hours under a heavy overclock.

While you can probably reproduce this yourself in the comfort of your own home, MSI basically is doing this at the factory level to ensure every single board performs at the highest level. Not only are we changing the game of overclocking, but we’re also ensuring consistent and enduring performance from a desktop mainboard.

MSI has posted some new information on its website recently as well including some details on the overclocking burn-in tests:

OC Certified is MSI's OC testing procedure where Z77 MPOWER mainboards tested for stability with a 24-hour Prime95 stress test. OC Certified test a mainboard in three key areas:
• Higher Performance
• Enhanced PWM Cooling
• Better Power Stability

Higher Performance means all OC Certified tests are run at 4.6 GHz CPU speed. The Enhanced PWM Cooling test ensures that, even without airflow in a high-temperature room (30°C) without airflow from a CPU cooler. Better Power Stability is tested by running Prime95 for 24-hours in these conditions.

I would imagine that you have some questions about the product - its features, its new warranty, the overclocking capability for it, etc. and we want to offer you the chance to ASK those questions of MSI directly. 

You can comment on our post here (no registration is required) and then join us tomorrow at 1pm ET / 10am PT for the LIVE discussion and presentation of the MSI MPower Z77 motherboard.  We will have some prizes for those of you that ask the best questions so be sure to get your question in EARLY!

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Intel brings skulls back to the motherboard with the DZ77GA-70K

Subject: Motherboards | August 13, 2012 - 01:26 PM |
Tagged: lga 1155, Intel, DZ77GA-70K

The DZ77GA-70K is not exactly the rebirth of Intel's SkullTrail series but it certainly does bear similar branding.  Instead it is a high end Z77 based board which features integral Bluetooth and WiFi, 8 USB 3.0 ports, three PCIe 3.0 16x slots, a pair of PCIe 1x slots and even two PCI slots.  [H]ard|OCP liked the UEFI BIOS that Intel has included, though they feel it is lacking in the overclocking settings you would expect from an 'Extreme Motherboard'.  They have only good things to say about the stability of the board, so if you need a rock solid system with a lot of expansion capabilities more than you need a good overclocker, this might be the board for you.

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"We'll be taking a look at one of Intel's motherboards today, specifically the Intel DZ77GA-70K which is part of its Extreme Motherboard series. How can you tell it's an extreme motherboard? Why it has a skull on it of course! All kidding aside there is more to the DZ77GA-70K than just marketing."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

PC Perspective Hardware Workshop 2012 @ Quakecon 2012 in Dallas, TX

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Motherboards, Cases and Cooling, Processors, Memory, Systems, Storage, Mobile, Shows and Expos | August 9, 2012 - 07:30 PM |
Tagged: video, workshop, streaming, quakecon, prizes, live, giveaways

It is that time of year again: another installment of the PC Perspective Hardware Workshop!  Once again we will be presenting on the main stage at Quakecon 2012 being held in Dallas, TX August 2-5th.  

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Main Stage - Quakecon 2012

Saturday, August 4th, 2pm CT

Our thanks go out to the organizers of Quakecon for allowing us and our partners to put together a show that we are proud of every year.  We love giving back to the community of enthusiasts and gamers that drive us to do what we do!  Get ready for 2 hours of prizes, games and raffles and the chances are pretty good that you'll take something out with you - really, they are pretty good!

Our thanks for this year's workshop logo goes to John Pastor!!

Our primary partners at the event are those that threw in for our ability to host the workshop at Quakecon and for the hundreds of shirts we have ready to toss out!  Our thanks to NVIDIA, MSI Computer and Corsair!!

 

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Live Streaming

If you can't make it to the workshop - don't worry!  You can still watch the workshop live on our page right here as we stream it over one of several online services.  Just remember this URL: http://pcper.com/workshop and you will find your way!

Case Mod Competition

Along with the Hardware Workshop, PC Perspective is working with Modders Inc on the annual case mod contest!  There are two categories for the competition: "Scratch Built" and "In the Box" that will allow those that build their computer enclosures from the ground up to compete separately from those that heavily modify their existing cases and systems.

For more details, be sure to check out the on going thread at the Modders Inc Forums!

Prize List (will continue to grow!)

Continue reading to see the list of prizes for the workshop!!!

