Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of ASUS

The ASUS Z97-Pro Gamer motherboard is one of the newest motherboards to join their Intel Z97-based line of products. The board is squarely targeted at gaming enthusiasts, combining an appealing aesthetic with a compelling feature set for a must-have product. At an MSRP of $169.99, the Z97-Pro Gamer offers premium features to budget-conscious gamers.

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Courtesy of ASUS

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Courtesy of ASUS

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Courtesy of ASUS

Even with its aggressive price-point, ASUS coupled the Z97-Pro Gamer motherboard with a top-rated power system dubbed Gamer's Guardian. The board includes an 8+2 phase digital power delivery system, 10k Japanese-source Black Metallic capacitors, DIGI+ VRMs, ESD (electro-static discharge) modules protecting the integrated ports, and DRAM overcurrent protection with integrated resetable fuses. For superior sound fedelity, ASUS integrated their updated SupremeFX audio system into the board's design, featuring illuminated board sheilding, 300 ohm headphone amplifier, and ELNA audio capacitors.

Continue reading our review of the ASUS Z97-Pro Gamer motherboard!

A substantial upgrade for Thunderbolt

Today at Computex, Intel took the wraps off of the latest iteration of Thunderbolt, a technology that I am guessing many of you thought was dead in the water. It turns out that's not the case, and this new set of features that Thunderbolt 3 offers may in fact push it over the crest and give it the momentum needed to become a useable and widespread standard.

First, Thunderbolt 3 starts with a new piece of silicon, code named Alpine Ridge. Not only does Alpine Ridge increase the available Thunderbolt bandwidth to 40 Gbps but it also adds a native USB 3.1 host controller on the chip itself. And, as mobile users will be glad to see, Intel is going to start utilizing the new USB Type-C (USB-C) connector as the standard port rather than mini DisplayPort.

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This new connector type, that was already a favorite among PC Perspective staff because of its size and its reversibility, will now be the way connectivity and speed increases this generation with Thunderbolt. This slide does a good job of summarizing the key take away from the TB3 announcement: 40 Gbps, support for two 4K 60 Hz displays, 100 watt (bi-directional) charging capability, 15 watt device power and support for four protocols including Thunderbolt, DisplayPort, USB and PCI Express.

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Protocol support is important and Thunderbolt 3 over USB-C will be able to connect directly to a DisplayPort monitor, to an external USB 3.1 storage drive, an old thumb drive or a new Thunderbolt 3 docking station. This is truly unrivaled flexibility from a single connector. The USB 3.1 controller is backward compatible as well: feel free to connect any USB device to it that you can adapt to the Type-C connection.

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From a raw performance perspective Thunderbolt 3 offers a total of 40 Gbps of bi-directional bandwidth, twice that of Thunderbolt 2 and 4x what we get with USB 3.1. That offers users the ability to combine many different devices, multiple displays and network connections and have plenty of headroom.

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With Thunderbolt 3 you get twice as much raw video bandwidth, two DP 1.2 streams, allowing you to run not just a single 4K display at 60 Hz but two of them, all over a single TB3 cable. If you want to connect a 5K display though, you will be limited to just one of them.

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For mobile users, which I think is the area where Thunderbolt 3 will be the most effective, the addition of USB 3.1 allows for charging capability up to 100 watts. This is in addition to the 15 watts of power that Thunderbolt provides to devices directly - think external storage, small hubs/docks, etc.

Continue reading our preview of the new Thunderbolt 3 technology!!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

The X99-Gaming 5P is the latest board to be branding as part of GIGABYTE's Champion Series of motherboards with enhanced overclocking and memory support common to board's in that series. The board also features the G1 Gaming-branding, clearly targeting the gaming crowd with is red and black aesthetics. The board supports all Intel LGA2011-3 based processors paired with DDR4 memory in up to a quad channel configuration. GIGABYTE priced the X99-Gaming 5P competitively with an MSRP of $309.99.

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

The X99-Gaming 5P was designed to take the abuse that enthusiast gamers put their boards through. The board features a 8+4-phase digital power system, using International Rectify Gen 4 digital PWM controllers and Gen 3 PowIRstage controllers, Server Level chokes, and long life Durable Black Solid capacitors. It also offers a superior sound solution for gaming, pairing together the Creative Sound Core3D&trade quad-core audio processor, high-end audio capacitors, and a removable OP-AMP.

