MSI's new Z270 GAMING M6 AC, look closely and you might even find a kitchen sink

Subject: Motherboards | March 10, 2017 - 02:22 PM |
Tagged: Z270 GAMING M6 AC, z270, ryzen, msi, amd

The new MSI Z270 GAMING M6 AC has a huge selection of features, up to and including a free Phanteks RGB LED strip for those who suffer from chronic RGBitis

MSI270.jpg

The add-in card you see on the side is an Intel Wi-Fi/Bluetooth card which supports MU-MIMO.  The onboard audio is powered by Nahimic, which MSI refers to as Audio Boost 4 and it is isolated from the other components on the motherboard to prevent noise.  There is a U.2 slot and two M.2 slots with a removable heatsink they call M.2 Shield.  They fully isolated the memory circuit design and as you can see below The Witcher 3 seems to like the DDR4 Boost design.

benches.jpg

Check out the PR below for a closer look at the features included, including the special USB slot for your VR headset and the One-Click to VR option.

MSI, world leading in gaming hardware innovation, is proud to announce a brand new Enthusiast GAMING motherboard, the Z270 GAMING M6 AC with its incredibly versatile and complete foundation for a high-end gaming system. Inspired from a futuristic armored spaceship, the Z270 GAMING M6 AC design with multilayer plating, wings and armaments emphasize an ultramodern style. Erupting from the core, the entire color spectrum flows through illuminated lines. The complete motherboard and heatsink design offers a strong look and feel and uses heavy quality components to deliver the best performance and stability as the base of any gaming rig. Added features such as Audio Boost 4 with Nahimic 2, Twin Turbo M.2 with M.2 Shield, VR Boost, Killer LAN & Intel WIFI AC, and the option to fully customize the RGB LEDs to any color using Mystic light, makes the Z270 GAMING M6 AC one of the most high-end and desirable Z270 motherboards to build a gaming rig with.

DDR4 Boost
Through fully isolating the memory circuit design, the DDR4 Boost ensures maximum performance and stability. The technical enhancements of DDR4 Boost allow for more stability at higher memory speeds compared to other brands.DDR4 Boost benchmark based on The Witcher 3 Enjoy the additional boost in gaming performance or when working with large video and photo files. Enable Intel® Extreme Memory Profile with ease using a single option in the BIOS to gain performance and create a perfectly stable system.

Twin Turbo M.2 with M.2 shield & U.2
Enjoy a blazing fast system boot up and insanely quick loading of applications and games with MSI motherboards. Twin Turbo M.2 delivers PCI-E Gen3 x4 performance with transfer speeds up to 64 Gb/s for the latest SSDs. It also supports the all-new Intel® Optane™ technology. M.2 Shield (patent pending) is a thermal solution, which keeps the M.2 or Optane™ device safe and cool to prevent damage and thermal throttling. M.2 GENIE makes setting up RAID easy by taking less steps, using any M.2 or PCI-E SSD (even when used in a mixed configuration). The Z270 GAMING M6 AC supports the latest storage interface, U.2 as well.

Audio Boost 4 with Nahimic 2
With Audio Boost, powered by Nahimic, MSI motherboards deliver the highest sound quality through the use of premium quality audio components and an isolated audio PCB. An added audio cover and golden audio connectors ensure the purest audio signal.

VR Ready & VR Boost
VR Boost is a smart chip that ensures a clean and strong signal to a VR optimized USB port located on the back, to reduce motion sickness caused by a bad signal. The One-Click to VR option in the MSI Gaming App gets your PC primed for VR use in just a single click by setting your components to max. performance and preventing other applications from impacting your VR experience negatively.

Intel Wi-Fi AC with Antennas
Optimize your gaming rig to deliver game networking traffic over LAN for the best possible online gaming experience, while using WiFi for other online applications. This next-generation Intel® Wi-Fi / Bluetooth solution uses smart MU-MIMO technology, delivering AC speeds up to 867Mbps. Perfect for streaming and gaming at the same time.

Includes free Phanteks RGB LED strip
This RGB LED strip helps to transform and synchronize colors in your case to any liking. Simply connect the plug & play strip to the Mystic Light Extension pin header located on MSI motherboards, without the need of external power, and set a color and choose an LED effect to match it with your motherboard and other peripherals RGB LEDs. Use the included double sided 3M tape to place the strip firmly wherever you want inside (or even outside) your chassis.

Source: MSI

BIOSTAR Shows Mini-ITX AM4 Motherboard for AMD Ryzen

Subject: Motherboards | March 4, 2017 - 11:32 AM |
Tagged: X370GTN, x370, small form factor, SFF, ryzen, racing, motherboard, mITX, mini-itx, B350GTN, b350, amd, AM4

The first images of a mini-ITX AM4 motherboard are here, courtesy of BIOSTAR (via ComputerBase). Part of their second-generation RACING-series of gaming motherboards, BIOSTAR is now the first company to show an AMD Ryzen-capable mini-ITX option with their X370GTN.

x370gtn_motherboard_1.jpg

Image credit: ComputerBase

There had been mention of an upcoming mITX board for AMD Ryzen CPUs from BIOSTAR, with a (rather low-key) mention of such a product in a recent company press release (“the exciting new RACING X370GTN in the mini-ITX form factor will also be available”), and these images from the company's RACING event are now circulating along with the specs of two different mITX offerings.

x370gtn_motherboard_2.jpg

Image credit: ComputerBase

There will in fact be two mini-ITX motherboards, with both X370 (shown) and the lower-end B350 chipsets (with the RACING B350GTN). ComputerBase provided slides with specifications (via Zolkorn, Thai language) who covered the BIOSTAR event:

x370gtn.jpg

Image credit: Zolkorn via ComputerBase

b350gtn.jpg

Image credit: Zolkorn via ComputerBase

BIOSTAR has not announced availability or pricing of their mini-ITX Ryzen boards yet, but given the pent-up demand for mini-ITX solutions for enthusiast AMD processors (with AM3 conspicuously absent from mITX), this is great news for small form-factor enthusiasts.

