ASUS preps ThunderboltEX add-in card for Z77 and H77 motherboards

Subject: Motherboards, Displays | June 4, 2012 - 09:30 PM |
Tagged: Z77, thunderboltex, thunderbolt, h77, computex, asus

Ever since we posted our series of videos with ASUS on the new Z77 chipset and the features ASUS was introducing on their P8Z77 lineup, we have had countless questions about the Thunderbolt header, the implementation and finally the required add-on card to enable it.  Well thankfully at Computex this week ASUS is revealing the product that users of the P8Z77 motherboards will need to enable the Thunderbolt connection, the ASUS ThunderboltEX.

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Even though we have already had some hands-on time with the new ASUS P8Z77-V Premium motherboard that integrates a Thunderbolt header on the board directly, the rest of the P8Z77-V line has a 9-pin header labeled "TB_header" that will allow users to purchase the ThunderboltEX card and enable the technology in their system.  ASUS was the only company to really plan ahead for Thunderbolt technology across the entire series of Z77 motherboards and as such should enjoy the feature benefits of TB for some time.

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The ThunderboltEX will plug into the bottom PCIe slot using up the x4 connection and will be required to use a header cable to connect to the TB_header shown above.  This header serves a dual purpose - it allows the integrated graphics of the Ivy Bridge (and even discrete graphics) to pass through to the ThunderboltEX card and then out to either a Thunderbolt enabled display or a DisplayPort monitor in a daisy chain of devices.  It also allows ASUS to make sure this card is ONLY used on their own lineup of motherboards - sorry, you won't be able to buy the ASUS ThunderboltEX and use it on your Gigabyte or MSI or even your non "TB_header" ASUS motherboard.

You will also have to install an included full-size DisplayPort cable from the output on the Z77 motherboard back panel to the full-size DP input on the ThunderboltEX itself.  This allows the pass through of all the video data.

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Once everything is configured, users will have a full speed 10 Gbps ready Thunderbolt connection to use with external storage, break out boxes and other accessories coming down the pipeline rapidly.  ASUS claims this implementation will still support 6 daisy-chained devices with a seventh device as either a Thunderbolt or mini-DisplayPort monitor.  Even better, hot plug support will still be enabled!

ASUS stands committed to the belief that motherboard design is not just about pure spec but ensuring a quality design and overall implementation. This is achieved through many means such as sensible layout, flexible I/O connectivity and robust control over parameters of operation. In addition foresight in design can play an important role. ASUS recently launched the world’s first certified native Thunderbolt motherboard with the P8Z77-V Premium. While the Premium leads the industry in respect to connectivity and overall functionality it carries a flagship price for its premium feature set. ASUS had kept this in mind along with thinking about how to best support the advanced new interconnect that is Thunderbolt. With this in mind ASUS is proud to unveil its exclusive Thunderbolt upgrade solution for its line of Z77 and H77 motherboards. The ThunderboltEX card is the first add-on card on the market enabling an easy way to upgrade ASUS motherboards with the latest I/O. This is proof in having foresight in design as compatible boards had to have a special TB header in place to support this upgrade.

Currently, the ThunderboltEX is awaiting Thunderbolt device certification and ASUS will obviously announce when that occurs.

Obviously this implementation of Thunderbolt is not as elegant as the one you will find on the ASUS Premium Z77 motherboard or the MSI Z77A-GD80, but it does enable other ASUS Z77 motherboard users to add the feature to their systems without REQUIRING to the cost up front to everyone.  It does remind me a little bit of the first days of ATI CrossFire but I think most of you would agree that this solution is better than forcing users to buy a $450 motherboard.

I don't have any information on pricing or availability but you can be sure as soon as our questions are answered by ASUS we will update this post!  

If you are looking for more information on Thunderbolt devices and performance, check out our stream of posts on the subject and take a look at the Thunderbolt / ASUS video below!