Continue reading our review of the GIGABYTE X99-Gaming 5P motherboard!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: SUPERMICRO

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of SUPERMICRO

SUPERMICRO is a vendor you really don't hear much about anymore, unless you are dealing with datacenter and server builds. However, they are looking to make a comeback into the enthusiast crowd with their Intel X99 chipset-based offering, the C7X99-OCE motherboard. The board features a blue and black aesthetic with stylish heat sinks covering all the important areas with support for all Intel LGA2011-3 based processors paired with DDR4 memory in up to a quad channel configuration. Offered at a $329.99 MSRP, the SUPERMICRO C7X99-OCE remains reasonably priced in comparison to Intel X99 offerings from other manufacturers.

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Courtesy of SUPERMICRO

SUPERMICRO built the C7X99-OCE to appeal to the enthusiast crowd, powered by a more than adequate 8+4 phase digital power delivery system. The following features were integrated into the board: 10 SATA 3 ports; dual RJ-45 Intel i210-AT Gigabit NICs; four PCI-Express x16 slots; two PCI-Express x4 slots; 2-digit diagnostic LED display; on-board power, reset, CMOS clear, and overclocking buttons; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.

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Courtesy of SUPERMICRO

Continue reading our review of the SUPERMICRO C7X99-OCE motherboard!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ECS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of ECS

The ECS Z97-PK motherboard is the company's mATX solution for their Intel Z97 Express chipset-based product line. Similar to other boards in their Z97 series, the Z97-PK is simplified to include what you need for a working mATX system without compromising on component or build quality. With an MSRP of $79.99, the Z97-PK is a very approachable solution for any use, including those budget-constrained HTPC builds.

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Courtesy of ECS

The ECS Z97-PK motherboard was designed to be an affordable solution packed with lots of performance potential. ECS constructed the board with around a 4-phase digital power deliver system and high quality solid capacitors to keep the board running stable. The Z97-PK board offers the following in-built features: six SATA 3 ports; a Realtek GigE NIC; one PCI-Express Gen3 x16 slot; one PCI-Express Gen2 x16 slot (x4 maximum bandwidth); Realtek audio solution; integrated VGA, DVI, and HDMI video port support; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.

Continue reading our review of the ECS Z97-PK motherboard!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

The X99-SOC Champion is GIGABYTE's Intel X99-based answer for the extreme overclocking crowd, over-engineered to take the abuse that extreme overclockers punish their boards with. The board supports all Intel LGA2011-3 based processors paired with DDR4 memory in up to a quad channel configuration. As a member of their Overclocking series of boards, the X99-SOC Champion board enjoys the series-specific orange and black aesthetics. With an MSRP of $299.99, the board remains an approachable product for most enthusiasts.

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

GIGABYTE designed the X99-SOC Champion with overclockers in mind, starting with its 8+4-phase digital power system. Its power circuity was built using International Rectifier Gen 4 digital PWM controllers and Gen 3 PowIRstage controllers, Cooper Bussmann Server Level chokes, and long life Durable Black Solid capacitors. Overclocker-friendly features include a CPU Mode switch, enabling enhanced voltage settings for the processor, the OC Trigger switch specifically for LN2-based overclocking, and a plethora of on board voltage measurement points.

Continue reading our review of the GIGABYTE X99-SOC Champion motherboard! 

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of ASUS

The X99-A is the base level board in ASUS' Intel X99 line of motherboard offering. Don't let the term "base level offering" throw you off though, ASUS put their best foot forward in designing this beauty. The board features full support for all Intel LGA2011-3 based processors paired with DDR4 memory operating in up to a quad channel configuration. Priced at a competitive price point of $274.99, the X99-A gives the more feature-packed (and vastly more expensive) boards a run for their money.

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Courtesy of ASUS

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Courtesy of ASUS

Just because the X99-A motherboard is designed to be the "entry-level" model of ASUS' X99 product line does not mean that they skimped on its design or features. The X99-A features the enhanced OC Socket and an 8+4 phase digital power system similar to that featured on its more costly siblings, centered around the Extreme Engine Digi+ IV solution. Extreme Engine Digi+ IV combines ASUS' custom designed Digi+ EPU chipset, IR (International Rectifier) sourced MOSFETs, high-quality chokes, and 10k Black Metallic capacitors for unrivaled power delivery capabilities. The board is further augmented by the integration of ASUS' Crystal Sound 2 audio subsystem for superior audio reproduction.

Continue reading our review of the ASUS X99-A motherboard!

Author:
Manufacturer: ASUS

Technology Background

Just over a week or so ago Allyn spent some time with the MSI X99A Gaming 9 ACK motherboard, a fact that might seem a little odd to our frequent readers. Why would our storage editor be focusing on a motherboard? USB 3.1 of course! When we visited MSI at CES in January they were the first company to show working USB 3.1 hardware and performance numbers that we were able duplicate in our testing when MSI sent us similar hardware.

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But ASUS is in this game as well, preparing its product lines with USB 3.1 support courtesy of the same ASMedia controller we looked at before. ASUS has a new revision of several motherboards planned with integrated on-board USB 3.1 but is also going to be releasing an add-in card with USB 3.1 support for existing systems.

Today we are going to test that add-in card to measure ASUS' implementation of USB 3.1 and see how it stacks up to what MSI had to offer and what improvements and changes you can expect from USB 3.0.

USB 3.1 Technology Background

Despite the simple point denomination change in USB 3.1, also known as SuperSpeed+, the technological and speed differences in the newest revision of USB are substantial. Allyn did a good job of summarizing the changes that include a 10 Gbps link interface and a dramatic drop in encoding overhead that enables peak theoretical performance improvements of 2.44x compared to USB 3.0.

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USB 3.1 is rated at 10 Gbps, twice that of USB 3.0. The little-reported-on nugget of info from the USB 3.1 specification relates to how they classify the raw vs. expected speeds. Taking USB 3.0 as an example, Superspeed can handle a raw 5Gbps data rate, but after subtracting out the overhead (packet framing, flow control, etc), you are left with ~450MB/s of real throughput. Superspeed+ upgrades the bit encoding type from 8b/10b (80% efficient) to 128b/132b (97% efficient) *in addition to* the doubling of raw data rate. This means that even after accounting for overhead, Superspeed+’s best case throughput should work out to ~1.1GB/s. That’s not a 2x speed improvement – it is actually 2.44x of USB 3.0 speed. Superspeed+ alright!

Continue reading our preview of USB 3.1 Performance on ASUS hardware!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of ASUS

The Rampage V Extreme is ASUS' premier product for their ROG (Republic of Gamers) line of Intel X99-based motherboards. The board offers support for all Intel LGA2011-3 based processors paired with DDR4 memory operating in up to a quad channel configuration. Given the feature-packed nature and premium ROG board-branding, the board's $499.99 MSRP does not come at that much of a surprise.

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Courtesy of ASUS

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Courtesy of ASUS

ASUS designed the Rampage V Extreme to handle anything an enthusiast could throw its way, integrating an 8-phase digital power system into is Extreme Engine Digi+ IV to power the board. Extreme Engine Digi+ IV combines ASUS' custom designed Digi+ EPU chipset, IR (International Rectifier) PowIRStage MOSFETs, MicroFine Alloy chokes, and 10k Black Metallic capacitors for unrivaled power delivery capabilities. ASUS also bundles their OC Panel device for on-the-fly overclocking and board monitoring, as well as SupremeFX 2014 audio solution for flawless audio.

Continue reading our review of the ASUS Rampage V Extreme motherboard!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ECS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of ECS

The ECS Z97-Machine motherboard is one of the boards in ECS' L337 product line, offering in-built support for the Intel Z97 Express chipset. ECS rethought their board design with the Z97-Machine, creating a stripped down enthusiast-friendly product that does not compromise on any of the design areas important to the expected performance of the board. At an MSRP of $139.99, ECS hits a lucrative price-point that many other manufacturers have failed to reach with an integrated Intel Z97 chipset in light of the offered features and performance.

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Courtesy of ECS

The ECS Z97-Machine motherboard offers an interesting cost-to-performance proposition, cutting back on unnecessary features to keep the overall cost down while not sacrificing on quality of the core components. ECS designed the board with a 6-phase digital power delivery system, using high efficients chokes (ICY CHOKES), MOSFETs rated at up to 90% efficiency, and Nichicon-source aluminum capacitors for optimal board performance under any operating conditions. The Z97-Machine board offers the following in-built features: four SATA 3 ports; an M.2 (NGFF) 10 Gb/s port; an Intel I218-V GigE NIC; two PCI-Express Gen3 x16 slots; 3 PCI-Express x1 slots; 2-digit diagnostic LED display; on-board power and reset buttons; voltage measurement points; Realtek audio solution with ESS Sabre32 DAC; integrated VGA, DVI, and HDMI video port support; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.

Continue reading our review of the ECS Z97-Machine motherboard!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

The X99 Gaming G1 is GIGABYTE's flagship product in their gaming line of Intel X99 chipset-based motherboards. The board support all Intel LGA2011-3 based processors paired with DDR4 memory in up to a quad channel configuration. The X99 Gaming G1 board prominently features GIGABYTE's new Gaming-line branding, adding sleek looks to its feature-packed design. At an MSRP of $349.99, the board comes at a premium price to match it premium status.

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

The X99 Gaming G1 board was designed to take any abuse thrown its way, packing an 8-phase digital power system. GIGABYTE designed the board's power delivery system using top-rated components, including International Rectify Gen 4 digital PWM controllers and Gen 3 PowIRstage controllers, Cooper Bussmann Server Level chokes, and long life Durable Black Solid capacitors. For the integrated sound solution, GIGABYTE paired the X99 Gaming G1 board with the Creative Sound Core3D&trade quad-core audio processor, high-end audio capacitors, and a removable OP-AMP for a superior and customizable integrated audio experience.

Continue reading our review of the GIGABYTE X99 Gaming G1 WIFI motherboard!

Author:
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: Asus

A Step Up for FM2+

I have been impressed by the Asus ROG boards for quite a few years now.  I believe my first encounter was with the Crosshair IV Formula, followed by the CH IV Extreme with that crazy Lucidlogix controller.  These were really outstanding boards at the time, even if one was completely overkill (and not terribly useful for multi-GPU via Lucidlogix).  Build quality, component selections, stability, and top notch features have defined these ROG products.  The Intel side is just as good, if not better, in that they have a wider selection of boards under the ROG flag.

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Asus has had a fairly large hole in their offerings that had not been addressed until fairly recently.  The latest AMD APUs based on FM1, FM2, and FM2+ did not have their own ROG member.  This was fixed in late summer of this year.  Asus released the interestingly named Crossblade Ranger FM2+ motherboard for the AMD APU market.

FM2+ motherboards are, as a rule, fairly inexpensive products.  The FM2+ infrastructure does not have to support processors with the 219 watt TDPs that AM3+ does, instead all of the FM2+ based products are 100 watts TDP and below.  There are many examples of barebones motherboards for FM2+ that are $80 and less.  We have a smattering of higher end motherboards from guys like Gigabyte and MSI, but these are hitting max prices of $110 to $120 US.  Asus is offering users in the FM2+ market something a little different from the rest.  Users who purchase an AMD APU will be getting much the same overall experience that the top end Intel based ROG customers if they decide to buy the Crossblade Ranger, but for a much lower price.

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The bundle is functional, but not overly impressive.

Click here to read the entire Asus Crossblade Ranger Review!

 

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of ASUS

The ASUS Maximus VII Impact motherboard is among ASUS' ROG (Republic of Gamers) board offerings in their Intel Z97 Express product line. The board builds on the strengths of its predecessor with the a similar layout and add-in card design implementation. ASUS augmented the new version of the board with an updated chipset and as well as additional support for the latest hard drive and audio technologies. The Maximus VII Impact has a premium price of $239.99 for its small status, but come packed full for features and power to more than justify the cost.

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Courtesy of ASUS

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Courtesy of ASUS

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Courtesy of ASUS

ASUS did not pull any punches in designing the Maximus VII Impact board, integrating a similar 8-phase digital power system as found on the Maximus VII Formula ATX board. The power system combines 60A-rated BlackWing chokes, NexFET MOSFETs with a 90% efficiency rating, and 10k Japanese-source Black Metallic capacitors onto an upright board to minimize the footprint of those components. Additionally, ASUS integrated their updated SupremeFX Impact II audio system for superior audio fidelity using the included SupremeVX Impact II add-in card.

Continue reading our review of the ASUS Maximus VII Impact motherboard!

