ASRock Announces Its Z87 Motherboard Lineup

Subject: Motherboards | May 7, 2013 - 12:04 AM |
Tagged: Z87 OC Formula, z87, lga 1150, fatal1ty, asrock

The launch of Intel’s next-generation Haswell processors and Z87 chipset is getting closer, and the various motherboard vendors have started teasing their upcoming product lines. Taiwan-based motherboard manufacturer ASRock is the latest company to detail its initial Z87 lineup, and it is fairly extensive.

ASRock will be launching LGA 1150 boards under its Extreme, OC, and Fatal1ty series. The Z87 Extreme series is intended for enthusiasts that need the the most connectivity options possible, including having the highest number of PCI-E slots. The Z87 OC Formula motherboards have beefy VRM hardware and are built to be pushed to the limit by overclockers. Finally, the Fatal1ty-branded motherboards are aimed at PC gamers and support 3 way multi-GPU setups and Creative Sound Core 3D audio chips. Many of the ASRock boards and an alternative SKU with an included 802.11ac Wi-Fi card. These boards are identified by the “/ac” text in their product names.

AsRock Z87 Motherboard Lineup.jpg

The initial ASRock Z87 Extreme series launch will include the following boards:

  • Z87 Extreme 11
  • Z87 Extreme 9
    • Z87 Extreme 9 with 802.11ac WLAN
  • Z87 Extreme 6
    • Z87 Extreme 6 with 802.11ac WLAN
  • Z87 Extreme 4
  • Z87M Extreme 4 (Micro-ATX)

All of these boards will provide plenty of PCI-E slots and rear IO options that include eSATA, USB 3.0, at least one Gigabit LAN port (and dual on some boards), HDMI video outputs, and both digital and analog audio outputs. Note that the top three PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots are rather close together on the Extreme 9 board. This lends credence to the Extreme series use as more of an enthusiast’s work rig with PCI-E SSD accelerator or hardware RAID cards rather than strictly a multi-GPU setup.

The OC series will include the following boards geared for Intel’s Haswell processors:

  • Z87 OC Formula
  • Z87M OC Formula
    • Z87M OC Formula with 802.11ac WLAN

The Z87 OC Formula series will launch with two boards, one that is full ATX and one that is Micro-ATX. These boards are similar in features and design to the Extreme 6 motherboard, but have additional hardware to facilitate overclocking.

Finally, the gamer-centric Fatal1ty series is aimed at high-end gaming PCs. The series will launch with the following boards:

  • Z87 Fatal1ty Professional
  • H87 Fatal1ty Performance

The Fatal1ty Professional uses Intel’s Z87 chipset and is aimed at high-end gaming PCs while the H78 Fatal1ty Performance uses the lower-cost H87 chipset and is aimed at midrange gaming systems. Multi-GPU and higher-end onboard sound are the main features of this ASRock series.

Pricing and availability are still unknown, but the company has quite the lineup planned, and the boards should cover a wide breadth of price points. It is nice to see the Micro ATX options as well as the standard ATX models. Now, we just need some Mini-ITX Z87 boards! Additional photos of the Z87 motherboards are available over at Tech Power Up.

Source: TechPowerUp

Gigabyte Teases Its New UEFI BIOS For Z87 Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards | May 6, 2013 - 05:32 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, z87, uefi, bios

Over the weekend, Gigabyte posted a new photo to its Facebook page that teased the interface of the company’s upcoming UEFI BIOS. The new UEFI DualBIOS interface features an orange and black theme with a black background, orange accents, and white text. From the preview photos of Gigabyte’s Z87 motherboards, the BIOS colors will match up nicely with the actual black and orange colored hardware.

Gigabyte Z87 UEFI BIOS.jpg

The middle pane occupies the most space and brings all of your standard BIOS setup and overclocking settings front and center. Gigabyte has laid out the various settings into tabbed categories. Users can further customize a shortcut menu on the right-most tab. This settings pane is surrounded on all sides by various bars and columns with status information.

