Asus Launches New Mini ITX Motherboards With Braswell-Based Intel Celeron Processors

Subject: Motherboards | July 4, 2015 - 10:52 PM |
Tagged: SFF, mini ITX, fanless, Braswell, Airmont, asus

Asus has introduced two new small form factor motherboards featuring soldered Intel “Braswell”-based Celeron processors. The Asus N3150I-C and N3050I-C are Mini ITX form factor boards with decent connectivity and lower power draw with the processor options topping out at 6 watts.

Asus Braswell-Based Celeron Mini ITX Motherboards N3150i-c and N3050i-c.jpg

The two SFF motherboards are essentially the same, with the main difference being the bundled processor (see below). The boards have 24+4 pin ATX power inputs, two full-size DDR3 memory slots, two SATA 6 Gbps ports, a single PCI-E 2.0 x4 slot (open ended), and one mini PCI-E connector. The Intel processors on both boards are passively cooled by a large rectangular gold-colored aluminum heatsink.

The rear of the board includes the following I/O ports.

  • 2 x PS/2
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x VGA
  • 1 x RS232
  • 3 x Audio outputs

The N3150I-C board uses an Intel Celeron N3150 while the N3050I-C uses an Intel Celeron N3050. Both chips are 14nm and based on the newer Airmont architecture. These “Braswell” chips have incremental improvements in CPU performance and more significant graphics performance boosts with the inclusion of up to 16 execution units.

Specifically, the N3150 is a quad core chip clocked at 1.6 GHz base to 2.08 GHz burst with Intel HD Graphics (12 EUs up to 640 MHz) and a 6W TDP. On the other hand, the Celeron N3050 is a dual core chip – also with a 6W TDP – clocked at 1.6 GHz base and 2.16 GHz burst paired with Intel HD Graphics (12 EUs) clocked at up to 600 MHz.

These new boards could be used as the base for a NAS box, home media server, or a router and wireless AP by using those PCI-E and mPCI-E slots. Pricing and availability have not yet been announced, however.

Source: Asus

When the going gets tough, the TUF get going to ASUS

Subject: Motherboards | July 2, 2015 - 06:17 PM |
Tagged: Sabertooth X99, asus, tuf

The TUF series of ASUS boards are recognizable thanks to the Thermal Armour which covers the vast majority of the board and are marketed as having mil-spec components to outlast other motherboards using the same chipset.  This board supports quad GPU setups but keep in mind that there is also an M.2 port, that you need a more expensive CPU and the fact that there are only three PCIe 16x 3.0 slots, the other card will be in a PCIe 4x 2.0 slot, leaving a single 1x slot for other cards. The AI Suite III overclocking software is not supported on this TUF board but [H]ard|OCP had great success overclocking manually, some of their reviewers more so than others though.  Check out the full review if you are comparison shopping for an X99 motherboard.

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"ASUS’ SABERTOOTH X99 promises premium quality and unmatched stability alongside industry leading fan control. Saberooth motherboards have in the past all been universally excellent and this motherboard is one of the newest in the TUF series. Can ASUS keep that streak going? It's going to be TUF."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

MSI's X99A MPower has a bit of personality

Subject: Motherboards | June 16, 2015 - 01:45 PM |
Tagged: msi, X99, X99A MPower

MSI's X99A MPower board sports the new USB 3.1 but not the new plugs if you were hoping for USB ports that do not have an orientation.  Depending on the CPU installed, he four PCIe 16x slots can support up to three GPUs at once if you use the M.2 port, otherwise four cards can be run.  The Realtek ALC1150 7.1 codec is compatible with S/PDIF and provides optical out as well as 5 mini-jacks for speakers.  [H]ard|OCP preferred manually overclocking to the use of the OC Genie or the Command Center software and two of the reviewers experience some quirky behaviour which prevented the board from winning an award but once the settings were tweaked the board performed admirably.

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"MSI’s X99A MPower promises to deliver a ton of features at a reasonable price. SATA Express, full speed M.2 support, and USB 3.1 compatibility are all examples of what this motherboard has to offer. The MSI MPower series has never disappointed us before, so we have high hopes for this motherboard."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Computex 2015: ASRock Shows Off Skylake-Based Z170 Gaming Mini ITX Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | June 10, 2015 - 01:42 AM |
Tagged: Z170, Skylake, mini ITX, Intel Skylake, computex 2015, computex, asrock

ASRock had some nice looking motherboards on display at Computex, but one in particular caught my attention. The ASRock Z170 Gaming-ITX/ac is a Mini ITX motherboard ready to support Intel's upcoming Skylake processor, DDR4 memory, and a slew of speedy connectivity options.

Asrock Z170 Gaming-ITXac Mini ITX Motherboard.jpg

The LGA 1151 socket is situated in the middle of the compact board and is surrounded by a 6+2 power phase, two DDR4 memory slots, the PCH with red heatsink and ASRock Gaming logo, a mini PCI-E slot with pre-installed 802.11ac Wi-Fi card, and a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot snuggled along the bottom edge. Storage support includes four SATA 3 ports and a single SATA Express port in the bottom right corner. Several websites are also reporting that this board has an Ultra M.2 port as well, which may be located on the underside of the board like existing Mini ITX motherboard implementations (for space reasons). Unfortunately, I was not able to dig up any photos of the back so we will have to wait for reviews to confirm this. 