Author:
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: MSI

MSI Redefines AM3+ Value

It is no secret that AMD’s AM3+ motherboard ecosystem has languished for the past year or so, with very few examples of new products hitting the scene.  This is understandable since AMD has not updated the chipset options for AM3+, and only recently did they release updated processors in the form of the FX-8370 and FX-8370e.  It has been two years since the release of the original FX-8350 and another year since the high TDP FX-9000 series of parts.  For better or for worse, AMD is pushing their APUs far harder to consumers than the aging AM3+ platform.

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MSI has refined their "Gaming" series of products with a distinctive look that catches the eye.

This does not mean that the AM3+ ecosystem is non-viable to both AMD and consumers.  While Intel has stayed ahead of AMD in terms of IPC, TDP, and process technology the overall competitiveness of the latest AM3+ parts are still quite good when considering price.  Yes, these CPUs will run hotter and pull more power than the Intel parts they are directly competing against, but when we look at the prices of comparable motherboards and the CPUs themselves, AMD still holds a price/performance advantage.  The AM3+ processors that feature six and eight cores (3 and 4 modules) are solid performers in a wide variety of applications.  The top end eight core products compete well against the latest Intel parts in many gaming scenarios, as well as productivity applications which leverage multiple threads.

When the Vishera based FX processors were initially introduced we saw an influx of new AM3+ designs that would support these new processors, as well as the planned 220 watt TDP variants that would emerge later.  From that point on we have only seen a smattering of new products based on AM3+.  From all the available roadmaps from AMD that we have seen, we do not expect there to be new products based on Steamroller or Excavator architectures on the AM3+ platform.  AMD is relying on their HSA enabled APUs to retain marketshare and hopefully drive new software technologies that will leverage these products.  The Future really is Fusion…

MSI is bucking this trend.  The company still sees value in the AM3+ market, and they are introducing a new product that looks to more adequately fit the financial realities of that marketplace.  We already have high end boards from MSI, ASRock, Asus, and Gigabyte that are feature packed and go for a relatively low price for enthusiast motherboards.  On the other end of the spectrum we have barebone motherboards based on even older chipsets (SB710/750 based).  In between we often see AMD 970 based boards that offer a tolerable mix of features attached to a low price.

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The bundle is fair, but not exciting.  It offers the basics to get a user up and running quickly.

The MSI 970 Gaming motherboard is a different beast as compared to the rest of the market.  It is a Gaming branded board which offers a host of features that can be considered high end, but at the same time being offered for a price less than $100 US.  MSI looks to explore this sweet spot with a motherboard that far outpunches its weight class.  This board is a classic balance of price vs. features, but it addresses this balance in a rather unique way.  Part of it might be marketing, but a good chunk of it is smart and solid engineering.

Click to read the entire MSI 970 Gaming Review!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of MSI

MSI upped the ante with their X99S Gaming 9 AC board, combining their black and red Dragon-inspired design with support for the newest Intel LGA2011-3 socket processors and DDR4 memory modules. The board features heat sinks over all the expected areas as well as a large LED-lit heat sink over the X99 chipset. MSI also integrates an armor-style overlay covering their audio components and an overlay cover for their rear panel. One of their most interesting additions is the MSI Streaming Engine, touted to assist with graphics encoding to make up for the lack of the integrated graphics processor in the Haswell-E CPUs. As a flagship board, the MSI X99S Gaming 9 AC comes at a flagship price with an MSRP of $429.99.

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Courtesy of MSI

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Courtesy of MSI

MSI integrated an 8-phase digital power delivery system into the X99S Gaming 9 AC, combining Hi-C and Dark capacitors with super ferrite chokes for optimal power delivery with enhanced power efficiency characteristics. The board includes the following integrated features: eight SATA 3 ports; one SATA Express port; one M.2 PCIe x4 32 Gb/s port; a Qualcomm® Atheros Killer E2205 NIC; Intel 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth; five PCI-Express x16 slots; a 2-digit diagnostic LED display; on-board power, reset, CMOS clear, and OC-Genie buttons; Slow Mode boot, Multi-BIOS, OC Genie mode, and Audio Power switches; Realtek audio solution with isolated audio PCB and Nichicon audio capacitors; dedicated per-channel headphone OP-AMPs; integrated V-Check voltage measurement points; Streaming Engine with integrated AVerMedia HD H.264 encoding chip; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.

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Courtesy of MSI

Continue reading our review of the MSI X99S Gaming 9 AC motherboard!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

The Z97X-UD5H motherboard is one of the middle tier offerings in GIGABYTE's channel line of boards. GIGABYTE updated the previous revision of their UD5H board, integrating the Intel Z97 Express chipset as well as updated heat sink and power circuitry design. At an MSRP of $189.99, the Z97X-UD5H offers a premium feature set at an affordable price.

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

GIGABYTE designed the board in accordance with the latest revision of their Ultra Durable design specifications, integrating a 12-phase digital power system so that the board would remain stable under any operating conditions. Ultra Durable brings several high-end power components into the board's design: International Rectifier (IR) manufactured PowIRstage™ ICs and PWM controllers, Nippon Chemi-con manufactured Black Solid capacitors with a 10k hour operational rating at 105C, 15 micron gold plating on the CPU socket pins, and two 0.070mm copper layers embedded into the PCB for optimal heat dissipation. The Z97X-UD5H motherboard includes the following integrated features: six SATA 3 ports; one SATA Express 10 Gb/s ports; one M.2 10 Gb/s port; dual Gigabit NICs - an Intel I217-V NIC and a Qualcomm® Atheros Killer E2201 NIC; three PCI-Express x16 slot; two PCI-Express x1 slots; two PCI slots; 2-digit diagnostic LED display; on-board power, reset, and CMOS clear buttons; Dual-Bios and active BIOS switches; integrated voltage measurement points; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

Continue reading our review of the GIGABYTE Z97X-UD5H motherboard!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of ASUS

The ASUS Maximus VII Formula motherboard is one of the newest members of the ROG (Republic of Gamers) product line, integrating several new features to elevate the board to an entirely new level over is predecessor. From outward appearance the Maximus VII Formula looks very similar to its previous revision, the Maximus VI Formula. However, ASUS made some under-the-hood enhancements and minor layout adjustments to the board, utilizing the functionality of the integrated Intel Z97 chipset. The Maximus VII Formula comes with a premium MSRP of $369.00, but is well worth the cost given the premium feature set and performance potential of the board.

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Courtesy of ASUS

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Courtesy of ASUS

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Courtesy of ASUS

ASUS designed the Maximus VII Formula motherboard with a top-rated 8-phase digital power delivery system, combining 60A-rated BlackWing chokes, NexFET MOSFETs with a 90% efficiency rating, and 10k Japanese-source Black Metallic capacitors, for unprecedented system stability under any circumstance. Additionally, ASUS integrate their updated SupremeFX Formula audio system for superior audio fidelity through the integrated audio ports. The Maximus VII Formula contains the following features integrated into its design: six SATA 3 ports; an M.2 (NGFF) 10 Gb/s port integrated into the ASUS mPCIe Combo III card; two SATA Express 10 Gb/s ports; an Intel I218V GigE NIC; an AzureWave (Broadcomm chipset) 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth controller integrated into the ASUS mPCIe Combo III card; three PCI-Express Gen3 x16 slots; three PCI-Express Gen2 x1 slots; 2-digit diagnostic LED display; on-board power, reset, CMOS clear, Keybot, MemOK!, BIOS Flashback, ROG Connect, and Sonic SoundStage buttons; Probelt voltage measurement points; OC Panel support; SupremeFX Formula 2014 audio solution; CrossChill Hybrid air and water cooled VRM copper-based cooling solution; ROG Armor overlay; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.

Continue reading our review of the ASUS Maximus VII Formula motherboard!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: EVGA

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of EVGA

The X99 Classified motherboard is EVGA's premier product offering for their Intel X99 chipset motherboard line. The board supports the Intel LGA2011-3 based processors along with DDR4 memory in a quad channel configuration. The X99 Classified board is a synthesis product for EVGA with all of the innovations from previous boards integrated for a superior offering. A premium product like this comes at a premium price point with an MSRP of $399.99.

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Courtesy of EVGA

The X99 Classified has a 10 phase digital power system and high performance solid state capacitors integrated to power the CPU under any circumstances thrown its way. EVGA designed the following features into the X99 Classified: 10 SATA 3 ports; two M.2 PCIe x4 capable ports; dual Intel Gigabit NICs - an Intel I217 and an Intel I210; five PCI-Express x16 slots; one PCI-Express x4 slot; 2-digit diagnostic LED display; on-board power, reset, and dual CMOS clear buttons; triple BIOS selector and Turbo switches; PCIe disable switch jumper block; integrated Probe IT voltage measurement system; GPU Link headers and cables; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.

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Courtesy of EVGA

Technical Specifications (taken from the EVGA website)

Microprocessor support Intel Socket 2011-3 Processor
PCH Intel X99 chipset
System Memory support Supports Quad channel DDR4 up to 3000MHz+ (OC).
Supports up to 128GB of DDR4 memory.
USB 2.0 Ports 8 x from Intel X99 PCH – 6x external, 2x internal
Supports hot plug
Supports wake-up from S1 and S3 mode
Supports USB 2.0 protocol up to a 480 Mbps transmission rate
USB 3.0 Ports 6 x from Intel X99 PCH – 4x external, 2x internal
Supports transfer speeds up to 5Gbps
Backwards compatible USB 2.0 and USB 1.1 support
SATA Ports Intel X99 PCH Controller
6 x SATA 3/6G (600 MB/s) data transfer rate
- Support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, AND RAID 10
- Supports hot plug
4 x SATA3/6G AHCI Only
Onboard LAN 1 x Intel i217 Gigabit Ethernet PHY
1 x Intel i210 Gigabit Ethernet MAC
Supports 10/100/1000 Mb/sec Ethernet
Audio Creative Core 3D (CA0132) Controller
6 Channel HD Audio
PCI-E Slots 5 x PCI-E x14 Mechanical Slots
- Arrangement - 1 x16, 2 x 16, 3 x8, 4 x8*
1 x PCI-E x4 Slot

*PCI-E lane distribution listed REQUIRES 40 lane CPU

Operating Systems Supports Windows 8 / 7
Size EATX form factor
12 inches x 10.375 inches (305x264mm)

Continue reading our review of the EVGA X99 Classified motherboard!

Manufacturer: ECS

Introduction

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ECS hosted a press event in the third week of August to unveil its new product lineup and corporate direction. The press event, named "Live, Liva, Lead, L337", lays out the important aspects of the "new ECS" and its intended market direction. They introduced the LIVA mini computer with integrated 32GB and 64GB integrated SSDs, their Z97-based product line-up, and the North America LIVA design contest.

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Their naming of the event was apropos to their renewed corporate vision with the first two terms, Live and LIVA, referencing their LIVA mini-PC platform. ECS developed the name LIVA by combining the words Live and Viva (Life in Spanish), signifying the LIVA line's aim at integrating itself into your daily routine and providing the ability to live a better life. Lead signifies ECS' desire to become a market leader in the Mini-PC space with their LIVA platform as well as become a more dominant player in the PC space. The last term, L337, is a reference to their L337 Gaming line of motherboards, a clear reminder of their Z97 offerings to be unveiled.

ECS seeks to consolidate its product lines, re-focusing its energy on what it excels at - offering quality products at reasonable prices. ECS seeks to leverage its corporate partnerships and design experience to build products equivalent to competitor lines at a much reduced cost to the end user. This renewed focus on quality and the end user led to a much revised Z97 board lineup in comparison to its Z87-based offerings. Additionally, their newly introduced mini-PC line, branded LIVA, seeks to offer a cheaper all-in-one alternative to the Intel NUC and GIGABYTE BRIX systems.

Contine reading our overview of the ECS press event!!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of ASUS

The ASUS X99-Deluxe motherboard is among the initial offerings in ASUS' Intel X99 chipset board line. The board supports the latest Intel LGA2011-v3 socket processors as well as DDR4 memory modules. ASUS also integrated and improved upon many of the features from its award-winning Z97 board line into this product, making for a superior synthesis of technology and computing power. The board does not come cheap with an MSRP of $399.99, but its integrated feature set and performance potential more than justifies the X99-Deluxe's premium price.

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Courtesy of ASUS

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Courtesy of ASUS

ASUS built the X99-Deluxe to take the punishment associated with a high performance system, integrating a 8+4 phase digital power system for the CPU and DDR4 DRAM power needs. Also integrated is the latest version of ASUS' Digi+ power power regulation circuitry along with 5k rated solid capacitors.

Continue reading our review of the ASUS X99-Deluxe motherboard!