Source: ComputerBase

Wondering about upgrading your cooler mounts for Ryzen?

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards, Cases and Cooling | March 2, 2017 - 02:05 PM |
Tagged: AM4, ryzen, nzxt, fractal design, scythe

We have some good news from several companies about compatibility with that AM4 board you are hoping to set up.  NXZT have announced a program in which you can request a free AM4 mounting kit for your Kraken X62, X52, X42, X61, X41 or Kraken X31.  Just follow this link to apply for one, they will ship world wide starting on the 15th of March.  You will need to provide proof of purchase of both your AM4 motherboard and Kraken cooler.

nzxt.png

Fractal Design have a similar offer for owners of of their Kelvin series of coolers.  You can email their Support team for a bracket for your Kelvin T12, S24 or S36, make sure to attach proof of purchase of either a Ryzen processor or AM4 board.

fractals.jpg

Scythe is doing things a litle differently.  If you reside in Europe, they are offering free mounting kits to owners of their Mugen 5 cooler, simply reach out them via this link, again attaching a receipt for the cooler and either a Ryzen CPU or AM4 motherboard.  Owners of a Katana 3 or 4, Kabuto 3, Shuriken Rev. B, Tatsumi “A”, Byakko, or Iori cooler need not even go through that process, your coolers mount is already compatible.  For owners of other coolers you can reach out to Scythe via the previous link to order a bracket for  3,99€, to ship out sometime in May or later.  We will let you know when we hear from the NA branch.

scythe.jpg

"Coinciding with the new AMD Zen-based Ryzen CPUs, and the new AM4 socket, NZXT will be providing a free retention bracket for all current Kraken users. NZXT believes in providing high-quality components to our customers, in addition to exceptional customer service no matter where they reside and we will continue that support alongside the launch of Ryzen."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: NZXT

The X370s aren't here yet so take a gander at the fancy X270 from GIGABYTE

Subject: Motherboards | February 28, 2017 - 04:24 PM |
Tagged: intel z270, Aorus Z270X Gaming 9, gigabyte

What an interesting time it will be with Intel slinging Z270's at the same time AMD's Z370 arrives on the scene; there is no possible way some people could get confused.  It will also make the next generation of board names interesting as the two companies fight for numbering rights.  GIGABYTE's Aorus Z270X Gaming 9 comes with an impressive price tag of $500, so it will be interesting to see if [H]ard|OCP finds the feature set on the board worth of that investment.  The four 16x PCIe 3.0 slots will support four GPUs simultaneously and there are both a pair of M.2 and U.2 slots, to say nothing of the onboard SoundBlaster.  Head on over to read through the full review.

1487923677FlKVyNgDxY_1_10_l.jpg

"GIGABYTE’s Z270X Gaming 9 is one of the most feature rich and ultra-high end offerings you’ll see for the Z270 chipset this year. We were super fond of last year’s similar offering and as a result, the Z270X Gaming 9 has very large shoes to fill. With its massive feature set and overclocking prowess, it is poised to be one of the best motherboards of the year."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

AMD Supports CrossFire On B350 and X370 Chipsets, However SLI Limited to X370

Subject: Motherboards | February 26, 2017 - 01:29 AM |
Tagged: x370, sli, ryzen, PCI-E 3.0, gaming, crossfire, b350, amd

Computerbase.de recently published an update (translated) to an article outlining the differences between AMD’s AM4 motherboard chipsets. As it stands, the X370 and B350 chipsets are set to be the most popular chipsets for desktop PCs (with X300 catering to the small form factor crowd) especially among enthusiasts. One key differentiator between the two chipsets was initially support for multi-GPU configurations with X370. Now that motherboards have been revealed and are up for pre-order now, it turns out that the multi-GPU lines have been blurred a bit. As it stands, both B350 and X370 will support AMD’s CrossFire multi-GPU technology and the X370 alone will also have support for NVIDIA’s SLI technology.

The AM4 motherboards equipped with the B350 and X370 chipsets that feature two PCI-E x16 expansion slots will run as x8 in each slot in a dual GPU setup. (In a single GPU setup, the top slot can run at full x16 speeds.) Which is to say that the slots behave the same across both chipsets. Where the chipsets differ is in support for specific GPU technologies where NVIDIA’s SLI is locked to X370. TechPowerUp speculates that the decision to lock SLI to its top-end chipset is due, at least in part, to licensing costs. This is not a bad thing as B350 was originally not going to support any dual x16 slot multi-GPU configurations, but now motherboard manufacturers are being allowed to enable it by including a second slot and AMD will reportedly permit CrossFire usage (which costs AMD nothing in licensing). Meanwhile the most expensive X370 chipset will support SLI for those serious gamers that demand and can afford it. Had B350 supported SLI and carried the SLI branding, they likely would have been ever so slightly more expensive than they are now. Of course, DirectX 12's multi-adapter will work on either chipset so long as the game supports it.

  X370 B350 A320 X300 / B300 / A300 Ryzen CPU Bristol Ridge APU
PCI-E 3.0 0 0 0 4 20 (18 w/ 2 SATA) 10
PCI-E 2.0 8 6 4 0 0 0
USB 3.1 Gen 2 2 2 1 1 0 0
USB 3.1 Gen 1 6 2 2 2 4 4
USB 2.0 6 6 6 6 0 0
SATA 6 Gbps 4 2 2 2 2 2
SATA RAID 0/1/10 0/1/10 0/1/10 0/1    
Overclocking Capable? Yes Yes No Yes (X300 only)    
SLI Yes No No No    
CrossFire Yes Yes No No    

Multi-GPU is not the only differentiator though. Moving up from B350 to X370 will get you 6 USB 3.1 Gen 1 (USB 3.0) ports versus 2 on B350/A30/X300, two more PCI-E 2.0 lanes (8 versus 6), and two more SATA ports (6 total usable; 4 versus 2 coming from the chipset).

Note that X370, B350, and X300 all support CPU overclocking. Hopefully this helps you when trying to decide which AM4 motherboard to pair with your Ryzen CPU once the independent benchmarks are out. In short, if you must have SLI you are stuck ponying up for X370, but if you plan to only ever run a single GPU or tend to stick with AMD GPUs and CrossFire, B350 gets you most of the way to a X370 for a lot less money! You do not even have to give up any USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports though you limit your SATA drive options (it’s all about M.2 these days anyway heh).

For those curious, looking around on Newegg I notice that most of the B350 motherboards have that second PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot and CrossFire support listed in their specifications and seem to average around $99.  Meanwhile X370 starts at $140 and rockets up from there (up to $299!) depending on how much bling you are looking for!

Are you going for a motherboard with the B350 or X370 chipset? Will you be rocking multiple graphics cards?

Also read:

Gigabyte is Ryzen up to the challenge of their rivals

Subject: Motherboards | February 24, 2017 - 05:30 PM |
Tagged: aorus, gigabyte, ryzen, b350, x370

Gigabyte have lead with five motherboards, two X370s under Aorus and three B350s with Gigabyte branding.  They all share some traits in common such as RGB Fusion with 16.8 million colours to choose from and an application to allow you to customize the light show to your own specifications.  It supports control from your phone if you are so addicted to the glow you need to play with your system from across the room. 

lightshow.PNG

Smartfan 5 indicates the presence of five headers for fans or pumps that will work with PWM and standard voltage fans, which can draw up to 12V at 2A.  The boards also have six temperature sensors to give you feedback on the effectiveness of your cooling and modify it with the included application.  Most models will offer Thunderbolt 3, Intel GbE NICs and an ASMedia 2142 USB 3.1 controllers which they claim can provide up to 16Gb/s.  All will have high end audio solutions, often featuring a headphone pre-amp and high quality capacitors.  There are a lot more features specific to each board, so make sure to click through to check out your favourites.

gigabyte.PNG

The Aorus boards, the GA-AX370-Gaming K7 and GA-AX370-GAMING 5 are very similar but if you plan on playing with your BCLK it is the K7 which includes Gigabyte's Turbo B-Clock.  The Gigabyte lineup includes the GA-AB350M, GA-AB350-Gaming and GA-AB350-GAMING 3.  The GA-AB350M is the only mATX Ryzen board of these five for those looking to build a smaller system.  For audiophiles the full size the GAMING 3 includes an ALC1220 codec as opposed to the ALC 887 used on the other two models. 

You can expect to see reviews of these boards which offer far more details on perfomance and features after they are released on March 2nd.  Full PR under the break.

Source: Gigabyte

Biostar Launches X370GT7 Flagship Motherboard For Ryzen CPUs

Subject: Motherboards | February 21, 2017 - 05:16 AM |
Tagged: ryzen, M.2, ddr4, biostar, amd, AM4

Biostar is gearing up for AMD's Ryzen release with the launch of several new AM4 motherboards using the X370 and B350 chipsets. At the top of the product stack is the flagship X370GT7 motherboard.

Biostar X370GT7.jpg

The X370GT7 is part of Biostar's racing series and features a black PCB with checkered flag artwork and LED-backlit "armor" over the rear IO edge. The motherboard surrounds the AMD AM4 socket with two large heat spreaders cooling a 8+4 Digital Power+ power phase (PowIRstage IC), four DDR4 slots (up to 64GB at 2667 MHz), and a M.2 (32 Gbps) slot with bundled SSD heat spreader that matches the racing and carbon fiber aesthetic.

The bottom half of the AM4 Motherboard houses the X370 chipset, six SATA 3 ports, two PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots (running 1 at x16 or both at x8 with Ryzen, Bristol Ridge is limited to one x8 slot), one PCI-E 2.0 x16 (electrically x4) slot, and three PCI-E 2.0 x1 slots. Biostar also highlights the inclusion of 5050 LED headers and a USB 3.1 front panel header with "Lightning Charger" which supports Quick Charge 2.0 (12V@1.5A) as well as Apple devices (5V@2.4A).

Around back, the X370GT7 has the following rear IO ports:

  • PS/2
  • 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C
  • 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2
  • 4 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 (USB 3.0)
  • 3 x Video Outputs:
    • 1 x DisplayPort (4K@60Hz)
    • 1 x HDMI 2.0 (4K@60Hz)
    • 1 x DVI-D (1200p@60Hz)
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet (Realtek RTL8118AS)
  • Audio (Realtek ALC1220, 8 channel Blu Ray Audio, "Biostar Hi-FI")
    • 5 x Analog out
    • 1 x S/PDIF

While an Intel NIC would have been nice to see, the Biostar board looks to offer up a decent package of connections and the Realtek audio codec has been around for a while and should be fairly well developed at this point though we will have to see how well Biostar's Hi-Fi implementation fares. Further, Biostar also offers a small touch panel on the board called GT Touch that lets users switch UEFI profiles between performance and eco-friendly modes as well as power and reset buttons for testing outside of a case. For LED fans Biostar bundles software called "LED DJ" that lets you configure an LED light show that responds to music being played on the PC. (Yes, this is a thing now hehe.)

