Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | October 13, 2011 - 12:02 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: x79, uefi, roadmap
To call The Tech Report obsessed about motherboards is an understatement, like here at PC Perspective there is never enough information to satisfy us fully. That is probably why we are such suckers for sneak peeks and hints of what is coming up in the next generation of parts. Today it is the new UEFI implementation that we will be seeing from ASUS that will be present on the new family of X79 motherboards. This new type of BIOS is obviously maturing as you can get the same functionality we are used to seeing from GUI based overclocking and monitoring programs except now you are much closer to the metal. Check out the sneak peek and keep an eye out for more information from this super secret meeting.
"Later this week, I embark on a super-secret mission to Silicon Valley to get a sneak peek at Asus' upcoming X79 motherboards. At a similar preview event for Sandy Bridge motherboards last year, I got my first hands-on time with the UEFI—that is, the better, more flexible BIOS replacement—that went on to outclass everything in the industry. Asus will probably have a few new UEFI tricks to show off this time around, and I'm curious to see what's in store. I also have some rather specific thoughts on what should be incorporated in new firmware implementations. When you've been reviewing motherboards for more than a decade, you spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about such things—and have a somewhat inflated sense of the value of your opinions."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Asustek launches Zenbook series ultrabooks @ DigiTimes
- Hackers age 14-18 can compete to put their project into space @ Hack a Day
- Dennis Ritchie, Creator of C Programming Language, Passed Away @ Slashdot
- RIM has restored its systems @ The Inquirer
- iOS 5 reviewed: Notifications, iMessages, and iCloud, oh my! @ Ars Technica
- Seagate, WD update impact of Thai flooding @ DigiTimes
- Windows 7 overtakes XP - finally @ The Register
- SLI Multi-GPU Technology on AMD Platforms - An Interview with Tom Petersen of NVIDIA @ Hi Tech Legion
- Microsoft patches 23 flaws in multiple products @ The Inquirer
- October Halloween Pumpkin Carving Contest @ Bjorn3D
Subject: Motherboards | October 11, 2011 - 04:47 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: mITX, llano, amd, asus, F1A75-I Deluxe, zotac, A75-ITX WiFi
If you are planning a microITX Llano build, it will be well worth your time to drop by The Tech Report as they are comparing two different mITX A75 boards. The ASUS F1A75-I Deluxe and Zotac A75-ITX WiFi boards have many similarities, a pair of DDR3 slots, a single PCIe 16x slot, 4 SATA 6Gbps slots, DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort video outputs with audio from the Realtek ALC892. The differences lie in the outputs, where ASUS only has a pair of USB 3.0 ports, Zotac managed to squeeze a half dozen in at the cost of lowering the USB 2.0 port count. To find out if there are any performance differences, you will have to read the full article.
"The tight integration of AMD's Llano platform is perfectly suited to Mini-ITX motherboards. We test two of 'em from Asus and Zotac to see what's what."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- AMD A75 3-way Motherboard Shootout @ Techspot
- Gigabyte GA-A55M-DS2 Motherboard Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- Zotac A75-ITX WiFi Motherboard Review @ t-break
- Asus Crosshair V Formula Motherboard Review @ Niinjalane
- GIGABYTE A55M-S2V (AMD A55) mATX @ Tweaktown
- BIOS Option Of The Week - PEG/Onchip VGA Control @ TechARP
- ASRock Z68 Extreme4 Gen3 @ Tweaktown
- Gigabyte Z68XP-UD5 LGA 1155 Motherboard Review @ Hardware Canucks
- GIGABYTE H61N-USB3 (Intel H61) Mini-ITX @ Tweaktown
- Gigabyte G1.Sniper 2: Military-Style Gaming LGA1155 Mainboard @ X-bit Labs
- Asus Maximus IV Extreme: LGA1155 Mainboard for Three Graphics Cards @ X-bit Labs
Subject: Motherboards | October 3, 2011 - 01:19 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: asus, maximus iv extreme, lga1155, p67, NF200, x68
The ASSU Republic of Gamers is a fast growing family line, the newest arrival being the ASUS Maximus IV Extreme. That pairs the Intel X68 chipset with the nForce 200 MCP to give you additional PCIe lanes. In fact you can manually tweak the PCIe lanes assigned to the PCI3 16x slots, a feature that experienced overclockers will probably use frequently. Speaking to the overclockers, [H]ard|OCP wanted to stress two very important capabilities of the board, not only did it hit 5.1GHz at a CPU voltage of 1.475v, it also boasted the lowest temperatures that [H] saw on their watercooling rig. This board is not for the plug and play crowd but for the enthusiast crowd it will shine.
"ASUS expands its Intel based Republic of Gamers line once again with the Maximus IV Extreme. This motherboard has a lot to live up to as each Maximus before this was nothing short of excellent and quite possibly the best motherboards available at the time of release. The Maximus IV Extreme continues the tradition and exceeds expectations."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- GIGABYTE G1.Sniper 2 @ [H]ard|OCP
- MSI Z68A-GD80-G3 @ kitguru
- Gigabyte GA-Z68AP-D3 Z68 @ kitguru
- MSI Z68A GD65 G3 @ OC3D
- Intel D525MW Motherboard Review @ Hardware Secrets
- BIOS Option Of The Week - Refresh Mode Select @ TechARP
- ECS A55F-A Review @ t-break
- Sapphire Pure Platinum A75 (PT-A8A75) @ Bjorn3D
- ASUS F1A75-I Deluxe @ Tweaktown
- ASUS Crosshair V Formula AM3+ Motherboard Review @ Neoseeker
- ASUS F1A75-V Pro Motherboard Review @ Legit Reviews
- ASUS F1A75-I Deluxe Review – Llano and Mini-ITX @ AnandTech
- ASUS F1A75-I Deluxe @ kitguru
If you have been visiting PC Perspective at all over the last week there is no doubt you have seen a lot of discussion about the currently running Battlefield 3 beta. We posted an article looking at performance of several different GPUs in the game and then followed it up with a look at older cards like the GeForce 9800 GT. We did a live stream of some PC Perspective staff playing BF3 with readers and fans, showed off and tested the locked Caspian Border map and even looked at multi-GPU scaling performance. It was a lot of testing and a lot of time, but now that we have completed it, we are ready to summarize our findings in a piece that many have been clamoring for - a Battlefield 3 system build guide.
