Subject: Motherboards | July 28, 2013 - 11:40 PM | Tim Verry
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).
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.
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-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.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | July 9, 2013 - 09:33 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: n600, n400, mATX, cooler master, atx
Cooler Master recently launched two new N-series ATX computer cases in the US. The new N400 and N600 will join the existing N200 mini tower.
The two new polymer computer cases feature a full mesh front panel, support for 240mm water cooling radiators on the right side panel, seven PCI expansion slots, and room for several storage drives and fans. Front IO on the N400 and N600 cases include two USB 3, two USB 2, and two audio ports.
The N400 is the smaller of the two at 7.5” x 16.7” x 19.7.” It supports graphics cards up to 320mm as well as motherboards of mATX or ATX form factors. Further, the N400 can support two 5.25” optical drives, eight 3.5” hard drives, and three 2.5” solid state drives (SSD).
The case has space for up to eight fans, and Cooler Master has pre-installed two 120mm XtraFlow fans. Dust filters cover the front and side intake vents.
The internals of the N400 are a bit more basic than those of the N600. There are no cable routing grommets or water cooling grommets that pass through the rear panel. As a result, this case should be cheaper than the N600.
The Cooler Master N400 is available now for $60
In addition to the N400 and N200, Cooler Master will be releasing the N600. The N600 builds upon the n400 design by adding more drive space and a few extra features to aid in cooling and cable management. The N600 measures 8.1” x 17.9” x 18.9.”
It supports both Micro ATX and ATX motherboards as well as graphics cards up to 430mm long. As far as cooling goes, users can install up to 10 fans, and Cooler Master bundles in two 120mm XtraFlow fans. A 240mm water cooling radiator can be installed in the right side panel as well as the top panel. Also, water cooling grommets are installed on the back case panel to allow for external water cooling radiators.
The case can support up to three 5.25” drives (tool-less), seven 3.5” drives, and five 2.5” SSDs (four in an SSD drive cage and one behind the motherboard tray). It also supports a bottom mounted PSU and has various rubber grommets around the motherboard tray for cable management.
The N200, N400, and N600 were available in Europe in June, and now all three are coming to the US. You can grab the N200 and N400 right now for $50 and $60 respectively, but specific pricing and availability on the N600 is not yet available. It should be coming soon for around $90 (estimated), however.
In all, the N400 and N600 seem like decent additions to the company’s N-series lineup. More information can be found on the Cooler Master website.
Subject: General Tech | May 2, 2013 - 06:59 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: podcast, video, Indiegogo, corair, obsidian, 350d, mATX, frame rating, 4k, titan, 7990, 690, Oculus, rift, VR, 3d, amd, amd fx, vishera, hUMA, hsa
PC Perspective Podcast #249 - 05/02/2013
Join us this week as we discuss the Corsair 350D, Frame Rating in 4K, the Oculus Rift and more!
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Hosts: Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, Scott Michaud and Morry Teitelman
Program length: 1:04:02
Week in Review:
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Obsidian Series for under $100
If you need a case for your next PC build, the chances are good that Corsair has a model that you'll like. Ranging from the obscenely large Obsidian 900D to the $69 Carbide 200R and just about everything in between, Corsair has a ton of options Today we are reviewing the brand new entrant to the Obsidian series, the 350D, that brings Corsair to the Micro-ATX form factor.
The Obsidian series is the flagship chassis line from Corsair and typically means you are getting the best of the best from the expanding components company. With an MSRP of just $99 you are definitely making some sacrifices on features and on size, limiting us to Micro-ATX or Mini-ITX motherboards and systems.
The front panel has an attractive brushed finish to it with removable front panel (and fan filter).
Connections up top include headphones, microphone as well as a pair of USB 3.0 ports. There power button is right in the center with dual LEDs on each side. The reset button is just to the right of the mic port and is recessed enough to prevent accidental presses.
Subject: Motherboards | January 9, 2013 - 12:39 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: msi, micro ATX, mATX, fm2, ces 2013, CES, APU, amd, a85xma-p33
MSI announced a new micro ATX motherboard at CES this week. Aimed at supporting AMD’s APUs, the MSI A85XMA-P33 is a socket FM2 motherboard that is replacing the company’s existing A75MA-P33 motherboard. The new A85XMA-P33 is nearly identical to the previous board, but it uses AMD’s A85X chipset rather than the A75.
The A85XMA-P33 features the FM2 socket, two DDR3 DIMM slots, and six SATA 6 Gbps ports. It also has one legacy PCI slot, one PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot, and a single PCI-E 2.0 x1 slot.
Rear IO on the micro ATX motherboard includes two PS/2 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports (plus an additional 2 via motherboard header), three (6 channel) audio jacks, and a gigabit Ethernet port. Display outputs include a single DVI and a single VGA connector.
Other features include a five phase VRM and a UEFI BIOS. No official pricing has been announced yet, but you can expect it to be around the $70 mark. MSI has posted more photos and specifications on its website.
Read more about micro ATX motherboards at PC Perspective.
PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: General Tech | October 23, 2012 - 10:50 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: trinity, motherboard, mATX, gigabyte, fm2, APU
Gigabyte recently unveiled a low-cost micro ATX form factor motherboard for Trinity APUs called the F2A75M-HD2. The motherboard is aimed at low cost home theater and small form factor builds using AMD’s Trinity APUs. It measures 225 x 174 mm and offers up a number of features despite the small size. The board itself features the FM2 processor socket, two DDR3 DIMM slots (up to 32GB DDR3 1866Mhz), and a 5-phase VRM feeding the APU power. It also features Gigabyte’s dual BIOS chip technology and a UEFI BIOS.
Internal I/O includes one PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot, one PCI-E 2.0 x1 slot, and one legacy PCI slot. Four SATA III 6Gbps ports are available, and the A75 chipset supports RAID 0, 1, and 10. Two USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 headers are also available on the board for expansion.
Rear I/O of the Gigabyte F2A75M-HD2 motherboard includes:
- 2 x USB 3.0
- 1 x DVI
- 1 x HDMI
- 1 x VGA
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 3 x Analog audio jacks
- 1 x PS/2 port
- 1 x Gigabit Ethernet jack
While no specific availability date or MSRP was announced, you can expect this micro ATX Trinity-powered motherboard to be available soon for around $70 USD.
Read more about Gigabyte's FM2 motherboard lineup at PC Perspective.
Introduction and Technical Specifications
Courtesy of Gigabyte
PC gaming is alive and well and hardware vendors are working to create unique features in their product lines to entice this niche audience. Gigabyte has always had a soft spot for gamers who want the best components for their LAN rigs so they can own their friends in any game genre they choose to play. Gigabyte has broadened their product line to include performance gaming mice, keyboards, and PC cases. They also have a line of "G1-Killer" motherboards that Gigabyte claims is designed with 3D gaming in mind. One of their latest boards in the G1-Killer series is the G1.Sniper M3, and just happen to have a sample that we are reviewing today.
Courtesy of Gigabyte
The G1.Sniper M3 was designed into a micro ATX form factor that sports Intel's latest Z77 Express chipset and supports the third generation of Intel's LGA 1155 "Ivy Bridge" processors. It is challenging to pack enough performance features and overclocking options onto a micro ATX footprint, but Gigabyte's G1.Sniper M3 has broken the code in this department. This $180 board includes a digital power phase design with auto voltage compensation, dual UEFI BIOS, and an onboard Creative Sound Core3D quad-core audio processor for rich, high-definition audio.
Subject: Motherboards | April 10, 2012 - 04:11 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Z77, ROG, PCI-E 3.0, maximus v gene, mATX, lga1155, asus
Now in its fifth generation, ASUS ROG (Republic of Gamers) has launched its Maximus V Series motherboards with the Maximus V GENE. This micro-ATX powerhouse is built using the latest Intel Z77 chipset, which supports Intel’s latest LGA1155 processors. Featuring full PCI-Express Gen-3 capabilities with Intel’s 3rd Generation processor the Republic of Gamers team equips the Maximus V GENE with exclusive features such as the Extreme Engine DIGI+ II power control design, SupremeFX III gaming audio, Intel Ethernet with ROG GameFirst software and the newly added mPCIe Combo card.
ROG Exclusive mPCIe Combo Card offer users the best expansion options
The mPCIe Combo card is a new innovation by the ROG team, combining the twin functions of mPCIe with mSATA into a single, extensible add-in card that still allows full use of the PCI-Express slots for multi-GPU graphics. Use an mSATA SSD with Intel’s Smart Response Technology to greatly improve hard-drive performance or as an ultra-fast OS drive to free up standard SATA ports for other uses. The combination of a standard mPCIe socket on the other side allows unique upgrades such as WiFi, Bluetooth, 3G/4G, GPS and other connectivity options.
Premium Hardware, Optimized Design, Best Overclocking
The Maximus V GENE is true to the Republic of Gamers core, as a motherboard built for overclocking. Do not accept imitations or compromise with first generation digital designs. The upgraded Extreme Engine DIGI+ II includes a 8+4+2 (CPU, iGPU, DRAM) phase design offers the best in precise digital power control from two DIGI+ controllers. Combined with class leading ROG UEFI BIOS functions, such as the new pre-configured memory IC profiles, specially sourced electrical components and industry first trace designs the Maximus V Gene yields an unmatched overclocking experience for enthusiasts.
SupremeFX III Sound – Premium Gaming Audio
Designed to bring gamers the best possible integrated audio, the SupremeFX III sound is a wholly separate audio PCB, identified by its ‘redline’ adjoining the main GENE V motherboard. SupremeFX Shielding technology maximizes the audio quality by further isolating the audio processing from EMI, encasing the chipset under a custom aluminum cap. Combined with a large 1500uF buffer capacitor to provide sufficient energy for even the loudest sounds, SupremeFX III attains a lossless audio of up to 110dB SNR. The addition of X-Fi Xtreme Fidelity, EAX Advanced HD 5.0, Creative Alchemy and THX TruStudio PRO complete the lineup of audio technologies that offer an incredibly immersive gaming experience.
Intel Ethernet, ROG GameFirst and LucidLogix Virtu MVP
Intel Ethernet and ROG GameFirst software combines up to 35% saving in CPU usage with network traffic prioritizing, while LucidLogix Virtu MVP support enables a new hybrid graphics mode that boosts overall GPU performance by up to 60%.
Subject: Systems | March 15, 2012 - 10:50 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ASUS ROG Rampage IV GENE X79, SFF, mATX, hd7970, Intel Xeon E5-2690
The mATX ASUS ROG Rampage IV GENE X79 motherboard can hold more power than you might assume from its size, as you can see at VR-Zone. Even though the board looks tiny compared to the heatsink needed to cool the Xeon E5-2690 and the triple slot HD7970 seems to barely fit beside the OZC Revodrive 3 X2 480GB, the components do work at full speed making this beast a real power house. As Yoda said, "Size matters not."
"What if I have about US$5000 to spend - Could I have a true 8-core/16-thread CPU in a small form factor setup without compromising on storage, thermals or online gaming prowess?" Well, we show that we can!"
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- PC Specialist Vortex XT-270FB @ Kitguru
- iBUYPOWER Erebus GT: Custom Cooling for Less @ AnandTech
- HP Omni 27 Quad Review @ TechReviewSource
- HP Phoenix h9se: The Pavilion Goes Beyond Thunderdome @ AnandTech
Subject: Cases and Cooling | March 2, 2012 - 08:01 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: xigmatek gigas, xigmatek, SFF, mATX
When you build a machine based on an mATX board, you tend to be aiming for a compact system that can be hidden away or is at least small enough that it is unobtrusive. Xigmatek decided to toss that style away when they designed the Gigas, quite possibly the only mATX enclosure which weighs more than 20lbs. At 10.94" x 12.68" x 15.59" you have a lot of space to work with and will find space for a lot more drives than you might expect even with a full size GPU and 1kg+ heatsink. This is a perfect enclosure for some of the high end mATX board for sale currently, but as TechPowerUp points out in their review there are no grommets for watercooling if you wanted to upgrade your cooling solution.
"Is it a mATX chassis? No! Is it a mid-tower case? No! What is it? It is the Xigmatek Gigas! Too big to be a compact mATX cube, but too compact to be considered a mid-tower. Will the Gigas end up being the Frankenstein of cases, or manage to impress with this new approach?"
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- Corsair Carbide 300R @ OC3D
- NZXT Switch 810 Hybrid Full Tower @ Pro-Clockers
- Cooler Master Elite 431 Plus Mid Tower Case Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- Corsair Carbide 300R Case Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Cooler Master CM 690 II Advanced Chassis @ Kitguru
- Cooler Master 690 II Advanced Black and White Mid-Tower Chassis Review @ eTeknix
- Thermaltake Level 10 GT Snow Edition Review @ circuitREMIX
- SilenX EFZ-120HA5 Heatsink Review @ Ninjalane
- NZXT Havik 120 CPU Cooler Review @Hi Tech Legion
- SilenX EFZ-120HA5 Cooler @ HardwareBistro
- Be Quiet! Shadow Rock Pro SR1 CPU Cooler @ Kitguru