ASRock EPC612D4I Motherboard: Mini-ITX LGA 2011-3 with Quad-Channel DDR4

Subject: Motherboards | May 1, 2015 - 09:25 AM |
Tagged: sodimm, quad-channel, mini-itx, EPC612D4I, ddr4, ASRock Rack, asrock

They finally did it! A new mini-ITX LGA 2011-3 has been announced by ASRock, the EPC612D4I, and this server-grade product will offer full quad-channel memory support with a switch to SoDIMM RAM.

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Image credit: Tom’s IT Pro

While ASRock had previously released a mini-ITX X99 motherboard (the X99E-ITX/ac) there were concessions made based on the limitations of the form-factor, and the motherboard was limited to dual-channel memory with only two DDR4 DIMM slots. So for a full quad-channel experience it became obvious that a switch to SoDIMM’s would be required. So are there any DDR4 SoDIMMs available? They certainly aren’t cheap, but a quick search for the model number of this new board finds a page from Crucial for compatible DDR4 modules – at a cost of $555.99 for a massive 32GB (4x8GB) of 1.2V DDR4-2133 ECC memory.

Specs for the EPC612D4I from ASRock:

  • LGA 2011 R3 Intel Xeon processor E5-1600/2600 v3 series
  • 4x SO-DIMM slots, supports quad-channel DDR4 2133/1866 ECC
  • 4x SATA 6Gb/s by C612
  • 1x PCIe 3.0 x16                      
  • Integrated IPMI 2.0 with KVM and Dedicated LAN (RTL8211E)
  • Intel Dual GLAN (Intel i210 + Intel i217)

The new board was first reported by Tom's IT Pro and their article lists the retail price for the ASRock EPC612D4I at $265, which isn’t bad for a product like this. While definitely targeting the server market this could potentially be implemented for a very compact workstation setup (and allow creation of a PC to rival the diminutive Mac Pro, perhaps).

Source: ASRock

GIGABYTE Enables 5th Gen Intel Core CPU Support for 9 Series Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards | April 30, 2015 - 10:32 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, Intel, Broadwell, h97, z97, bios, cpu, processor

GIGABYTE has announced support for the upcoming LGA 1150 variants of Intel's 5th-generation Core (Broadwell) processors for all existing 9-series motherboards via BIOS update.

GIGABYTE.jpg

The full press release appears below:


City of Industry, California, April 30th, 2015 – GIGABYTE TECHNOLOGY Co. Ltd., a leading manufacturer of motherboards and graphics cards is proud to announce their entire line-up of Z97 and H97 motherboards now support the soon-to-launch 5th Generation Intel® Core™ processors.

GIGABYTE engineers have tested and validated all GIGABYTE 9 series motherboards including Z97 and H97 chipset-based motherboards to ensure optimal performance for 5th Generation Intel® Core™ processors. Users wanting to take advantage of all the features of 5th Gen Intel® Core™ processors have to offer at launch, simply need to download the latest UEFI BIOS from the GIGABYTE website.

To get the latest UEFI BIOS for your motherboard, please visit the GIGABYTE website: http://www.gigabyte.us

Source: GIGABYTE
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ECS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of ECS

The ECS Z97-PK motherboard is the company's mATX solution for their Intel Z97 Express chipset-based product line. Similar to other boards in their Z97 series, the Z97-PK is simplified to include what you need for a working mATX system without compromising on component or build quality. With an MSRP of $79.99, the Z97-PK is a very approachable solution for any use, including those budget-constrained HTPC builds.

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Courtesy of ECS

The ECS Z97-PK motherboard was designed to be an affordable solution packed with lots of performance potential. ECS constructed the board with around a 4-phase digital power deliver system and high quality solid capacitors to keep the board running stable. The Z97-PK board offers the following in-built features: six SATA 3 ports; a Realtek GigE NIC; one PCI-Express Gen3 x16 slot; one PCI-Express Gen2 x16 slot (x4 maximum bandwidth); Realtek audio solution; integrated VGA, DVI, and HDMI video port support; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.

Continue reading our review of the ECS Z97-PK motherboard!

The David of Z97 motherboards, Gigabyte's GA-Z97MX-Gaming 5

Subject: Motherboards | April 15, 2015 - 03:05 PM |
Tagged: z97, SFF, gigabyte, GA-Z97MX-Gaming 5

You could argue that the Z97 chipset is not the freshest but for serious gamers that are on a budget and for whom space is at a premium the $130 Gigabyte GA-Z97MX-GAMING 5 is a smart choice.  Four memory slots which support up to DDR3-3100, four PCI-e slots, an M.2 PCIe slot and even a SATA Express port mean you can support newer technology without breaking the bank, especially if you plan incremental upgrades.  It also has onboard Realtek ALC1150 7.1 surround sound with support for the Creative X-Fi MB3 and a swapable TI Burr Brown OPA2134 OP-AMP along with S/PDIF out also make this a good board for a fledgling sound artist.  Check out the full review at Modders Inc; you don't have to be big nor expensive to provide a long list of features.

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"Long are the days of the SUPER TOWER chassis being the king of the gamers den, in the past few years the SFF (Small Form Factor) has taken over the market. This is not only due to the compact size of mATX and ITX but that both form factors are continuing to squeeze performance into every bit of their tiny …"

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Source: Modders Inc
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

02-board.jpg

Courtesy of GIGABYTE

The X99-SOC Champion is GIGABYTE's Intel X99-based answer for the extreme overclocking crowd, over-engineered to take the abuse that extreme overclockers punish their boards with. The board supports all Intel LGA2011-3 based processors paired with DDR4 memory in up to a quad channel configuration. As a member of their Overclocking series of boards, the X99-SOC Champion board enjoys the series-specific orange and black aesthetics. With an MSRP of $299.99, the board remains an approachable product for most enthusiasts.

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

GIGABYTE designed the X99-SOC Champion with overclockers in mind, starting with its 8+4-phase digital power system. Its power circuity was built using International Rectifier Gen 4 digital PWM controllers and Gen 3 PowIRstage controllers, Cooper Bussmann Server Level chokes, and long life Durable Black Solid capacitors. Overclocker-friendly features include a CPU Mode switch, enabling enhanced voltage settings for the processor, the OC Trigger switch specifically for LN2-based overclocking, and a plethora of on board voltage measurement points.

Continue reading our review of the GIGABYTE X99-SOC Champion motherboard! 

Gigabyte's Z97X Gaming 7, a decent motherboard all around

Subject: Motherboards | March 30, 2015 - 03:57 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, Z97X Gaming 7, z97, Intel

The Gigabyte Z97X Gaming 7 motherboard offers a nice balance between price and performance, at $172 it is a bit pricey but when on sale for around the $150 mark it is a great deal.  The onboard audio provided by Realtek's ALC1150 produced very good sound and while the Qualcomm Killer NIC E2201 doesn't offer benefits over a more generic NIC there are those who prefer the software which comes with it.  The board overclocked very well for [H] manually, providing noticeable boosts with solid performance, however the EasyTune software provided them with some issues.  Check out the full review right here.

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"GIGABYTE's Z97X Gaming 7 promises solid overclocking and performance. The feature list for the Z97X Gaming 7 is long and includes gamer focused features like a dedicated audio amplifier, Sound Blaster X-Fi MB3 support and more. We've had mixed results with the GIGABYTE lately, so the real question is; does it work?"

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

MSI Unveils First AMD AM3+ Motherboard With USB 3.1

Subject: Motherboards | March 25, 2015 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: usb 3.1, usb, msi, amd, am3+, 10Gbps

Last week, MSI launched a slew of new USB 3.1 equipped motherboards. Today, the company is releasing more details on one of the AMD-based products: the MSI 970A SLI Krait Edition. This upcoming motherboard is geared towards gamers using AMD FX (AM3+) processors and supports multi-GPU setups (both SLI and CrossFire). The 970A SLI Krait Edition has a black and white color scheme with rich expansion options and large aluminum heatsinks over the VRMs and northbridge.

MSI 970A SLI Krait Edition Motherboard.png

The AM3+ processor socket sits to the left of four DDR3 memory slots. Six expansion slots take up the majority of the lower half of the board and include two PCI-E x16, two PCI-E x1, and two PCI slots. Six SATA ports occupy the bottom-right corner with four at 90-degree angles. MSI is using its latest “Military Class 4” capacitors and other hardware along with gold audio traces connecting the rear IO audio jacks to the onboard sound chip.

Speaking of rear IO, you will find the following ports on the 970A SLI Krait Edition.

  • 2 x PS/2
  • 6 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.1
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 6 x Analog Audio

The main feature that MSI is pushing with this new board is the addition of two USB 3.1 (Type A) ports to the AMD platform. This is the first AM3+ motherboard to support the faster standard – up to 10 Gbps using an Asmedia ASM1352R controller – while also being backwards compatible with older USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 devices.

MSI has not yet released pricing or availability, but expect it to launch soon for less than $100.

Josh's Thoughts

Few specifications have been released about this board so far, as well as no timetable for the launch.  It is a finished product and should be out "soon" as Tim mentioned.

There are a few things we can gather from the photo of the board.  The audio solution is not nearly as robust as we saw with the 970 Gaming motherboard.  I doubt it will have the headphone amplification, and the filtering is going to be less due to fewer caps used.  The audio is still physically isolated on the PCB, but it has not received the same focus as what we saw on 970 Gaming.

It looks like it is a full 8+2 power phase implementation, as it is taking up more space on the board than the 6+2 unit on the 970 Gaming did.  This should allow for a greater selection of CPUs to be used, as well as potentially greater overclocking ability.  It does not feature a separate SATA controller, so all 6 SATA ports on the board are handled by the SB950.  There are no external e-SATA ports, which really is not a big deal as those are rarely used.

This looks to be a nice addition to the fading AM3+ market.  For those holding onto their AMD builds and wish to upgrade, this looks to be an inexpensive option with next generation connectivity.  MSI looks to have paid the licensing fee necessary to support SLI, plus they utilize the same AMD 970 chipset on the 970 Gaming that is not supposed to be able to split the 1 x 16X PEG connection to 2 x 8X slots.  Some interesting design and chippery are required to that.

