ASUS Maximus VI Formula Supreme FX Evolution

Subject: Motherboards | May 29, 2013 - 02:08 PM |
Tagged: SupremeFX, Maximus VI Formula, Intel Z87, asus

Today, ASUS released a preview of the audio functionality to be designed into their upcoming Maximus VI Formula board. They are continuing in their evolution of the SupremeFX audio solution to deliver the best audio experience possible to the end user.

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Courtesy of ASUS

Stay tuned for more information about the upcoming Intel Z87-based Maximus VI Formula motherboard and its slew of integrated features including the SupremeFX audio solution.

Source: ASUS

MSI Z87-GD65 GAMING - The No. 1 and Only Best Choice Golden Awarded Motherboard

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | May 28, 2013 - 02:58 PM |
Tagged: Z87-GD65 GAMING, msi, z87

[May 28th, 2013/ City of Industry, California] In its 33rd year and as Asia’s largest B2B (Business to Business) computer exhibition, COMPUTEX TAIPEI 2013 is kicking off on June 4. Today, the winning list of Best Choice Award, the official award of COMPUTEX TAIPEI, is unveiled. MSI’s Z87-GD65 GAMING motherboard and Funtoro HD MOD (Media on Demand) vehicle infotainment system have proudly stood out from over 400 competitions. The only Golden Award winner in the IC & Components category, the Z87-GD65 GAMING motherboard literally sparkles in every way and proves MSI to be a true pioneer of mid-range/high-end motherboards.

The Best Choice Award has always focused on Functionality, Innovation and Market Potential as the main judging guideline. Bringing the Z87-GD65 GAMING to global gaming enthusiasts’ attention, the Best Choice Golden Award also highlights the industrial and official affirmation toward MSI’s technical innovation and design capabilities. Specifically designed for operators and passengers of long-distance coaches and high-end tour buses, the HD MOD System integrates infotainment and telematics in one pack and is clearly the top choice for multimedia entertainment on mass transportation.

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Z87-GD65 GAMING, the No. 1 and Only Best Choice Golden Awarded Motherboard

The Z87-GD65 GAMING motherboard is the latest joint effort of MSI and FNATIC, the world-renowned gaming champion team. Consolidating the cutting-edge Intel 8 series chipset and Killer E2205 Game Networking, the Z87-GD65 GAMING effectively eliminates latency-induced errors and automatically prioritizes game traffic. Gamers will experience smooth gameplay even in heavily loaded networks. As for sound, the innovative Audio Boost technology significantly enhances sound clarity. To give gamers the edge in speed, the OC Genie 4 one-second overclocking technology boosts the system performance in no time.

Source: MSI

MSI Z87 MPOWER Motherboard Series

Subject: Motherboards | May 25, 2013 - 12:15 AM |
Tagged: Z87 MPOWER MAX, Z87 MPOWER, z87, msi, mpower, Intel Z87

MSI unveiled their plans for the next revision of their award winning MPOWER motherboard series. With the Z87 series of boards, MSI decided to release two different versions of the MPOWER motherboard - the Z87 MPOWER and the Z87 MPOWER MAX.

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MSI Z87 MPOWER motherboard
Courtesy of MSI

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MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX motherboard
Courtesy of MSI

Continue reading our preview of the MSI Z87 MPOWER motherboard lineup!

Source: MSI
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of MSI

With the Z77A-GD65 Gaming motherboard, MSI takes is award-winning Intel Z77-based board design and melds it with a Killer - a Killer NIC that is. MSI integrated the Killer e2205 GigE NIC into the board's design for the ultimate solution for online gaming. The Killer NIC is well known in gaming circles for its superior hardware-based network traffic prioritization engine, making it a natural integration choice for a top-end gaming board. We put the MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming through our rigorous suite of tests to measures is performance and were not disappointed. At a retail price of $179, this board is a steal.

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Courtesy of MSI

In designing the Z77A-GD65 Gaming board, MSI provided a total of 12 digital power phases for the CPU. MSI packed this board full of features: SATA 2 and SATA 3 ports; a Killer e2205 GigE NIC; three PCI-Express x16 slots for up to tri-card support; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.

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Courtesy of MSI

Continue reading our review of the MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming motherboard!

ECS Z87 Motherboard Series Preview

Subject: Motherboards | May 18, 2013 - 03:19 PM |
Tagged: Z87H3-A3, Z87H3-A2, z87, ECS

ECS unveiled their plans for the next generation of Intel 8-series chipsets and 4th Generation Intel® Core processor family.  These motherboards will be released in Q2 2013 and are categorized into four lines:

  • Unnamed series - optimized for gaming and high performance processing
  • Pro series - optimized for power computing
  • Deluxe series - optimized for small office and home
  • Essentials series - optimized for home and multi-media

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ECS motherboard lines
Courtesy of ECS

Continue reading our preview of the ECS Z87 motherboard lineup!

Source: ECS
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction

Today, Gigabyte unveiled their Intel Z87-based board lineup to select members of the press at a live event from their headquarters in City of Industry, CA. Their Z87 boards are broken down into four series - the Extreme OC series, the Gaming Series, the Thunderbolt series, and the Standard series.

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Intel Z87 motherboard lineup
Courtesy of GIGABYTE

New Features

Gigabyte includes both a new interface for their UEFI BIOS and a new power paradigm, dubbed Ultra Durable 5 Plus, into each of their Intel Z87 boards.

UEFI BIOS Enhancement

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UEFI BIOS explanation
Courtesy of GIGABYTE

They also fully redesigned their UEFI BIOS interface to make it more customizable, easier to use, and to allow real-time feedback for settings changes.

Continue reading our preview of Gigabyte's upcoming Z87 motherboards!!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction

Today, ASUS introduces their Intel Z87-based motherboard lineup with board refreshes across all of their product lines: ASUS (mainstream), Republic of Gamers (ROG), The Ultimate Force (TUF), and Workstation (WS). With the exception of their TUF and ROG board lines, ASUS decided to introduce a new and improved color scheme for their boards - black and gold. The motherboard surfaces are black with gold colored heat sinks. While black and gold may not seem like the best match-up, don't judge the boards until you have seen them first hand - the black and gold go very well together.

ROG Motherboards

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ASUS Maximus VI Gene
Courtesy of ASUS

Their ROG line will include the Maximus VI Extreme, the Maximus VI Formula, the Maximus VI Gene, and the Maximus VI Hero. All ROG boards feature the standard red and black color scheme common to that brand. Additionally, ASUS includes SupremeFX audio standard with all ROG boards and their Sonic Radar on-screen overlay technology. Sonic Radar is an in-game overlay that can be used to accurately pinpoint game-based sound sources. For powering these boards, ASUS includes 60amp-rated blackwing chokes and NexFET MOSFETS with 90% power efficiency operation. Use of these power components was seen to reduce on-board temperatures in the ASUS labs by as much as 5 degrees Celcius.

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ASUS Maximus VI Extreme
Courtesy of ASUS

ASUS upped the ante even more with their Maximus VI Extreme board by including the ASUS OC Panel. This panel includes a display and can be mounted in a 5.25" drive bay or used externally for real time voltage and temperature monitoring as well as tweaking of various frequency and voltage BIOS settings. The ASUS OC Panel is supported on all ROG boards and will be available for after-market purchase for the non-Extreme boards.

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ASUS Maximus VI Hero
Courtesy of ASUS

The Maximus VI Hero motherboard is the newest member of the ROG line, branded as a more affordable solution for the gamer. This board is marketed as a head-to-head competitor for MSI's MPOWER board.

Continue reading our preview of the ASUS Z87 motherboard lineup!

Hardware Flashback: Asus P5A

Subject: Motherboards | May 15, 2013 - 09:37 PM |
Tagged: asus, P5A, ALi, Aladdin V, 100 MHz, Super 7, amd, K6, K6-2, SDRAM

 

I first got into computers in the 8088 days, but I started to do it professionally when Socket 5 was transitioning to Socket 7.  The Pentium 133 based Quantex system I bought after the Atlanta Olympics catapulted me into the modern computer age (I was previously using an Intel 386SX-16 MHz system from DAK… don’t get me started on that company).  It was also when AOL was the only internet service in Laramie, WY.  I started browsing hardware retailers and then moved onto independent review sites that were only then just popping up.  Tom’s and Anandtech were very new and did not feature many pictures because digital cameras were still quite rare.

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Remember when the 1/5/2 setup was considered optimal?  It allowed for the good modem and good soundcard to be installed!

One of the big shifts of the time is when Intel abandoned Socket 7 and forged ahead with Slot 1.  AMD had fit the K6 into the Socket 7 infrastructure, though it was initially designed for a proprietary socket.  Intel had the Pentium II line and things were moving fast in those days.  AMD was providing competition for Intel with excellent integer performance and adequate floating performance, as well as providing a socketed product that was cheaper to produce for both AMD and its motherboard partners.  Socket 7 was then morphed into Super 7 with support for 100 MHz FSB speeds.  This was a big jump for AMD as they spearheaded this move.  Cyrix, IBM, and Winchip all went along for the ride, but they often supported oddball bus speeds that did not always translate well into bus dividers for AGP and PCI.

The first wave of AGP enabled chipsets that also supported bus speeds above 66 MHz finally hit the market, and one of the first was the SiS 5591.  One of the first boards to support this chipset was the MTech R581A.  The board showed jumper settings that supported 100 MHz, but it was far from stable at that speed.  It did fully support 83.3 MHz, which gave many socket 7 users a nice boost when overclocking.  The first true 100 MHz chips were the VIA MVP-3 and the ALi M1571 (Aladdin V).  These natively supported the 100 MHz bus and ran it perfectly fine.  These chipsets allowed the later K6-2 and K6-3 chips to exist and compete successfully with the 100 MHz based Pentium IIs.

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This particular model included the onboard ESS sound chip.  Pretty posh for the time.  Oh yes, there was a time before USB 2.0...

I had a heck of a time getting a hold of a VIA MVP-3 based motherboard at first, and I never actually laid hands upon any Aladdin V based unit during that time.  There was no Newegg or Tiger Direct back then, and most major distributors like Tech Data did not always stock a wide selection of products.  I was also not making a whole lot of money.  I was particularly jealous of all these other sites getting access to review hardware, but then again at this time I had only a handful of articles out and I had not even started Penstarsys.com yet.  So when guys like Tom and Anand got their hands on the Asus P5A, it was most definitely must-read material.

This was one of the first 100 MHz Super 7 based boards out there, as VIA was having some real issues with their MVP-3 chipset.  Eventually VIA fixed those issues, but not before ALi had a good couple of months’ lead on their primary competitor.  Of great interest for this board was the ability to run at 120 MHz FSB.  Very few boards could handle that speed well, but the 115 MHz setting seemed very stable.  I/O performance was also a step above the VIA chipsets, but VIA was fairly well known for having strange I/O issues at that time (not to mention AGP compatibility issues).  The Asus P5A was a great board for the time, and it did not suffer much from the AGP issues that plagued VIA.  Oddly enough, though ALi had the better overall chipset, they did not sell as well as the VIA products.  Asus still shipped a lot of them, so I guess that made up for the more limited selection.

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That is a single phase power... array?  Look at all that open space throughout the board!

Super 7 was a dying breed by 1999 with the introduction of the K7 Athlon, but the P5A sold very well throughout its entire lifespan.  The board I acquired had the K6-2 500 in the socket, and a BIOS update would provide support for the later K6-3+ and K6-2+ processors.  What perhaps strikes me most is the overall simplicity of the boards as compared to modern products.  The P5A looks like it has a single power phase going to the CPU, does not feature integrated Ethernet or other amenities, and only has two ATA-33 ports.  Interestingly enough, it does feature a ESS based audio codec.  Rare for those days!  Compare that to the monster products like the Crosshair V Formula Z or the G1.Sniper.3, I guess simplicity is overlooked these days?

Source: Asus

AMD Open 3.0 Server Hardware Now Available To Reduce TCO In A Data Center Near Your

Subject: Motherboards | May 15, 2013 - 03:56 AM |
Tagged: server, open source hardware, open source, open compute project, open 3.0, amd

Throughout last year, AMD worked with the Open Compute Foundation to develop open source hardware for servers. The goal of the project was to bring lower-cost, efficient motherboards (compatible with AMD processors) to the server market. Even better, the AMD-compatible hardware is open source which gives companies and OEM/system integrators free reign to modify and build the hardware themselves. The latest iteration of the project is called Open 3.0 and motherboards based on the design(s) are available now from a number of AMD partners.

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An AMD Open 3.0 motherboard.

According to a recent AMD press release, Open 3.0 motherboards will be available from AVnet.inc, Hyve, Penguin Computing, and Zt Systems beginning this week. The new motherboards strip out unnecessary and "over-provisioned" hardware to cut down on upfront hardware costs and electrical usage. Open 3.0 uses a base open source motherboard design that can then be further customized to work with a variety of workloads and in various rack/server configurations. Servers based on OPen 3.0 will range from 1U to 3U in size and can slot into standard 19" racks or Open Rack environments. The boards with their dual Opteron 6300-series processors will reportedly be suitable for High Performance Computing (HPC), Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), Cloud applications, and storage servers. AMD claims that its Open 3.0 motherboards can reduce the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of servers by up to 57% in data centers. AMD claims that a server based on Open 3.0 has a TCO of $4,589 while one based on a traditional OEM motherboard costs up to 57% more at $10,669. The AMD-provided example sound nice. Despite the example likely being the best-case-scenario, the idea behind the Open Compute Project and the AMD-specific Open 3.0 hardware does make sense. Customers should see more competition with motherboards that are cheaper to produce and run thanks to the open source nature. Further details on the status of Open 3.0 and the available hardware is being discussed at an invitation-only industry round-table this week between partners, interested enterprise customers, and a number of companies (including AMD, Broadcom, and Quanta).

