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!

Consider the ECS Z97I-DRONE for your next Mini-ITX system

Subject: Motherboards | December 16, 2014 - 04:09 PM |
Tagged: z97, ECS, GANK, Z97I-Drone, mini ITX, SFF

We haven't seen an ECS DRONE board here since Morry reviewed the Z87GH3-A3X last January but the series is still alive.  MadShrimps wrapped up a review of the newer ECS Z97I-Drone, a Mini-ITX board which should soon be available for under $100.  The board will support DDR3-3000 and M.2 storage as well as being designed with 5-Phase PWM and ICY Chokes and other features that first appeared on higher end boards but are now available at the lower end as well.  Since it is a Micro-ITX board there is only room for a single PCIe 3.0 16x slot which does limit the system somewhat but still performs up to spec.  Check out the full review to see if this is a board you want to build a SFF system with.

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"ECS does not disappoint with the release of the cheap ECS Z97I-Drone which allows installation of a powerful Haswell processor which can be paired with RAM up to 16GB and eventually a potent VGA card inside the provided PCI Express x16 slot; be warned however that using a beefy CPU cooler will likely cover the PCI-Express slot completely so we would recommend either sticking with the stock Intel cooler or adopting an all-in-one water cooling solution, which is so accessible these days."

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Motherboards

Source: MadShrimps
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!

MSI X99S Gaming 7 for the enthusiast with a bit of a budget

Subject: Motherboards | December 2, 2014 - 01:59 PM |
Tagged: X99S GAMING 7, msi, LGA2011-3, Intel X99, Haswell-E, Dragon Gaming Series

Morry has covered the previous generation of Gaming 7 as well as $465 X99 Gaming 9 but we haven't yet seen the slightly lower priced X99 Gaming 7 which can be had for just under $300 right now.  The reduction in price does not seem to have hurt the feature set with full speed M.2 support, four PCI-E x16 slots of which three can be used for multiple GPU setups as the other lanes are tied up with SATA Express and M.2 and other storage connections.  As you may remember from Morry's reviews the UEFI is rather impressive looking and effective as well, a single push of the onboard OC Genie button will get you a mild overclock, Hardware Canucks had better luck with a manual overclock for those who have the patience.  Check out their full review of a well designed and decently priced X99 board right here.

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"MSI's X99S Gaming 7 is something of a rarity; MSI has included a full stable of gamer-centric features and yet it is quite affordable when compared to other X99 motherboards."

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Motherboards

The new flagship of ASUS ROG, the Rampage V Extreme

Subject: Motherboards | November 18, 2014 - 01:57 PM |
Tagged: asus, Rampage V Extreme, X99, ASUS ROG

The Rampage V Extreme is the new high end X99 board in ASUS' Republic of Gamers series and carries a very high price.  The list of extras that are included are impressive, ranging from T-Topology to minimize electrical crosstalk to an ASUS OC socket and LN2 mode as well as physical extras such as the ROG OC panel which allows you to adjust voltages and frequencies via manual controls as well as adjusting fan speeds and other system variables.  The output options are very impressive, a dozen SATA ports and two SATA Express ports, ten USB 3.0 ports, 3 WiFi antenna connections as well as optical audio output and gold plated mini-stereo jacks for use with the SupremeFX 8 channel audio codec.  [H]ard|OCP takes you on a tour of this incredible board, the overclocking software and more in their latest motherboard review.

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"The Rampage V Extreme needs no introduction. It is the flagship of the ASUS Republic of Gamers aka ROG product line. If the pattern of previous Rampage motherboards holds it should be one of the best motherboards money can buy. Is the new ROG crown jewel still worthy of the crown at its $475 price point?"

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Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP
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!

ASUS' X99-A, they trimmed the price but not the features

Subject: Motherboards | November 6, 2014 - 06:18 PM |
Tagged: x99-a, X99, Intel, Haswell-E, asus

At $258 the ASUS X99-A is one of the more affordably priced X99 motherboards on the market and The Tech Report thoroughly tested it to see what, if anything, is lacking.  The board still has the "OC Socket" with extra pins which allow the certifiably insane to up their CPU voltage to 1.8V, it retains the M.2 socket, the DDR4 can hit 3000MHz even with all 8 slots populated and three of its six PCIe slots can be used together for SLI or Crossfire.  In fact The Tech Report has a very nice illustration showing how the board works with both 28 lane and 40 lane Haswell-E processors.  Check out the results of their testing right here.

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"Rather than loading up on flashy extras and extraneous accessories, Asus' X99-A motherboard focuses on the basics. It has a sensible spec, loads of builder-friendly features, and a diverse array of powerful tweaking options. Read on to see what makes this our favorite Haswell-E motherboard to date."

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MSI Also Launches X99S GAMING 9 ACK Motherboard

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | November 4, 2014 - 03:19 AM |
Tagged: msi, X99, motherboard, motherboards, qualcomm, killer, 802.11ac

The MSI X99S GAMING 9 AC motherboard is built for the Haswell-E architecture, and Morry did a review of it just a couple of week ago. He liked it, giving it a gold award. Now MSI has released a new model, the X99S GAMING 9 ACK, which is basically identical except for its wireless adapter. While the original AC-variant had Intel 802.11ac with dual antennas, the ACK comes with Qualcomm Killer-branded 802.11ac.

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Again, for the rest of the motherboard, I will refer you to Morry's review. The only real difference is the Killer NIC and Wireless-AC combo, which is actually more than it seems. If I understand it correctly, "Smart Teaming" will monitor the specific applications using the network and split them between LAN and WiFi, with the more latency-dependent programs getting the wired connection. In theory, this is interesting except that both streams would need to merge in order to get out the internet, which will be your bottleneck. On the other hand, if this works with multiple internet connections, then I could see a use case. For instance, someone has a solid DSL connection alongside their high-bandwidth Cable ISP.

Or, of course, that could not work at all and the outbound internet will, in fact, be your bottleneck.

Pricing and availability is also not available. You can find the original X99S GAMING 9, with the Intel wireless network controller, for about $405. An upgraded wireless adapter should not increase the cost much at all.

Source: MSI

MSI Launches X99S MPOWER Motherboard

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | November 4, 2014 - 01:12 AM |
Tagged: X99, overclocking, msi, mpower, motherboards, motherboard

The X99S XPOWER is MSI's top-of-the-line overclocking motherboard. The company has just introduced the X99S MPOWER to complement it on their product stack. It is a similar motherboard with a smaller price tag that was reduced by removing a few optional features (I will outline the major differences, below). These are basically unrelated to performance and overclocking, minus the buttons to set the base clock on the motherboard itself and a couple of accessories (the XPOWER comes with a free Delid Die Guard and temporary fan stand). It is more things like the number of I/O ports.

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The main differences with the MPOWER are:

  • It does not have the fifth, eight-lane PCIe slot, just the four provided by Haswell-E.
  • It has one Intel Gigabit Ethernet adapter, instead of two.
  • It does not have built-in 802.11ac WiFi or Bluetooth.
  • It has two less USB 3.0 ports (external).
  • It has one less USB 2.0 port (internal, seemingly the "Direct USB" port for BIOS updates).
  • It does not come with a Delid Die Guard or fan stand.

There are a few other differences, such as the XPOWER having an I/O port cover and a few extra on-board overclocking switches and buttons, but I cannot see anything that stands out. The current price difference is about 115$ at Newegg, which is a healthy saving if nothing is a deal-killer.

The X99S XPOWER motherboard is available now, although MSI does not provide an expected MSRP. I found it at Newegg for $270 (USD) and at MemoryExpress for $320 (CDN), though.

Source: MSI