Source: ASUS

GIGABYTE Unveils Exclusive Ultra Durable 5 Technology at Computex 2012

Subject: Motherboards, Shows and Expos | June 4, 2012 - 06:46 PM |
Tagged: ultra durable 5, IR3550 PowIRstage, International Rectifier, gigabyte, computex 2012, computex

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City of Industry, California, June 4th , 2012– GIGABYTE TECHNOLGY Co. Ltd., a leading manufacturer of motherboards and graphics cards, today introduced their latest Ultra Durable 5 technology, featuring a range of high current capable components including the industry’s highest rated 60A IR3550 PowIRstage ICs that provide the best quality power delivery to the CPU for record-breaking performance, cool and efficient operation and extended motherboard lifespan.

GIGABYTE is yet again raising the bar of motherboard quality and durability with their Ultra Durable 5 technology, which includes high current capable components for the CPU power zone including the highest rated and awarded IR3550 PowIRstage ICs from International Rectifier, 2X Copper PCB and high current Ferrite Core Chokes rated up to 60A which together are able to deliver up to 60°C* cooler temperatures than traditional motherboards. Featured on a range of new motherboards based the Intel X79 and Z77 Express Chipsets, GIGABYTE Ultra Durable 5 technology is the next evolution in quality motherboard design.

“As the exclusive motherboard manufacturer to utilize the amazingly efficient IR3550 PowIRstage ICs from International Rectifier, GIGABYTE has spent a considerable amount of engineering resources to ensure our Ultra Durable 5 motherboards are our best Ultra Durable motherboards yet,” commented Henry Kao, Vice President of GIGABYTE Motherboard Business Unit. “GIGABYTE Ultra Durable 5 motherboards are especially optimized for water cooled systems and overclocked Intel Core i7-3770K Ivy Bridge “K” SKU CPUs due to their exceptionally low operating temperatures, and make the perfect match for anyone looking to push their system to limits.”

“We are delighted that IR’s award winning IR3550 PowIRstage provides the high current, thermal capability and outstanding performance to power GIGABYTE’s new Ultra Durable 5 motherboard series,” said Deepak Savadatti, Vice President and General Manager, IR’s Enterprise Power Business Unit.

The magic happens thanks to all new Integrated Circuit design

Source:

Gigabyte shows motherboard with dual Thunderbolt outputs on-board

Subject: Motherboards, Shows and Expos | June 4, 2012 - 04:14 PM |
Tagged: computex, gigabyte, Z77, thunderbolt, Z77X-UP5 TH

Anandtech has the scoop on a new motherboard being shown at Computex this week from Gigabyte that features not just Thunderbolt support, not just a single Thunderbolt port but DUAL Thunderbolt connections.  The Z77X-UP5 TH is the first such PC platform to offer support for four channels of the new connectivity technology.

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Image source: Anandtech.com

Both ports can run at the full 10 Gbps speeds thanks to the inclusion of a PLX PCI Express bridge chip so bandwidth restrictions shouldn't be a concern.  We don't know the pricing or availability of this new board quite yet but Gigabyte is finally jumping into the world of Thunderbolt after the MSI and ASUS announcements last month.  

Hit up the Anandtech link above for more photos of this board! 

Source: Anandtech

ECS Announces A85F2-A Desktop Trinity FM2 Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | June 1, 2012 - 10:06 PM |
Tagged: trinity, motherboard, fm2, ECS, desktop, a85f2-a

Taiwan-based motherboard maker ECS (Elitegroup Computer Systems) recently announced an ATX form factor motherboard based on the AMD A85X chipset. The most exciting feature is that this motherboard uses the AMD FM2 CPU socket, and it is ready to accept desktop Trinity processors!

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The A85F2-A Deluxe motherboard comes equipped with two PCI-E 2.0 x16 slots for CrossfireX mutli-GPU setups, three PCI-E 2.0 x1 slots, and two legacy PCI slots. With four DDR3 DIMM slots, the board can support up to 64GB of memory. It further supports memory up to 2300MHz (officially). It also features seven 6Gb/s SATA ports with RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 support.

