Subject: Motherboards | September 22, 2011 - 12:37 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: SFF< Zotac, llano, A75-ITX WiFi, a75
HONG KONG – Sept. 22, 2011 – ZOTAC International, a leading innovator and the world’s largest channel manufacturer of graphics cards, motherboards and mini-PCs, today announces the A75-ITX WiFi platform that enable users to embrace the power of AMD accelerated processing units, or APUs, in a compact mini-ITX form factor to form the perfect gaming capable home theatre PC.
The ZOTAC A75-ITX WiFi features an FM1 socket to take advantage of the latest AMD A8, A6, A4 and E2 series APUs with AMD Radeon™ HD 6000 series graphics processors for the perfect synergy of CPU and GPU performance power. Two memory slots enable users to install up to 8GB of high-speed DDR3 memory with speeds up to 1866 MHz, depending on the APU installed, for maximum system responsiveness for media playback, gaming and every-day use.
“Our goal at ZOTAC is to pack as many features and capabilities into the smallest form factory possible. The ZOTAC A75-ITX WiFi is no different – we’ve packed it with features and expansion capabilities typical of larger ATX offerings,” said Carsten Berger, marketing director, ZOTAC International.
There is plenty of expansion with the ZOTAC A75-ITX WiFi, including a PCI Express x16 slot, up to eight USB 3.0 and four SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports, for maximum internal and external upgrade potential from a compact form factor. Dual Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth 3.0 networking technologies enable the ZOTAC A75-ITX WiFi to deliver lightning-fast network transfers over wires or wireless and easily connect to wireless peripherals and phones.
It’s time to play with the ZOTAC A75-ITX WiFi mini-ITX platform.
- New ZOTAC A75-ITX WiFi mini-ITX platform
- AMD A75 chipset
- AMD A8, A6, A4 & E2-series APU compatible (socket FM1)
- 2 x DDR3 DIMM slots (up to 1866 MHz, speed varies by APU, up to 8GB)
- DVI, HDMI & VGA (with included adapter) outputs
- PCI Express x16 expansion
- 4 SATA 6.0 Gb/s w/RAID 0, 1, 0+1 support
- 8 USB 3.0 ports (6 on back panel, 2 via pin header)
- 2 USB 2.0 ports (2 via pin headers)
- Dual Gigabit Ethernet
- Hardware accelerated Blu-ray playback ready
- Dolby TrueHD & DTS-HD Master Audio bitstream capable
- Digital S/PDIF output (optical)
- 8-channel high-definition audio
- Microsoft DirectX 11 compliant
- Onboard 802.11n WiFi & Bluetooth 3.0 technology
- Mini-ITX form factor
Subject: Motherboards | September 16, 2011 - 03:27 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: asus, Crosshair V Formula, am3+
The ASUS Republic of Gamers is already waiting for Bulldozer to arrive as the Crosshair V Formula was designed for it. Seven SATA III 6Gb/s ports in total, a dozen USB 2.0 and a half dozen USB 3.0 ports will give you as much connectivity as you want. SupremeFX X-Fi 2 8-channel HD audio codec provides sound and four PCIe 16x slots will ensure even multiple GPUs will be running full out. There will even be a Thunderbolt version, though that was not the one that took Gold at [H]ard|OCP.
"The Crosshair V Formula is ASUS' ROG-based answer for the next generation AMD silicon, codenamed "Bulldozer." Built with all the bells and whistles you've come to expect from a Republic of Gamers' motherboard, the Crosshair V Formula looks to be the perfect companion for any AMD processor."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- Zotac FUSION350-A-E Motherboard Review @ Hardware Secrets
- MSI A75MA-G55 Llano Motherboard @ Benchmark Reviews
- ECS Black Series A990FXM-A Review @ OCC
- ASRock A75M-ITX @ Tweaktown
- ASUS Maximus IV Gene-Z Motherboard Review @ t-break
- Gigabyte 990FXA-UD5 Motherboard Review @ OCIA
- BIOS Option Of The Week - PCI Bus Parking @ TechARP
- PCI Express 3 - Gigabyte vs MSI @ OC3D
- Intel Smart Response Technology Showdown w/ GIGABYTE Z68XP-UD3-iSSD @ Tweaktown
- Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3-iSSD: LGA1155 Mainboard Fully Ready for Intel Smart Response @ X-bit Labs
- P67 Roundup Part Two @ OCC
- Gigabyte G1.Sniper2 @ Overclockers.com
- ASUS P8H67-M PRO/CSM Motherboard @ Hardware Secrets
- Sapphire Pure Platinum Z68 @ Tweaktown
- ASUS Maximus IV Gene-Z LGA1155 @ techPowerUp
- GIGABYTE Z68XP-UD3-iSSD Motherboard @ Bjorn3D
- GIGABYTE G1.SNIPER2 Intel Z68 Motherboard Review @ Legit Reviews
Subject: Motherboards, Processors | September 14, 2011 - 10:59 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: x79, sandy bridge-e, msi, idf 2011, idf
Many of Intel's partners are on hand at IDF to showcase upcoming products and I was able to stop by the MSI booth yesterday to get a peek into the future of the X79 chipset. This chipset will launch with the upcoming Sandy Bridge-E processors (for enthusiast) sometime later this year and introduce a new processor socket (Socket 2011) as well as some new features like dozens of PCI Express connections and quad-channel memory.
The flagship board on display was the X79A-GD65 (8D) that is one of the few X79 boards I have seen sporting 8 DIMM slots (hence the name) and capacities as high as 64GB! Most of the MSI features we have come to love on current motherboards are going to be on this line as well including Military Class components, OC Genie II and the much updated and improved ClickBIOS II.
The board is completely 3-Way SLI ready (and CrossFire as well) and sports three total PCI Express 3.0 slots at x16 bandwidth but also adds in three more PCIe 2.0 slots for good measure.
There are 4x USB 3.0 ports, 12x USB 2.0 ports, 4x SATA 6G ports and 4x SATA 3G ports. Needless to say the X79 platforms are going to be an enthusiast's dream.
MSI is also likely to include a new breakout box with X79 motherboards that will reside in a 5.25-in bay slot on your case (and honestly I need more things to use up there these days) and give you a couple of USB ports, an OC Genie button that will double as a BIOS reset button when held down, and even integrated WiFi and Bluetooth. The above photo is just a mock up but the plans are in place to deliver them with these new boards.
Finally, MSI did have the much improved and updated ClickBIOS II UEFI on display and without a doubt it kicks the first version's ass. We are working on a review that includes this new implementation so expect more on that soon.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Motherboards | September 14, 2011 - 02:12 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: virtu, mvp, lucid, idf 2011, idf, hyperformance, hydra
Lucid has a history of introducing new software and hardware technologies that have the potential to dramatically affect the PC gaming environment. The first product was Hydra shown in 2008 and promised the ability to use multiple GPUs from different generations and even different vendors on the same rendering task. Next up was Lucid Virtu, a software solution that allowed Sandy Bridge processor customers to take advantage of the integrated graphics features while also using a discrete graphics card. Lucid added support for AMD platforms later on and also showcased Virtual Vsync earlier this year in an attempt to improve user gaming experiences.
That is a nice history lesson, but what is Lucid discussing this time around? The technology is called "HyperFormance" (yes, like "High-Performance") and is included in a new version of the Virtu software called Virtu MVP. I'll let the Lucid press release describe the goals of the technology:
HyperFormance, found in the new model Virtu Universal MVP, boosts gaming responsiveness performance by intelligently reducing redundant rendering tasks in the flow between the CPU, GPU and the display. 3D games put the greatest demands on both the CPU and GPU. And as the race for higher performance on the PC and now in notebooks never ends, both CPUs and GPUs keep gaining performance.
First, a warning. This software might seem simple but the task it tries to accomplish is very complex and I have not had enough time to really dive into it too deeply. Expect an updated and more invasive evaluation soon. There are a couple of key phrases to pay attention to though including the idea of boosting "gaming responsiveness performance" by removing "redundant rendering tasks". The idea of boosting responsiveness pertains to how the game FEELS to the gamer and should be evident with things like mouse movement responsiveness and the stability of the on-screen image (lack of tearing). Lucid's new software technology attempts to improve the speed at which a game responds to your actions not by increasing the frame rate but rather by decreasing the amount of time between your mouse movement (or keyboard input, etc) and what appears on the screen as a result of that action.
How they do that is actually very complex and revolves around the Lucid software's ability to detect rendering tasks by intercepting calls between the game engine and DirectX, not around dropping or removing whole frames. Because Lucid Virtu can detect individual tasks it can attempt to prioritize and learn which are being repeated or mostly repeated from the previous frames and tell GPU to not render that data. This gives the GPU a "near zero" render time on that current frame and pushes the next frame through the system, to the frame buffer and out to the screen sooner.
