ASRock Z77 Extreme6/TB4 Motherboard Offers Thunderbolt with Discrete Graphics

Subject: Motherboards | December 11, 2012 - 10:34 PM |
Tagged: asrock, thunderbolt, Z77

Over the past 6 months or so we have seen most motherboard vendors release a Z77 option with support for the latest Thunderbolt connectivity option.  I did some initial testing on the ASUS P8Z77-V Premium motherboard and found that Thunderbolt was indeed impressive in terms of performance though it remained expensive and had a few hang ups. 

One of those was the need to use integrated graphics when utilizing the DisplayPort pass through of the connection.  Lucid was the first company to offer a solution thanks to their Virtu MVP software solution and GPU virtualization technology.  I tested that and it worked pretty well, allow us to utilize the power of your discrete GPU with a monitor connected through Thunderbolt on the motherboard.

Well ASRock has a new motherboard out, the Z77 Extreme6/TB4, that promises to allow you to use discrete graphics by simply utilizing a DisplayPort connection on the graphics card itself. 

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Besides offering a pair of Thunderbolt connections, the motherboard claims to be the "world's only Thunderbolt motherboard supporting discrete VGA card via Thunderbolt port."

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Essentially ASRock is taking the DP connection from the discrete graphics card, taking it into the motherboard through a DisplayPort input connection and then sending that back out the motherboard Thunderbolt header.  More than likely this is simple electrical pass through and there isn't much or any logic going on to "trick" the system.  It also raises concerns that the motherboard and display solution won't be officially approved by Intel.  (We are all, after all, still waiting to see the ASUS ThunderboltEX to hit the market...)

Hopefully we'll get one of these new boards in soon to see for ourselves!

Source: ASRock
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: EVGA

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of EVGA

Sometimes, good things do come in small packages. The latest board on our test bench from EVGA proves that fact, the EVGA Z77 Stinger. The Z77 Stinger is a micro-ITX form factor board based on the Intel Z77 chipset, but don’t let its size fool you. This board is packed with features and delivers the performance that we’ve come to expect out of its full-size brethren. At a mere $199.99 base price, the EVGA Z77 Stinger would be at home in any enthusiast’s full tower case or HTPC build.

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Courtesy of EVGA

Even with its small stature, the EVGA Z77 Stinger promises to pack some power. It features support for the following: SATA 2, SATA 3, eSATA, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 type devices; two different network types featuring an Intel GigE NIC and an Atheros Bluetooth adapter; PCI-Express x16 3.0 and m-PCIe ports; and HDMI 1.4 and DisplayPort 1.1a style video ports. With the addition of an m-PCIe adapter, the board can support onboard Wi-Fi as well.

Continue reading our review of the EVGA Z77 Stinger mini-ITX Motherboard!!

Gigabyte Launches Two Mini ITX Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards | December 3, 2012 - 04:51 AM |
Tagged: mini-itx, Intel, gigabyte, ga-c847n, ga-c807n, celeron 807

Gigabyte recently announced two mini-ITX form factor motherboards. In an interesting twist, instead of an AMD platform like many of the mini-ITX boards released this year, the Gigabyte GA-C807N and GA-C847N motherboards are based on the Intel NM70 chipset and come with integrated Intel Celeron 800-series processors.

Both motherboards come with Gigabyte’s Ultra Durable 4 Classic design and feature set. Two DDR3 (1333 MHz) DIMM slots, a single legacy PCI expansion slot, 5.1 channel audio controller, and a UEFI DualBIOS are all included features on the motherboards.

 

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The GA-C807N has three SATA II 3Gbps ports and one SATA III 6Gbps port. It further includes an Intel Celeron 807 processor that features a single physical core clocked at 1.5GHz.

External IO on the GA-C807N includes:

  • 2 x PS/2 ports
  • 1 x Parallel printer port
  • 1 x COM port
  • 1 x VGA port
  • 4 x USB 2.0 ports
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet jack
  • 3 x analog audio outputs

 

On the other hand, the Gigabyte GA-847N motherboard has two SATA II 3Gbps ports and one SATA III 6Gbps port. It also bumps up the processor to a dual core Celeron 847 clocked at 1.1Ghz.

