It might be a little skinny but ASRock's Z77 Extreme4 can overclock

Subject: Motherboards | February 18, 2013 - 02:45 PM |
Tagged: Z77, asrock, Z77 Extreme4

ASRock has been steadily gaining popularity with system builders that want a balance between price, features and performance without sacrificing support or stability.  At $120, the ASRock Z77 Extreme4 seems to fit the first criteria, the pair of PCIe 3.0 16x slots capable of handling two cards at 8x speeds, four SATA 6Gbps ports and a half dozen USB 3.0 ports meet the second.  [H]ard|OCP tested the performance and stability of the board recently, getting an stable 4.8GHz overclock on their i7 3770K, demonstrating that even a value board can compete with expensive models.  The sacrifice made was in the thickness of the PCB, it is much thinner than most motherboards and while [H] did not break the PCB they had a few stressful moments; drop by to read about them.

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"While ASRock is a well known new comer in the motherboard market, we’ve not exactly been fans of ASRock products based on past experiences. ASRock’s popularity grows and as a result we are taking another look at a motherboard from in the hope of understanding this popularity. Is it just price, or is there more to ASRock’s offerings?"

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

Define an Enthusiast CPU...

 

FM2 poses an interesting quandary for motherboard manufacturers.  AMD provides a very robust and full featured chip for use with their processors (A85X) that would lend itself well to midrange and enthusiast class motherboards.  Unfortunately, AMD does not provide a similarly high end CPU as compared to the competition at price ranges that would make sense for a motherboard that would cost between $140 and $250 on the FM2 platform.

So these manufacturers are constrained on price to offer fully featured motherboards that take advantage of all aspects of the A85X FCH (Fusion Controller Hub).  Until AMD can deliver a more competitive CPU on the FM2 platform, motherboard manufacturers will be forced to design offerings that can really go no higher than $129 (the current price of the fastest A10 processor from AMD).  This is not necessarily a bad thing though, as it has forced these manufacturers to really rethink their designs and to focus their energies on getting the greatest bang-for-the-buck.  AMD is selling a decent number of these processors, but the market is constrained as compared to the Intel offerings utilizing the 1155 BGA infrastructure.

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Gigabyte has taken this particular bull by the horns and have applied a very unique (so far) technology to the board.  This is on top of all the other marketing and engineering terms that we are quite familiar with.  The company itself is one of the top three manufacturers of motherboards in the world, and they typically trail Asus in terms of shipments but are still ahead of MSI.  As with any motherboard manufacturer, the quality of Gigabyte products has seen peaks and valleys through the years.  From what I have seen for the past few years though, Gigabyte is doing very well in terms of overall quality and value.

Click to continue reading about the Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4!!

10-phase riser card powered mini-ITX Ivy Bridge from ASUS

Subject: Motherboards | February 5, 2013 - 06:00 PM |
Tagged: asus, Intel Z77, P8Z77-I Deluxe, mini-itx, lucid

The most instantly noticeable thing about the ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe has to be the riser card sporting an array of capacitors and providing 8+2 power phase VRMs.  What isn't as noticeable until you use the motherboard is the Intel SRT support, Lucid Virtu and the overclocking options available in the UEFI BIOS.  Being a Mini-ITX board, the singly PCI Express x16 slot and dual memory slots are to be expected but the spacing is such that you should have no problems with full sized DIMMs or oversized GPUs, depending on the cooler and case you choose.  The included dual Wi-Fi antennas are a nice bonus from ASUS as well.  Drop by The Tech Report to see this board in action

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"The P8Z77-I Deluxe packs a lot of goodness into a tiny package. We take a closer look at the board's features, performance, and overclocking potential."

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MSI 3DMark Challenge: Rewarding Overclockers

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Motherboards | February 4, 2013 - 06:36 PM |
Tagged: msi, 3dmark

Do you have a beastly system with MSI parts, intense overclocking knowledge, and a desire for even more high-end parts? In honor of the new 3DMark's release, the motherboard and graphics card manufacturer is letting users of their parts enter in a contest for the highest 3DMark scores.

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In a partnership with the benchmarking leaderboard site, HWBot, MSI wants to see top scores for the Fire Strike test on the newly released 3DMark. The contest will run until March 3rd for entries looking to post top ranks. Beyond that, anyone with an MSI Z77 motherboard who enters before February 10th will be entered in a “Lucky Draw” for the MSI Z77A-GD55 Motherboard.

Winners of the leader contest will receive the MSI R7970 Lightning Boost Edition card for first place and an MSI Z77A-GD80 for second place. Note that we are not affiliated with this contest, we just think that our readers might like to know.

Check in to the press blast after the break.

Source: HWBot

ASRock Launches FM2A85X-ITX Mini-ITX Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | February 3, 2013 - 05:09 AM |
Tagged: trinity, mini-itx, htpc, asrock, APU, amd, A85X

Taiwanese motherboard manufacturer ASRock has shown off a new mini-ITX motherboard aimed at home theater PC (HTPC) users called the FM2A85X-ITX. The new motherboard uses AMD’s A85X chipset and supports the company’s latest Trinity accelerated processing units (APUs).
The FM2A85X-ITX motherboard features an AMD FM2 socket surrounded by two DDR3 DIMM slots (max of 32GB 1866MHz RAM), a PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot, and seven SATA 6Gbps ports. A six phase VRM, two USB 3.0 headers, 8 channel audio chip, and RAID 0/1/10 support round out the package.

 

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External IO on the mini-ITX motherboard includes:

  • 1 x PS/2
  • 4 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x eSATA 6Gbps
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 1 x Optical S/PDIF
  • 5 x Analog audio jacks
  • 1 x DVI
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x VGA

According to Tech Power Up, the new motherboard will cost around $110 USD. Thanks to the form factor, APU support, and multitude of storage connectivity options, the board would make for an excellent addition to a HTPC build!

Read about other mini-ITX motherboard options at PC Perspective!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

The Z77X-UP7 board represents a new approach to the motherboard game for GIGABYTE - no holds barred. The board combines a larger than normal form factor with high-end digital power circuitry to build a product that packs a punch while not skimping on features. We welcomed the challenge that this board presented, putting it through the normal suite of benchmark and functionality tests to see how well it stacked up. The GIGABYTE Z77X-UP7's performance and features come with a price, as all flagship products do, with its $399.99 price tag still a hefty sum.

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

To power the Z77X-UP7, GIGABYTE used a 32+3+2 power phase design with every heat producing chip covered by a highly effective heat pipe cooling solution. GIGABYTE integrated the following features into the Z77X-UP7's design: SATA 2, SATA 3, and mSATA ports; support for 4 different networking types including an Intel GigE NIC, an Atheros GigE NIC, an Atheros dual-port 802.11n adapter, and an Atheros Bluetooth adapter; enough PCI-Express x16 slots for true quad-card support; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

Continue reading our review of the GIGABYTE Z77X-UP7 Motherboard!!

Thunder! Thunder! ThunderFX! Meet the new ASUS Maximus V Formula

Subject: Motherboards | January 24, 2013 - 04:26 PM |
Tagged: asus, maximus v formula, ThunderFX

While we have seen ASUS' Maximus V Formula before and it still sports three PCIe 3.0 16x ports, up to 32GB of DDR3, six SATA 6G ports, 8 USB 2.0 ports, six USB 3.0 ports, wireless 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth and mSATA with the mPCIe combo card.  The new part to this version of the motherboard is the ThunderFX external USB audio DAC, which uses the C-Media 6631 audio processor and [H]ard|OCP found it superior to the onboard SupremeFX solution in every way.  Read on to see why.

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"Not one to rest on their laurels, ASUS adds another Z77 Express chipset based board to its Republic of Gamers lineup. This time in Formula trim. The Maximus V Formula / ThunderFX gives us most of what the Extreme version gave us and a couple of things it didn’t. What’s so special about the Maximus V Formula ThunderFX? Let's find out."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

ASUS wants to make sure you know they're here for you

Subject: Motherboards | January 23, 2013 - 04:10 PM |
Tagged: asus, motherboards

ASUS wants to be sure everyone knows that it isn't going anywhere and that the motherboard business is doing just fine.  We are working very closely with the team at ASUS and can assure you they have little interesting in backing off the DIY train and are even investing more heavily in the enthusiast market.

We are still sorry to see Intel leave the business (at least after Haswell) but it is good to have company's like this coming out and assuring us of their support!

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Enthusiasts and PC builders trust ASUS as their go-to brand when it comes to building desktops. As the global leader in motherboard design across multiple product ranges, ASUS remains strongly committed to developing a wide range of new and innovative motherboards now and well into the future. For the consumer segment we have invested significant resources to grow and sustain the Build Your Own ecosystem, including the PCDIY initiative designed to educate and inspire new builders, our ongoing support for the PC gaming community, and our grassroots program for university students across North America providing support for learning through a number of vehicles. For the commercial segment we have been on the forefront with the highly acclaimed Corporate Stable Model (CSM) program in North America. ASUS motherboards have been recognized by eChannelNews with their Resellers Choice Award for Best Motherboard several years in the row. ASUS CSM motherboards covers a full range of chipsets and form factors, and come complete with a guaranteed long shelf life, advance cross shipping, and Intel vPro Technology. With the Haswell-based 4th generation Core platform we plan to deepen our commitment to bring excitement and new opportunities to the desktop platform.

ASUS will continue to expand our close partnership with Intel to fully support their growing CPU and chipset roadmap with a wide selection of motherboards that provide the highest quality and ownership value in the market. We have the utmost confidence in Intel’s continued commitment to desktop CPUs and chipsets, and eagerly look forward to leading the next generation of Build Your Own enthusiasts and system builders.

Intel to exit motherboard business after Haswell platform

Subject: Motherboards | January 22, 2013 - 08:52 PM |
Tagged: Intel, haswell

Word reached us tonight of some interesting and somewhat disappointing news out of Intel.  The company has announced a reorganization that will include the spinning down of the retail motherboard development team and product line after the release of the upcoming Haswell line of processors. 

We disclosed internally today that Intel’s Desktop Motherboard Business will begin slowly ramping down over the course of the next three years. As Intel gradually ramps down its motherboard business we are ramping up critical areas of the desktop space including integration of innovative solutions for the PC ecosystem such as reference design development, NUC and other areas to be discussed later.

The internal talent and experience of twenty years in the boards business (which until recently has been largely focused on desktop tower type designs) is being redistributed to address emerging new form factors -- desktop and mobile – and to expand Intel’s Form Factor Reference Design (FFRD) work and enable our partners to develop exciting new computing solutions.

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Intel's DX79SI was a launch board for Sandy Bridge-E

Many of our readers might not see this as an important decision with the likes of ASUS, MSI and Gigabyte to accommodate the needs of builders, but any time a company that has been in a business segment for more than 20 years exits, you need to pay attention.  And while Intel boards have traditional been used only on business and stability-dependent applications, the boards team has in the past few years been producing fantastic, high quality enthusiast class platforms and innovating on the UEFI design, etc.  Many boutique system builders were even using Intel motherboards in $5,000+ systems. 

As recently as CES earlier in the month, we met with the board team at Intel to discuss future plans for additional features as well new compelling changes to UEFI coming up in Haswell offerings.  Instead it appears that members of that product team will be slowly transitioned to the world of new form factors (like the recently announced Next Unit of Computing) and more. 

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Intel's Next Unit of Computing platform

Intel noted confidence in other companies like ASUS, MSI and Gigabyte for future motherboards and to "fully support Intel's growing roadmap."  And for those companies this will likely be good news in the short term as builders and OEMs will be transitioning away, looking for new options.  Still, this will no doubt fuel the fire of rumors about Intel's desire to move out of the socketed CPU business as quickly as possible.

Thunderbolt comes to ROG with the Maximus V Extreme

Subject: Motherboards | January 10, 2013 - 04:19 PM |
Tagged: Z77, thunderbolt, ROG, Maximus V Extreme, lga1155, asus

The new ASUS ROG Maximus V Extreme board has a high standard to meet thanks to the performance of previous models of the Maximus Extreme series.  Right off the bat you can tell this board is going to be popular with the enthusiasts as it sports five PCIe slots, capable of running at 8x, 16x, 8x, 8x if you populate four of them, with an extra 4x slot available for another card.  For storage there are a half dozen SATA 6Gbps ports with an additional three of the previous version of SATA as well as a single mSATA port and for peripherals you get 10 USB 3.0 ports plus another four USB 2.0 ports.  More important for some is the existence of a Thunderbolt port, a brand new feature for this family of motherboards.  [H]ard|OCP gave this motherboard a Gold Award, read on to find out why.

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"The Maximus V Extreme falls in line with ASUS' latest design philosophies and succeeds the older Maximus IV Extreme which was introduced during the P67 Express chipset days when the Core i7 2600K was the top end LGA1155 CPU. The last iteration of the Maximus was an absolutely incredible motherboard and like all ROG boards has big shoes to fill."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP