Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ECS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of ECS

ECS seems to like gold and catchy titles. Building on the reputation of their previous generation Z77-based Golden Board series, ECS designed the Z87-based Z87H3-A2X Extreme to dominate the competition. ECS liberally spread the gold, giving all capacitors and connection pins a nice 24k coating. They even include a small fan hidden under the upper VRM heat sink for active heat pipe cooling. At an MSRP of $239.99, ECS priced the Z87H3-A2X Extreme board to aggressively compete with other manufacturers' high end offerings.

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Courtesy of ECS

ECS integrated a full 12 digital power phases into the board's CPU power regulation system for optimal stability and power delivery under the most demanding circumstances. The features designed into the Z87H3-A2X Extreme include: nine SATA 6Gb/s ports; mPCIe/mSATA port; dual Realtek GigE NICs; three PCI-Express x16 slots for up to tri-card support; one PCI-Express x1 slot; one PCI slot; on-board power, reset, BIOS reset, Boot to BIOS, BIOS backup, 80P, and Quick-OC buttons; 3-digit diagnostic LED display; integrated voltage measurement points; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support. The 80P button configures what information displays on the diagnostic display once the board has successfully initialized.

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Courtesy of ECS

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Courtesy of ECS

As part of their L337 Gaming series boards, ECS redesigned the power delivery and integrated cooling solutions for a better gaming experience. The Z87H3-A2X Extreme has the latest generation cooling technology encompassed in ECS' QoolTech V. Additionally, all VRM-related power components have been cherry picked by ECS for operationally longevity under extreme duress.

Continue reading our review of the ECS Z87H3-A2X Extreme motherboard!

ASUS brings you a fresh breath of X79

Subject: Motherboards | September 13, 2013 - 12:36 PM |
Tagged: x79, ASUS X79 Deluxe, Ivy Bridge-E

With so much of what used to be on the motherboard having been moved directly onto the CPU motherboard launches just aren't what they use to be.  That is why the launch of Ivy Bridge-E has not been accompanied by the arrival of a slew of new motherboards.  Some companies such as ASUS have done a refresh of existing X79 motherboard lines for the new IB-E processors but not a total revision or new chipset.  The X79-Deluxe is a perfect example, based on a mature board but with some new tricks added, as you can see in The Tech Report's review.

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"Most motherboard makers are relying on existing LGA2011 models to complement Intel's latest Ivy Bridge-E CPUs. Asus has taken a different approach by rolling its recent innovations into a brand new board: the X79-Deluxe. Join us as we take a closer look at what may be the most advanced X79 board around."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

ASUS ROG Rampage IV Black Edition Motherboard Claims 5 Overclocking World Records

Subject: Motherboards | September 11, 2013 - 07:44 PM |
Tagged: asus, rampage iv black edition, ASUS ROG, overclocking

Fremont, CA (September 11, 2013) - ASUS today announced that the Republic of Gamers Rampage IV Black Edition motherboard has achieved five world records in 3DMark 11, 3DMark Fire Strike, Cinebench, and CPU-Z Memory benchmarks the OC Main Event San Francisco, co-hosted by ASUS and Corsair, sponsored by Intel. In celebration of the 10th anniversary of Intel Extreme Edition, pro-overclockers from around the world gathered with ROG team members Shamino, Raja, and coolice. The team was able to establish five world records using the newly-announced Rampage IV Black Edition Motherboard, Intel 4th Generation Core i7 Extreme Edition Processors and Corsair Dominator Platinum Memory in both 2D and 3D configurations.

ROG Overclocking: Five Major World Records!
Furthering its commitment to the pro-overclocking community, ASUS invited world-class overclockers 8 Pack, Gunslinger, Rbuass, Dumo and Fugger to join forces with ROG team members and engineers Shamino, Raja and coolice. Each brought their unique professional experience, working together to push the Intel Core i7-4960X processors and NVIDIA GeForce TITAN graphics cards to their limits.

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Shamino, Rbuass, 8 Pack and Gunslinger focused on the demanding 4-way SLI 3DMark 11 and Fire Strike benchmarks. On 3DMark 11, the team posted scores of 38,231 marks and 38,227 marks in 4-Way SLI on Entry and Performance presets respectively. On 3DMark Fire Strike, a score of 31,998 marks was achieved.

Using the 2D hardware configuration, the team was able to post a score of 17.55 points on 6-core Cinebench, a category record for the Intel Core i7-4960X. Lastly, the team achieved a memory overclock of 3900 MHz using Corsair Dominator Platinum memory, an unprecedented speed for quad-channel memory configurations.

