AM3+ Last Gasp?
Over the past several years I have reviewed quite a few Asus products. The ones that typically grab my attention are the ROG based units. These are usually the most interesting, over the top, and expensive products in their respective fields. Ryan has reviewed the ROG graphics cards, and they have rarely disappointed. I have typically taken a look at the Crosshair series of boards that support AMD CPUs.
Crosshair usually entails the “best of the best” when it comes to features and power delivery. My first brush with these boards was the Crosshair IV. That particular model was only recently taken out of my primary work machine. It proved itself to be an able performer and lasted for years (even overclocked). The Crosshair IV Extreme featured the Lucid Hydra chip to allow mutli-GPU performance without going to pure SLI or Crossfire. The Crosshair V got rid of Lucid and added official SLI support and it incorporated the Supreme FX II X-Fi audio. All of these boards have some things in common. They are fast, they overclock well, and they are among the most expensive motherboards ever for the AMD platform.
So what is there left to add? The Crosshair V is a very able platform for Bulldozer and Piledriver based parts. AMD is not updating the AM3+ chipsets, so we are left with the same 990FX northbridge and the SB950 southie (both of which are essentially the same as the 890FX/SB850). It should be a simple refresh, right? We had Piledriver released a few months ago and there should be some power and BIOS tweaks that can be implemented and then have a rebranded board. Sounds logical, right? Well, thankfully for us, Asus did not follow that path.
The Asus Crosshair V Formula Z is a fairly radical redesign of the previous generation of products. The amount of extra features, design changes, and power characteristics make it a far different creature than the original Crosshair V. While both share many of the same style features, under the skin this is a very different motherboard. I am rather curious why Asus did not brand this as the “Crosshair VI”. Let’s explore, shall we?
Subject: Motherboards | March 8, 2013 - 06:30 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: roundup, motherboards, mini-itx, celeron 847, APU, amd e-450
While high end motherboards and processors tend to get the most attention from enthusiasts, sometimes less is better (*waits for Josh to stop laughing on the podcast). More often than not seen integrated in small form factor OEM boxes, there are a few motherboards out there that come as a bare board and integrated processor to be the basis of low power desktops, network devices, and home theater PCs. Both Intel and AMD have hats in the low power game, and Hartware.de has pitched four such low power boards against each other. The MSI C847MS-E33-847 and Biostar NM70I pack Intel Celeron 847 CPUs, The Zotac D2550-ITX WIFI hosts an Intel Atom D2550 processor plus a NVIDIA GT 610 IGP, and the ASUS E45MI-M Pro is powered by an AMD E-450 APU.
Hartware.de puts several low power boards into the thunderdome to see which one(s) reign supreme.
As it turns out, the results are nearly in line with what one might expect. The Atom D2550-powered system was the slowest, the APU and ASUS motherboard was the fastest, and the Celeron was somewhere in the middle. The AMD E-450 APU used the most power, and the system was one of the most expensive, however. Interestingly, the Atom system was not all that much more power efficient than the Celeron despite the lower performance and weaker hardware. The Celeron 847 chip had decent CPU performance, and mid-range power and some of the best thermals. All of the configurations were able to playback media, but the AMD system gave the most fluid results.
If you are in the market for low power system parts, the review is worth checking out.
Here are some additional Motherboard reviews from around the web:
- GIGABYTE Z77N-WiFi Mini-ITX @ TweakTown
- ASRock Z77 Pro4-M LGA 1155 @ HardOCP
- Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4 FM2 @ PC Perspective
- ASRock's Z77E-ITX Mini ITX @ The Tech Repot
- ASUS Sabertooth 990FX R2.0 @ OCaholic
I'm pleasantly surprised at all the Mini-ITX motherboards being made lately.
Subject: General Tech, Networking, Motherboards | March 5, 2013 - 03:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: qualcomm, msi, killer nic, Intel Z77
MSI says “JUST GAME!”... but... I must write up their announcement first...
The computer components company would like us to “JUST GAME!” on their gaming motherboards, of course. This press release is for the MSI Killer Z77 gaming motherboard. The board supports the DDR3-3000, Creative Sound Blaster Cinema with Crystalizer, OC Genie II, and Military Class III initiatives.
But to call yourself Killer, you got some big shoes to fill.
Yes MSI, we get it. Challenge accepted.
What makes it a “Killer” announcement is the addition of a Killer E2200 LAN chip from Qualcomm's Bigfoot Networks. We have a fair amount of experience with the gamer networking hardware company; Ryan wrote a review all the way back in 2006. Since then, the company found themselves scooped up by Qualcomm where they found their technology integrated into motherboards from various manufacturers. They have also dabbled into wireless technology.
MSI proclaims with the E2200 LAN chip, their motherboard will have to use less space to house the chip when compared to the earlier Killer E2100. Also, for users running Windows 8, the E2200 was designed to support that operating system. Linux gamers? You too, but not until the second half of 2013.
If you want to see what the PR people have to say, check out Qualcomm's blog post.
Subject: Motherboards | February 22, 2013 - 03:33 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: thin mini-itx, mini ITX, gigabyte, AIO
Gigabyte recently launched two new motherboards that conform to the Thin Mini-ITX specification. This new spec is essentially Mini-ITX but keeps heatsinks and rear IO height to a minimum--allowing for thinner All-In-One PCs and HTPC chassis. The two new boards are the GA-H77TN and GA-B75TN, and they support Intel Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge processors, SODIMMs, and mSATA SSDs. Considering the boards measure a mere 17cm x 17cm and are 2.5cm high, it is a lot of power in a small package (I can hear Josh laughing on the podcast next week already).
The GA-H77TN (rev. 1.1) motherboard is based on the Intel H77 chipset while the GA-B75TN (rev. 1.1) is based on the Intel B75 chipset. They boards are fairly similar, but the cheaper B75 chipset does not support as many SATA 6Gbps ports. Both boards use laptop-style DDR3 SODIMM memory at up to 8GB of dual channel DDR3 1600 and either an Intel Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge processor. Also, both thin mini ITX motherboards include a PCI-E 3.0 x4 expansion slot (up to 25W), mini PCI-E slot, and mSATA expansion slot.
The motherboards also include support for Intel’s onboard CPU graphics (ie. HD 4000) and Realtek ALC887 audio codecs. The video oputs include HDMI 1.3, DisplayPort, and LVDS, with DisplayPort providing support for up to 2560x1600 resolutions. The onboard audio chip can support 7.1 channel audio, but only when using the front panel audio.
Rear IO on both the GA-H77TN and GA-B75TN includes;
- 1 x DC-input
- 1 x Gigabit Ethernet jack
3 x Video outputs
- 1 x HDMI 1.3 @ 1920x1200
- 1 x DisplayPort @ 2560x1600
- 1 x LVDS
- 4 x USB 3.0 ports
- 2 x audio jacks (line in/out)
The Gigabyte GA-H77TN has two SATA 6Gbps ports, two SATA 3Gbps ports, and one mSATA port. On the other hand, the GA-B75TN supports a single SATA 6Gbps port, three SATA 3Gbps ports, and one mSATA port.
The two thin mini-ITX motherboards should be available for purchase soon, but there is no word on a specific release date. While currently listed as out of stock on Newegg, the site does provide a hint at pricing. The GA-H77TN has a price of $125 while the GA-B75TN is retailing for approximately $110. Thin Mini-ITX cases are somewhat rare, but the form factor can certain enable some neat designs and the more motherboards avaialble, the more likely it is that new thin chassis will be developed.
The full press release is below:
Subject: Motherboards | February 18, 2013 - 04:30 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Samsung, ATIV Smart PC 500T, Surface Pro, tablet
Samsung has produced a Surface Pro tablet they call the ATIV Smart PC 500T, which comes paired with a keyboard/docking station. Powered by an 1.5GHz Atom Z2760 and 2GB of DDR2-800 with a 64GB e.MMC iNAND SSD for storage the device the performance will beat a WinRT tablet but it is not going to compete with a laptop. Strangely one of the most advertised features, the S Pen, was not present in the Canadian package so it is not included in this review. Silent PC Review noticed that Samsung are working on the 500T's page, though they do not know if it was to correct the erroneous text stating the S Pen comes with the basic model or simpy to give time to have S Pens shipped and attached. The 11.6" 1366 x 768 screen was washed out in comparison to the Microsoft Surface Pro and it did not seem as sturdy as the Microsoft product either. Check out the full review to get a better idea how this tablet performs.