For the uninitiated, the Open 3.0 hardware features a motherboard that measures 16" x 16.7" and is intended for 1U, 1.5U, 2U, and 3U servers. Each Open 3.0 board includes two AMD Opteron 6300 series processors, 24 DDR3 DIMM slots (12 per CPU, 4 channels with 3 DIMMs each), six SATA ports, 1 managed dual-channel Gigabit Ethernet NIC, up to four PCI-E slots, and a single Mezzanine connector for custom modules (eg. the Mellanox IO or Broadcom Management card). Board IO will include a single serial port and two USB ports.

I'm glad to see AMD's side of the Open Compute Project come to fruition with the company's Open 3.0 hardware. Anything to reduce power usage and hardware cost is welcome in the data center world, and it will be interesting to see what kind of impact the open source hardware will have, especially when it comes to custom designs from system integrators. Intel is also working towards open source server hardware along with Facebook and the Open Compute Project. It is refreshing to see open source gaining traction in this market segment, to say the least.

You can read more about the hardware availability announcement as well as an overview of the Open 3.0 specification (PDF) on the AMD website

Source: AMD

Hardware Flashback: Asus K7M

Subject: Motherboards | May 8, 2013 - 09:51 PM |
Tagged: asus, K7M, Irongate, AMD-751, VIA 686a, retro, Slot A, K7, athlon

 

It might not be entirely obvious to viewers, but I love old hardware.  I came across a stash of old machines at my workplace that we were going to just throw away.  I was able to grab a couple of pretty interesting products from years past that I wanted to share and chat about.  The first of this series should be very familiar to most of you, especially those around when Ryan started his first website.

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It is fun to reminisce about old hardware.  The K7M is a classic.

The Asus K7M was one of the first Slot A motherboards out.  It was arguably the most fully featured of the group.  Its primary competition was the FIC SD-11 and the Gigabyte GA-7IXE.  If you remember that monster of a board (with one very strange layout) then you  most certainly have fond memories of what Asus was able to bring to the table.

The K7M was based on the AMD “Irongate” northbridge (AMD-751).  This was a pretty fully featured chip at the time.  It supported SDRAM up to 100 MHz and featured AGP 2X.  This chip was rumored to contain IP from VIA, but it had distinctly better performance than the competing AGP 2X chipsets from VIA at the time.  I distinctly remember having fewer AGP issues with these boards than products from VIA.  The K7M eschewed the AMD 756 southbridge and instead used the VIA 686A controller.  This was an updated (and fixed) southbridge from VIA that supported up to ATA-66 speeds and USB 1.1.

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Integrated audio was still uncommon back in the day.  If you thought mobo audio quality is bad now...

The K7M was a decent overclocker for the time, but little was known about the EV-6 bus and how it reacted to overclocking.  Bus speeds up to 107 MHz or so were common, but anything above that got pretty flaky fast.  Later BIOS revisions helped a bit, but the 751 was not going to be pushed much further.  It was not until official 133 MHz support came in did we see some legroom with overclocking.

The K7M was a very solid board for being an introductory product.  One thing that always amused me greatly was that Asus, Gigabyte, and other motherboard manufacturers would refuse to show Slot A boards on the floor of Comdex because they feared that Intel would come down upon them like a ton of bricks.  If a person wanted to see a Slot A board, they would have to go into a back room and view it from there, but only upon request.  It was not until the next year that some manufacturers cautiously showed off their AMD offerings.

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Name that mini-slot above the AGP!

I ran this particular board for a while.  I believe I ran the SD-11 longer.  I was doing reviews all the time, so I was swapping out motherboards pretty frequently.  The Asus had a luxury feel about it as compared to the FIC and Gigabyte offerings.  It even had integrated audio and a game port.  Few other products of the time included such a perk.  AMD was on a roll with the original K7 Athlon, and Asus was one of the first partners to really produce a world class motherboard for the architecture.

Source: Asus