The top bar includes graphs on the system’s voltages, fan speeds, and temperatures. The bottom bar displays system information such as the total amount of RAM installed, CPU and BIOS identification, and other information. On the left of the main settings panel is a column with readouts on the installed processor. The information it provides at a glance includes CPU voltage, frequency, temperature, and core ratio. It also lists the CPU fan speeds. Meanwhile, the column on the right-hand side of the display hosts temperature and fan speed information for the PCH, system/case sensor, and up to five case fans.

While some enthusiasts might balk at the orange, black, and white color scheme, in all it looks like a nice improvement. Most of the information is available at a glance, and the customizable shortcut menu is a useful feature.

You can find the original photo as well as several other preview photos on Gigabyte’s Facebook page.

What do you think about the new UEFI BIOS UI?

Source: Gigabyte

MSI's FM2-A85XA-G65, an inexpensive start to a great HTPC

Subject: Motherboards | April 26, 2013 - 03:32 PM |
Tagged: msi, FM2-A85XA-G65, socket fm2, amd

Compared to most current Intel boards, MSI's FM2-A85XA-G65 is very clean looking, especially around the CPU socket.  This particular board benefits from LucidLogix's Virtu MVP in addition to hybrid Crossfire present on FM2 boards and will handle proper Crossfire as it does have a pair of PCIe 16x slots.  You could build an agile HTPC with this motherboard, with 8 channel sound available and D-Sub, DVI-D, HDMI and DisplayPort output all present.  The board is currently available for $110, a full review can be found over at X-bit Labs.

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"MSI mainboards look great, have very convenient layout and use only high-quality components. These boards are energy-efficient, fast and work well with default settings. However, there are quite a few things in their BIOS that could use some extra work and the boards do not keep the power-saving technologies up and running during overclocking. Everything we have just said is true for the main hero of our today’s review."

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Source: X-bit Labs
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

The Z77N-WiFi is GIGABYTE's latest edition to the Mini-ITX lineup. Although the board is not as packed with features as some of the other enthusiast-minded mini-ITX boards, GIGABYTE did some interesting things with the board layout to space components out on the board more evenly. The Z77N-WiFi even comes standard with dual-Realtek GbE NICs and an Intel 802.11n-based WiFi mPCIe card. We put the board through our normal gamut of tests to see how well this mighty mite sized up with its full-sized brethren. The Z77N-WiFi board comes with an equally reasonable retail price at a mere $129.99.

Continue reading our review of the GIGABYTE Z77N-WiFi motherboard!

Gigabyte's basic black Z77X-UD4H

Subject: Motherboards | April 10, 2013 - 06:42 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, Z77X-UD4H, Intel Z77, lga1155

Like many Z77 boards, the Gigabyte Z77X-UD4H has a rather crowded socket area, if you are not going with a watercooling solution consider purchasing low profile DIMMs.  One thing it has that most other boards do not have is an auxiliary power plug next to the SATA ports which takes a SATA power plug, not a molex connector.  It also sports a significant number of slots, three PCIe 3.0 16x slots, three PCIe 1x slots and even a PCI slot.  [H]ard|OCP had an interesting time overclocking this board, you should familiarize yourself with their experiences if you plan on picking this board up and overclocking your CPU.

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"It’s been awhile since we’ve looked at a motherboard from Gigabyte. We haven’t forgotten Gigabyte and decided to take the Z77X-UD4H for a little test drive. The Z77X-UD4H is a sub-$170 motherboard with a great look and a solid feature list for the price point that has the computer hardware enthusiast in mind."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

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

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

board.jpg

Courtesy of ASUS

The P8Z77X-I Deluxe is ASUS' high-powered answer to the small form factor crowd. Through some unique design decisions and an upright daughter-board, ASUS was able to cram a full 10-phase digital power delivery system into this board without sacrificing any other integrated components. It's nice to see a manufacturer step up and design a mini-ITX board in the same vein as its full-sized counterpart. We put the board through our normal gamut of tests to see how well this mighty Mini-ITX board sized up with its full-sized brethren. At a retail list price of $219, the P8Z77-I Deluxe needs to prove its worth against the full sized boards.

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Courtesy of ASUS

ASUS designed a full 10 phases of digital power, housed in the board's upright daughter card sitting parallel to the CPU cooler. The P8Z77-I Deluxe with its high-end power plant is packed full of features, including SATA 2, SATA 3, e-SATA, USB 2.0, and USB 3.0 ports for storage devices. Networking capabilities include an Intel GigE NIC, a Broadcom dual-port 802.11n adapter, and a Broadcom Bluetooth adapter. The board also features a single PCI-Express x16 slot for graphics cards and other expansion cards.

rear-panel.jpg

Courtesy of ASUS

Continue reading our review of the ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe motherboard!

ASUS Officially Launches P9X79-E Workstation Motherboard With 4-Way SLI Support

Subject: Motherboards | April 2, 2013 - 11:27 PM |
Tagged: asus, p9x79-e, workstation, Sandy Bridge E, quad sli, quad crossfire, lga 2011

Earlier this year at CES, ASUS showed off a high-end workstation board called the P9X79-E WS. The board is meant for Sandy Bridge-E processors, but will likely be compatible with Ivy Bridge-E as well. Unlike Wolverine and Zeus, the P9X79-E WS is a motherboard that will actually see the light of day and has been officially launched. It will be available sometime in May at an as-yet-unannounced price.

ASUS P9X79-E WS.jpg

The P9X79-E hosts a single LGA 2011 processor, up to 64GB of 2400MHz DDR3, the Intel X79 PCH, and support for 4-Way SLI or CrossFire on four of its seven total PCI-E 3.0 slots. The workstation board uses a 10-layer PCB, ASUS DIGI+ with 10+2 power phases, DR Power PSU monitoring, ASUS SSD Caching II, solid capacitors, and fanless heatsinks connected via copper heatpipes.

Asus P9X79-E WS_Rear IO.jpg

Storage options include six SATA 6Gbps ports, four SATA II 3Gbps ports, and two eSATA ports coming from the front panel header. The rear IO has changed a bit since the board seen at CES, however. The now-official ASUS P9X79-E WS includes the following rear IO options:

  • 1 x PS/2 combo port
  • 10 x USB 2.0 ports (one can be used for BIOS flashing)
  • 2 x USB 3.0 ports
  • 2 x eSATA ports
  • 2 x Gigabit Ethernet ports backed by Intel i210 GbE controller
  • 6 x Analog audio ports
  • 1 x Optical S/PDIF port

The board can accommodate up to four dual slot graphics cards or seven single slot expansion cards (like PCI-E SSDs and RAID controllers). As a workstation board, it is likely to be pricey, but for those that need 4-way SLI and LGA 2011 (possibly for Ivy Bridge-E though its hard to say for sure if that will work yet) it is shaping up to be a good option. As mentioned above, the P9X79-E WS will reportedly be available for purchase in about a month. Sometime in early May or late April, according to Slash Gear.

Source: Asus
Manufacturer: Oyen Digital

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

full-package.jpg

Courtesy of Oyen Digital

Oyen Digital, a popular manufacturer of portable storage enclosures and devices, provided us with its MiniPro™ eSATA / USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive enclosure for testing USB 3.0 enhanced mode on the ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe motherboard. This enclosure offers support for USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and eSATA ports in conjunction with a 2.5" hard drive. We put this enclosure on the test bench with the ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe board to test the performance limits of the device. The MiniPro™ enclosure can be found at your favorite e-tailer for $39.95.

front.jpg

back.jpg

Oyen Digital

The MiniPro™ SATA / USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive enclosure is a simple aluminum enclosure supporting any 2.5" form factor hard drive up to SATA III speeds. The enclosure itself supports USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and eSATA connections. Because of its use of the ASMedia 1053e chipset for USB 3.0 support, the enclosure supports both USB 3.0 normal mode transfer speeds and UASP (USB Attached SCSI Protocol) mode transfer speeds. UASP mode is a method of bulk transfer for USB 3.0 connections that increases transfer speeds through the use of parallel simultaneous packet transfers. Per our sources at ASUS, UASP can be explained as follows:

The adoption of the SCSI Protocol in USB 3.0 provides its users with the advantage of having better data throughput than traditional BOT (Bulk-Only Transfer) protocol, all thanks to its streaming architecture as well as the improved queuing (NCQ support) and task management, which eliminated much of the round trip time between USB commands, so more commands can be sent simultaneously. Moreover, thanks to the multi-tasking aware architecture, the performance is further enhanced when multiple transfers occur.
The downside of UASP is that the receiving device (Flash drive/external hard drive etc) must also be UASP enabled for the protocol to work. This requires checking your peripherals before purchase. However since UASP is an industry standard, the device support for ASUS UASP implementation is not restricted to a particular controller manufacturer or device type, so the overall number of peripherals available should undoubtedly grow.

Technical Specifications (taken from the Oyen Digital website)

Ports

eSATA 6G (Up to 6.0 Gbps)
USB 3.0: (Up to 5.0 Gbps)

Interface

SATA III (up to 15mm SATA 2.5" HDD/SSD)

Chipset

USB 3.0
ASMedia 1053e

eSATA
ASMedia 1456pe

Weight

10 oz.

Certifications

CE, FCC

Requirements

Windows XP/Vista/7/8 & above; MAC OS 10.2 & above; Linux 2.4.22 & above

Continue reading our review of the Oyen Digital MiniPro™ enclosure!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

02-board.jpg

Courtesy of MSI

With the Z77A-G45 Thunderbolt, MSI took an award winning design and tweaked it to bring an affordable Thunderbolt-based solution to the masses without sacrificing on quality or performance. We put this board through our grueling battery of tests to validate the board's performance promises. The MSI Z77A-G45 Thunderbolt can be found at your favorite retailer for the reasonable price of $169.99.

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Courtesy of MSI

The Z77A-G45 Thunderbolt sports a simple design and layout with some of the bells and whistles found on the higher priced boards omitted to keep the feature set intact and the price to a minimum. MSI includes the following features in the Z77A-G45 Thunderbolt's design: SATA 2 and SATA 3 ports; a Realtek GigE NIC; three PCI-Express x16 slots for up to tri-card support; USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports; and a single Thunderbolt port in the rear panel. For an in-depth overview on Thunderbolt technology and its advantages over other interconnect technologies, please see our review here.

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Courtesy of MSI

Continue reading our review of the MSI Z77A-GD45 motherboard!!

ASRock's Formula for success

Subject: Motherboards | March 19, 2013 - 01:36 PM |
Tagged: asrock, Z77 OC Formula, Intel Z77X

If you are shopping for a Z77 motherboard you have a lot of choice in make and model as well as price, they range from sub-$100 models to high end boards like the $225 ASRock Z77 OC Formula.  For that extra price you get a motherboard built with 12+4 phase power, premium alloy chokes, dual-stack MOSFETs and 8 layers of copper.  It is not just high end components, you also get a pair of PCIe 16x slots, a single PCIe 4x slot and a pair of 1x slots for add-in cards as well as four SATA 6Gbps ports and two SATA 3G ports, 10 USB 2.0 ports and 8 USB 3.0 ports along with onboard audio from Realtec's ALC898.  [H]ard|OCP did some testing to see if this board lives up to the OC in its name, which it did rather handily.

H_asrickz77ocformula.jpg

"Generally speaking our ASRock experiences have been positive save for one or two minor complaints. We’ve looked inexpensive but very popular ASRock model motherboards. Today we are taking a look at a higher end more expensive ASRock offering. The Z77 OC Formula caught our eye and will hopefully perform as good as it looks."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP