ASUS' new flagship, the P8Z77-V Premium

Subject: Motherboards | July 12, 2012 - 06:50 PM |
Tagged: asus, p8z77-v premium, thunderbolt

As we mentioned on the PC Perspective Podcast ASUS has a new ultra high end motherboard on the market, the P8Z77-V Premium for the low price of $440.  There are four PCIe 3.0 16x slots, capable of running two cards at full speed or four at 8x speeds as well as a pair of PCIe 2.0 1x slots.  There are a half dozen of both flavours of USB ports and SATA 6Gbps ports as well as SATA2 and eSATA ports but the big connectivity feature is Thunderbolt.  The feature set is almost endless, up to and including an onboard 32GB SSD and it seems that the only thing this board cannot do much better than the competition is overclock.  That is not to say you cannot overclock this board, only that the overclocking potential was lower than other Z77 boards from ASUS that [H]ard|OCP tested.  If you can afford the price, you will not find a more impressive Z77 motherboard on the market.

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"It’s been awhile since we’ve seen the "Premium" moniker on any ASUS boards. ASUS reserves this for boards with truly premium features that set these apart from the rest of the product line. The end result is usually a complex product with more features than most people will ever need. Let's find out just how premium the P8Z77-V Premium truly is."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

GIGABYTE Launches World’s First Fully Certified Dual Port Thunderbolt Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards | July 5, 2012 - 01:26 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, thunderbolt, Z77X-UP5 TH, Z77X-UP4 TH, Z77MX-D3H TH, ultra durable 5

Double Thunderbolt, what does it mean?  It means that properly set up, the two Thunderbolt ports can power up to 12 devices and 2 digital displays simultaneously, with a third display possible from a dedicated video out port on your motherboards header.  Both Thunderbolt ports offer a bi-directional 10Gbps data pipeline that includes both PCIe and DisplayPort traffic, which can be intelligently shared by the devices attached to the interface.  Gigabyte is offering three models of motherboard with this feature, in addition to their standard additional features such as UltraDurable components, which you can read about below.

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Taipei, Taiwan, July 5th, 2012 – GIGABYTE TECHNOLOGY Co. Ltd., a leading manufacturer of motherboards and graphics cards, today announced the latest GIGABYTE 7 series motherboards, the very first to offer fully certified dual onboard Thunderbolt™ ports. Capable of connecting up to 12 devices plus 3 digital displays simultaneously, with breathtaking data transfer speeds that can transfer 1TB of data in only five minutes, GIGABYTE Thunderbolt™ motherboards offer the fastest connection interface ever on the desktop PC.

GIGABYTE Thunderbolt™ motherboards allow users to daisy chain up to 12 devices simultaneously via an incredible bi-directional 10Gbps data pipeline that includes both PCIe and DisplayPort traffic. GIGABYTE Thunderbolt™ motherboards redefine desktop PC connectivity to make it far easier to connect multiple high speed storage devices and HD displays to your PC than ever before.

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“It’s easy to see how our unique dual port Thunderbolt implementation simply offers more,” commented Henry Kao, Vice President of GIGABYTE Motherboard Business Unit. “We’re the only motherboard vendor currently offering DIY PC builders the absolute maximum in terms of device connectivity.”

“Thunderbolt technology represents a leap in performance and simplicity for media creators and entertainment enthusiasts,” says Jason Ziller, Intel’s director of Thunderbolt marketing. “We are pleased to be working with GIGABYTE as they bring the first dual Thunderbolt port motherboard to market. It’s a great example of what Thunderbolt makes possible.”