It is nice to see Biostar rising to the occasion and offering up more options for Ryzen CPUs. Unfortunately as is the case with more things there is no word on pricing or availability yet though rumors would suggest an early march release to coincide with Ryzen processors hitting store shelves.

Also read:

Source: Biostar

ASRock Announces H110-STX MXM Mini-STX Motherboard with MXM GPU Support

Subject: Motherboards | February 8, 2017 - 10:15 AM |
Tagged: small form factor, SFF, PCI-E 3.0, MXM, motherboard, mobile gpu, mini-stx, H110-STX-MXM, asrock

ASRock has announced a new mini-STX motherboard with an interesting twist, as the H110-STX MXM motherboard offers support for current MXM (version 3.0b, up to 120W) mobile graphics cards.

H110_STX_MXM.jpg

Like the ECS H110 motherboard featured in our recent Mini-STX build, the ASRock H110-STX MXM is based on the LGA1151 socket (though CPU TDP was not in the source post), offers a pair a DDR SODIMM slots for up to 32GB of DDR4 notebook memory. Storage support is excellent with dual SATA ports and M.2 SSD support. Importantly, this ASRock board uses PCI Express 3.0 on both the MXM (PCIe 3.0 x16) and M.2 (PCIe 3.0 x4) slots. Display output capability is excellent as well, quoting the TechPowerUp post:

"Display connectivity includes one HDMI port that's wired to the CPU's onboard graphics, a second HDMI port wired to the MXM slot, a full-size DisplayPort wired to the MXM, and a Thunderbolt port with mini-DisplayPort wiring to the MXM."

There are some roadblocks to building up a gaming system with this motherboard, not the least of which is cost. Consider that compatible MXM 3.0b options (with a recent GPU) are hundreds of dollars from a place like Eurocom (a GTX 980M is around $800, for example). Naturally, if you had a damaged gaming notebook with a usable MXM GPU, this board might be a nice option for re-purposing that graphics card. Cooling for the MXM card is another issue, however, though harvesting an MXM card from a notebook could potentially allow implementing the existing thermal solution from the laptop.

H110_STX_MXM_2.jpg

Look closely and you will see a Z270 product name in this ASRock photo

Update: We now have full specifications from ASRock's product page, which include:

  • Socket LGA1151 for Intel Core i7/i5/i3/Pentium/Celeron (Kabylake)
  • Supports MXM Graphics Card (Type-B , Up to 120W)
  • Supports DDR4 2400MHz, 2 x SO-DIMM, up to 32GB system memory
  • 1 x HDMI (4K@60Hz), 1x HDMI, 1x DisplayPort, 1x Mini-DisplayPort
  • 3x USB3.0 Type-A, 1x Thunderbolt 3 with USB 3.1 Type-C
  • 1x M.2 (Key E), 2x M.2 (Key M)
  • 1x Intel i219V Gigabit LAN
  • DC 19V / 220W power input

Of note, the chipset is listed as Z270, though the product name and primary motherboard photo suggest H110. The H110-STX MXM is part of ASRocks industrial motherboard offerings (with signage and gaming the mentioned applications), and includes a 220W power supply. Pricing and availability were not mentioned.

Source: TechPowerUp

The new ASUS Maximus IX Formula is put through its paces

Subject: Motherboards | February 7, 2017 - 02:35 PM |
Tagged: z270 express, Maximus IX Formula, intel z270, ASUS ROG, asus

ASUS' Maximus Formula series have become familiar to high end system builders and the newest member looks to live up to our expectations.  The list of features is comprehensive, including two M.2 slots and a U.2 slot, two USB 3.1 ports including a Type-C and an ASUS 2T2R dual band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac antenna.  [H]ard|OCP had mixed results when overclocking, some testers had a perfect experience while others ran into some hurdles, that may be due to the processors they used so do not immediately write this motherboard off.  Take a look at the full review before you decide one way or the other.

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"ASUS is nothing like Hollywood. ASUS can actually turn out sequels which not only match the originals, but surpass them. ASUS Republic of Gamers Maximus IX Formula is another sequel in the long line of Maximus motherboards. Can ASUS continue its long history of awesome sequels? One things for certain, it’s no Robocop 3."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

ASRock's clean cut Z270 Extreme4

Subject: Motherboards | January 12, 2017 - 03:08 PM |
Tagged: asrock, Z270 Extreme4, intel z270, atx

ASRock have changed in over the past couple of years from a choice of last resort for the budget conscious to creating some intriguing products.  Look at how clean the design of their Z270 Extreme4 is, with heatsinks covering the majority of the components and a nice silver and black colour scheme.  Aesthetics aside, it also has some nice features, such as a 1.5 amp water pump header, a pair of M.2 slots, USB 3.1 in both A and C flavours, three PCIe 3.0 16x slots of which two are reinforced metal and yes, it has Aura RGB LED controls.  TechPowerUp tested it with an i7-7700K, check out their results here.

board_front.jpg

"It's Here! Our first look at Intel's Kaby Lake-supporting motherboards comes from none other than ASRock, with their white and black mainstream motherboard the ASRock Z270 Extreme4. With all the base features of Intel's latest, including a bit of ASRock's engineering magic thrown in, the ASRock Z270 Extreme4 is the perfect example of what you can expect from Intel's Kaby Lake platform."