Source: PCPer

Gigabyte Unveils GA-H77N-WIFI Mini-ITX Motherboard

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Motherboards, Cases and Cooling, Processors, Chipsets, Memory, Displays | August 7, 2012 - 07:07 AM |
Tagged: Z77, motherboard, mini-itx, Intel, gigabyte, ga-h77n-wifi

During a European roadshow, Gigabyte showed off a new Mini-ITX form factor motherboard for the first time. Called the GA-H77N-WIFI, the motherboard is well suited for home theater and home server tasks. Based on the H77 chipset, it is compatible with the latest Intel Core i3 (coming soon), i5, and i7 "Ivy Bridge" processors. The board goes for an all-black PCB with minimal heatsinks on the VRMs, and the form factor is the same size as the motherboard that Ryan recently used in his Mini-ITX HTPC build.

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The GA-H77N-WIFI features a LGA 1155 processor socket, two DDR3 DIMM slots, PCI Express slot, two SATA 3Gbps ports, two SATA 6Gbps ports, and an internal USB 3.0 header. There are also two Realtek Ethernet controller chips and a Realtek audio chip.

Rear IO on the Mini-ITX motherboard includes:
  • 1 PS/2 port
  • 2 USB 3.0 ports
  • 2 HDMI ports
  • 1 DVI port
  • 2 Antenna connectors (WIFI)
  • 4 USB 2.0 ports
  • 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • 1 Optical S/PDIF port
  • 5 Analog audio jacks

The dual Gigabit Ethernet ports are interesting. It could easily be loaded with open source routing software and turned into router/firewall/Wi-Fi access point. To really take advantage of the Ivy Bridge support, you could put together a nice media server and HTPC recording/streaming box (using something like SiliconDust's HDHomeRun networked tuners or Ceton's USB tuner since this board is very scarce in the way of PCI-E slots). What would you do with this Mini-ITX Gigabyte board?

Unfortunately, there is no word yet on pricing or availability, but the motherboard is likely coming soon. You can find more information on the motherboard over at tonymacx86, who managed to snag get some photos of the board.

Source: Tony Mac X86

Gigabyte has a new Ivy Bridge motherboard; introducing the B75M-D3H

Subject: Motherboards | August 3, 2012 - 03:41 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, lga 1155, b75, b75m-dh3

At first glance the Gigabyte B75M-DH3 looks to have a typo as you would expect a Gigabyte board to start with the letter G and contain upwards of 11 numbers and letters afterwards, but this name indicates it is using the B75 Express chipset.  That means full Ivy Bridge support, with a PCIe 3.0 16x slot, a pair of SATA 6Gbps ports and four USB 3.0 ports and it also sports Gigabyte's Ultra Durable 4 technology and a UEFI BIOS.  Since this is a business oriented board it lacks some of the overclocking ability common to enthusiast boards and TechPowerUp found the back panel to be a little sparse, however at $80 this is a solid choice for any budget minded tech looking to put together an Ivy Bridge system.

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"Gigabyte sent me one of their entry-level products to check out, called the B75M-D3H. Yet make no mistake, just because this product is value-oriented, does not mean it by any means cheap! What makes Gigabyte's B75M-D3H so great? We'll find out in our review."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: TechPowerUp

Gigabyte Z77X-UP7 Delivers Up To 2000W of CPU Power.

Subject: Motherboards | July 31, 2012 - 03:46 AM |
Tagged: Z77, ultra durable 5, power phase, overclocking, Gigabyte Z77X-UP7, gigabyte

Motherboard manufacturers are well-versed in marketing, and over-engineering. And when those two aspects combine, enthusiasts get some really cool feats of hardware overkill. Computex brought us two radical motherboard designs, for example. Gigabyte is at it again, and this time it is showing off the prowess of the company’s power phase design.

Using one of the company’s upcoming Z77 motherboards, Gigabyte was able to deliver 2,000 Watts of power through the LGA 1155 socket--did I mention overkill was the name of the game for this demonstration?

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Specifically, Gigabyte paired its Z77X-UP7 motherboard with two Corsair 1200W power supplies and some laboratory gear to measure the power delivery. Using the 32 power phases in its “Ultra Durable 5” design, it was able to draw 300.6A, 300.7A, and 236.3A on three DC load testers. While drawing the total 837.6 amps, Gigabyte used a voltage meter to measure the current at 2.42 volts. Gigabyte then determined that the Z77 motherboard was able to deliver up to 2026.992 watts of power! The company claims that this would be enough power to support 25 Intel Core i7 3770K processors. It would also easily allow you to permanently destroy your processors, and really put that Intel overclocking warranty to the test (heh).

Needless to say, the board has some serious power phase and VRM hardware on board, and should easily handle the most extreme of overclocks. Granted, it is a marketing stunt, but it is a very cool one at that. As one area where motherboard companies heavily market, Gigabyte has quite the record for the others to beat. Here’s hoping that they attempt to break the record so that we can see more interesting tech demos. Maybe ASUS will bring out the Wolverine from the R&D lab, and see what its 40 power phases are really capable of!

What do you think about the Gigabyte claims? Below is the video that the company used to show off the Z77X-UP7 motherboard.

Source: Eteknix

ECS Motherboard First to Support AMD Memory Profiles (AMP)

Subject: Motherboards | July 23, 2012 - 02:32 PM |
Tagged: motherboard, memory profile, memory, ECS, amp, amd

Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS) recently announced its support for the new AMD Memory Profile (AMP) technology. The A85F2-A Deluxe will be the first of the company’s motherboards to support AMP.

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AMP is AMD’s version of Intel Extreme Memory Profiles (XMP) which amounts to known-safe automatic overclock settings. The AMP profiles are stored in the DDR3 memory modules and can be read by supporting motherboards. Now knowing the proper voltage, CAS latencies, and timings to use, the motherboard can ideally automatically configure the modules to run at optimal speeds.

The setting will be able to be enabled/disabled in the BIOS of the new ECS motherboard, as shown in the screenshot below. According to its press release, ECS is the first company to integrate AMD Memory Profile support into its motherboards, and it is honored to lead the charge. “Making a unique and glory prominent product is the only purpose for ECS.”

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Here’s hoping the implementation works well and is more accurate than my experience with XMP profiles has been! Will you be using AMP in your AMD builds?

Source: ECS

ASUS' new flagship, the P8Z77-V Premium

Subject: Motherboards | July 12, 2012 - 03:50 PM |
Tagged: asus, p8z77-v premium, thunderbolt

As we mentioned on the PC Perspective Podcast ASUS has a new ultra high end motherboard on the market, the P8Z77-V Premium for the low price of $440.  There are four PCIe 3.0 16x slots, capable of running two cards at full speed or four at 8x speeds as well as a pair of PCIe 2.0 1x slots.  There are a half dozen of both flavours of USB ports and SATA 6Gbps ports as well as SATA2 and eSATA ports but the big connectivity feature is Thunderbolt.  The feature set is almost endless, up to and including an onboard 32GB SSD and it seems that the only thing this board cannot do much better than the competition is overclock.  That is not to say you cannot overclock this board, only that the overclocking potential was lower than other Z77 boards from ASUS that [H]ard|OCP tested.  If you can afford the price, you will not find a more impressive Z77 motherboard on the market.

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"It’s been awhile since we’ve seen the "Premium" moniker on any ASUS boards. ASUS reserves this for boards with truly premium features that set these apart from the rest of the product line. The end result is usually a complex product with more features than most people will ever need. Let's find out just how premium the P8Z77-V Premium truly is."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

GIGABYTE Launches World’s First Fully Certified Dual Port Thunderbolt Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards | July 5, 2012 - 10:26 AM |
Tagged: gigabyte, thunderbolt, Z77X-UP5 TH, Z77X-UP4 TH, Z77MX-D3H TH, ultra durable 5

Double Thunderbolt, what does it mean?  It means that properly set up, the two Thunderbolt ports can power up to 12 devices and 2 digital displays simultaneously, with a third display possible from a dedicated video out port on your motherboards header.  Both Thunderbolt ports offer a bi-directional 10Gbps data pipeline that includes both PCIe and DisplayPort traffic, which can be intelligently shared by the devices attached to the interface.  Gigabyte is offering three models of motherboard with this feature, in addition to their standard additional features such as UltraDurable components, which you can read about below.

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Taipei, Taiwan, July 5th, 2012 – GIGABYTE TECHNOLOGY Co. Ltd., a leading manufacturer of motherboards and graphics cards, today announced the latest GIGABYTE 7 series motherboards, the very first to offer fully certified dual onboard Thunderbolt™ ports. Capable of connecting up to 12 devices plus 3 digital displays simultaneously, with breathtaking data transfer speeds that can transfer 1TB of data in only five minutes, GIGABYTE Thunderbolt™ motherboards offer the fastest connection interface ever on the desktop PC.

GIGABYTE Thunderbolt™ motherboards allow users to daisy chain up to 12 devices simultaneously via an incredible bi-directional 10Gbps data pipeline that includes both PCIe and DisplayPort traffic. GIGABYTE Thunderbolt™ motherboards redefine desktop PC connectivity to make it far easier to connect multiple high speed storage devices and HD displays to your PC than ever before.

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“It’s easy to see how our unique dual port Thunderbolt implementation simply offers more,” commented Henry Kao, Vice President of GIGABYTE Motherboard Business Unit. “We’re the only motherboard vendor currently offering DIY PC builders the absolute maximum in terms of device connectivity.”

“Thunderbolt technology represents a leap in performance and simplicity for media creators and entertainment enthusiasts,” says Jason Ziller, Intel’s director of Thunderbolt marketing. “We are pleased to be working with GIGABYTE as they bring the first dual Thunderbolt port motherboard to market. It’s a great example of what Thunderbolt makes possible.”

GIGABYTE Dual Thunderbolt™ motherboards open up a wealth of new possibilities regarding high-performance storage devices. GIGABYTE has worked closely with several leading device partners, including Promise® Technology, LaCie, BlackMagic, Western Digital, Seagate, Elgato, CalDigit and cable manufacturer Sumitomo:

“Working with GIGABYTE has been very exciting,” said Kosta Panagos, Director of Creative Marketing, at CalDigit. “GIGABYTE’s new line of Intel 7 series motherboards featuring dual Thunderbolt ports, will usher in a new era of flexibility to the PC platform. It is also a perfect match with CalDigit's new T1 and T2 Thunderbolt drives which provide professional level performance on all platforms at consumer prices, a feat that was previously unattainable, thanks to GIGABYTE and Thunderbolt technology.”

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“GIGABYTE’s new dual port Thunderbolt motherboards are an exciting innovation, giving incredible performance and are perfect for video and film professionals using Thunderbolt and the PC,” said Grant Petty, CEO, Blackmagic Design. “Customers using our wide range of Thunderbolt devices will now be able to choose to work in whatever format they need, giving them the flexibility to build whatever production and post production workflow they need.”

"In line with GIGABYTE and its dual on board Thunderbolt ports, WD's My Book® Thunderbolt™ Duo offers dual Thunderbolt ports for amazing creative flexibility while allowing daisy-chaining of up to six My Book Thunderbolt Duo drives or other high performance peripherals for fast and efficient workflow," said Craig Davis, Director Sales & Marketing, Retail Division, Western Digital Asia Pacific & Japan Region.

“Thunderbolt technology is a fantastic way to deliver both data and display via one interface. It provides unparalleled performance and plenty of flexibility,” said Leo Paskin, Product Marketing Manager at Seagate. “With the ability to daisy chain up to 12 devices on GIGABYTE’s new dual port Thunderbolt motherboards, you can turn a desktop PC into a central device hub by plugging in a single cable!"

“As the first Intel certified cable vendor, Sumitomo is delighted to see GIGABYTE bring the first dual port Thunderbolt motherboard to market, creating the ultimate connectivity for desktop PCs, commented Motoi Matsuo. “These new Thunderbolt motherboards are also the perfect fit for Sumitomo’s exclusive high speed 20m optical cables.”

"Thanks to their dual Thunderbolt™ ports, Gigabyte's new 7 series motherboards deliver unbeatable flexibility", says Adam Steinberg, Vice President Marketing at Elgato. "The unique dual port feature enables users to combine multiple portable Thunderbolt™ devices like the powerful Elgato Thunderbolt™ SSD."

“LaCie is pleased to see GIGABYTE announce Thunderbolt technology on their lasted motherboards,” said Erwan Girard, Professional Business Unit Manager, LaCie. “The time is now for demanding PC users, especially digital content creators, to experience the unprecedented speeds and advantages enabled by Thunderbolt Technology. The desire for computers and peripherals to keep up with their work flow is a concern of the past.”