To think of it another way, imagine a monitor running at 60 Hz but playing a game at 120 FPS or so. With Vsync turned off, at any given time you might have two to four or more frames being rendered and shown on the screen. The amount of each frame displayed will differ based on the frame rate and the result is usually an image some amount of visual tearing; you might have to top 35% of the screen as Frame1, the middle 10% of the screen as Frame2 and the bottom 55% as Frame3. The HyperFormance software then decides if the frame that is going to take up 10% of the screen, Frame2, has redundant tasks and if it can be mostly removed from the rendering pipeline. To replace it, the Lucid engine just uses 65% of Frame3.
The result is an output that is more "up to date" with your movements and what is going on in the game engine and in "game time". Like I said, it is a very complex task but one that I personally find very interesting and am looking forward to spending more time visualizing and explaining to readers.
Interestingly, this first implementation of HyperFormance does require the use of a multi-GPU system: the integrated GPU on Sandy Bridge or Llano along with the discrete card. Lucid is working on a version that can do the same thing on a single GPU but that application is further out.
Frame rate without HyperFormance
There is a side effect though that I feel could hurt Lucid: the effective frame rate of the games with HyperFormance enabled are much higher than without the software running. Of course, the GPU isn't actually rendering more data and graphics than it did before; instead, because HyperFormance is looking for frames to report at near zero frame times, benchmarking applications and the games themselves *think* the game is running much faster than it is. This is a drawback to the current way games are tested. Many gamers might at first be fooled into thinking their game is running at higher frame rates - it isn't - and some might see the result as Lucid attempting to cheat - it isn't that either. It is just a result of the process that Lucid is trying to get to work for gamers' benefits.
Frame rate with HyperFormance
Instead, Lucid is attempting to showcase the frame rate "increase" as a responsiveness increase or some kind of metric that indicates how much faster and reactive to the user the game actually feels. It might be a start, but claiming to have 200% responsiveness likely isn't true and instead I think they need to spend some time with serious gamers and have them find a way to quantify the added benefits that the HyperFormance application offers, if any.
There is a LOT more to say about this application and what it means to PC gaming but for now, that is where we'll leave it. Expect more in the coming weeks!
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Motherboards, Processors, Chipsets | September 12, 2011 - 10:22 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: Intel, idf 2011, idf
It is once again time for our annual pilgrimage to the land of the Golden Gate to spend a few days with our friends at Intel and the Intel Developer Forum. IDF is one of the most informative events that I attend and I am always impressed by the openness and detail with which Intel showcases its upcoming products and future roadmap. This year looks to be no different.
What do we have on the agenda? First and foremost, we expect to hear all about Ivy Bridge and the architecture changes it brings to the Sandy Bridge CPUs currently in the market. Will we see increased x86 performance or maybe increases in the likelihood of us recommending the integrated graphics? More information is set to be revealed on the 22nm tri-gate transistor as well as the X79 chipset and the Sandy Bridge-E enthusiast platform. SSDs and Ultrabooks are also set on the docket. It's going to be busy.
But what would a week in downtown San Francisco be without visits from other companies as well? We are set to meet with Lucid, MSI, ASUS, Gigabyte, Corsair, HP and of course, AMD. I expect we will have just as much to say about what each of these companies has on display as we do Intel's event.
I am planning on live blogging many of the sessions I will be attending so stay tuned to PC Perspective all week for the latest!!
Introduction and Specifications
Courtesy of ECS
ECS developed the HDC-I motherboard to take advantage of AMD's new Brazos platform that's based on the Hudson M1 chipset and their latest E-350 dual-core processor and integrated DDR3 800/1066 memory controller. The dual-core E-350 APU, which combines the CPU and GPU, brings a host of features to mini ITX enthusiasts like USB 3.0 compability, SATA 6Gb/s support, bluetooth and Radeon HD 6310 graphics and UVD 3 to play 3D Blu-ray and HD-1080P movies.
Courtesy of ECS
Another huge advantage of going with a mini ITX motherboard for your next home theater PC is the balance of computing power and power consumption that the AMD Brazos platform adds to the ECS HDC-I. The HDC-I is an energy-efficient motherboard that has integrated computing power and graphics firepower for users looking for an "all-in-one" solution for their next small form factor build.
Subject: Motherboards | September 8, 2011 - 01:48 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Maximus IV Extreme-Z, Maximus IV Gene-Z, asus, uATX, lga1155
If you are looking for a top of the line Z68 motherboard then two of the models you should consider are the ASUS Maximus IV Extreme-Z and Maximus IV Gene-Z. While they share many characteristics you can think of the Extreme-Z as the gaming board because of the four PCIe 16x slots and the Gene-Z as the media motherboard as it sports an HDMI out which the Extreme-Z does not. As well as the difference in output, the Extreme-z has the common Realtek ALC 889 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC while the Gene-Z has the higher end SupremeFX X-Fi 2 built-in 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC. The final difference and perhaps the easiest to spot is that the Extreme-Z is a full ATX board while the Gene-Z is uATX. Check out the performance of both boards in Legit Reviews latest article.
"The ASUS Maximus IV Extreme-Z is aimed at those looking to squeeze every last Megahertz out of their second generation Intel Core processor. With features like the LN2 switch that will help get past that pesky little cold bug problem, we know this board is meant for the extreme user. When we were performing our overclocking with the ASUS Maximus IV Extreme-Z it was a very smooth process. We were able to increase our multiplier to x51 and our Bclk to 100.4, though it showed up as 100.5 in CPUz. These settings brought us past the 5.1GHz mark and we were there in under an hour..."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- MSI Z68A-GD80-G3 @ Tweaktown
- Asus Maximus IV Extreme-Z Z68 Motherboard Review @ eTeknix
- Gigabyte G1.Sniper2 @ Techspot
- Gigabyte G1.Sniper 2 Z68 Motherboard Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Gigabyte G1.Sniper2 Z68 PCI-Express 3.0 LGA1155 @ techPowerUp
- ASRock Fatal1ty Z68 Professional Gen3 @ Tweaktown
- ASRock Fatal1ty 990FX @ kitguru
- ASRock Z68 Extreme7 Gen3 @ Tweaktown
- EVGA Z68 SLI Motherboard Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- Asus Maximus IV Gene-Z Motherboard Review @ Ninjalane
- Asus Maximus IV Extreme-Z @ Legion Hardware
- Biostar TA75A+ LGA1155 @ techPowerUp
- ASUS P8P67 @ AnandTech
- ASUS P6X58E-Pro X58 Motherboard Review @ OCIA
- ASUS P6X58-E WS Review @ OCC
- Foxconn AHD1S-k @ XSReviews
- Sapphire Pure Platinum A75 @ Phoronix
- ECS A990FXM-A Motherboard @ Hardware Secrets
- Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD7 @ XSReviews
Subject: Motherboards | August 31, 2011 - 12:06 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: x68, sandy bridge, sapphire pure platinum
Sapphire has been busy making a name for themselves as a high end motherboard maker in addition to their graphics card models. The Sapphire Pure Platinum Z68 is their first foray into SandyBridge and comes with a long host of features common to the Z68 platform as well as features common to Sapphire's GPUs such as a dual BIOS. Hi Tech Legion had a great time overclocking with this board both manually and with the help of Sapphire's TriXXX software, getting a i5-2500K all the way to 4.74GHz. Read on to see this impressive board in action.
"The Pure Platinum Z68 is the Sapphire's first entry for the Z68 chipset of Intel, which is capable of technologies such as Smart Response and Virtu. The Sapphire Pure Platinum Z68 includes 4 DIMM slots with support of up to 16GB of RAM with speeds of up to 1600+MHz. For network connectivity, the Sapphire Pure Platinum Z68 has a Marvell chip controlled Gigabit LAN port and wireless capability via a Bluetooth 2.1 receiver. Storage options are many in the Pure Platinum Z68, with 8 total SATA ports; 4 SATA II with RAID 0,1,5,10 and AHCI controlled by the Z68 chipset, while there are 2 SATA III ports also controlled by the Z68 and the last 2 are controlled by Marvell's controller. Peripherals on the Z68 Pure Platinum are 2 USB 3.0 with up to 12 total USB 2.0 ports (including the USB headers), with 4 on the rear panel."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- Gigabyte G1.Sniper2 Z68 Motherboard Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- GIGABYTE G1.Sniper2 @ Tweaktown
- MSI Z68A-GD65 (G3) Motherboard Review @ OCIA
- MSI Z68A-GD65 (G3) PCI-Express 3.0 @ techPowerUp
- Gigabyte Z68XP-UD5 Socket 1155 Motherboard @ Pro-Clockers
- BIOS Option Of The Week - S2K Bus Driving Strength @ TechARP
Subject: Motherboards | August 30, 2011 - 07:17 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Utility, p67, motherboard, Intel, gigabyte, bios
According to Tech Power UP, Gigabyte recently released a Windows tool that allows users to change the SATA controller mode without digging into the BIOS. The SATA controller mode relates to how the controller on the motherboard or add-on card communicates with the hard drive or SSD. Users will be able to choose from legacy IDE, AHCI, and RAID modes. From the brightly colored Windows tool, users can change the setting accordingly. The utility will then write the setting to the CMOS and prompt the user to reboot the computer so that the change can take effect.
The tool will work with any Gigabyte motherboards with the Intel H61, H67, P67, or Z68 chipsets. Further, the utility will run on both 32 bit and 64 bit versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7 operating systems. It is available to download from here. The package comes as a zip file containing an executable that does not need to be installed, which is a welcome touch.
While the Gigabyte Disk Mode Switch tool will make changing the setting easier than digging through the BIOS, it effectively accomplishes the same thing. What this means from a practical standpoint is that the Windows tool for changing the SATA mode suffers from the same issues that changing it in the BIOS does; mainly that the (Windows) operating system does not like such drastic changes and the user may encounter problems with Windows recognizing the drive and/or assigning the proper drivers. This is an issue primarily when changing the SATA mode of the drive that the operating system is installed on. While there are some registry tweaks that promise to help smooth the process, it is generally recommend to ensure the proper SATA mode is set before installing Windows onto the drive. Therefore, this tool’s usefulness is somewhat questionable.
Have you encountered any issues in changing the SATA mode post-install? Is this gigabyte tool useful or just another piece of manufacturer "helpware" that DIYers will never use?
Subject: Motherboards | August 24, 2011 - 04:33 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gigabyte, Z68XP-UD3-iSSD, Intel SRT, intel 311
Gigabyte has been talking about releasing a Z68 board with an integrated Intel 310 series drive since CES and they have finally released it. The Gigabyte Z68XP-UD3-iSSD ships with a 20GB Intel 311 SSD already installed to let you take advantage of Intel SRT right off the bat. Power users will be glad to know it is not integral and can be swapped out with a 40GB or 60GB model if you deem it necessary for your continued happiness. That is just one of the huge list of features on Gigabyte's new board, which only seems to be missing support for 4 way CrossFire or SLI which when you look at the minuscule gains it provides is not a problem at all. Head over to Legit Reviews to see this $240 monster run.
"It's not very often that something throws me for a loop, at least not when it comes to motherboards any more. That's exactly what happened when I first heard about the GIGABYTE Z68XP-UD3-iSSD! My first thoughts were that it's a great idea, followed by that boards has to cost a pretty penny! After today's testing, I will stand by my initial though of that's a great idea. What truly blew my mind was the price. As I said above, I thought the GIGABYTE Z68XP-UD3-iSSD was going to cost a pretty penny, somewhere in the $350-$400. Imagine my surprise when I found out that the Z68XP-UD7-iSSD retails for only $239.99! Needless to say I was a bit shocked!"
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- ASUS Rampage III Gene X58 LGA1366 mATX ROG Motherboard Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- Gigabyte GA-A75-UD4H Review and Llano Overclocking @ X-bit Labs
- ASUS P8H67-I (Intel H67) Mini ITX @ Tweaktown
- GIGABYTE GA-Z68XP-UD5 @ Bjorn3D
- Sapphire Pure Platinum H67 Socket 1155 Motherboard @ Pro-Clockers
- Asrock Fata1ty Z68 Professional Gen3 1155 Motherboard @ Pro-Clockers
- ASUS Rampage III Black Edition Review @ Neoseeker
- Gigabyte Z68X-UD7-B3 Motherboard Review @Hi Tech Legion
- Gigabyte G1-Killer Sniper 2 Motherboard Review @ Ninjalane
- BIOS Option Of The Week - SSE/SSE2 Instructions @ TechARP
- ECS HDC-I Motherboard Review @ Hardware Secrets
- ASUS Crosshair V Formula @ Overclockers.com
- Asus Sabertooth AMD 990FX Motherboard Review @ OCIA