"We are proud that previous ASUS X79 motherboards have dominated overclocking rankings by breaking 26 world records since the chipset launch," said Jackie Hsu, ASUS Corporate Vice President and General Manager of Worldwide Sales, Open Platform Business Group. "The accomplishments we demonstrated here at the OC Main Event San Francisco are a testament to what is achievable by combining world-class R&D with incredible talents from the enthusiast community.”

Xavier Laurent, Director of Product Marketing for Corsair adds "As a company that creates products by enthusiasts for enthusiasts, collaborating with like-minded partners ASUS and Intel to break world benchmarking records using Corsair Dominator Platinum and Vengeance Pro memory was a natural fit. The success of the OC Main Event San Francisco demonstrates the continued strength of the enthusiast community and validates our commitment to this portion of the ecosystem."

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I for one welcome our new overclocking overlord

Source: ASUS

ASUS Announces X79 Rampage IV Black Edition at OC Main Event

Subject: Motherboards | September 10, 2013 - 09:15 PM |
Tagged: x79, rampage iv black edition, asus

Tonight at the OC Main Event sponsored by ASUS, Intel and Corsair, a new X79 motherboard was announced.  The ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition is being called "bullet proof" by some ASUS personnel I spoke with and should be one of the (if not THE) best X79 platform for Ivy Bridge-E processors available.

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ASUS takes a lot of pride in its motherboard development and they claim to have put 5x as many hours into developing the intricacies of things like memory traces compared to previous X79 offerings.  Over 500 engineering samples of the Black Edition were made prior to finalization and more than 10,000 man hours were put into the design.

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The Rampage IV Black Edition combines features of the Formula series with those of the Extreme boards to really make the ultimate flagship offering.  Things the advanced audio layout for gamers as well as the perfected overclocking capability will make this motherboard impressive, but also pretty damned expensive. 

I was told that unlike the previous Black Edition this motherboard is not a limited edition and will run until the market demands otherwise.

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Keep an eye out for news from the OC Main Event as ASUS has some plans for these overclocking records...

Core i7-4960X Ivy Bridge-E Overclocking Update: ASUS P9X79 Pro Results

Subject: Motherboards, Processors | September 3, 2013 - 06:19 PM |
Tagged: x79, P9X79 PRO, Ivy Bridge-E, Intel, i7-4960X, asus

If you read our Intel Core i7-4960X Ivy Bridge-E review posted earlier today, you likely saw our overclocking results.  After publication I got contacted by ASUS asking why we didn't attempt to overclock our CPU sample with one of their updated motherboards.  In truth we were unable to get any of the pre-release UEFI firmware updates to apply to our P9X79 Pro or Rampage IV Extreme motherboards. 

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Move on to this afternoon and we were finally able to patch up the v1.02 of the P9X79 Pro and tossed in the same Core i7-4960X sample we used in our initial story.  What were the results?

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Click to Enlarge

As you can see above we were able to overclock the processor to 4.413 GHz at UEFI set voltage of only 1.40v.  Previously we were only reaching a 4.3 GHz overclock and even had to up the voltage a bit higher.

I was hoping that I would be able to reach the 45x multiplier but alas it wasn't meant to be.  I will keep messing with our 4960X to see how much further can push it.

Trimming off the extras and keeping the good stuff, the ASUS Maximus VI Hero

Subject: Motherboards | August 26, 2013 - 06:29 PM |
Tagged: asus, z87, ASUS ROG, Maximus VI Hero

If there is one thing that has slowed the adoption of ASUS' impressive ROG line of motherboards it is the price to pick one up, high quality and extensive features do cost after all.  The new Maximus VI Hero, if you can find it, retails for a bit over $200 and comes with a long list of reasons to make it the Z87 of choice.  A pair of 16x, a 4x and three 1x PCIe slots offer a lot of choice for addin cards, ROG SupremeFX 8 channel sound will challenge many discrete audio cards and eight SATA 6Gbps ports will handle your storage needs.  It isn't just about the peripherals though, Hardware Canucks proved that this board can overclock just like one of it's $400+ siblings which is what most enthusiasts are truely looking for.  Check out the full review for the full list of reasons to consider this board.

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"Combining price and performance isn't something ASUS' ROG motherboards are known for but the Maximus VI Hero bucks that trend by delivering an incredible array of features at a lower than expected cost."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

GIGABYTE Launch Intel H81 Series Motherboards - Bringing Ultimate Durability to Entry-Level Platform Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards | August 23, 2013 - 05:52 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, H81, GA-H81-D3, GA-H81M-S2PV, GA-H81M-S2PH, ga-h81m-ds2, GA-H81M-HD3, H81M-H, H81.AMP-UP

City of Industry, California, August 23rd, 2013 – GIGABYTE TECHNOLOGY Co. Ltd., a leading manufacturer of motherboards and graphics cards, today announced its latest range of 8 series motherboards based on the new Intel H81 Chipset (PCH) supporting the latest 4th generation Intel Core processors. GIGABYTE Intel H81 series motherboards include ATX and Micro-ATX models, bringing together a unique blend of features and technologies that offer the absolute best in terms of quality, durability and overall lifespan.

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GIGABYTE H81 series motherboards stand out from the competition with signature features that guarantee the utmost in both performance and reliability. High quality components for key areas of the motherboard are joined by an updated and improved UEFI DualBIOS which offers a customizable, full HD BIOS environment, plus the new GIGABYTE App Center, which combines key GIGABYTE applications in a simple, unified interface. GIGABYTE H81 series motherboards also provide additional USB 3.0 ports and support the latest 4K resolution displays on both HDMI and DisplayPort.

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GIGABYTE Ultra Durable 4 Plus
GIGABYTE Ultra Durable 4 Plus focuses on “Ultra Performance” and “Ultra Safe”, with a range of features and component choices that provide optimal performance, cool and efficient operation and extended motherboard lifespan.

Ultra Performance
GIGABYTE uses All Solid Caps (Capacitors) and Low RDS(on) MOSFETs which are rated to work at higher temperatures to provide a longer lifespan. specially designed to produce lower switching for faster electric current charging and discharging, Low RDS(on) MOSFETs have lower power consumption during the switching process, resulting in a faster switching process and less heat generation.

Ultra Safe
GIGABYTE motherboards feature GIGABYTE DualBIOS, an exclusive technology from GIGABYTE that protects arguably one of your PC's most crucial components, the BIOS GIGABYTE DualBIOS means that your motherboard has both a 'Main BIOS' and a 'Backup BIOS', making users protected from BIOS failure due to virus attack, hardware malfunction, improper OC settings or power failure during the update process.

High ESD Protection for USB and LAN (USB 3.0 only)
3199GIGABYTE H81 Series motherboards raise the bar in terms of protecting your system, providing advanced electrostatic discharge (ESD) protection for both your Ethernet LAN and USB ports, both common sources of ESD-related failures. Each LAN and USB port is paired with a dedicated protection filter that can withstand high electrostatic discharges, protecting your system from common electrical surges and even direct lighting strikes.

Additional USB 3.0 Ports
GIGABYTE H81 series motherboards feature an onboard USB 3.0 host controller that provides an additional four USB 3.0 ports. Together with USB 3.0 ports provided by the Intel H81 chipset, users can enjoy SuperSpeed connectivity on a total of six USB 3.0 ports.

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4K Ultra HD Support
GIGABYTE H81 series motherboards provide native 4K support with integrated Intel HD Graphics via HDMI or DisplayPort. 4K resolution is the next technological milestone in high-definition content delivery, utilizing approximately 4,000 pixels on the horizontal axis, more than four times today’s standard HD pixel density.

New GIGABYTE UEFI DualBIOS with Dashboard Mode
Take control of how your BIOS looks and feels with the new GIGABYTE UEFI DualBIOS, a fully customizable user interface that allows you to adjust overclocking and performance settings in real-time. With smooth mouse control and shortcuts for fast navigation, the new and exclusive Dashboard Mode gives users complete access to all data related to your motherboard, including CPU, graphics and memory clocks, temperatures and voltages.

New GIGABYTE App Center
GIGABYTE App Center gives you easy access to a wealth of GIGABYTE apps that help you get the most from your GIGABYTE motherboard. Using a simple, unified user interface, GIGABYTE App Center allows you to launch all GIGABYTE apps installed on your system. The GIGABYTE App Center is also customizable with three attractive color schemes.

The GIGABYTE App Center Includes:

  • EasyTune
  • @BIOS
  • EZ Setup
  • Live Updates
  • USB Blocker
  • Smart Recovery
  • Smart Time Lock
GA-H81-D3 GA-H81M-S2PV

GA-H81M-S2PH

GA-H81M-DS2
GA-H81M-HD3

H81M-H

H81.AMP-UP  

Source: Gigabyte

ASUS Never Sold ThunderboltEX. Intel Has Bigger Plans?

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | August 18, 2013 - 12:22 AM |
Tagged: thunderboltex, thunderbolt

Thunderbolt has not exactly caught on for mainstream devices. Outside of media production, USB has a strong brand and carries less of a premium than Thunderbolt. Motherboard vendors and system builders can also more easily implement USB 3.0. Intel, according to VR-Zone, addresses this problem with a reference PCI Express x4 add-in card to be produced and marketed by select Original Design Manufacturer (ODM) partners.

The select partners are, according to current plans, ODMs with existing Thunderbolt motherboard designs.

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ASUS TB_Header Add-in Card, about 19 months ago

Thunderbolt is, basically, the marriage between PCIe and DisplayPort as an external interface. Motherboards can either ship with Thunderbolt ports or a header for non-existent add-in cards. These TB_Headers, on ASUS motherboards, are General Purpose I/O (GPIO) connections used for a fairly unclear task. Officially, they help facilitate a DisplayPort connection to the integrated GPU although they are required even if using DisplayPort pass-through. The card has been stuck in certification woes.

In the Intel's reference design plans, both a GPIO header and internal DisplayPort connection are required on motherboards wishing to support this add-in card. This ends the hope of current system owners wishing to upgrade most existing rigs.

This initiative more seems like an attempt to defer most of the cost of Thunderbolt implementation to a down-the-line upgrade option. I do feel bad for ASUS. They appear to have the problem solved over a year ago with a solution very similar to the one Intel is working on now. If certification were not an issue, they could have very well been first to market. Now it appears they will be in the first wave.

Source: VR-Zone

Quad GPU on the MSI Z87 XPower thanks to the PLX chip

Subject: Motherboards | August 13, 2013 - 02:17 PM |
Tagged: msi, Z87 XPower, PEX 8747 PLX

MSI's Z87 XPower is a brilliant board to base a multi-GPU system on as it's 5 PCIe slots are capable of running two cards at 16x if you are not using the other three, for triple GPU you can manage 16x/8x/8x or even four slots at 8x if you go to the utter extreme thanks to the PEX 8747 PLX chip found on board.  If you are only using one GPU you can choose the slot which avoids the PLX chip altogether to avoid the latency penalty it adds.  A Killer NIC, MSI's Super RAID SSD caching, Multi-BIOS II, Debub LED, Go2BIOS, V-Check Points and Direct OC all add to the benefits you get from choosing this board.  If the $440 price tag doesn't immediately scare you off check out the full review at [H]ard|OCP.

You can also check out Morry's indepth look at the slightly less expensive GIGABYTE GA-Z87X-OC Force right here.

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"Higher end products are niche items which don’t make a lot of sense for the vast majority of users. Even gamers and enthusiasts sometimes shy away from these products unless the feature set aligns with their needs, desires, and budgets. The feature-packed MSI Z87 XPower is a fine example of this high end motherboard category. "

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Overview and Technical Specifications

What is the Second Look Review

The Second Look Review is used to take a more in-depth look at boards here at PC Perspective. In the initial review, we try to give you an overview of the board, forming an impression of how the board will perform in your system. The initial review details out the board features and layout, BIOS features, and stock performance. The Second Look review attempts to pull back the covers, exposing a more complete picture of the board's performance limits.

In this review, we cover subsystem testing including drive, networking, and audio functionality, as well as overclocking. Additionally, the board components and heat sinks are stripped down to uncover lower level board functionality and design. By the end of the Second Look review, a complete picture of board performance coalesces into an adequate picture for award determination. This award determination takes into account the board performance tested over the course of both the initial and second look reviews.

Be sure to take a look at our first review of this product for a better overall view of the layout and features as well.

Overview and Feature Recap

Features

Courtesy of GIGABYTE

  • Supports 4th Generation Intel® Core™ processors
  • GIGABYTE Ultra Durable™ 5 Plus Technology
  • All IR Digital Power design
  • GIGABYTE UEFI DualBIOS™
  • Exclusive GIGABYTE OC Features
  • Unique OC Touch Feature
  • Unique OC Ignition Feature
  • Unique OC Brace Feature
  • Gold plated DDR/PCIe Slots and power connectors
  • 4-way Graphics Support
  • Durable black solid capacitors
  • GIGABYTE On/Off Charge™ 2 for USB devices
  • Dual Intel® LAN with high ESD Protection
  • Extreme Heat sink design with 9 system fan connectors
  • Realtek ALC898 with High Quality 110dB SNR HD audio
  • GIGABYTE Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi Card

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

The GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force is the flagship board in GIGABYTE's LGA1150 line of boards. GIGABYTE used the previous generation flagship board, the Z77X-UP7, as a template and improved the design to take this next generation board to even greater performance heights. GIGABYTE designed the Z87X-OC Force with an impressive 16-phase digital power delivery system, powered by International Rectifier (IR) manufactured PowIRstage™ ICs and PWM controllers. GIGABYTE integrated a plethora of features into the Z87X-OC Force including: 10 SATA 6Gb/s ports; dual Intel GigE NICs; five PCI-Express x16 slots for up to quad-card support; two PCI-Express x1 slots; onboard power, reset, BIOS reset, pre-power (OC Ignition), base clock up/down, CPU ratio up/down, OC Tag, OC Gear, and OC Turbo buttons; dual BIOS, BIOS select, PCIe port, and LN2 switches; 2-digit diagnostic LED display; integrated voltage measurement points; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.

Continue reading our review of the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force motherboard!