Dual Thunderbolt™ - Fast, Flexible and Simple Connectivity for your Motherboard
GIGABYTE Thunderbolt™ motherboards are the first to be certified by Intel featuring dual Thunderbolt™ ports directly on the motherboard back panel I/O, with each Thunderbolt™ port supporting a maximum data transfer speeds with simultaneous bi-directional data transfer at speeds of up to 10Gbps - this means you can transfer a full HD 1080p movie in under 30 seconds.

GIGABYTE’s dual port Thunderbolt™ implementation ensures the absolute maximum potential connectivity, with support to connect up to 12 individual devices simultaneously, with each port offering full 10Gbps bandwidth.

Thunderbolt™ combines both DisplayPort and PCI Express protocols over a single cable so that users can connect a multitude of device types in tandem with HD streaming video and 8-channel audio, simultaneously in one specially developed cable. Users can also enjoy improved flexibility by ‘daisy-chaining’ several devices while still enjoying low latency and industry-leading data transfer speeds.

GIGABYTE Thunderbolt™ Motherboards Models
Dual Thunderbolt™ Ports are featured on the following GIGABYTE motherboard models:

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Source: Gigabyte

Some good warranty news for a change; ASUS and Gigabyte's new competition

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | July 5, 2012 - 09:53 AM |
Tagged: Warranty, asus, gigabyte

Neither ASUS nor Gigabyte have released an official press release on this topic but the news coming out of DigiTimes this morning will make many users smile if it is wholly accurate.  This story claims that both companies will offer free repairs on motherboards which are still under warranty for user damage in addition to the current warranty which covers factory defects.  Gigabyte will attempt to repair any such user caused damage, which should cover damage caused by overclocking or overvolting and ASUS will replace an unusable motherboard for free, including free shipping and delivery.

This may reassure many who have had bad RMA experiences, as the process is not enjoyable at the best of times.   The previous standard RMA process usually offered two alternatives, the first would be for the user to pay to ship the motherboard to the manufacturer who is often located overseas and if the problem with the motherboard was discovered to be a defect then that company would reimburse the shipping as well as ship out a replacement for free.  Otherwise you were often stuck paying the return shipping on a component that was in the same state as when you first gave up on it, as well as being without that part for the duration of the RMA process.  The second option involved cross-shipping but was only available to those willing to put the cost of the replacement motherboard and shipping on their credit card, to be returned if the motherboard was defective and again, if the board was not defective you ended up footing the bill.

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If these changes to the RMA procedure are indeed accurate then the worry of a faulty board being sent back to you if the damage was judged not to be a factory defect need no longer prevent you from sending a buggy or even non-functional board back to the manufacturer.  There are likely to be some limits on these new policies, keep your eye out for updates as the arrive.

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"Due to the weak global economy, in addition to dropping their motherboard prices, Asustek Computer and Gigabyte Technology have both expanded their motherboard warranty services hoping to attract consumer demand, according to sources from motherboard players."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

Check out the highly overclockable Gigabyte Z77X-UD3H

Subject: Motherboards | June 25, 2012 - 01:36 PM |
Tagged: Z77, Gigabyte Z77X-UD3H, gigabyte, Ivy Bridge

The Gigabyte Z77X-UD3H is one of the less expensive of the Z77 boards on the market today, offering quite a few features for its $150 price point.  A pair of PCIe 3.0 ports can handle single 16x or dual 8x speeds and there are two other PCIe 2.0 ports and even a legacy PCI port.  For storage you get a pair of SATA 6Gbps and a pair of eSATA as well, with four SATA2 ports to take up the slack and 8 USB 3.0 ports will help peripherals and removable storage hit great transfer speeds.   [H]ard|OCP took an i7-3770K up to a stable 4.741GHz with great ease thanks to the Gigabyte Easy Tune 6 suite but they did have some problems with their mouse while changing settings in the UEFI.  You should read about the quirks they ran into during testing, but if you are looking for a low cost overclocking board you could do much worse than the Z77X-UD3H.

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"The Gigabyte Z77X-UD3H represents a more budget oriented offering within Gigabyte’s lineup. "Budget" doesn’t necessarily mean bad, and "expensive" doesn’t necessarily mean good when it comes to motherboards. The question is, "How does Gigabyte’s Z77X-UD3H stack up against so many great budget boards already out there?"

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Upper Middle Class; ASRock's high end X79 and Z77 boards

Subject: Motherboards | June 12, 2012 - 03:27 PM |
Tagged: sandy bridge-e, Ivy Bridge, asrock, Fatal1ty X79 Champion, Z77 Extreme9

There is an ASRock two-fer over at Legion Hardware, with the $400 Fatal1ty X79 Champion for SandyBridge-E and the $350 Z77 Extreme9 for IvyBridge.  As you can tell by the prices, ASRock has come far from its roots as a less expensive choice for value conscious buyers and is now ready to compete with the established companies like ASUS, Gigabyte and MSI.  The X79 Champion carries a lot of extras, the Marvell SE9230 adds SATA 6Gbps ports and the SE9172 adds eSATA, as well you get USB 3.0 support from a TI TUSB7340 chip but all that comes at a cost, only a pair of full 16x PCI 3.0 ports.  The Z77 Extreme9 also features extras in the form of the PLX PEX 8747 PCIe 3.0 chip which allows dual GPUs at 16x or quad at 8x, an ASMedia ASM1061 6Gbps for extra SATA 6Gbps and a a wireless and Bluetooth module. 

Drop by Legion Hardware to see how they perform.

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"Overall we have been impressed by Asrock’s high-end offerings, as they really are top notch products. Asrock has continued to step up their game over the last few years and today we would have no problem purchasing one of their products over something from Asus or Gigabyte for example. The Fatal1ty X79 Champion and Z77 Extreme9 are more examples of why Asrock motherboards are worth checking out."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

 

Computex: ASUS Shows Off Two Beastly Concept Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards | June 6, 2012 - 05:12 PM |
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.

Zeus

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!

ASUS Zeus Motherboard.JPG

Source: AnandTech

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.

Wolverine

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!

ASUS Wolverine Motherboard.JPG

Source: AnandTech

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?

Source: AnandTech

Computex: MSI Debuts New Z77 Mini-ITX Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | June 6, 2012 - 03:04 PM |
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.

SAM_1962.JPG

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.

SAM_1963.JPG

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.

Source: MSI

Computex: Gigabyte Shows Off GA-X79S-UP5 WiFi Socket 2011 Motherboard (Hi-Res Photos)

Subject: Motherboards | June 5, 2012 - 05:40 PM |
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).

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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.

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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

Overhead view:

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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:

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Here we can see the 2011 socket, VRMs, and DDR3 DIMM slots.

More photos after the break!

Source: Gigabyte

Computex: Gigabyte Shows Off Thunderbolt Motherboard and Peripherals

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | June 5, 2012 - 05:04 PM |
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!

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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.

IMG_3221.JPG

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).

Vendor Model name Category
Apple Thunderbolt Display Display
Blackmagic design UltraStudio 3D Video editing
Blackmagic design Intensity Extreme Video editing
CalDigit T1 Storage
elgato Thunderbold SSD Storage
LaCie 2Big Storage
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.

Source: Gigabyte

Computex: MSI Unveils Four New AMD Trinity FM2 Socket Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards | June 5, 2012 - 03:40 PM |
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.

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MSI's Trinity display at Computex 2012. Source: MSI

MSI A85IA-E53

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.

SAM_1959.JPG

Source: MSI

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.

A55M-P33 (F2).jpg

Source: TechPowerUP

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.

MSI A85MA-E35

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.

A85MA-E35.jpg

Source: TechPowerUp

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.

MSI A85XA-G65

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.

SAM_1954.JPG

Source: MSI

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.

Source: MSI

ASRock Reveals New Technology Advances at COMPUTEX 2012

Subject: Motherboards, Shows and Expos | June 4, 2012 - 10:06 PM |
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. 

extreme11.jpg

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.

extreme9.jpg

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

visionx.jpg

Source: ASRock

ASUS preps ThunderboltEX add-in card for Z77 and H77 motherboards

Subject: Motherboards, Displays | June 4, 2012 - 06:30 PM |
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.

ASUS_ThunderboltEX Card_2.jpg

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.

ASUS_ThunderboltEX Card_5.jpg

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.

ASUS_ThunderboltEX Card_4.jpg

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!

Source: ASUS