"Windows 8 is making possible a new class of mobile convertibles that flip between tablet and notebook. The Samsung ATIC Smart PC 500T is one example, based around a new Atom core and built around a big (for tablets) 11.6" screen, but there's an Ivy Bridge upgrade available in the 700T. Meanwhile, Microsoft's Surface Pro shows us a different vision of the convertible."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- HP Pavilion Sleekbook 15z-b000 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Vizio Thin+Light CT15: Something New and Edgy @ AnandTech
- Origin EON11-S Gaming Notebook @ Tweaktown
- Microsoft Surface Windows 8 Pro Review @ TechReviewSource
- NZXT Cryo X60 Laptop Cooler @ Rbmods
- Sony Xperia Tablet S @ Tweaktown
- Otterbox Defender for Nokia Lumia 920 @ Kitguru
- Analogix SlimPort adapter with the Nexus 4 @ LanOC Review @ LanOC
- verclockersUK Ultima 10.1" IPS Android 4.1 Tablet @ eTeknix
- Google Nexus 7 Tablet 16GB @ Funky Kit
- Nokia Lumia 620 @ The Inquirer
- Google Nexus 4 Smartphone Review 2.0 - Two Months with Google's Superstar Smartphone @ Tweaktown
Subject: Motherboards | February 18, 2013 - 02:45 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Z77, asrock, Z77 Extreme4
ASRock has been steadily gaining popularity with system builders that want a balance between price, features and performance without sacrificing support or stability. At $120, the ASRock Z77 Extreme4 seems to fit the first criteria, the pair of PCIe 3.0 16x slots capable of handling two cards at 8x speeds, four SATA 6Gbps ports and a half dozen USB 3.0 ports meet the second. [H]ard|OCP tested the performance and stability of the board recently, getting an stable 4.8GHz overclock on their i7 3770K, demonstrating that even a value board can compete with expensive models. The sacrifice made was in the thickness of the PCB, it is much thinner than most motherboards and while [H] did not break the PCB they had a few stressful moments; drop by to read about them.
"While ASRock is a well known new comer in the motherboard market, we’ve not exactly been fans of ASRock products based on past experiences. ASRock’s popularity grows and as a result we are taking another look at a motherboard from in the hope of understanding this popularity. Is it just price, or is there more to ASRock’s offerings?"
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- Zotac's Z77-ITX WiFi Mini-ITX @ The Tech Report
- ASRock's Z77E-ITX Mini-ITX @ The Tech Report
- GIGABYTE Z77X-UP7 Intel Z77 Motherboard Review @ Legit Reviews
- Gigabyte Z77X UD4H Motherboard Review @ Ninjalane
- ASRock Z77 Extreme11 @ Tweaktown
- ASRock Fatal1ty X79 Champion and X79 Professional Review: From a Gamer to Gamers @ AnandTech
- ASUS ROG Maximus V Extreme Intel LGA1155 @ techPowerUp
- ECS A85F2-A Golden Review @ OCC
- ASRock 990FX Extreme9 Motherboard @ Hardware Secrets
- AMD Trinity A10-5800K & GIGABYTE F2A85X-UP4 @ Overclockers.com
- ASRock 990FX Extreme9 @ Kitguru
Define an Enthusiast CPU...
FM2 poses an interesting quandary for motherboard manufacturers. AMD provides a very robust and full featured chip for use with their processors (A85X) that would lend itself well to midrange and enthusiast class motherboards. Unfortunately, AMD does not provide a similarly high end CPU as compared to the competition at price ranges that would make sense for a motherboard that would cost between $140 and $250 on the FM2 platform.
So these manufacturers are constrained on price to offer fully featured motherboards that take advantage of all aspects of the A85X FCH (Fusion Controller Hub). Until AMD can deliver a more competitive CPU on the FM2 platform, motherboard manufacturers will be forced to design offerings that can really go no higher than $129 (the current price of the fastest A10 processor from AMD). This is not necessarily a bad thing though, as it has forced these manufacturers to really rethink their designs and to focus their energies on getting the greatest bang-for-the-buck. AMD is selling a decent number of these processors, but the market is constrained as compared to the Intel offerings utilizing the 1155 BGA infrastructure.
Gigabyte has taken this particular bull by the horns and have applied a very unique (so far) technology to the board. This is on top of all the other marketing and engineering terms that we are quite familiar with. The company itself is one of the top three manufacturers of motherboards in the world, and they typically trail Asus in terms of shipments but are still ahead of MSI. As with any motherboard manufacturer, the quality of Gigabyte products has seen peaks and valleys through the years. From what I have seen for the past few years though, Gigabyte is doing very well in terms of overall quality and value.