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External expansion (rear IO) includes six USB 3.0 ports, eight USB 2.0 ports, Gigabit LAN, and an eSATA connector. The A85F2-A Deluxe also features HDMI, DVI, and VGA video outputs as well as 8 channel analog audio.

On the software side of things, the motherboard has GUI uEFI BIOS, ECS MIB X, and support for multiple languages. The FM2 socket based motherboard also comes bundled with Norton AntiVirus, Muzee, Cyberlink Media Suite, and ECS iEZ (which is the driver and BIOS update (and fan control) utility.

The board has undergone numerous in-house tests (though be sure to also check out independent reviews), and has been rated ECS Nonstop Certified. The company also includes gold plated contacts and solid capacitors with the motherboard. It has also been rated for ESD protection on the VGA, USB, LAN, and HDMI ports.

The Trinity processor is the best part about the motherboard, however as it enables several new technologies including up to four displays, AMD Turbo Core 3, Open CL 1.1, and hardware video decoding with AMD’s UVD engine.

In addition to the A85F2-A Deluxe, ECS will also be releasing four other FM2 socket based motherboards including the A75F2-A2, A75F2-M2, A55F2-A2, and A55F2-M3. Unfortunately, there is no word yet on pricing or availability. Expect to see more details on these boards soon (possibly at Computex 2012?).

Source: ECS

ASUS would like to clear the air on just who is the fastest of them all

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | June 1, 2012 - 01:17 PM |
Tagged: asus, maximus v gene, p8z77-V deluxe, overclocking, smackdown

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Earlier this week, we and several other sites reported that a Gigabyte Z77X-UD3H motherboard managed to take the Ivy Bridge i7-3770 with a single core enabled all the way to 7.03GHz and ASUS would like to know what all the fuss is about.  It seems that on January the 5th, ASUS took the i7-3770 to 7.06GHz on a P8Z77-V Deluxe which not only beats Gigabyte's overclock but did so long enough ago we needed to be reminded of it.

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That was not even the best overclock that ASUS managed, the tiny Maximus V Gene could support a speed of 7.07GHz.  That speed was hit yesterday by Andre Yang and seems to demonstrate that for extreme overclockers it is ASUS' Z77 boards which you should be counting on. 

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Hopefully this little correction will start an overclocking war between the two manufacturers, as both host events for overclockers as does MSI who have not chimed in to this contest yet.  LN cooling is not for the faint of heart but it is what you need to practice in order to compete at this level.  Gigabyte does seem to have one record which does still stand, DDR3-3280 MHz is quite spectacular.

ASUS master overclocker Andre Yang has managed another benchmarking world record, once more using the Intel Z77-based ROG Maximus V GENE mATX. Utilizing a quad-core/eight threaded Intel i7-3770 Ivy Bridge processor, Andre was able to overclock the CPU to an impressive milestone frequency of 7074.7MHz, again breaking the fabled 7GHz processor threshold and overtaking the previous record of 7.06GHz ( which was previously set and held by ASUS with the P8Z77-V Deluxe ). The CPU multiplier and BCLK were set to 112.69 x 63. The Maximus V GENE had 4GB of G.Skill DDR3 RAM, clocked to 1197.8MHz. The graphics card used was an ASUS GeForce GTX 680, set to 705MHz/3004MHz. Keep in mind quad-core and eight-threaded overclocking presents a much tougher challenge than more traditional single-core and double-threaded tuning in terms of stability and consistency, making the feat even more impressive.

 

Source: ASUS

Gigabyte Breaks Ivy Bridge and DDR3 Overclocking World Records

Subject: Motherboards | May 30, 2012 - 04:12 PM |
Tagged: motherboard, gigabyte, Ivy Bridge, Gigabyte Z77X-UD3H

Who doesn’t love some good ‘ole fashioned overclocking? Professional overclocker HiCookie employed liquid nitrogen cooling to push an Intel Ivy Bridge Core i7 3770K processor to 7.03 GHz, breaking the previous world record. In addition, he managed to push four DIMMs of G.Skill Trident X DDR3 memory to an amazing 3.28 GHz!

Popular motherboard manufacturer Gigabyte announced today that its motherboards have been used to shatter the previous Ivy Bridge CPU and DDR3 RAM world records. Using liquid nitrogen and a Gigabyte Z77X-UD3H motherboard, the overclocker pushed the i7 3770K to 7.03 GHz. The overclock is only running on a single core (two threads), but it does show that at least some Ivy Bridge processors are capable of high overclocks despite the issues some CPUs are having. The CPUz validation and HWBot submission are available here: CPUz, HWBot.

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The Z77-UD3H motherboard used to take Ivy Bridge to 7.03 GHz.

As far as memory overclocking, the company used it’s GA-Z77X-UD5H motherboard and four G.Skill Trident X DDR3 DIMMs rated for 2800 MHz to achieve 3,280 MHz speeds under heavy overclocking. Gigabyte claims that the feat was due in part to their memory tuning capabilities and motherboard engineering. It seems crazy to think that only a few years ago, people were running 800 MHz memory–and this overclocked RAM is currently running faster than my i7 860 processor!

Deputy Director of Motherboard Marketing Tim Handley stated in the press release that "these new world records highlight our belief that top notch quality and design deliver truly world-class, record breaking performance.” They also hinted that a new series of motherboards that will be released at Computex 2012 are showing even better overclocking abilities.

It will be interesting to see how long it takes for Gigabyte’s new world record to be broken. I hope that whoever does break it manages to do it with more than one core as well. The full press release is available here.

Source: Gigabyte USA

The best valued model of the ASUS P8Z77 family of motherboards

Subject: Motherboards | May 28, 2012 - 02:58 PM |
Tagged: P8Z77-V, lga1155, Ivy Bridge, asus

At $185, the ASUS P8Z77-V is technically a value board for Ivy Bridge as motherboards with this chipset tend to carry a high price. There are lower priced boards but they are missing some of the features which make this board stand out among its competition.  While it does support CrossFire and SLI, with only three PCIe slots in total you will only get 8x speeds when you are using two graphics cards, although testing has shown there is little difference between that and a full 16x.  ASUS also included legacy PCI slots for those of you with old cards that you simply cannot live without.  [H]ard|OCP gave this board a Gold Award thanks to the decent feature set included in a sub-$200 board as well as the rock solid performance it displayed during their testing.

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"The ASUS P8Z77-V is among the latest entries into the ASUS motherboard Intel Z77 Express Chipset series. The P8Z77-V is poised as a more value oriented solution, potentially representing a great bang for your buck option if a Z77 chipset motherboard and Ivy Bridge processor get you excited."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

MSI Launches Z77A-GD80 Motherboard With Thunderbolt

Subject: Motherboards | May 23, 2012 - 05:15 PM |
Tagged: Z77, thunderbolt, msi, motherboard

The MSI Z77A-GD80 motherboard that was first shown off at CES 2012 has officially launched today. The new motherboard is based on the Z77 chipset and supports Intel’s latest 22nm Ivy Bridge processors as well as the new Thunderbolt interface (a demo of Thunderbolt can be found here).

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The MSI board further utilizes their “Military Class III” components, UEFI / Windows GUI ClickBIOS II firmware, and their automatic overclocking OC Genie II software. The board also features four DIMM slots for up to 32GB of DDR3 2800MHz memory, three PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, four PCI-E 3.0 x1 slots, four SATA II and four SATA III. It also supports two-way SLI or three-way Crossfire for multi-GPU setups and has an additional USB 3.0 header for expansion cards or front panel ports.

Rear IO includes 4 USB 2.0 ports, a combination PS/2 mouse/keyboard port, digital and optical audio outputs, HDMI, Gigabit LAN, two USB 3.0 ports, VGA output, and 6 port analog audio output.Last but not least the Thunderbolt port, resting under the VGA output. MSI is pushing the new transfer technology hard in the press release because of the super fast transfer rates (theoretically up to 10Gbps).

Unfortunately, there is no word on pricing or availability for this motherboard (yet). Stay tuned to future updates as more information is released. More photos of and specification details for the new Thunderbolt equipped motherboard can be found here.

Source: MSI

Thunderbolt for Windows Performance Preview - ASUS P8Z77-V Premium

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards, Storage | May 21, 2012 - 06:57 PM |
Tagged: Z77, thunderbolt, p8z77-v premium, msi, asus

We have really been waiting for this since we first saw the release of Thunderbolt on the Apple MacBooks last year, but we finally have it: Thunderbolt support for PC users!  Both MSI and ASUS today announced availability of motherboards with integrated Thunderbolt connectivity: the ASUS P8Z77-V Premium and the MSI Z77A-GD80 will both get you a single integrated Thunderbolt port.

You can see MSI's full press release right hereWe can't find the ASUS press release anywhere Here is the ASUS press release as well, but here are a few selections:

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"Intel and ASUS have worked closely on the implementation of Thunderbolt technology onto Asus motherboards”, said Jason Ziller, Intel’s Director of Thunderbolt Marketing. “The P8Z77-V PREMIUM is the first Thunderbolt certified motherboard in the industry, a testament to its solid design and compatibility."

...

With its long history of working with high tech vendors, ASUS is able to show its strength and commitment to innovation with a close relationship to three of the leading brands currently producing products with Thunderbolt technology, Elgato, LaCie, and PROMISE.

...

Thunderbolt is a new, high-speed I/O technology designed for performance, simplicity and flexibility, with lightning fast transfer speeds that are twice that of USB 3.0 and up to 20 times faster than USB 2.0. It offers simultaneous bi-directional 10Gbps transfer speeds over a single cable, with the flexibility to daisy-chain up to six Thunderbolt-ready devices with a single connection as well as offering full display port support for a 7th Thunderbolt or display port equipped monitor. This allows for a clutter-free computing experience while offering unprecedented levels of performance. Users can connect multiple Thunderbolt-enabled external storage drives to a Thunderbolt-enabled display and transfer files while watching HD movies, all without experiencing any lag. In addition for content professional this connection has been designed form the ground up for multimedia offering low latency with highly accurate time synchronization for professional audio and video applications. PC enthusiast and gamers can take immediate advantage combining Thunderbolt and on-board Lucid Virtu MVP to enjoy top-notch graphics performance.

Even better, we have some in-action video of the new ASUS Thunderbolt-implementation including performance!

This video was recorded well before today's launch during our Z77 Live Review and clearly shows some of the benefits of Thunderbolt, as well as some of the limitations, you'll find if you pick up the ASUS P8ZZ77-V Premium motherboard!

The new MSI GD65, this time in Z77 flavour

Subject: Motherboards | May 16, 2012 - 01:36 PM |
Tagged: msi, z77a-gd65, lga1155

MSI's Z77A-GD65 comes with a nice set features including THX TruStudio PRO, Lucid’s VirtuMVP, active phase switching, and HDMI 1.4 along with support for both SLI and CrossFireX.  It supports PCIe 3.0 on its three 16x slots, running 8x, 4x, 4x or 8x, 8x, 0x which should still offer enough bandwidth for multiple GPU based systems.   Overclocking Ivy Bridge on this board was not difficult, ignoring the voltage and heat issues common to all Ivy Bridge processors and overall [H]ard|OCP has found the Z77 to be one of the better designed chipsets recently released and like that it doesn't exhibit the growing pains many others  have felt on initial release.  MSI took that solid design and pushed it further, something we've come to expect from their GD65 series motherboards.

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"MSI has been on a roll with its motherboards as of late. It’s because of this that our expectations for MSI’s foray into the world of Z77 chipset based motherboards are so high. MSI’s "GD65" series of motherboards have been an especially solid value and the Z77A-GD65 looks to be no different."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP