ASUS Avalon concept PC merges desktops and DIY with cable-free mindset

Subject: Graphics Cards, Motherboards, Systems, Shows and Expos | May 30, 2016 - 08:04 AM |
Tagged: crazy people, concept, computex 2016, computex, avalon, asus

If you expected Computex to be bland and stale this year, ASUS has something that is going to change your mind. During the company's Republic of Gamers press conference, it revealed a concept PC design it has been working on dubbed Avalon. The goal of this project was to improve on the fundamental design of the PC; something that hasn't changed for decades. ASUS wanted to show that you could build a platform that would allow DIY machines to be "more modular, easier to build, and more tightly integrated."

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The result is a proof of concept design that looks more like a high end turntable than a PC. In reality, you are looking at a machine that has been totally redesigned, from the power supply to motherboard and case integration to cooling considerations and more. ASUS has posted a great story that goes into a lot of detail on Avalon, and it's clear this is a project the team has been working on for some time.

The brainchild of Jonathan Chu, the Avalon concept takes a notebook-like approach to desktop design. The motherboard is designed in conjunction with the chassis to enable more seamless cooperation between the two.

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The first example of changes to Avalon is something as simple as the front panel connectors on a case. Connecting them to your motherboard is the same today, basically, as it has ever been. But if you are the manufacturer or designer of both the chassis and the motherboard itself, it is trivial to have the buttons, lights and even additional capabilities built into a specific location on the PCB that matches with access points on the case. 

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Re-thinking the rear IO panel was another target: making it modular and connected to the system via PCI Express means you can swap connectivity options based on the user's needs. Multiple Gigabit NICs a requirement? Done. Maximum USB capability? Sure. Even better, by making the back panel IO a connected device, it can host storage and sound controllers on its own, allowing for improved audio solutions and flexible data configurations. 

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ASUS even worked in a prototype power supply that is based on the SFX form factor but that uses a server-style edge connector, removing wires from the equation. It then becomes the motherboard's responsibility to distribute power through the other components; which again is easy to work through if you are designing these things in tandem. Installing or swapping a power supply becomes as simple as pulling out a drive tray.

This is all made possible by an internal structure that looks like this:

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Rethinking how a motherboard is built, how it connects to the outside world and to other components, means that ASUS was able to adjust and change just about everything. The only area that remains the same is for the discrete graphics card. These tend to draw too much power to use any kind of edge connector (though the ASUS story linked above says they are working on a solution) and thus you see short run cables from a break out on the motherboard to the standard ROG graphics card.

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The ASUS EdgeUp story has some more images and details and I would encourage you to check it out if you find this topic compelling; I know I do. There are no prices, no release dates, no plans for sampling yet. ASUS has built a prototype that is "right on the edge of what’s possible" and they are looking for feedback from the community to see what direction they should go next.

Will the DIY PC in 2020 be a completely different thing than we build today? It seems ASUS is asking the same question.

Source: ASUS EdgeUp

Computex 2016: ASUS ROG Rampage V Edition 10: Extreme-performance gaming motherboard

Subject: Motherboards, Shows and Expos | May 30, 2016 - 07:18 AM |
Tagged: ROG, rampage v edition 10, computex 2016, computex, asus

In celebration of 10 years of ASUS ROG motherboards, the company today revealed the new Rampage V Edition 10, an X99 motherboard targeting the release of the Intel Broadwell-E processors that are also set to be announced this week at Computex. This new board has basically every feature and capability an ROG product and buyer could ask for, including more LED and LED control than I know what to do with.

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Some more detail from the ASUS press release:

The Rampage V Edition 10 is a celebratory refresh of ROG’s flagship extreme-performance motherboard designed to let gamers and overclockers break every limit.

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Based on the Intel® X99 chipset, the new motherboard sets new industry standards. It features the ultimate RGB lighting scheme with five independently-controlled onboard LED areas plus one 4-pin 5050 RGB header, and all can be synchronized by the all-new Aura software for stunning aesthetics. ROG has also teamed up with well-known RGB strip-makers and case manufacturers, including CableMod, IN WIN, Deepcool, BitFenix, and Phanteks — helping simplify RGB lighting compatibility and control.

The new motherboard is equipped with multiple ASUS exclusive features to aid extreme overclockers. These include Extreme Engine Digi+ voltage-regulator module (VRM) for the cleanest, smoothest power, ASUS-exclusive T-topology technology for maxed-out DDR4 performance, and 5-Way Optimization for easy overclocking and fan tuning with one click.

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The Rampage V Edition 10 also includes multiple technologies to deliver the best gaming experience. The included SupremeFX Hi-Fi audio amplifier ensures flawless audio, dual Intel Gigabit Ethernet and GameFirst combine forces for low-latency networking, and ASUS Safe Slot reinforcement for PCIe connectors to prevent damage from heavy graphics cards. The new board introduces a patent-pending integrated I/O shield for style, easier construction, and enhanced durability.  There’s also a slew of onboard storage and connectivity options, including U.2, M.2, USB 3.1, and 3x3 Wi-Fi.

According to a post on an ASUS sub-site, the board will retail for $599 and should be on the market very soon!

MSI at Computex, a peek before the show

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards, Systems, Shows and Expos | May 25, 2016 - 02:12 PM |
Tagged: msi, computex 2016, GS63 Stealth Pro

MSI offered a sneak peek at the lineup you can expect to see them showcase at Computex and the list is quite long, with some interesting new additions.

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For laptops you can expect to see the new GS63 Stealth Pro, with a Core i7 6700HQ and GTX970M inside.  The cooling system is also new, a five heatpipe system called the Cooler Boost Trinity with Whirlwind Blades pushing hot air out the exhaust ports.  We should hear more about what this system actually is during the show.

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The GT83 and GT73 Titan SLI laptops are built with VR in mind, as well as supporting output to multiple monitors and 4K resolutions; though perhaps not both at once.  The GT83 contains desktop class GTX 980s while the GT73 uses the mobile versions, the GTX 980M or a single desktop GTX 980 if you prefer.

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The GS73 focuses on a slimmed down design while still incorporating a GTX970M and the aforementioned Cooler Boost Trinity system.  It will also sport a SteelSeries gaming keyboard, an ESS SABRE HiFi headset AMP and Nahimic 2.0 sound system.

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Something far more unique is the 'Backpack PC', allowing you to strap a Core i7 and GTX 980 to your back so that you are not tied to a desk when using VR.  With that amount of power you will still need mains power as the weight of the battery required to power that system for more than a few minutes would be prohibitive.  On the other hand the cables from your VR headset and controllers would be connected to the backpack which would theoretically direct the cables out of your way.

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The Aegis Gaming Desktop is a far more familiar desktop machine, though it too offers a nod towards VR usage by locating an HDMI connection at the front of the 19.6L case.  It will also have a Dragon Button, reminiscent of the old Turbo button from the original 8086 processor, which will boost your 'speed and performance' by 15%.  Likely this is an overclocking preset which one assumes can be enabled on the fly.

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The Vortex G65 SLI desktop is a little less plain, a round case which is a mere 6.5L in volume but still contains two GTX 980s and an i7-6700K, with their proprietary Silent Storm Cooling system.  MSI continues the pattern of building systems around VR compatibility with the Vortex.

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Continuing on to their Cubi 2 Plus, a SFF system powered by a Skylake-S class processor a wee 5x5" mini-STX motherboard.  The CPU is not BGA and so can be upgraded and there is enough space in the system for a 2.5" SSD upgrade, albeit just barely.

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On to their motherboards, first up is the X99A GAMING PRO CARBON which offers a few new features to tempt users to upgrade.  Not only does it have USB Type-C connectors but they are described as being located at the front, presumably on a header. It also sports Audio Boost 3, Turbo M.2 32 Gb/s, SEx ports and Dynamic Mystic Light, an LED systems with software that supports more than 16.8 million colors.

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For those more concerned with overclocking than having an impressive light show, the X99A XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM features Military Class 5 components and a specially designed thermal system to ensure a solid overclock.  It also has support for U.2 32Gb/s drives.

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The last of the trio of motherboards will be the Z170A MPOWER GAMING TITANIUM, similar to the X99A model apart from the socket. You will get all the features of the TITANIUM series for your LGA1151 processors.

Expect to see much more information about these products and others once Computex gets underway.

Source: MSI
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

The X99P-SLI motherboard is the newest member of their Ultra Durable board line, updated with newest technological innovations including USB 3.1 and Thunderbolt 3. The board supports all Intel LGA2011-3 based processors paired with DDR4 memory in up to a quad channel configuration. GIGABYTE priced the X99P-SLI at an approachable MSRP of $249.99.

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

Like all members of the Ultra-Durable board line, the X99P-SLI was over engineered to take whatever abuse is thrown its way, featuring an 6+4-phase digital power system with International Rectify Gen 4 digital PWM controllers and Gen 3 PowIRstage controllers, Server Level chokes, and long life Durable Black Solid capacitors. The board also features GIGABYTE's next generation PCIe x16 slots with PCIe Metal Shielding - steel reinforced overlays to provide extra vertical support for graphics cards featuring large and heavy coolers.

Continue reading our review of the GIGABYTE X99P-SLI motherboard!

ASUS Announces ROG STRIX X99 Gaming Motherboard for Intel Core i7 X-Series

Subject: Motherboards | May 10, 2016 - 10:45 AM |
Tagged: X99, ROG, Republic of Gamers, Intel, asus

ASUS Republic of Gamers has announced a new X99 motherboard for the upcoming Intel Core i7 X-series processors, and the ROG STRIX X99 Gaming packs a number of features into its ATX form-factor.

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"ROG Strix has taken on a brand-new look and the time has come to debut the first motherboard in the ROG Strix Series. ROG Strix X99 Gaming is a new ATX motherboard based on the Intel X99 chipset, retrofitted with exclusive technologies to maximize the potential of the new Intel Core i7 X-series processor for socket LGA 2011-v3. ROG Strix X99 Gaming delivers performance you'll notice, while the bold new design featuring customizable colors highlights the centerpiece of a system others will notice"

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There is certainly no shortage of features with this new gaming board, including the company's SupremeFX audio, Intel NIC, 2x2 dual-band Wi-Fi with MU-MIMO support, SATA Express, M.2, and U.2 storage support, Thunderbolt 3, and a reinforced PCI-E slot for heavier GPUs. But the feature that will be the hardest to miss with the STRIX X99 Gaming motherboard has to be the customizable RGB lighting.

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"ROG Strix X99 Gaming features the aesthetics for gamers looking to personalize an illuminate gaming rig. Ten LED effects can be customized using ASUS Aura, an intuitive lighting control software for the built-in RGB LEDs and attached RGB strips (via the integrated 4-pin RGB strip header like the ones you can find on the ROG Maximus VIII Formula and Hero Alpha), allowing easy custom illumination that can be perfectly synchronized across the system or even the whole gaming desk with additional RGB strips."

As is often the case with new product announcements, pricing and availabilty were not revealed.

Source: ASUS ROG

MSI's Z170A SLI Plus, covering all the basics and a bit more to boot

Subject: Motherboards | May 9, 2016 - 05:51 PM |
Tagged: msi, Z170A SLI PLUS, Intel Z170

The MSI Z170A SLI Plus is a full sized ATX board with a lot of space on it, providing not only nice clean looks but also space for air to flow around components.  It is available for around $140, a decent price for the feature set it comes with. There are three x16 PCIe 3.0 slots, six SATA 6Gbps and an x4 M.2 slot which will accept U.2 with the proper adapter and a USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port offering the full benefits of the new standard.  The Tech Report loved the simple design of the board and were more than impressed with the manual overclocking potential; check out their full review here.

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"MSI's Z170A SLI Plus is a mainstream board that gives builders everything they need and nothing they don't—at least on paper. We reviewed this board to see whether its real-world performance lives up to its promising spec sheet and relatively friendly price tag."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ECS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of ECS

The ECS Z170-Claymore motherboard is the newest offering in ECS' L337 product line with support for the Intel Z170 Express chipset. The Z170-Claymore is a more enthusiast-friendly design then some of their previous offerings with a slew of features sure to entice gamers and power users alike. ECS priced this board competitively with an MSRP of $159.99, a price point sure to appeal to a wide swath of users given the board's integrated feature set.

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Courtesy of ECS

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Courtesy of ECS

ECS took out all of the stops with the Z170-Claymore, integrating a host of features together with high quality components for a compelling product. The board was designed with a 12-phase digital power delivery system, using high efficiency chokes and MOSFETs, as well as solid core capacitors for optimal board performance under any operating conditions. ECS integrated the following features into the Z170-Claymore board: four SATA 3 ports; one SATA-Express port; a PCIe X2 M.2 port; a Realtek GigE NIC; five PCI-Express x16 slots; 2-digit diagnostic LED display; on-board power and reset buttons; Realtek audio solution; integrated DisplayPort and HDMI video port support; and USB 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1 Gen2 port support.

Continue reading our review of the ECS Z170-Claymore motherboard!

Biostar is off to the races with the Z170GT7

Subject: Motherboards | May 2, 2016 - 04:59 PM |
Tagged: biostar, racing z170gt7, Z170, Intel

Biostar has a mixed reputation online, one similar to ASRock.  Those who have never used one despise the brand on the basis of reading that some guy somewhere once had some sort of problem with one.  Those who have used them are aware that they have some quirks but are decent boards when used for what they were designed for and don't tend to have significantly more issues than other brands.

With the Racing Z170GT7, Biostar is venturing out of its comfort zone as you do not expect to see an LN2 switch on one of their products, nor on a motherboard costing around $130.  It is not light on features either, four PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, an M.2 port and three SEx ports which are set up to be available as SATA 6Gbps ports as well.  The motherboard also has aesthetic heatsinks and 256 colour LEDs, all of which add up to something new from Biostar.  Check out the board in action over at TechPowerUp ... or not.

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"The Biostar Racing Z170GT7 is a fully-featured high-performance platform that includes an LN2 switch. Unlike previous motherboards from Biostar that were affordable with more basic features, this one has everything a gamer would want and does very well in our testing."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: TechPowerUp

The GIGABYTE Z170X Gaming 6 sells at a very appropriate price

Subject: Motherboards | April 8, 2016 - 05:27 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, Z170X Gaming 6, Intel, Z170

At this moment the Gigabyte Z170X Gaming 6 costs $170 on Amazon, which gets you support for dual SLI or triple Crossfire, a Killer NIC E2200, a pair of  M.2 slots, three SEx ports and even a Type-C USB 3.1 port in amongst other USB, A/V out and SATA connections.  [H]ard|OCP tested the performance of this board and found the overclocking potential to be somewhat disappointing, although possible with some effort.  After dealing with BIOS issues and some very warm MOSFETs one reviewer settled on running an i7 6700 @ 4.6GHz (100x46) and DDR4 set at 2666MHz.  In the end this board is a good value for someone who wants a wide variety of features and is either disinclined to overclock or who is willing to put effort into tweaking the UEFI to acheive a decent overclock.

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"GIGABYTE is back with its $165 Z170X Gaming 6 motherboard today. It’s a full featured motherboard that won’t break the bank and has a lot to offer. While many enthusiasts need what is considered high end, there are a lot of enthusiasts just looking for something that will get the job done with a few extra bells and whistles."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Gigabyte's X99P-SLI; does $230 count as mid-range?

Subject: Motherboards | March 16, 2016 - 02:43 PM |
Tagged: Intel, gigabyte, X99P-SLI, LGA2011-v3

X99 based systems do not come cheap, with some boards costing well over $300 and very few under $200 the X99P-SLI could be considered mid-range.  The board doesn't skimp on a lot at this price either, an M.2 slot, a pair of USB 3.1 ports, OP-AMP based onboard sound, a conveniently placed header for USB 3.0 on your front panel and yes, it does have a single SEx port.  Hardware Canucks breaks down how the PCIe slots are shared and many other of the boards features in their review which you should check out, the board was determined to be a Dam Good Value.

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"The X99 platform may not be known for affordability but Gigabyte's new X99P-SLI aims to change that opinion with USB 3.1, M.2, great overclocking, quad GPU support and more for less than $250."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards