ASUS Launches ROG Maximus VI Formula Z87 Gaming Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | July 30, 2013 - 03:33 AM |
Tagged: Maximus VI Formula, maximus vi, atx, ASUS ROG, asus

ASUS has officially launched the Maximus VI Formula motherboard which the company showed off earlier this year. This board has extensive IO and other enthusiast friendly features and is a complement to the Maximus VI Extreme that PC Perspective reviewed back in June.

The Maximus VI Formula uses the Intel Z87 chipset and supports Intel’s latest 4th Generation Core “Haswell” processors. The board is is clad in ASUS technology and a red and black Republic of Gamers color scheme. A 8+2-phase DIGI+ III VRM feeds the processor and memory on the board and is cooled by a massive CrossChill heatsink that can air cool the VRMs or integrate into your custom water loop. The LGA 1150 socket is paired with four DDR3 DIMM slots, and the board supports a maximum of 32GBs at 3100MHz. The DIGI+ III VRM uses NoFET MOSFETs, 60A BlackWing chokes, and 10K Japanese capacitors.

ASUS Z87 ROG Maximus VI Formula Gaming Motherboard (2).jpg

An integrated SupremeFX audio chipset, Mini-PCI-E Combo II card (802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0, and a NGFF slot for SSDs), Intel Gigabit NIC, UEFI BIOS, and ROG Armor with SECC back-plate are also featured on this board. The board also supports the company's OC Panel, which is a hardware box that sits outside the case and allows real time overclocking and monitoring.

ASUS Z87 ROG Maximus VI Formula Gaming Motherboard (1).jpg

The Maximus VI Formula further includes 10 SATA 3 6Gbps ports, three PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots (x8+x8 or x8+x4+x4 when in SLI or 3-way CrossFire), and three PCI-E 2.0 x1 slots. ASUS is bundling GameFirst II (QoS that prioritizes gaming traffic), Sonic Radar (visual cues point out direction noise is coming from in games), and ROG RAMDisk software with the motherboard.

ASUS Z87 ROG Maximus VI Formula Gaming Motherboard (3).jpg

Rear IO on the Maximus VI Formula is extensive and surpasses even the Maximus VI Extreme. Port options include:

  • 4 x USB 2.0
  • 6 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 jack (Intel NIC)
  • Video outputs
    • 1 x HDMI
    • 1 x DisplayPort
  • Audio outputs
    • 1 x optical S/PDIF
    • 6 x analog audio

The Maximus VI Formula is shaping up to be a beastly flagship board that enthusiasts should get a lot out of when it comes to features and overclocking ability.

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ASUS has not provided official pricing or release dates, but postings around the Internet suggests that it will be available sometime within the first half (first or second week) of August for around $310. An ASUS representative on the company's ROG channel stated that "currently the projected price is 300 to 310." You can find the product page with more photos and specifications on the ASUS website.

Source: ASUS

ASUS Shows Off FM2+ Motherboards Compatible With AMD Kaveri APUs

Subject: Motherboards | July 28, 2013 - 07:40 PM |
Tagged: hUMA, Kaveri, hsa, fm2, asus, APU, A88X, A55, PCI-E 3.0, mATX

ASUS recently announced two new socket FM2+ motherboards that are compatible with AMD’s upcoming “Kaveri” Accelerated Processing Units (APUs). The new boards are the A88XMA and A55BM-A/USB3 and use the A88X and A55 AMD chipsets respectively. Pricing and availability have not yet been released, but the new boards confirm that users will need new motherboards in order to take advantage of AMD’s next generation APUs (though the new FM2+ boards are backwards compatible with the existing APUs, it will not work the other way around). Both motherboards should be available around the time of the Kaveri processor launch (2H 2013).

ASUS A88XMA Kaveri Motherboard (2).jpg

The AMD A88XMA FM2+ Motherboard.

Both the ASUS A88XMA and A55BM-A/USB3 motherboards come in the mATX form factor. The boards both have FM2+ processor sockets and expansion slots including a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot, one PCI-E 2.0 x1 slot, and one legacy PCI slot. The support for PCI-E 3.0 is new for AMD motherboards, and the extra bandwidth may prove useful for as graphics cards get faster and AMD works on its hUMA and HSA architectures to create a layer of virtual memory that can be simultaneously addressed by CPUs and GPUs. There will still be latency to deal with over the PCI-E bus, but more data can be moved back and forth in the same amount of time.

ASUS A88XMA Kaveri Motherboard Rear IO.jpg

The two ASUS FM2+ motherboards also share the same rear IO options, which include:

  • 2 x PS/2
  • 3 x Video outputs:
    • 1 x HDMI
    • 1 x DVI
    • 1 x VGA
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 3 x Analog audio jacks

The RJ45 jacks are backed by a Realtek 8111G Gigabit Ethernet controller and the audio jacks are handled by a Realtek ALC887-VD chipset. Finally, they also have UEFI BIOSes in common, but from there the two boards diverge in hardware capabilities.

The ASUS A88XMA is the higher-end of the two boards, and features a FM2+ socket, four DDR3 DIMM slots, and six SATA 3 6Gbps ports. It utilizes the AMD A88X chipset which is aimed at enthusiast platforms.

ASUS A55BM-AUSB3 Kaveri Motherboard.jpg

ASUS' A55BM-A/USB3 budget motherboard.

On the other hand, the A55BM-A/USB3 motherboard uses the cheaper A55 chipset. That motherboard features an FM2+ socket, two DDR3 DIMM slots, and six right angle SATA 2 3Gpbs ports. The A55Bm-A/USB3 should be significantly cheaper as a result of the A55 chipset and resulting hardware reductions. In most other respects, ASUS has managed to make the two baords remarkably similar, including aesthetics and basic board layout.

According to Bit-Tech, the two boards are are part of a larger family of boards with the new FM2+ sockets. As such, we should see additional ASUS boards that fill in the gaps between the two models closer to AMD's Kaveri launch. As noted above, ASUS has not provided official pricing or release date information yet.

Source: Bit-Tech

Hardware Flashback: Asus P2B

Subject: Motherboards | July 17, 2013 - 08:34 PM |
Tagged: Pentium II, Pentium !!!, pentium, P2B, Intel, hardware flashback, asus, 440 BX

Retro hardware is so much fun.  Today we have the Asus P2B, and while it was not a game changer for the time, it was a popular board.  This popularity sprang from its excellent compatibility with older Pentium II processors and a wide variety of AGP cards.  It was one of the last series of boards that Asus released that did not feature the jumperless BIOS options that we take for granted these days.

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3 ISA ports staring us in the face!  ATA-33?  Oh yeah!

There are some things that really spring out when looking at the board.  Having 3 ISA slots seems pretty much overkill as most people used perhaps two of them (modem and sound card), but I can see this being popular with people who also utilize older SCSI cards (such as those used with scanners of the time).  Having 3 ISA meant that there were only 4 PCI slots.  Remember, ISA and PCI slots situated next to each other would share the same backplate slot, so PCI and ISA could not be used adjacent to each other.  Remember as well that we often saw issues with the first PCI slot as it shared resources with the AGP slot.  This essentially gives only two usable PCI slots if a user was full up on ISA cards.

The board features 3 DIMM slots at a time when it was popular to use a buffer chip to allow up to four DIMM slots.  These buffer chips were often a big performance hit in memory operations and they quickly fell out of favor with most enthusiasts and power users.  Having 3 DIMM slots did lower the maximum potential installed memory, but not by all that much.  The performance benefits of slightly less memory but better performance often outweighed having that fourth DIMM.

p2b_02.jpg

These old boards look so bare even compared to current low-end motherboards.  Excellent for someone who needs two serial ports, though!

The BX boards supported the 100 MHz bus speed for the latest Pentium IIs and upcoming Pentium !!!s.  This particular board was quite popular with people that had older Pentium IIs with the 66 MHz FSB.  Running these at 3 x 100 or 3.5 x 100 would give a nice overall boost for these aging processors.  Users who were early implementers of Pentium II CPUs were stuck with the old 440FX chipset which did not feature SDRAM or AGP support.  This would have been a nice upgrade in performance and functionality for those users as they could pop in their Pentium II 266 or 300 and tweak their way to performance nirvana.

This board was released before we saw the change to the colored peripheral connections, so every plug on the back of the board is black.  Color coding was for wimps anyway.  It also does not include integrated sound.  So there goes one of those ISA slots.  Users of the time would have probably installed a soundcard, modem, PCI Ethernet card, and their AGP card.  So where would the Voodoo 2 go?  How about two of them?  Things would get awful crowded very quickly.

p2b_03.jpg

That dust may or may not have been deposited around 1999...

The AGP support on these boards was of course excellent.  That is primarily because Intel was the main driver of the specification and everyone else developed their cards to run in these slots.  VIA, SiS, and others of course had compatibility issues with a wide variety of cards.  This is why we saw other folks like 3dfx make their products run at below AGP specs.  For instance, the Voodoo 3 was essentially a PCI 66 MHz device in the AGP slot.  This disabled features like sideband addressing and reading textures from main memory.