Source: MSI

When is an SoC not an SoC? When it is the GIGABYTE X99-SOC Champion

Subject: Motherboards | March 20, 2015 - 06:31 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, x99-soc champion, Intel, X99

Relatively new to the market is the $360ish Gigabyte X-99-SOC Champion, expensive compared to previous Intel boards but a decent price for an X99 board.  It has four PCIe 16x slots of which two can only run at 8x maximum as well as three PCIe 1x slots, a single M.2 and a single SEx connector as well as a half dozen SATA 6Gbps ports which can run in RAID and another 4 which are only able to run in AHCI mode.  There are no C-type connectors but there are a plethora of USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports as well as a Thunderbolt header.  This is definitely a board for power users and manual overclockers as you can see in Hardware Canucks review here

You can also expect to see Morry's review of this Gigabyte board in the very near future.

X99SOCCHAMPION-5.jpg

"GIGABYTE's X99-SOC Champion seems to have everything it takes to become a legendary motherboard. It has high end overclocking built into its bones and a low price but will that lead to success?"

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MSI Announces New AMD And Intel Motherboards With USB 3.1

Subject: Motherboards | March 14, 2015 - 12:33 AM |
Tagged: usb 3.1, msi, FX, atx, asmedia asm1352r, amd, am3+

MSI recently announced a torrent of new motherboards that feature USB 3.1 ports. The refreshed lineup includes ten Intel models and, in an interesting twist, two AMD motherboards. MSI’s new motherboards support USB 3.1 by using an Asmedia ASM1352R controller that interfaces with the system via two PCI-E 2.0 lanes (PCI-E 2.0 x2). The controller is rated for the full 10Gbps USB 3.1 speeds. 

MSI X99 Z97 990FA 970A Motherboards WIth USB 3-1.png

It is worth noting that the boards use the traditional USB Type-A connector with one exception. The MSI Z97A Gaming 6 features the new reversible Type-C connector in the form of a single Type-C USB 3.1 port on the rear I/O panel. The other boards have at least two USB 3.1 ports on their rear I/O panels.

The new USB 3.1-supporting lineup is listed below:

  • AMD (970 chipset):
    • SLI Krait Edition
  • AMD (990FX chipset):
    • 990FXA Gaming
  • Intel (Z97 chipset):
    • Z97A Gaming 9 ACK
    • Z97A Gaming 7
    • Z97A Gaming 6
  • Intel (X99 chipset):
    • X99A Gaming 9 ACK
    • X99A Gaming 7
    • X99A Xpower AC
    • X99A Mpower
    • X99A SLI Krait Edition
    • X99A SLI Plus
    • X99A Raider

These new boards are all essentially minor refreshes of previous versions that add the Asmedia controller and faster USB 3.1 ports. You can expect all the multi-GPU and overclocking-friendly features to remain present on these new motherboards.

MSI USB 3.1 Motherboards.jpg

MSI's X99 Xpower AC (left) and Z97A Gaming 9 ACK (right) now support 10Gbps USB 3.1 ports.

AM3+ is still technically AMD's enthusiast platform, but it is still somewhat odd that MSI chose to add USB 3.1 support to AM3+ motherboards with AMD’s aging 990FX and 970 chipsets rather than FM2+ boards with the newer A88X chipset. On the other hand, you can now add much faster external storage to your AM3+ system to give it a bit more life. 

There is no word on pricing but expect the USB 3.1 models to come at a slight premium over the older models in each respective series.

Source: MSI

Report: ASRock to Reveal Mini-ITX Haswell-E Motherboard at CeBIT - The X99E-ITX/ac

Subject: Motherboards | March 13, 2015 - 11:34 PM |
Tagged: X99, mini-itx, Haswell-E, CeBIT 2015, asrock

AnandTech is reporting that motherboard maker ASRock will be showing off a new Haswell-E motherboard at CeBIT 2015, and it would represent an industry first as this new X99 board is in the mini-ITX form factor.

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Cramming an X99 system into mini-ITX does limit the platform, as the form-factor's two-DIMM limitation means this can only support dual-channel memory. The other obvious penalty is the single x16 PCI Express slot, though ASRock has incorporated an M.2 connector that may be using a x4 connection (the article points out the "Ultra M.2" listing on the box).

The LGA 2011-3 socket is apparently a slim version according to the report, but it still dominates the tiny motherboard. Dual Intel NICs and included 802.11ac WiFi make this very capable from a networking standpoint, but with limited expansion and reduced memory bandwidth this will appeal to only a limited number of users. Very compact micro-ATX enclosures and existing X99 motherboards in the mATX form-factor can already provide a platform for a very powerful small build, but there is something to be said for the engineering that has made the move the mini-ITX possible.

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Image credit: SweClockers

One item of interest is the inclusion of a heatsink and fan with the motherboard, and given the unusual layout and socket design it is unclear what the aftermarket cooler support might be like with this motherboard. We should see further details soon as CeBIT 2015 kicks off next week.

Source: AnandTech