As far as external I/O, the motherboard has the following ports on the rear panel:

  • 1 x PS/2
  • 3 x Video outputs (two HDMI and one DisplayPort)
  • 2 x USB 3.1
  • 6 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x Gigabit LAN (from Intel)
  • 3 x Analog audio output
  • 1 x Optical audio output

In all, this pint-size motherboard packs a punch and will make for a powerful small form factor gaming PC when paired with a Skylake CPU and dedicated graphics card! Of course, the all-important pricing and availability were not announced at the show.

Source: VR-Zone
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!

The new Broadwell on MSI Z97 and H97

Subject: Motherboards | June 3, 2015 - 05:03 PM |
Tagged: msi, z97, h97, LGA1150, broadcom

If you had any worries about being able to use the new Broadwell processors on your LGA 1150 board you can feel much better after this press release from MSI.  They have announce full support for Intel's new processors when they arrive on the market, after applying an update to your motherboards Click BIOS 4.

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MSI, leading in motherboard design, is proud to announce that our Z97 & H97 motherboards fully support the 5th Generation Intel® Core™ processors! With the latest BIOS update, current MSI Z97 & H97 motherboards are completely compatible with the 5th Gen Intel® Core™ processors, and able to unleash your system’s full performance. Committed to ensuring compatibility and performance, the MSI R&D team is making sure you never have to worry about your MSI Z97 & H97 motherboard supporting the latest generation of Intel® Core™ processors. If you want to fully enjoy all the advantages of the 5th Generation Intel® Core™ processors, MSI Z97 & H97 motherboards are definitely your best choice.

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Click BIOS 4, the highly-awarded UEFI design
MSI Click BIOS 4 is optimized for the 5th Generation Intel® Core™ processors. The highly awarded design is reliable, easy to use, and able to unleash your system’s performance. Besides providing great performance and stability, MSI Click BIOS 4 is recognized as an extraordinary piece of kit which allows you to fully customize your PCs setup.

 

Source: MSI

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!!

Computex 2015: MSI Announces X99A GODLIKE GAMING Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | June 2, 2015 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: X99A GODLIKE GAMING, RGB, msi, motherboard, Intel X99, gaming, computex 2015, computex

In the spirit of being un-subtle (and writing things in all-caps) MSI has introduced its new ultra high-end X99 platform motherboard, the X99A GODLIKE GAMING.

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MSI says the X99A GODLIKE GAMING is the “world’s first RGB LED motherboard, supporting more than 2000 colors and many style presets such as breathing, flashing and waving”. Flashing and waving? Two things my motherboard has always needed. And breathing? Well, we all have to do that.

In all seriousness however (that name notwithstanding) the X99A GODLIKE GAMING looks like a really interesting product for a gaming market permeated by RGB-adorned peripherals and enclosures.

From MSI:

“The X99A GODLIKE GAMING employs the latest Audio Boost 3 PRO technology to deliver crystal clear sound quality and lossless audio compression. For efficient data transfer, Turbo M.2, SATA Express and USB 3.1 are supported. The X99A GODLIKE GAMING also adopts the latest Killer DoubleShot-X3 PRO. Smart teaming with two Killer Ethernet chips and Killer 1535 Wi-Fi module, X99A GODLIKE GAMING can provide up to 2.867Gbps of network bandwidth for hardcore gamers. The Mystic Light, another special feature, lets users easily control the LED light effects with the MSI Gaming APP on OS and the Mystic Light APP on Android mobile devices.”

No details yet on pricing or availability for this “god-like” motherboard just yet.

Source: MSI

Support for AMD A-Series ‘Godavari’ APUs

Subject: Motherboards | May 29, 2015 - 04:03 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, Godavari, asus, amd

If you are running an ASUS FM2+ board and you want to install the shiny new AMD A10-7870K Godavari processor then it is time to fire up either the ASUS USB BIOS Flashback or ASUS EZ Update tools.   Below is a list of all of UEFI versions for all compatible motherboards which you will need to update to in order to boot the new processor.  If you do not see your motherboard on the list then it is likely it will not support the new processor, keep an eye on the relevant page on ASUS for more information.

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Gigabyte has also release updates to support the new APU, head to their downloads page and search for the model of motherboard you are currently using for the latest UEFI BIOS to flash to.

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Source: ASUS

Another skinny Z97 board, Gigabyte's Z97-HD3

Subject: Motherboards | May 28, 2015 - 02:16 PM |
Tagged: Z97-HD3, gigabyte, z97

The Z97-HD3 Rev. 2 is a trimmed down board, both literally and figuratively as it is a mere 19cm (7.5") wide and lacks the LEDs, gold heatsinks and Nichicon caps that the initial release did.  It is also less expensive, $80 after MIR which is a bonus for someone looking to build an entry level machine.  The topmost 16x PCIe slot is a 3.0 slot and perfect for single GPU systems, the second is 2.0 and a maximum of 4x which takes SLI out of the picture but will handle Crossfire, not something to be overly worried about for an entry level system.  Do these cost cutting measures also impact the performance and stability of the board?  Check out The Tech Report's full review to find out.

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"At $100, the Z97-HD3 is Gigabyte's most affordable full-sized Z97 board. We've taken a closer look at what the board has to offer, and we've paired it with a Pentium Anniversary Edition for some overclocking fun. Read on to see if it's worth opening your wallet."

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