This was still a popular board even in the face of competition with superior features.  The Asus brand and name goes far.  Plus it was a fast board for the time that was a bit no-frills.  Recipe for success?  I guess so.  This particular board and CPU were running in a homebuilt server for around 10 years until it was replaced.  I guess it was money well spent.

Source: Asus

MSI's Z87-GD65 Gaming is a brilliant board at a reasonable price

Subject: Motherboards | July 15, 2013 - 02:46 PM |
Tagged: Z87-GD65 GAMING, z87, msi

At just under $200 the MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming offers great value and performance for someone building a Haswell based system.  It has all of the current features you expect from a high end board from MSI such as OC Genie 4, Military Class 4 components, super ferrite chokes, Hi-C Capacitors, Dark Caps and a Killer NIC.  [H]ard|OCP was also very glad to see the end of MSI's ClickBIOS and were much happier with the new UEFI BIOS that MSI is using on their new boards.  With three PCIe 16x slots you can utilize multiple GPUs and 10 SATA 6Gbps ports ought to satisfy almost any user.  It picked up a Gold Award from [H] and you can see why in the full review.

If you missed Morry's review of this board you can get it right here.

H_gd65.jpg

"MSI’s GAMING series is back with an all new entry. The Z87-GD65 GAMING is certainly a promising contender and is one of the more unique offerings we’ve seen from MSI. We liked the last GAMING board we looked at, and we have liked all previous GD-65 series motherboards, hopefully this followup entry can measure up."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

ASRock Announces Mini ITX H87E-ITX/ac LGA 1150 Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | July 13, 2013 - 01:50 AM |
Tagged: lga 1150, Intel, haswell, H87, asrock, 802.11ac

ASRock has announced a new Mini-ITX form facotr motherboard for Intel’s latest Haswell processors (LGA 1150). It utilizes the H87 chipset and should be a good board for enthusiasts looking to build a SFF machine.

ASRock H87E-ITXac Mini ITX Motherboard.jpg

The H87E-ITX/ac features a LGA 1150 socket powered by a 4-phase DrMOS VRM, two DDR3 DIMM slots (maximum of 32GB), and a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot. Storage is handled by six SATA III 6Gbps ports located between the CPU socket and PCI-E slot. The board uses an Intel i217V chipset for the 802.11ac WLAN and an Intel Gigabit Ethernet NIC. A Realtek ALC1150 chipset handles the audio duties.

ASRock H87E-ITXac Mini ITX Motherboard Rear IO.jpg

Rear IO on the H87E-ITX/ac includes:

  • 1 x PS/2
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x DVI
  • 1 x DisplayPort
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 4 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 jack
  • 1 x eSATA III
  • 1 x S/PDIF
  • 5 x Analog audio jacks

The rear IO also has two antenna connectors for the 802.11ac Wi-Fi card. ASRock includes an antenna but users should be able to use any third party antennas as it uses standard connectors.

ASRock has not yet released pricing or availability information, but you can find additional specifications and photos on this product page. I would wait for reviews, but it looks to be a decent board, and if the price is right it should be a popular option for SFF desktops and HTPC builds.

Source: ASRock
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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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 the new build to even greater performance heights. In addition to the fan-cooled and optionally water-cooled heat pipe, the board includes the latest iteration of GIGABYTE's power system, dubbed Ultra Durable 5 Plus. For a flagship board, performance and craftsmanship comes at a premium. For $419.99, the Z87-OC Force is a sound investment.

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

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.

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

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

Breaking Limitations! CPU OC on ECS H87, B85, and H81 Motherboards

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | July 5, 2013 - 03:25 PM |
Tagged: elitegroup, ECS, H87, B85, H81

ECS has some great news for those who want to upgrade to Haswell but aren't able to afford one of the high end Z87 motherboards.  They've announce three motherboards all designed with overclocking in mind.  If you save a bit on the motherboard you can use those savings to pick up a faster 'K' model to put in your motherboard!

2013/7/5 Taipei, Taiwan – Now you don’t necessarily need K-Series CPU along with Z-Series chipset to experience the joy of overclocking. ECS recently announced that ECS motherboards with all Intel® 8 Series chipset, including H87, B85, and H81, have the CPU overclocking ability, giving non Z-Series motherboard users an additional benefit of CPU overclocking performance.

ECS has achieved the Non-Z Series CPU overclocking with H87, B85, and H81 motherboards by simply adjusting the CPU Ratio in BIOS setting, offering an extremely easy way of performing CPU overclocking. More importantly, H87, B85, and H81 CPU overclocking ability provides an affordable solution for all different levels of overclockers.

H87

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B85

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H81

h81.png

 

Source: ECS
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of MSI

The Z87 MPOWER board is one of the first boards released as part of MSI's Z87 update of the much vaunted MPOWER line. The board supports the next generation of Intel processors based on the LGA1150 socket (Haswell), and is packed full of features and overclocking goodness. In-line with the MPower's established theme, the Z87 MPower board maintain's the black and yellow stylings from the last generation with the MSI brand logo proudly displeased on the chipset heat sink. At a retail price of $229.99, the Z87 MPower would be a nice value add to any enthusiast or gaming system.

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Courtesy of MSI

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Courtesy of MSI

In keeping with its enthusiast appeal, MSI incorporated a full 16-phase digital power delivery system into the Z87 MPower, ensuring CPU stability under the most intense system loads. MSI integrated the following features into the Z87 MPower: eight SATA 6Gb/s ports; an mSATA 6Gb/s port; a Killer E2205 GigE NIC; Atheros 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth adapter support; three PCI-Express x16 slots for up to tri-card support; four PCI-Express x1 slots; Lucidlogix Virtu® MVP 2.0 support; onboard power, reset, BIOS reset, base clock control, OC Genie, and Go2BIOS buttons; multi-BIOS and OC Genie mode switches; 2-digit diagnostic LED display; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.

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Courtesy of MSI

Continue reading our review of the MSI Z87 MPOWER motherboard!

Gigabyte's Z87X-UD5H has a lot going for it, but perhaps it could do better

Subject: Motherboards | July 2, 2013 - 02:06 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, z87, Z87X-UD5H

Gigabyte's new Z87X-UD5H is more than just a chipset refresh, they've included 12 phase digtial power, fuses and ESD protection on the USB ports as well as high quality ICs and long life capacitors.  The board can handle multiple GPUs on its two PCIe 16x slots, running at 8x when both are populated and additionally has a 4x and three 3x slots for any other cards you might want to install.  A brand new UEFI offers an attractive interface but [H]ard|OCP were not as impressed with some of the functionality of the new UEFI on the board.  Check out their full review here.

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"Gigabyte brings a lot to the test bench with the Z87X-UD5H. New UEFI, New Easy Tune software, and a whole lot more. Gigabyte is facing some very tough competition based on what we’ve seen from other manufacturers. Does Gigabyte still have what it takes to compete? Let’s find out."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

EVGA Announces Flagship X79 Dark LGA 2011 Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | July 1, 2013 - 03:50 PM |
Tagged: x79 dark, x79, lga 2011, evga

EVGA has announced a new flagship LGA 2011 motherboard called the X79 Dark. The new motherboard is E-ATX and measures 304.8 x 263.5mm. It features a 12 layer PCB, new UEFI BIOS, and a number of enthusiast and overclocking-friendly features.

EVGA X79 Dark LGA2011 Motherboard.jpg

The motherboard features a 12+2 VRM for the CPU, and a 4 phase VRM for the memory. The board has a single LGA 2011 processor socket surrounded by four DDR3 DIMM slots on either side and a large hexagonal heatsink for the VRM above it. Below the CPU socket, EVGA has included five PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots and a single PCI-E 3.0 x4 slot. All of the physical PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots are at least electrically x8, and two of them are electrically x16. The bottom-right corner of the motherboard is taken up by a massive PCH heatsink with a large red EVGA logo. To the right of the PCH heatsink, the board has 10 SATA ports at right angles to the board PCB. Six of the SATA ports are SATA III 6Gbps and four of them are SATA II 3Gbps.

Of course, the board has Intel Ethernet controllers, 8 channel audio, and internal headers for two additional USB 3.0 ports. The board requires one 24-pin, two 8-pin, and one 6-pin PCI-E power connectors to supply power to the board and connected components. Finally, EVGA has also included EVBot voltage measurement points along with an updated UEFI BIOS.

EVGA X79 Dark LGA2011 Motherboard UEFI Motherboard.jpg

The EVGA X79 Dark has a fairly extensive external IO panel, which includes:

  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x Bluetooth
  • 4 x USB 3.0
  • 2 x eSATA 3Gbps
  • 5 x Analog audio jacks
  • 1 x S/PDIF
  • 2 x Gigabit Ethernet ports (Intel NICs)

The new LGA 2011 X79 Dark motherboard is model number 150-SE-E789-KR and will be available soon for $399.99.