The purpose of this article is simple: gather our many hours or testing and research and present the results in a way that simply says "here is the hardware we recommend." It is a the exact same philosophy that makes our PC Perspective Hardware Leaderboard so successful as it gives the reader all the information they need, all in one place.
Subject: General Tech, Motherboards, Processors | October 1, 2011 - 01:55 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: FX, bulldozer, amd, am3+
AMD has not been too well received in the upper end of CPUs for quite some time now. Once Intel started pushing for performance with their Conroe core, AMD was forced to stay competitive in the mainstream market to survive and that is pretty much where we have been for the last 5 years. Also returning after a nearly 5-year hiatus is the FX moniker for AMD’s flagship products. According to leak(s) from Microcenter that floated past our desks we should see a resurgence of at least one of those two on October 12th, 2011:
"AMD is launching their new AM3+ FX series processors on 10/12/11. We currently have a number of AM3+ compatible motherboards in stock. These motherboards will support the new AM3+ FX processors as well as legacy AM3 processors."
Personally, I would shy away from the words "Bull" and "Dozer" in my product line.
Also from the memo we learned that the new AM3+ FX SKUs that will launch includes: FX-6100, FX-8120, and the FX-8150. The 6000-series parts constitute 6-core processors where the 8000-series parts constitute 8-core parts. To support those processors we shall see three Gigabyte motherboards, four ASUS motherboards, and four ASRock motherboards. Update Oct 1 @ 2pm: There may be more motherboards at launch but since this is a Microcenter leak it only considers their stock.
|ASRock||890FX Deluxe 5|
|ASRock||880G PRO 3*|
|ASRock||890GX PRO 3*|
Each of these motherboards will require a BIOS update to be serviceable though the leak suggests that the update would be performed by Microcenter themselves. If for some reason you have the board on your own you will need an older AM3 processor to perform the update. Also, the last two ASRock motherboards (asterixed) do not yet have a BIOS update for AM3+. AMD is expected to post an official blog about the topic on October 3rd at AMD.com.
Subject: Motherboards | September 26, 2011 - 04:56 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: z68, msi, Z68A-GD65-G3, sandy bridge, lga1155
When [H]ard|OCP reviewed the MSI Z68A-UD3H B3, they took some time examining MSI's version of UEFI called Click BIOS; it did not come out well, they panned it as horrible. MSI listened to their suggestions as well as comments from other sites and users and developed the Click BIOS 2, which is first hitting the market in the Z68A-GD65-G3. That BIOS, barring a few small issues, came out much better and seemed more in line with the other main release of the UEFI from ASUS. Apart from that feature, the board also a pair of PCIe 16x slots (which happen to be Version 3.0) as well as three PCIe 1x slots. Externally it sports HDMI and DVI out, as well optical and analog SP/DIF ports, two USB 3.0 ports as well as four USB 2.0 ports; internally four SATA 6GB/s and four SATA II ports will keep storage fanatics happy. The bundled control software received poor marks but for manual overclockers [H] leaves you with this comment ... "the only motherboard we have ever tested that allowed us to stably overclock our 2500K CPUs to 5GHz"
"In the motherboard business, it’s about differentiating the product. Once in awhile a motherboard manufacturer like MSI does just that before "the other guy." And that’s where the Z68A-GD65-G3 comes in bringing PCI-Express Generation 3 support and a new UEFI interface to the table."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- Gigabyte GA-Z68A-D3H-B3 @ hardCOREware
- MSI Z68A-GD80 (G3) @ Bjorn3D
- ASRock Z68 Extreme4 Gen3 Motherboard Review @ Madshrimps
- MSI Z68A-GD80 Motherboard Review @ Neoseeker
- ASRock Z68M-ITX HT @ Tweaktown
- GIGABYTE G1.Sniper 2 @ Bjorn3D
- MSI Z68A-GD65(G3) Motherboard Review @Hi Tech Legion
- Zotac Z68-ITX WiFi @ Funky Kit
- Zotac Z68ITX-A-E Wifi @ AnandTech
- GIGABYTE Z68XP-UD3-iSSD @ Tweaktown
- Three LGA1155 Mainboards from ASUSTeK on Intel Z68 Express @ X-bit Labs
- Z68 Motherboard Roundup @ OCC
- ASUS P8H67-M EVO Motherboard @ Hardware Secrets
- Intel DH67GD Motherboard Review @ HardwareLOOK
- BIOS Option Of The Week - On-Chip Frame Buffer Size @ TechARP
- BIOS Option Of The Week - PIRQ x Use IRQ No@ TechARP
- ASRock A75 Extreme 6 @ kitguru
- AMD Lynx Platform (Llano A6-3650 CPU, ECS A75F-A Motherboard) Review @ Madshrimps
- ASRock 890FX Deluxe5 AMD Motherboard Review @ ThinkComputers
- Zotac A75-ITX WiFi vs ASUS F1A75-I Deluxe Mini-ITX Motherboards Review @ HardwareHeaven
- ECS A75F-A AMD FM1 @ techPowerUp
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!