Subject: Motherboards | February 5, 2013 - 06:00 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: asus, Intel Z77, P8Z77-I Deluxe, mini-itx, lucid
The most instantly noticeable thing about the ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe has to be the riser card sporting an array of capacitors and providing 8+2 power phase VRMs. What isn't as noticeable until you use the motherboard is the Intel SRT support, Lucid Virtu and the overclocking options available in the UEFI BIOS. Being a Mini-ITX board, the singly PCI Express x16 slot and dual memory slots are to be expected but the spacing is such that you should have no problems with full sized DIMMs or oversized GPUs, depending on the cooler and case you choose. The included dual Wi-Fi antennas are a nice bonus from ASUS as well. Drop by The Tech Report to see this board in action.
"The P8Z77-I Deluxe packs a lot of goodness into a tiny package. We take a closer look at the board's features, performance, and overclocking potential."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- ECS NM70-I2 (V1.0) Mini-ITX Motherboard Review @ Madshrimps
- GIGABYTE Z77X-UD4H LGA1155 Motherboard Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Gigabyte Force M7 Thor @ LanOC Reviews
- ASRock Z77 OC Formula Motherboard Review @ Madshrimps
- ECS Z77H2-A2X (v1.0) Review: "Golden" LGA 1155 Mainboard from the "Black" Series @ X-bit Labs
- MSI Z77 MPOWER Review: OC Certified LGA 1155 Mainboard from the Big Bang Series @ X-bit Labs
- Gigabyte Z77X-UP7 @ eTeknix
- ASRock Z77 Extreme3 @ X-bit Labs
- MSI Z77 MPower Review: The XPower’s Little Brother @ AnandTech
- BIOS Option Of The Week - DRAM Act to PreChrg CMD @ TechARP
- ASRock FM2A85X Extreme6 for AMD Socket FM2 APUs @ techPowerUp
- Gigabyte GA-F2A85X-UP4 @ X-bit Labs
- BIOSTAR Hi-Fi A85W Motherboard Review @ Legit Reviews
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Motherboards | February 4, 2013 - 06:36 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: msi, 3dmark
Do you have a beastly system with MSI parts, intense overclocking knowledge, and a desire for even more high-end parts? In honor of the new 3DMark's release, the motherboard and graphics card manufacturer is letting users of their parts enter in a contest for the highest 3DMark scores.
In a partnership with the benchmarking leaderboard site, HWBot, MSI wants to see top scores for the Fire Strike test on the newly released 3DMark. The contest will run until March 3rd for entries looking to post top ranks. Beyond that, anyone with an MSI Z77 motherboard who enters before February 10th will be entered in a “Lucky Draw” for the MSI Z77A-GD55 Motherboard.
Winners of the leader contest will receive the MSI R7970 Lightning Boost Edition card for first place and an MSI Z77A-GD80 for second place. Note that we are not affiliated with this contest, we just think that our readers might like to know.
Subject: Motherboards | February 3, 2013 - 05:09 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: trinity, mini-itx, htpc, asrock, APU, amd, A85X
Taiwanese motherboard manufacturer ASRock has shown off a new mini-ITX motherboard aimed at home theater PC (HTPC) users called the FM2A85X-ITX. The new motherboard uses AMD’s A85X chipset and supports the company’s latest Trinity accelerated processing units (APUs).
The FM2A85X-ITX motherboard features an AMD FM2 socket surrounded by two DDR3 DIMM slots (max of 32GB 1866MHz RAM), a PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot, and seven SATA 6Gbps ports. A six phase VRM, two USB 3.0 headers, 8 channel audio chip, and RAID 0/1/10 support round out the package.
External IO on the mini-ITX motherboard includes:
- 1 x PS/2
- 4 x USB 2.0
- 2 x USB 3.0
- 1 x eSATA 6Gbps
- 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
- 1 x Optical S/PDIF
- 5 x Analog audio jacks
- 1 x DVI
- 1 x HDMI
- 1 x VGA
According to Tech Power Up, the new motherboard will cost around $110 USD. Thanks to the form factor, APU support, and multitude of storage connectivity options, the board would make for an excellent addition to a HTPC build!
Read about other mini-ITX motherboard options at PC Perspective!