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External IO on the GA-847N includes:

  • 2 x PS/2 ports
  • 1 x Serial port
  • 1 x VGA
  • 1 x eSATA
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 4 x USB 2.0 ports
  • 2 x Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • 3 x Analog audio jacks

 

Unfortunately, there is no word yet on pricing or availability of the two Mini-ITX motherboards. With that said, the GA-C847N in particular looks like a neat motherboard. The dual GbE ports would make it a good DIY router+firewall or server box. As far as the Gigabyte GA-C807N, the parallel printer port is an odd included feature, but otherwise it looks like a decent entry level Mini-ITX board+cpu combination.

GIGABYTE Launches New HD Series - Brings HDMI and DVI Outputs to Value Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards | November 29, 2012 - 01:27 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, amd, Intel, Z77, z75, h61, a85, a75, A55

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City of Industry, California, October 28, 2012 – GIGABYTE TECHNOLOGY Co. Ltd., a leading manufacturer of motherboards and graphics cards, today launched its latest HD series motherboards, bringing unprecedented dual digital display support, including HDMI and DVI, to a range of value segment motherboard models.

The new GIGABYTE HD motherboard series defies the current ethos that means true digital display outputs are reserved for upper mainstream models, adding both HDMI and DVI ports to a range of motherboard models at attractive and affordable price points. All DIY enthusiasts can now enjoy true HD display capability using the most commonly integrated digital output technologies on today’s HD displays and TVs.

“The new GIGABYTE HD motherboard series means our customers can get much more bang-per-buck from their value segment motherboards,” commented Henry Kao, Vice President of GIGABYTE Motherboard Business Unit. “Adding dual digital display ports to this segment really sets GIGABYTE apart from the competition, raising the bar for value segment motherboard design.”

HD_WhiteMaking Digital Display Support a Standard Feature
Digital output technologies like HDMI are becoming the de-facto standard on most HDTVs and PC monitors, with the advantage of carrying both HD audio* and video signals over a single cable. As well as offering higher screen resolutions than analog display outputs, digital display outputs also offer support for the latest 3D media content as well as access to protected content via HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection).

Having access to dual digital displays is also a great way to increase productivity, offering much more on-screen real-estate than entry-level motherboards typically provide. GIGABYTE HD series motherboards are ideal for a range of business, office and education scenarios where adding an additional digital display or projector is paramount.

GIGABYTE Ultra Durable 4 Classic
GIGABYTE HD series motherboards integrate GIGABYTE Ultra Durable™ 4 Classic technology with built-in features that prevent common malfunction threats. Protection against humidity, electrostatic damage, power failure and high-temperatures is achieved using a range of technologies and features including glass fabric PCB technology, Lower RDS(on) MOSFETs, anti-surge ICs, solid capacitors and GIGABYTE Dual BIOS™.

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Intel models

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AMD models

You learn more about GIGABYTE Ultra Durable 4 Classic technology here: http://www.gigabyte.us/microsite/297/images/overview.html

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Source: Gigabyte

BioStar's inexpensive Hi-Fi A85W is one BIOS update away from greatness

Subject: Motherboards | November 26, 2012 - 03:16 PM |
Tagged: amd, a85, socket fm2, biostar, Hi-Fi A85W

Biostar's Hi-Fi A85W is a low cost way to start building a new AMD system, currently after MIR it is $85 on NewEgg and comes with 8GB of free G.SKILL RAM.  You get a board that supports Hybrid CrossFire and sports a pait of PCIe 2.0 x16 slots (only one is full speed), two PCIe 2.0 x1 slots and a pair of legacy PCI slots.  It has eight SATA 6.0 Gb/s, eight USB 2.0 ports and four USB 3.0 ports to give you a lot of flexibility for drives and peripherals as well as DVI, HDMI and VGA outputs and a feature dubbed "PURO Hi-Fi"; a sheild for the better than average onboard audio codec.  TechPowerUp were impressed with the wide variety of overclocking options in the UEFI BIOS, until they tried overclocking and found a variety of issues with TurboCore and other overclocking settings.  Hopefully Biostar wil release a BIOS update to fix what is otherwise a solid choice of FM2 motherboard.

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"Biostar is at it again with a mid-range entry level product, the Biostar Hi-Fi A85W. Ready to rock out with AMD's new Piledriver FM2 APUs, the Biostar Hi-Fi A85W comes with an audio-oriented theme that's usually reserved for high-end products. Did it play sweet music, or is it a bit out of tune?"

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Source: TechPowerUp

MSI's Z77A-GD55 is a brilliant budget board

Subject: Motherboards | November 19, 2012 - 01:10 PM |
Tagged: msi, Z77A-GD55, lga1155

Right now on NewEgg, the LGA1155 MSI Z77A-GD55 is a great deal at $130 after MIR and comes with a free 8GB dual channel DDR3-1600 Ripjaws kit from G.Skill.  For that low price you get a pair of PCIe 3.0 16x slots, a single 4x and four 1x slots along with two SATA 6Gbs ports and four SATA II ports capable of RAID, 10 USB 2.0 ports and a pair of USB 3.0 ports.  Those ports, along with the array of audio and video connectors on the backplate should provide enough connectivity for the majority of users with space to upgrade. [H]ard|OCP are not fans of the Double-Click BIOS II, with this implementation being no worse than other MSI boards and they did have some problems with the Control Center software, however with the very stable performance and easy overclocking ability of the board they highly recommend it for anyone looking for a budget conscious Ivy Bridge system.

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"This motherboard might be a bit off-the-radar for most enthusiasts since it is a bit "down the scale." However, if you want a lot of bang for your buck, then look no further than MSI's Z77A-GD55. While it's somewhat basic in features it's overclocking performance is stellar for the price, which is very value oriented."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

ECS Reveals its First Motherboard with Thunderbolt Support the Z77H2-A5X Deluxe

Subject: Motherboards | November 14, 2012 - 05:26 PM |
Tagged: ECS, Z77H2-A5X Deluxe, thunderbolt, Z77, lga 1155

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November 13, 2012, Taipei, Taiwan - Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS) today reveals its first motherboard with Thunderbolt support, the Brand-New Black Series Z77H2-A5X Deluxe, based on the new Intel Z77 chipset. The Black Deluxe Series was created with power users and overclockers in mind. The Z77H2-A5X Deluxe embodies these qualities by providing all solid capacitors, triple thickness gold plating and overclocking friendly heatsinks and heatpipes.

The Z77H2-A5X Deluxe combines the latest motherboard technology with the above industry quality control standards set by ECS on the Black Series.

Power user features
For overclockers, the ECS Z77H2-A5X Deluxe provides a wealth of tweaking, control and adjustment features. ECS' Hyper Alloy Chokes give overclockers more stability because of their high energy efficiency and heat reduction. Long-life capacitors in all critical areas guard against failure even in the most challenging conditions. Triple thickness gold plating on CPU, memory and add-on card sockets ensures the Z77H2-A5X Deluxe always provides a reliable connection, even with heavy use and in hostile environments. Improved heavy duty heatsinks and heatpipes help dissipate heat efficiently when overclocking. Thor Ultra Protection offers complete electrostatic discharge protection for VGA, USB, LAN and HDMI ports against component damage from static electricity in dry climates. ECS' latest UEFI II: EZ BIOS also provides a modern high resolution BIOS and Window 8 ready to work with.

Thunderbolt Support
A single Thunderbolt port lets you connect high-performance data devices and high-resolution displays to a single port with up to blazing fast 10Gbps data transfer rates. USB 2.0 in comparison only has a max throughput of 480Mbps, about 20x slower. Not only is Thunderbolt fast, but it's also convenient. Up to six Thunderbolt devices can be connected to a single connector on the PC and a native DisplayPort display can be connected at the end of the daisy chain.

Support for 3 way NVIDIA SLI or ATI CrossFireX
The Z77H2-A5X Deluxe is at the forefront of the performance desktop PC market with support for three PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots and additionally, 3-way NVIDIA SLI or ATI CrossFireX support, providing astonishingly realistic high speed graphics and physics performance for the latest games and entertainment.

The latest high speed storage connectivity
The Z77H2-A5X Deluxe provides enormous capacity for ultra high speed storage. The Z77H2-A5X Deluxe is equipped with 2 x SATA 6Gb/s, 3 x SATA 3GB/s, 1 x mSATA 3GB/s (from mini PCIe) and RAID 0,1,5,10 support.

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Fast external connectivity
The Z77H2-A5X Deluxe is equipped with all the external connections you need, including on-board Wireless LAN, Gigabit LAN, Bluetooth, 2x USB 3.0, 4x USB 2.0, and 8 channel HD audio with ATX software support. The new Intel Z77 chipset at the heart of the Z77H2-A5X Deluxe is the first to include USB 3.0 support without external chips, bringing greater performance, expandability and reliability.

Unprecedented reliability – ECS Nonstop Certified
To ensure maximum reliability and customer satisfaction, ECS has enhanced its already stringent quality control procedures by increasing the testing cycle for its Black Series to three times longer than the industry standard and by raising the burn in testing temperature to 125% of the industry standard. Only those boards that pass ECS' 72 hours burn in test as well as a 50 degrees Celsius severe environment test can be deemed ECS Nonstop Certified.

Source: ECS

ASUS offers high end options for your Socket FM2 processor

Subject: Motherboards | November 9, 2012 - 03:21 PM |
Tagged: asus, a85, F2A85-V Pro, trinity

The ASUS F2A85V Pro is a high end AMD board with a quite reasonable price for the features present on the board.  The two PCIe-16x slots can handle Crossfire with both cards running at 8x and the spacing between the slots means that even a three slot GPU will fit with no problems.  There are 7 SATA 6 Gbps ports which support a variety of RAID settings, as well as four USB 3.0 ports and a single eSATA port but it is the graphics outputs which really shine, HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA and DVI outputs are all available for your Trinity processor.  Take a look at those features, the new Network iControl software to manage your connections and the UEFI BIOS at Bjorn3D.

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"ASUS has released their the F2A85V-Pro for the socket FM2. The board retails at around $140, but is packed with features."

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Source: Bjorn3D
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ECS

Introduction and Specs

Introduction

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Courtesy of ECS

As part of their Black Extreme line of motherboards, the ECS Z77H2-AX pairs the promise of performance and a mile-long feature list with looks that could kill. We decided to put this board through the paces, throwing our normal suite of benchmark and functionality tests to see how well it lived up to its reputation. The ECS Z77H2-AX seems to be well priced at its $309.99 base price with all the higher-end features and bling built into the board.

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Courtesy of ECS

From the initial unboxing of the board, I was dumbstruck. ECS literally gold-plated every heat-producing surface on this board, giving it a very unique look and feel. The board itself has no shortage of features with SATA 2, SATA 3, mSATA, and eSATA ports, support for 3 different networking types, and enough USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports for anyone.

Continue reading our review of the ECS Z77H2-AX Golden Motherboard!!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Intro and Tech Specs

Introduction

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Courtesy of ASUS

 

Today we will be evaluating the ASUS P8Z77 WS motherboard on the test bench, evaluating its performance and functionality in various ways to ensure that the board works up to the standards we’ve come to expect from ASUS. At $339 a base price, this Intel Z77 chipset based board is part of the ASUS Workstation series, designed to meet the needs of the harsh corporate and server environments requiring optimal component functioning over a 24/7 timeframe.

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Courtesy of ASUS

 

The P8Z77 WS is a feature-rich solution with dual Intel-based GigE NICs, an ASUS customized UEFI BIOS, and multi-GPU PCI 3.0 support offered innately through the Intel Z77 chipset as well as the integrated LicidLogix Virtu MVP chipset.

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Courtesy of ASUS

Continue reading our review of the ASUS P8Z77 WS Workstation Motherboard!!