Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

The Z77N-WiFi is GIGABYTE's latest edition to the Mini-ITX lineup. Although the board is not as packed with features as some of the other enthusiast-minded mini-ITX boards, GIGABYTE did some interesting things with the board layout to space components out on the board more evenly. The Z77N-WiFi even comes standard with dual-Realtek GbE NICs and an Intel 802.11n-based WiFi mPCIe card. We put the board through our normal gamut of tests to see how well this mighty mite sized up with its full-sized brethren. The Z77N-WiFi board comes with an equally reasonable retail price at a mere $129.99.

Continue reading our review of the GIGABYTE Z77N-WiFi motherboard!

Gigabyte's basic black Z77X-UD4H

Subject: Motherboards | April 10, 2013 - 03:42 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, Z77X-UD4H, Intel Z77, lga1155

Like many Z77 boards, the Gigabyte Z77X-UD4H has a rather crowded socket area, if you are not going with a watercooling solution consider purchasing low profile DIMMs.  One thing it has that most other boards do not have is an auxiliary power plug next to the SATA ports which takes a SATA power plug, not a molex connector.  It also sports a significant number of slots, three PCIe 3.0 16x slots, three PCIe 1x slots and even a PCI slot.  [H]ard|OCP had an interesting time overclocking this board, you should familiarize yourself with their experiences if you plan on picking this board up and overclocking your CPU.

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"It’s been awhile since we’ve looked at a motherboard from Gigabyte. We haven’t forgotten Gigabyte and decided to take the Z77X-UD4H for a little test drive. The Z77X-UD4H is a sub-$170 motherboard with a great look and a solid feature list for the price point that has the computer hardware enthusiast in mind."

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Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of ASUS

The P8Z77X-I Deluxe is ASUS' high-powered answer to the small form factor crowd. Through some unique design decisions and an upright daughter-board, ASUS was able to cram a full 10-phase digital power delivery system into this board without sacrificing any other integrated components. It's nice to see a manufacturer step up and design a mini-ITX board in the same vein as its full-sized counterpart. We put the board through our normal gamut of tests to see how well this mighty Mini-ITX board sized up with its full-sized brethren. At a retail list price of $219, the P8Z77-I Deluxe needs to prove its worth against the full sized boards.

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Courtesy of ASUS

ASUS designed a full 10 phases of digital power, housed in the board's upright daughter card sitting parallel to the CPU cooler. The P8Z77-I Deluxe with its high-end power plant is packed full of features, including SATA 2, SATA 3, e-SATA, USB 2.0, and USB 3.0 ports for storage devices. Networking capabilities include an Intel GigE NIC, a Broadcom dual-port 802.11n adapter, and a Broadcom Bluetooth adapter. The board also features a single PCI-Express x16 slot for graphics cards and other expansion cards.

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Courtesy of ASUS

Continue reading our review of the ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe motherboard!

ASUS Officially Launches P9X79-E Workstation Motherboard With 4-Way SLI Support

Subject: Motherboards | April 2, 2013 - 08:27 PM |
Tagged: asus, p9x79-e, workstation, Sandy Bridge E, quad sli, quad crossfire, lga 2011

Earlier this year at CES, ASUS showed off a high-end workstation board called the P9X79-E WS. The board is meant for Sandy Bridge-E processors, but will likely be compatible with Ivy Bridge-E as well. Unlike Wolverine and Zeus, the P9X79-E WS is a motherboard that will actually see the light of day and has been officially launched. It will be available sometime in May at an as-yet-unannounced price.

ASUS P9X79-E WS.jpg

The P9X79-E hosts a single LGA 2011 processor, up to 64GB of 2400MHz DDR3, the Intel X79 PCH, and support for 4-Way SLI or CrossFire on four of its seven total PCI-E 3.0 slots. The workstation board uses a 10-layer PCB, ASUS DIGI+ with 10+2 power phases, DR Power PSU monitoring, ASUS SSD Caching II, solid capacitors, and fanless heatsinks connected via copper heatpipes.

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Storage options include six SATA 6Gbps ports, four SATA II 3Gbps ports, and two eSATA ports coming from the front panel header. The rear IO has changed a bit since the board seen at CES, however. The now-official ASUS P9X79-E WS includes the following rear IO options:

  • 1 x PS/2 combo port
  • 10 x USB 2.0 ports (one can be used for BIOS flashing)
  • 2 x USB 3.0 ports
  • 2 x eSATA ports
  • 2 x Gigabit Ethernet ports backed by Intel i210 GbE controller
  • 6 x Analog audio ports
  • 1 x Optical S/PDIF port

The board can accommodate up to four dual slot graphics cards or seven single slot expansion cards (like PCI-E SSDs and RAID controllers). As a workstation board, it is likely to be pricey, but for those that need 4-way SLI and LGA 2011 (possibly for Ivy Bridge-E though its hard to say for sure if that will work yet) it is shaping up to be a good option. As mentioned above, the P9X79-E WS will reportedly be available for purchase in about a month. Sometime in early May or late April, according to Slash Gear.

Source: Asus
Manufacturer: Oyen Digital

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of Oyen Digital

Oyen Digital, a popular manufacturer of portable storage enclosures and devices, provided us with its MiniPro™ eSATA / USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive enclosure for testing USB 3.0 enhanced mode on the ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe motherboard. This enclosure offers support for USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and eSATA ports in conjunction with a 2.5" hard drive. We put this enclosure on the test bench with the ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe board to test the performance limits of the device. The MiniPro™ enclosure can be found at your favorite e-tailer for $39.95.

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Oyen Digital

The MiniPro™ SATA / USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive enclosure is a simple aluminum enclosure supporting any 2.5" form factor hard drive up to SATA III speeds. The enclosure itself supports USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and eSATA connections. Because of its use of the ASMedia 1053e chipset for USB 3.0 support, the enclosure supports both USB 3.0 normal mode transfer speeds and UASP (USB Attached SCSI Protocol) mode transfer speeds. UASP mode is a method of bulk transfer for USB 3.0 connections that increases transfer speeds through the use of parallel simultaneous packet transfers. Per our sources at ASUS, UASP can be explained as follows:

The adoption of the SCSI Protocol in USB 3.0 provides its users with the advantage of having better data throughput than traditional BOT (Bulk-Only Transfer) protocol, all thanks to its streaming architecture as well as the improved queuing (NCQ support) and task management, which eliminated much of the round trip time between USB commands, so more commands can be sent simultaneously. Moreover, thanks to the multi-tasking aware architecture, the performance is further enhanced when multiple transfers occur.
The downside of UASP is that the receiving device (Flash drive/external hard drive etc) must also be UASP enabled for the protocol to work. This requires checking your peripherals before purchase. However since UASP is an industry standard, the device support for ASUS UASP implementation is not restricted to a particular controller manufacturer or device type, so the overall number of peripherals available should undoubtedly grow.

Technical Specifications (taken from the Oyen Digital website)

Ports

eSATA 6G (Up to 6.0 Gbps)
USB 3.0: (Up to 5.0 Gbps)

Interface

SATA III (up to 15mm SATA 2.5" HDD/SSD)

Chipset

USB 3.0
ASMedia 1053e

eSATA
ASMedia 1456pe

Weight

10 oz.

Certifications

CE, FCC

Requirements

Windows XP/Vista/7/8 & above; MAC OS 10.2 & above; Linux 2.4.22 & above

Continue reading our review of the Oyen Digital MiniPro™ enclosure!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of MSI

With the Z77A-G45 Thunderbolt, MSI took an award winning design and tweaked it to bring an affordable Thunderbolt-based solution to the masses without sacrificing on quality or performance. We put this board through our grueling battery of tests to validate the board's performance promises. The MSI Z77A-G45 Thunderbolt can be found at your favorite retailer for the reasonable price of $169.99.

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Courtesy of MSI

The Z77A-G45 Thunderbolt sports a simple design and layout with some of the bells and whistles found on the higher priced boards omitted to keep the feature set intact and the price to a minimum. MSI includes the following features in the Z77A-G45 Thunderbolt's design: SATA 2 and SATA 3 ports; a Realtek GigE NIC; three PCI-Express x16 slots for up to tri-card support; USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports; and a single Thunderbolt port in the rear panel. For an in-depth overview on Thunderbolt technology and its advantages over other interconnect technologies, please see our review here.

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Courtesy of MSI

Continue reading our review of the MSI Z77A-GD45 motherboard!!

ASRock's Formula for success

Subject: Motherboards | March 19, 2013 - 10:36 AM |
Tagged: asrock, Z77 OC Formula, Intel Z77X

If you are shopping for a Z77 motherboard you have a lot of choice in make and model as well as price, they range from sub-$100 models to high end boards like the $225 ASRock Z77 OC Formula.  For that extra price you get a motherboard built with 12+4 phase power, premium alloy chokes, dual-stack MOSFETs and 8 layers of copper.  It is not just high end components, you also get a pair of PCIe 16x slots, a single PCIe 4x slot and a pair of 1x slots for add-in cards as well as four SATA 6Gbps ports and two SATA 3G ports, 10 USB 2.0 ports and 8 USB 3.0 ports along with onboard audio from Realtec's ALC898.  [H]ard|OCP did some testing to see if this board lives up to the OC in its name, which it did rather handily.

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"Generally speaking our ASRock experiences have been positive save for one or two minor complaints. We’ve looked inexpensive but very popular ASRock model motherboards. Today we are taking a look at a higher end more expensive ASRock offering. The Z77 OC Formula caught our eye and will hopefully perform as good as it looks."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Intel's inventory undergoes some shrinkage

Subject: Motherboards | March 19, 2013 - 09:55 AM |
Tagged: Intel, qualcomm

The slowdown of PC sales has finally even impacted Intel's supply chain as they reduce the number of chips stocked in inventory.  Even after these years of domination over AMD on the desktop Intel has not been reducing their supplies of chips as they were still selling them at a brisk pace.  It is obvious that has changed over the past year as the lowering sales of PCs and laptops finally lead to Intel reducing the number of chips they have on hand.  They were not the only ones to make this move, with AMD and others also reducing their stocks somewhat.  One area The Register did not report on is GPUs, with the short lifespan of a GPU the stocks of new silicon are also goign to be quite reduced and you should see more discounts on lower end GPUs as resellers try to offload them.  As we have seen before people are still buying electronics, just smaller, more portable devices; Qualcomm's available stock has had to increase by 24% over the same time period.

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"Bean counter iSuppli reckons the major manufacturers acted swiftly to prevent expensive backlogs of baked silicon forming: the average number of days between producing inventory and selling it declined five per cent. The value of the inventory piles also fell five per cent, or $600m, from Q3 to Q4 of 2012, we're told."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Tal k

Source: The Register
Author:
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

AM3+ Last Gasp?

 

Over the past several years I have reviewed quite a few Asus products.  The ones that typically grab my attention are the ROG based units.  These are usually the most interesting, over the top, and expensive products in their respective fields.  Ryan has reviewed the ROG graphics cards, and they have rarely disappointed.  I have typically taken a look at the Crosshair series of boards that support AMD CPUs.

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Crosshair usually entails the “best of the best” when it comes to features and power delivery.  My first brush with these boards was the Crosshair IV.  That particular model was only recently taken out of my primary work machine.  It proved itself to be an able performer and lasted for years (even overclocked).  The Crosshair IV Extreme featured the Lucid Hydra chip to allow mutli-GPU performance without going to pure SLI or Crossfire.  The Crosshair V got rid of Lucid and added official SLI support and it incorporated the Supreme FX II X-Fi audio.  All of these boards have some things in common.  They are fast, they overclock well, and they are among the most expensive motherboards ever for the AMD platform.

So what is there left to add?  The Crosshair V is a very able platform for Bulldozer and Piledriver based parts.  AMD is not updating the AM3+ chipsets, so we are left with the same 990FX northbridge and the SB950 southie (both of which are essentially the same as the 890FX/SB850).  It should be a simple refresh, right?  We had Piledriver released a few months ago and there should be some power and BIOS tweaks that can be implemented and then have a rebranded board.  Sounds logical, right?  Well, thankfully for us, Asus did not follow that path.

The Asus Crosshair V Formula Z is a fairly radical redesign of the previous generation of products.  The amount of extra features, design changes, and power characteristics make it a far different creature than the original Crosshair V.  While both share many of the same style features, under the skin this is a very different motherboard.  I am rather curious why Asus did not brand this as the “Crosshair VI”.  Let’s explore, shall we?

Click here to read the entire review on the ASUS Crosshair V Formula-Z

Intel Celeron 847 Benchmarked Against Atom and AMD APU-Based Low-Power Systems

Subject: Motherboards | March 8, 2013 - 03:30 AM |
Tagged: roundup, motherboards, mini-itx, celeron 847, APU, amd e-450

While high end motherboards and processors tend to get the most attention from enthusiasts, sometimes less is better (*waits for Josh to stop laughing on the podcast). More often than not seen integrated in small form factor OEM boxes, there are a few motherboards out there that come as a bare board and integrated processor to be the basis of low power desktops, network devices, and home theater PCs. Both Intel and AMD have hats in the low power game, and Hartware.de has pitched four such low power boards against each other. The MSI C847MS-E33-847 and Biostar NM70I pack Intel Celeron 847 CPUs, The Zotac D2550-ITX WIFI hosts an Intel Atom D2550 processor plus a NVIDIA GT 610 IGP, and the ASUS E45MI-M Pro is powered by an AMD E-450 APU.

Four low-cost motherboards with integrated processors benchmarked by Hardware(dot)de.jpg

Hartware.de puts several low power boards into the thunderdome to see which one(s) reign supreme.

As it turns out, the results are nearly in line with what one might expect. The Atom D2550-powered system was the slowest, the APU and ASUS motherboard was the fastest, and the Celeron was somewhere in the middle. The AMD E-450 APU used the most power, and the system was one of the most expensive, however. Interestingly, the Atom system was not all that much more power efficient than the Celeron despite the lower performance and weaker hardware. The Celeron 847 chip had decent CPU performance, and mid-range power and some of the best thermals. All of the configurations were able to playback media, but the AMD system gave the most fluid results.

If you are in the market for low power system parts, the review is worth checking out.

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I'm pleasantly surprised at all the Mini-ITX motherboards being made lately.

Source: Hartware.de