GIGABYTE Dual Thunderbolt™ motherboards open up a wealth of new possibilities regarding high-performance storage devices. GIGABYTE has worked closely with several leading device partners, including Promise® Technology, LaCie, BlackMagic, Western Digital, Seagate, Elgato, CalDigit and cable manufacturer Sumitomo:

“Working with GIGABYTE has been very exciting,” said Kosta Panagos, Director of Creative Marketing, at CalDigit. “GIGABYTE’s new line of Intel 7 series motherboards featuring dual Thunderbolt ports, will usher in a new era of flexibility to the PC platform. It is also a perfect match with CalDigit's new T1 and T2 Thunderbolt drives which provide professional level performance on all platforms at consumer prices, a feat that was previously unattainable, thanks to GIGABYTE and Thunderbolt technology.”

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“GIGABYTE’s new dual port Thunderbolt motherboards are an exciting innovation, giving incredible performance and are perfect for video and film professionals using Thunderbolt and the PC,” said Grant Petty, CEO, Blackmagic Design. “Customers using our wide range of Thunderbolt devices will now be able to choose to work in whatever format they need, giving them the flexibility to build whatever production and post production workflow they need.”

"In line with GIGABYTE and its dual on board Thunderbolt ports, WD's My Book® Thunderbolt™ Duo offers dual Thunderbolt ports for amazing creative flexibility while allowing daisy-chaining of up to six My Book Thunderbolt Duo drives or other high performance peripherals for fast and efficient workflow," said Craig Davis, Director Sales & Marketing, Retail Division, Western Digital Asia Pacific & Japan Region.

“Thunderbolt technology is a fantastic way to deliver both data and display via one interface. It provides unparalleled performance and plenty of flexibility,” said Leo Paskin, Product Marketing Manager at Seagate. “With the ability to daisy chain up to 12 devices on GIGABYTE’s new dual port Thunderbolt motherboards, you can turn a desktop PC into a central device hub by plugging in a single cable!"

“As the first Intel certified cable vendor, Sumitomo is delighted to see GIGABYTE bring the first dual port Thunderbolt motherboard to market, creating the ultimate connectivity for desktop PCs, commented Motoi Matsuo. “These new Thunderbolt motherboards are also the perfect fit for Sumitomo’s exclusive high speed 20m optical cables.”

"Thanks to their dual Thunderbolt™ ports, Gigabyte's new 7 series motherboards deliver unbeatable flexibility", says Adam Steinberg, Vice President Marketing at Elgato. "The unique dual port feature enables users to combine multiple portable Thunderbolt™ devices like the powerful Elgato Thunderbolt™ SSD."

“LaCie is pleased to see GIGABYTE announce Thunderbolt technology on their lasted motherboards,” said Erwan Girard, Professional Business Unit Manager, LaCie. “The time is now for demanding PC users, especially digital content creators, to experience the unprecedented speeds and advantages enabled by Thunderbolt Technology. The desire for computers and peripherals to keep up with their work flow is a concern of the past.”

Dual Thunderbolt™ - Fast, Flexible and Simple Connectivity for your Motherboard
GIGABYTE Thunderbolt™ motherboards are the first to be certified by Intel featuring dual Thunderbolt™ ports directly on the motherboard back panel I/O, with each Thunderbolt™ port supporting a maximum data transfer speeds with simultaneous bi-directional data transfer at speeds of up to 10Gbps - this means you can transfer a full HD 1080p movie in under 30 seconds.

GIGABYTE’s dual port Thunderbolt™ implementation ensures the absolute maximum potential connectivity, with support to connect up to 12 individual devices simultaneously, with each port offering full 10Gbps bandwidth.

Thunderbolt™ combines both DisplayPort and PCI Express protocols over a single cable so that users can connect a multitude of device types in tandem with HD streaming video and 8-channel audio, simultaneously in one specially developed cable. Users can also enjoy improved flexibility by ‘daisy-chaining’ several devices while still enjoying low latency and industry-leading data transfer speeds.

GIGABYTE Thunderbolt™ Motherboards Models
Dual Thunderbolt™ Ports are featured on the following GIGABYTE motherboard models:

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Source: Gigabyte

Some good warranty news for a change; ASUS and Gigabyte's new competition

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | July 5, 2012 - 12:53 PM |
Tagged: Warranty, asus, gigabyte

Neither ASUS nor Gigabyte have released an official press release on this topic but the news coming out of DigiTimes this morning will make many users smile if it is wholly accurate.  This story claims that both companies will offer free repairs on motherboards which are still under warranty for user damage in addition to the current warranty which covers factory defects.  Gigabyte will attempt to repair any such user caused damage, which should cover damage caused by overclocking or overvolting and ASUS will replace an unusable motherboard for free, including free shipping and delivery.

This may reassure many who have had bad RMA experiences, as the process is not enjoyable at the best of times.   The previous standard RMA process usually offered two alternatives, the first would be for the user to pay to ship the motherboard to the manufacturer who is often located overseas and if the problem with the motherboard was discovered to be a defect then that company would reimburse the shipping as well as ship out a replacement for free.  Otherwise you were often stuck paying the return shipping on a component that was in the same state as when you first gave up on it, as well as being without that part for the duration of the RMA process.  The second option involved cross-shipping but was only available to those willing to put the cost of the replacement motherboard and shipping on their credit card, to be returned if the motherboard was defective and again, if the board was not defective you ended up footing the bill.

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If these changes to the RMA procedure are indeed accurate then the worry of a faulty board being sent back to you if the damage was judged not to be a factory defect need no longer prevent you from sending a buggy or even non-functional board back to the manufacturer.  There are likely to be some limits on these new policies, keep your eye out for updates as the arrive.

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"Due to the weak global economy, in addition to dropping their motherboard prices, Asustek Computer and Gigabyte Technology have both expanded their motherboard warranty services hoping to attract consumer demand, according to sources from motherboard players."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes
Author:
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: Gigabyte

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of Gigabyte

PC gaming is alive and well and hardware vendors are working to create unique features in their product lines to entice this niche audience. Gigabyte has always had a soft spot for gamers who want the best components for their LAN rigs so they can own their friends in any game genre they choose to play. Gigabyte has broadened their product line to include performance gaming mice, keyboards, and PC cases. They also have a line of "G1-Killer" motherboards that Gigabyte claims is designed with 3D gaming in mind. One of their latest boards in the G1-Killer series is the G1.Sniper M3, and just happen to have a sample that we are reviewing today.

 

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Courtesy of Gigabyte

The G1.Sniper M3 was designed into a micro ATX form factor that sports Intel's latest Z77 Express chipset and supports the third generation of Intel's LGA 1155 "Ivy Bridge" processors. It is challenging to pack enough performance features and overclocking options onto a micro ATX footprint, but Gigabyte's G1.Sniper M3 has broken the code in this department. This $180 board includes a digital power phase design with auto voltage compensation, dual UEFI BIOS, and an onboard Creative Sound Core3D quad-core audio processor for rich, high-definition audio.

Continue reading our review of the Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 LGA 1155 Micro ATX Motherboard!!

Author:
Manufacturer: ASUS

An overview of Thunderbolt Technology

The promise of Thunderbolt connectivity has been around for a couple of years now. Today, Thunderbolt is finally finding its way to the PC platform in the form of motherboards from ASUS and MSI. First unveiled as "Light Peak" at the Intel Developer Forum in 2009, the technology started out as a way to connect multiple devices to a system over a fiber optic cable (hence the 'light' in the name), though the final products have changed the implementation slightly.

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The first prototype implementations actually used a USB-style connection and interface. It further required fiber optic cables. When it was renamed to Thunderbolt and then released in conjunction with a new lineup of Apple MacBook laptops, not only did the physical interface move to a mini-DisplayPort connection but the cable was made to use copper rather than fiber. Without diving too far into the reasons and benefits of either direction, the fact is that the copper cables allow for modest power transfer and are much cheaper than fiber optic variants would be.

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Thunderbolt's base technology remains the same, however. It is a transfer standard that allows for 10 Gbps of bandwidth for each channel (bi-directional) and concurrently supports both data and display connections. The actual interface for the data path is based on PCI Express and connected devices actually appear to Windows as if they are internally connected to the system which can offer some interesting benefits – and headaches – for hardware developers. The display connection uses the DisplayPort standard and can be used along with the data connection without affecting bandwidth levels or performance.  

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For current Intel processor implementations, the Thunderbolt connection is supported by a separate controller chip on the motherboard (or a riser card) – and some routing is required for correct usage. The Thunderbolt controller does not actually include a graphics controller, so it must be fed an output from another graphics processor, obviously in this case directly from the Ivy Bridge / Sandy Bridge processors. In theory, these could be from other controllers, but with the ubiquitous nature of integrated processor graphics on IVB and SNB processors, this is going to be the implementation going forward according to motherboard and system designers. 

Continue reading our review of Thunderbolt on Windows and the ASUS P8Z77-V Premium!!

Check out the highly overclockable Gigabyte Z77X-UD3H

Subject: Motherboards | June 25, 2012 - 04:36 PM |
Tagged: Z77, Gigabyte Z77X-UD3H, gigabyte, Ivy Bridge

The Gigabyte Z77X-UD3H is one of the less expensive of the Z77 boards on the market today, offering quite a few features for its $150 price point.  A pair of PCIe 3.0 ports can handle single 16x or dual 8x speeds and there are two other PCIe 2.0 ports and even a legacy PCI port.  For storage you get a pair of SATA 6Gbps and a pair of eSATA as well, with four SATA2 ports to take up the slack and 8 USB 3.0 ports will help peripherals and removable storage hit great transfer speeds.   [H]ard|OCP took an i7-3770K up to a stable 4.741GHz with great ease thanks to the Gigabyte Easy Tune 6 suite but they did have some problems with their mouse while changing settings in the UEFI.  You should read about the quirks they ran into during testing, but if you are looking for a low cost overclocking board you could do much worse than the Z77X-UD3H.

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"The Gigabyte Z77X-UD3H represents a more budget oriented offering within Gigabyte’s lineup. "Budget" doesn’t necessarily mean bad, and "expensive" doesn’t necessarily mean good when it comes to motherboards. The question is, "How does Gigabyte’s Z77X-UD3H stack up against so many great budget boards already out there?"

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Upper Middle Class; ASRock's high end X79 and Z77 boards

Subject: Motherboards | June 12, 2012 - 06:27 PM |
Tagged: sandy bridge-e, Ivy Bridge, asrock, Fatal1ty X79 Champion, Z77 Extreme9

There is an ASRock two-fer over at Legion Hardware, with the $400 Fatal1ty X79 Champion for SandyBridge-E and the $350 Z77 Extreme9 for IvyBridge.  As you can tell by the prices, ASRock has come far from its roots as a less expensive choice for value conscious buyers and is now ready to compete with the established companies like ASUS, Gigabyte and MSI.  The X79 Champion carries a lot of extras, the Marvell SE9230 adds SATA 6Gbps ports and the SE9172 adds eSATA, as well you get USB 3.0 support from a TI TUSB7340 chip but all that comes at a cost, only a pair of full 16x PCI 3.0 ports.  The Z77 Extreme9 also features extras in the form of the PLX PEX 8747 PCIe 3.0 chip which allows dual GPUs at 16x or quad at 8x, an ASMedia ASM1061 6Gbps for extra SATA 6Gbps and a a wireless and Bluetooth module. 

Drop by Legion Hardware to see how they perform.

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"Overall we have been impressed by Asrock’s high-end offerings, as they really are top notch products. Asrock has continued to step up their game over the last few years and today we would have no problem purchasing one of their products over something from Asus or Gigabyte for example. The Fatal1ty X79 Champion and Z77 Extreme9 are more examples of why Asrock motherboards are worth checking out."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

 

Computex: ASUS Shows Off Two Beastly Concept Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards | June 6, 2012 - 08:12 PM |
Tagged: zeus, wolverine, power phase, motherboard, dual gpu, concept, computex, asus

ASUS has a history of showing off crazy high-end concept motherboards that are not likely to come to market but may help influence future motherboard products by getting the creative sparks of innovation flowing in engineers’ minds.

At this year’s Computex 2012, Asus showed off two concept motherboards that it is calling Zeus and Wolverine. While Zeus tackles Thunderbolt and integrated GPUs, Wolverine approaches the problem of getting clean power to the CPU by pushing the limits of the number of power phases that can be integrated into ATX-sized motherboards.

Zeus

You will notice on the Zeus motherboard that the bottom of the board holds a bank of two 8 pin and two six pin power connectors. The two eight pin connectors are labeled VGA 1 and VGA 2 while the two six pin connectors are labeled VGA 3 and VGA 4 respectively. At first this seems like a regular X79 chipset (socket 2011) based motherboard with giant heatsinks for overclockers. After doing a double take (at least I did), you will notice that the board has no PCI-E connectors!

ASUS Zeus Motherboard.JPG

Source: AnandTech

Instead, the board has a large heatsink, and under that heatsink are two GPUs in CrossFire configuration. Tech Power Up believes that the GPUs being used are two AMD 7800 “Pitcairn” series mobile graphics cards in CrossFire configuration. While the desktop variants are fairly low power, they would need active cooling or a larger heatsink, which I think is what lead them to consider that ASUS may be using mobile-class cards. Reportedly, ASUS did not create this board to suggest GPU integration, but to show off dual Thunderbolt ports on an X79 motherboard.

Connectivity on the board includes a socket 2011 CPU, eight DDR3 DIMM slots, ten SATA connectors, (and on the rear IO panel) a WiFi radio, eight USB 3.0 ports, two Thunderbolt ports, Gigabit LAN, 7.1 channel analog audio output, optical audio output, HDMI output, DisplayPort output, and two eSATA ports.

As far as the dual GPU integration goes, however... I don’t expect we’ll be seeing a move in the industry like this any time soon, at least not on high-end Enthusiast boards (though I could see an argument for small form factor (SFF) budget gaming systems from OEMs). Dedicated graphics card technology moves at such a rapid pace compared to motherboards that it is just not feasible to market a feature like this to enthusiasts. While they may keep the same motherboard for years, those same users will likely upgrade their graphics cards at least once to stay current. Further, with the cost of these high-end motherboards already approaching exorbitant, adding integrated GPUs that don’t mesh well with the purpose of a high end system pushes the cost higher and demand to a point that these boards just don’t seem realistic.

Wolverine

While Zeus was more of a powerhouse with a twist (albeit one that isn’t really feasible to market), the other motherboard – Wolverine – is a “because we can” board but one that could have an impact on the industry today. ASUS has taken its Digi+ digital power to the extreme by packing as many power phases as it could into an ATX form factor motherboard. In total, they managed to place 40 power phases onto the PCB – notice how the CPU socket had to be shifted to the right to make room!

ASUS Wolverine Motherboard.JPG

Source: AnandTech

Other features on the board include eight SATA connectors, four DIMM slots, three PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, LGA 1155 socket, and three PCI 3.0 x1 slots. On the rear the board features four USB 2.0 ports, six USB 3.0 ports, a WiFi radio, Gigabit LAN, BIOS buttons, optical audio output, 7.1 channel analog audio output, and what looks like two eSATA ports.

Granted, I’m not suggesting that we will be seeing motherboards coming out with 40+ power phases anytime soon. I can see this influencing future designs, however. Even heavy overclockers (water and air cooling levels) don’t really /need/ 40 power phases but we could start seeing vendors put out boards with half of that and still have it be a big improvement.

What do you think of the two new ASUS concept motherboards? You can see more images of the boards over at AnandTech's gallery. Do you think they are on the right track? If not what areas do you think motherboard manufacturers need to improve?

Source: AnandTech

Computex: MSI Debuts New Z77 Mini-ITX Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | June 6, 2012 - 06:04 PM |
Tagged: Z77, msi, motherboard, mini-itx, Intel, htpc, computex

MSI is showing off a lot of motherboards at Computex 2012. One in particular that stuck out to me was a mini ITX motherboard that sported Ivy Bridge compatibility, four SATA ports (2 which are SATA 6Gbps), and PCI-E 3.0 compliant making it perfect for an high performance HTPC build. The motherboard in question is the MSI Z77IA-E53 and as the name suggests it is based around Intel’s Z77 chipset.

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The mini-ITX form factor motherboard sports MSI’s ClickBIOS II UEFI BIOS and its OC Genie II technology as well as THX TruStudio Pro audio. Other features include an LGA 1155 socket for Ivy Bridge or Sandy Bridge (Core i7, i5, i3, Pentium or Celeron) processors, two DDR3 DIMM slots (up to 16GB of 2800MHz), and a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot at the very bottom of the motherboard.

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On the back of the board, the Z77IA-E53 features HDMI and VGA video outputs, two USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, an eSATA port, Gigabit LAN, PS/2 port, optical audio outpu, three 3.5mm jacks for analog audio output, and WiFi and Bluetooth radios.

Unfortunately, there is no word yet on pricing or availability.

Source: MSI

Computex: Gigabyte Shows Off GA-X79S-UP5 WiFi Socket 2011 Motherboard (Hi-Res Photos)

Subject: Motherboards | June 5, 2012 - 08:40 PM |
Tagged: X79S-UP5 WiFi, x79, socket 2011, Intel, gigabyte, computex

Although Ivy Bridge is the new hotness, socket 2011 is still the company’s top-end enthusiast and workstation platform. And to to be forgotten, Gigabyte dedicated some space at its Computex booth to show off a new high-end X79 socket 2011 motherboard. The Gigabyte GA-X79S-UP5 WiFi is a EATX motherboard with a 2011 socket that is surrounded by heatpipes and VRM heatsinks (we recently reviewed the X79-UD5) The board further supports eight DDR3 DIMM slots, eight SAS connectors, six SATA ports, four PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots (up to 3 way SLI/CrossFireX), one PCI-E 3.0 x1 slot, and one legacy PCI slot at the bottom of the motherboard. It also has internal connectors for front panel audio, SPDIF, Firewire (1394), TPM, one USB 3.0, two USB 2.0 headers, and four fan headers (one of which is for the CPU).

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Integrated Gigabyte technology includes the company’s all-digital and “3D Power,” dual UEFI BIOSes, 8 phase VRM, Gigabyte Bluetooth 4.0 and WiFi card, 110dB SNR (signal-to-noise ration) HD audio, and 3X USB power and On/Off Charge to charge iPads and tablets even when the computer is powered down. Quad channel memory and socket 2011 processors give CAD engineers, video editors, and other 3D modelers the most performance possible out of a single socket workstation system.

Rear IO for the X79S-UP5 WiFi board includes a PS/2 port, four USB 2.0 ports, a firewire port, UEFI BIOS reset and overclock profile buttons, four USB 3.0 ports, two eSATA ports, a USB/eSATA combo port, Gigabit LAN, optical audio output, and five analog audio outputs.

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In short, this is a motherboard that Gigabyte has packed to the brim with features for enthusiasts. Below you will find several high-resolution images of the new socket 2011 motherboard. If your internet connection is ready, dive right in!

Gigabyte GA-X79S-UP5 WiFi Motherboard Images

Overhead view:

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Even considering my bias of my favorite color being blue, the board looks really nice, especially the heatsink designs which really make the board stand out.

CPU socket area:

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Here we can see the 2011 socket, VRMs, and DDR3 DIMM slots.

More photos after the break!

Source: Gigabyte