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Source: TechPowerUp

CES 2017: Gigabyte Teases New AM4 Platform Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards | January 11, 2017 - 09:31 PM |
Tagged: x370, x300, ryzen, gigabyte, CES 2017, CES, b350, AM4, a320

Last week AMD provided additional details on the chipsets and AM4 platform (JoshTekk article link) that will support the company's upcoming Ryzen processors. On tap are the X370, B350, A320 for enthusiast, mid range, and budget markets respectively and the odd-man-out and somewhat mysterious pinky sized X300 chipset specifically geared for Mini ITX and other small form factor motherboards. Gigabyte answered some of Josh and I's questions on what actual motherboards will look like and what features manufacturers would take advantage of when it unveiled (nearly) its full lineup of AM4 motherboards at CES 2017.

Except for an X300-based motherboard which was absent from their booth, Gigabyte teased four new motherboards using each of AMD's new chipsets. Specifically, there will be two Aorus-branded high end X370-based motherboards known as GA-AX370-Gaming 5, GA-AX370-Gaming K5, a midrange B350-based Gigabyte AB350-Gaming 3 motherboard, and a budget micro ATX A320M-HD3 using the lower end A320 chipset.

All four of the motherboards surround the 1331-pin AM4 processor socket with four dual channel DDR4 DIMM slots, six SATA 6Gbps ports, at least one M.2 slot, at least two PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, and modern USB 3.1 external IO connections.

Gigabyte GA-AX370 Aorus Gaming 5.jpg

Tech Report takes a look at Gigabyte's planned AM4 motherboard lineup.

The Gigabyte GA-AX370-Gaming 5 is the company's highest end motherboard and is clad in silver and black with white heatspreaders and "armor" plating. Being part of the Aorus brand, the motherboard has RGB LEDs and is reportedly at feature parity with Gigabyte's RGB-lit Z270 offerings. Powered by a 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS, the Gaming 5 uses a 10-phase VRM along with large heat spreaders to facilitate overclocking. The board features three PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots that are electrically wired as x16/x8/x4 with support for CrossFireX and SLI (though only AMD will let you go to three cards on the third x4 slot) and three PCI-E x1 slots. The storage subsystem includes a single U.2 port and two SATA Express connectors (part of the total six SATA 6Gbps, not in addition to).

External I/O includes:

  • 1x PS/2
  • 6x USB 3.1 Gen 1
  • 4x USB 3.1 Gen 2 (1 x Type-C)
  • 2x Gigabit Ethernet
    • 1x Intel
    • 1x Killer Ethernet 2500
  • 6x Audio
    • 5x Analog out
    • 1x SPDIF

Other little features like a BIOS code readout display and hybrid fan headers are part of the higher end boards but absent on the lower end ones.

Moving from the Gaming-5 to the GA-AX370-Gaming K5, the heat spreaders are scaled back and the color scheme is black and silver instead of white, silver, and black. Further, the power phases are less robust at seven phases, there is no LED display for error codes, no U.2 port, and no Killer Networks Ethernet. The slightly lower end board does keep the M.2 slot, SATA Express connectors, and PCI-E slots of the Gaming 5, however.

The Gigabyte AB350-Gaming 3 is where things start to noticeably change in the feature set. The VRM area is scaled back further with seven phases and a smaller heatsink. There is no U.2 or SATA Express, and one fewer PCI-E x1 slot than the X370 offerings. The motherboard does have three PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots (I am guessing still wired as x16/x8/x4 but AMD's slide from Josh's story is a bit unclear in this regard) but officially CrossFire and SLI are not supported according to AMD's slide. Around back, the board differs from the higher end models by including display outputs and lacking S/PDIF audio outputs. Specifically, the Gaming 3 board features:

  • 2x USB 2.0
  • 1x PS/2
  • 4x Video outputs
    • 1x VGA
    • 1x DVI
    • 1x DisplayPort 1.2
    • 1x HDMI 2.0 [updated 10:32]
  • 4x USB 3.1 Gen 1
  • 2x USB 3.1 Gen 2
  • 1x Intel Gigabit Ethernet
  • 3x Analog audio outputs (AmpUp! audio)

Finally, the lowest end A320M-HD3 is a micro ATX motherboard with four DDR4 slots, six SATA port, two PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots (likely wired as x8/x4), a single M.2 slot, and a PCI slot of all things. The all black board uses a 7 phase VRM and thanks to most of the connectivity being housed in the processor and A320 chipset, the PCB looks rather barren. This does have the positive effect of allowing AMD to still put four DIMM slots on the board and two PCI-E slots with room to spare. External I/O on this board is identical to the AB350-Gaming 3 above.

In all, it is refreshing to see an updated AMD motherboard platform with the latest storage and graphics connectivity options, and while SATA Express and even U.2 aren't as useful as they could be (not many products actually use those connectors, M.2 has really stolen the show here) the inclusion of native USB 3.1 Gen 2 is great as is the ability to use all six SATA 6Gbps ports along with dual graphics cards (things get dicer when adding PCI-E storage and/or using the 4th x16 slot which may reduce the number of available SATA ports but that is a bit beyond this article.) It is nice to see these features coming from AMD directly and not having to rely on third party chips for modern features as AMD's AM3 platform had to. Seeing the initial launch boards take advantage of the new features fully is promising as well though I expect to see different configurations in the audio, M.2, and external I/O departments from future Gigabyte boards and their competitors. 

I am curious to see how well the chipsets perform versus Intel's in the USB 3.1 and PCI-E storage departments as well as how overclocking will work with Ryzen and how far the AM4 platform boards will be able to push the new chips. It appears that AM4 has Zen off to a good start, and here's hoping that the AM4 platform will carry Zen into the future and help Ryzen, ahem, rise up to the task of delivering on all those performance promises from AMD!

For more photos and information on Gigabyte's AM4 offerings, The Tech Report got a first look at the boards last week and Gamer's Nexus shot some video footage of them on the CES show floor.

Coverage of CES 2017 is brought to you by NVIDIA!

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CES 2017: GIGABYTE Launches AORUS Intel Z270 Gaming Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards | January 9, 2017 - 12:50 PM |
Tagged: motherboard, intel z270, gigabyte, gaming, eatx, CES 2017, CES, atx, aorus

GIGABYTE announced their new AORUS Gaming lineup of motherboards featuring Intel's new Z270 chipset, and these enthusiast boards emphasize "customization and personalization" with liquid cooling support, RGB lighting effects, and improved smart fan controls.

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There are a total of six new Z270 models in this AORUS Gaming line, and will begin with the Z270X-Gaming 9 and Z270X-Gaming 8 motherboards:

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The Gaming 9 features include:

  • Supports 7th/ 6th Generation Intel Core Processors
  • Dual Channel Non-ECC Unbuffered DDR4, 4 DIMMs
  • Intel USB 3.1 Gen 2 with USB Type-C and Type-A
  • 4-Way Graphics Support with Dual Armor and Ultra Durable Design
  • EKWB G-Frost Hybrid Water Block
  • Triple NVMe PCIe SSDs in RAID 0 Support
  • Dual NVMe PCIe Gen3 x4 U.2 Connectors
  • Dual Ultra-Fast M.2 with PCIe Gen3 x4 & SATA interface
  • Intel Optane Memory Ready
  • Creative Sound Blaster certified ZxRi 120dB+ Audio
  • Killer DoubleShot-X3 Pro for the best networking experience possible
  • USB DAC-UP 2 with Adjustable Voltage
  • RGB FUSION with Multi-Zone LED Light Show design
  • Swappable Overlay for Accent LED
  • Smart Fan 5 features Multiple Temperature Sensors and Hybrid Fan Headers
  • 2 External Thermistors Headers with 2 Included Thermistors
  • Extreme 40 Gb/s Thunderbolt 3
  • Integrated HDMI 2.0 Support
  • GIGABYTE UEFI DualBIOS with Q-Flash Plus USB Port
  • APP Center Including EasyTune and Cloud Station Utilities

The Gaming 9's premium audio features "a combination of Hi-Fi grade WIMA capacitors and Nichicon audio grade Fine Gold capacitors", which is about as premium as it gets!

Specs for the Gaming 8 are virtually identical to the Gaming 9's above - with a couple of notable exceptions: The Gaming 8 uses a Bitspower G-Chill Hybrid Water Block instead of the Gaming 9's EKWB option for the CPU VRMs, and it offers a different LAN configuration, with a combo comprised of 1x Intel GbE and 1x Killer E2500 NIC, rather than the Gaming 9's dual Killer E2500 NICs.

Next up are the Gaming 7, and Gaming K7 models (and no, the K7 is not an AMD board from the Socket A era, I checked):

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The feature list for the Gaming 7 motherboard is very close to the Gaming 8 (and Gaming 9, listed above), though a few things will be lost compared to its more premium siblings, including the removal of a water block for the VRMs, missing ZxRi 120dB+ audio support, and "merely" 3x GPU support, compared to the 4-way graphics support of the Gaming 8 and 9.

Finally we have the Gaming 5 and Gaming K5, which look to be the most affordable offerings in the new lineup, though features are still very good for a gaming motherboard.

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Here's the feature list for the Gaming 5:

  • Supports 7th/ 6th Generation Intel Core Processors
  • Dual Channel Non-ECC Unbuffered DDR4, 4 DIMMs
  • Fast USB 3.1 Gen 2 with USB Type-C and Type-A
  • 3-Way Graphics Support with Dual Armor and Ultra Durable Design
  • Triple NVMe PCIe SSDs in RAID 0 Support
  • NVMe PCIe Gen3 x4 U.2 Connector
  • Dual Ultra-Fast M.2 with PCIe Gen3 x4 & SATA interface
  • Intel Optane Memory Ready
  • Sound Blaster X-Fi MB5 + ALC 1220 120dB SNR HD Audio
  • Killer E2500 Gaming Network + Intel Gigabit LAN
  • USB DAC-UP 2 with Adjustable Voltage
  • RGB FUSION LED Light Show design
  • Swappable Overlay for Accent LED
  • Smart Fan 5 features Multiple Temperature Sensors and Hybrid Fan Headers
  • Lightning-Fast Intel Thunderbolt 3 AIC Support
  • GIGABYTE UEFI DualBIOS
  • APP Center Including EasyTune and Cloud Station Utilities

The primary difference in features between the Gaming 5 and Gaming K5 is integrated LAN support, with the Gaming K5 losing the second Intel NIC and retaining the Killer E2500 as its sole onboard option.

The AORUS Gaming motherboards are available to order now, and a look at Newegg.com this afternoon shows pricing ranging from $179.99 for the Gaming K5, priced incrementally all the way up to $519.99 for the deluxe Gaming 9.

Coverage of CES 2017 is brought to you by NVIDIA!

PC Perspective's CES 2017 coverage is sponsored by NVIDIA.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at https://pcper.com/ces!

Source: GIGABYTE

CES 2017: EVGA Announces a Trio of Intel Z270 Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards, Chipsets | January 6, 2017 - 05:24 PM |
Tagged: stinger, motherboard, mini-itx, kaby lake, intel z270, Intel Optane, Intel, FTW K, eatx, Classified K, CES 2017, CES, atx

EVGA has introduced three new motherboards based on the new Intel Z270 chipset, with new versions of their Classified K, FTW K, and Stinger designs.

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We'll start with the Z270 Classified K, an EATX form-factor board with all of the storage support bases covered (M.2, U.2, and Intel Optane Memory ready), Killer E2500 and Intel i219 NICs, Creative Sound Core3D audio, along with "a newly-designed VRM and hardware design built for cutting-edge performance and overclockability".

EVGA Z270 Classified K features:

  • Highly-Efficient 13 Phase Digital VRM
  • Onboard Power, Reset and Clear CMOS
  • EVGA E-LEET X Tuning Utility
  • Triple BIOS Support
  • M.2 NVMe PCI-E SSD Support
  • U.2 NVMe SSD Support
  • Intel Optane Memory Ready
  • Intel Thunderbolt Support
  • Switchable DC / PWM Fan Control
  • Onboard CPU Temperature Monitor
  • 300% Increase in CPU Gold Content

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Next there is Z270 FTW K, a standard ATX form-factor option that offers the same storage flexibility as the larger Classified K including Intel Optane Memory support, Killer E2400 and Intel i219 NICs, and 11-Phase Digital VRM power delivery (among other things).

EVGA Z270 FTW K features:

  • Highly-Efficient 11 Phase Digital VRM
  • Onboard Power, Reset and Clear CMOS
  • EVGA E-LEET X Tuning Utility
  • M.2 NVMe PCI-E SSD Support
  • U.2 NVMe SSD Support
  • Intel Optane Memory Ready
  • Switchable DC / PWM Fan Control
  • Onboard CPU Temperature Monitor
  • 150% Increase in CPU Gold Content

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Finally, there is the mini-ITX Z270 Stinger, which packs a surprising number of features into a 6.7-inch square, including 802.11ac dual band Wi-Fi, an Intel i219 NIC, M.2, U.2, and Intel Optane support:

  • Highly-Efficient 6 Phase VRM
  • Onboard Clear CMOS
  • EVGA E-LEET X Tuning Utility
  • M.2 NVMe PCI-E SSD Support
  • U.2 NVMe SSD Support
  • Intel Optane Memory Ready
  • Switchable DC / PWM Fan Control
  • 150% Increase in CPU Gold Content

Pricing and availablity information is not yet available.

Coverage of CES 2017 is brought to you by NVIDIA!

PC Perspective's CES 2017 coverage is sponsored by NVIDIA.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at https://pcper.com/ces!

Source: EVGA

CES 2017: MSI Shows Off X370 XPower Gaming Titanium AM4 Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | January 5, 2017 - 09:59 PM |
Tagged: x370, msi, CES 2017, CES, amd, AM4

MSI is in full force at CES 2017 this year and in addition to external GPU docks, laptops, and a wall of Z270 motherboards, the company is using the event to show off its AM4 motherboards for the first time. At the top of the pack is the flagship X370 XPower Gaming Titanium clad in shimmering white and black and ready to support AMD’s upcoming “Ryzen” processors based on the Zen architecture.

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Image Source: eTeknix (video)

Armed with AMD’s highest end X370 chipset, the flagship motherboard supports Ryzen CPUs as well as 7th generation APUs. There are four DDR4 memory slots on the board that MSI claims can operate in dual channel mode at up to 2667 MHz when overclocked. The board is rather powerful as well in that there are a lot of power connections. The usual 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS are joined by a 4-pin ATX up top and a 6-pin PCI-E connector on the bottom to stabilize overclocks. Further, a 10-phase VRM drives the AM4 socket and memory.

The motherboard further features three PCI-E x16 slots, three PCI-E x1 slots, two M.2 (32 Gb/s), one U.2 (32 Gb/s), and six SATA 6 Gbps ports. On the PCI-E front, the first two slots are connected to the processor and run at x8 when both slots are populated while the third slot is connected to the chipset and is electrically x4. As far as the SATA ports, two are directly connected to the processor and four come from the chipset.

MSI is including their own onboard audio solution called Audio Boost 4 as well as Gigabit Ethernet though the Steel Armor is covering the chips so it is hard to say exactly what they are using there. Also, Multi GPU setups are officially supported up to two way SLI HB or three way CrossFireX.

There is a plethora of USB support here with the X370 XPower Gaming Titanium supporting up to four USB 3.1 (one Type-C, three Type-A), eight USB 3.0, and seven USB 2.0 ports. If that is not enough, then you may have an addition to PC accessories (or just really like those USB missle batteries hehe).

Naturally, MSI is staying silent on pricing and availability of the motherboard(s) but I hope to see them out within the first half of the year! The design is certainly polarizing, but the features are there. I look forward to reading our review of this and other AM4 motherboards and how they fare at overclocking!

Coverage of CES 2017 is brought to you by NVIDIA!

PC Perspective's CES 2017 coverage is sponsored by NVIDIA.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at https://pcper.com/ces!

Source: TechPowerUp

Meet AMD's new chipset, the X300 and X370

Subject: Motherboards, Shows and Expos | January 4, 2017 - 11:00 PM |
Tagged: x370, x300, ryzen, CES 2017, CES, amd, AM4

Tonight at CES AMD announced 16 new AM4 motherboards from five manufacturers and new PCs from over a dozen system builders.  The motherboards will all bring support for dual channel DDR4 memory, NVMe, M.2 SATA devices and USB 3.1 support for AMD users. You can also expect at least 24 lanes of PCIe 3.0, perhaps more if we can spot some with bridge chips.

The MSI A320 Pro-VD and B350 Tomahawk (not to scale)

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MSI will be showing off their A320M Pro-VD, X370 XPower Gaming Titanium, B350 Tomahawk and B350M Mortar. 

Gigabyte's GA-X370 Gaming K5, GA-AX370-Gaming 5 and GA-AB350-Gaming 3.

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The gang should have updates on the full lineup soon including the Gigabyte A320M-HD3 not pictured above.

Biostar's X370 GT7 TOP and B350 GT3 TOP

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ASRock's ASRock Fatal1ty X370 Professional Gaming and X370 Taichi.

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There are more models on display and ASUS did announce the Asus B350M-C though we did not yet get a picture of it.  All motherboards will offer compatibility with at least some existing coolers, we know for a fact that Corsair's Hydro H60, H100i and H110i as well as Noctua's NH-U12S, NHL9x65 and D15 will all be supported.

 

Coverage of CES 2017 is brought to you by NVIDIA!

PC Perspective's CES 2017 coverage is sponsored by NVIDIA.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at https://pcper.com/ces!

Source: AMD

Put down the snacks and grab some meat! The Z270 reviews are here!

Subject: Motherboards | January 4, 2017 - 04:52 PM |
Tagged: intel z270, Z270 Gaming Pro Carbon, msi, Intel

Press releases and previews of nifty kit you can't buy yet are great fun but occasionally you want to take a break and read a review with some substance.  The Tech Report has just such content on offer, a review of the new MSI Z270 Gaming Pro Carbon motherboard.  The design of the board is reminiscent of the previous generation as the socket remains the same, however this particular design is quite crowded around the socket which can limit the available cooling options.  As you should expect, the board has RGB LEDs controlled by Mystic Light and the BIOS has updated versions of both Command Center and Gamming App utilities.  The benchmarks back up the predictions we have made, the Z270 is a more polished version of the Z170 but there are no huge performance differences to be noted.  Read on for the full story.

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"MSI's Z270 Gaming Pro Carbon motherboard serves up the Z270 platform with a gaming bent and a lot of RGB LED lighting. We put this board through its paces to see whether MSI stuck the landing for its next generation of mainstream motherboards."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

The X99 Designaire EX, as expensive as the name implies

Subject: Motherboards | December 5, 2016 - 03:02 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, Intel X99, designare EX

Gigabyte's Designare EX is even more full of extras and add-ins than the non-EX model, featuring everything but an easily accessible CMOS battery.  Ten SATA ports, although only six are RAID capable, one U.2 and a pair of M.2 ports are available and there is an Avago PEX8747 assuming to help your CPU provide enough PCIe lanes for everything.  The USB Type-C port on the back is Thunderbolt 3 rated and there is a DisplayPort input on the back panel so you can use your graphics card to provide output for that Thunderbolt connection.  The Tech Report loved the look of the board but ran into some hurdles when using and tweaking it, check out the full review for details.

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"Broadwell-E CPUs brought a new wave of X99 motherboards to go with them at price points both high and low. The GA-X99-Designare EX shows what's possible when Gigabyte's motherboard designers get to pull out all the stops. We put this board to the test to see what it's like to live the high life."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Intel Z270 Express and H270 Express Chipsets Support Kaby Lake, More PCI-E 3.0 Lanes

Subject: Motherboards | December 2, 2016 - 08:19 AM |
Tagged: Intel, z270, h270, intel z270, kaby lake, Optane, PCI-E 3.0

Details on Intel’s upcoming Z270 and H270 chipsets surfaced last month that fleshed out the new platform and its capabilities including the inclusion of additional PCI-E 3.0 lanes and out-of-the-box support for 7th Generation Intel Kaby Lake processors versus the current generation Z170 and H170 chipsets.

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An alleged Z270 motherboard from ASUS (STRIX Z270G GAMING) per Wccftech.

TechPowerUp reported that Intel’s 200-series chipsets – which would be used on motherboards with the LGA 1151 socket – would feature incremental improvements over their current generation equivalents including the upgrade to Intel Rapid Storage Technology (RST) version 15, support for Intel Optane Technology, and additional downstream PCI-E 3.0 lanes. The Z270 and H270 chipsets each have four extra lanes compared to their 100-series predecessors. These “downstream lanes” allow for additional high bandwidth connections that hang off the chipset (which does appear to still be ultimately limited by the physical four PCI-E 3.0 lanes that make up the DMI 3.0 link between the CPU and PCH). Examples include extra Thunderbolt, USB 3.1, and PCI-E slots for NICs, capture cards, storage controllers, or even graphics cards.

Intel Z270 Express will feature 14 general purpose PCI-E lanes versus 10 on Z170 Express along with a total lane budget of 30 versus 26 (16 of those lanes are reserved for CPU to one or two PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots (electrically 1x16 or 2x8) and the others come from the chipset but really connect back to the CPU over a DMI 3.0 link that is equivalent to four lanes of PCI-E 3.0. H270 also features 14 general purpose lanes versus what appears to be six on H170. H270 and H170 have 16 PCI-E 3.0 lanes coming from the CPU for graphics so it is a total lane budget of 30 versus 22 respectively.

  Z270 Z170 H270 H170
High Speed IO (HSIO) 30 26 30 22
PCI-E 3.0 Lanes 24 20 20 16
Maximum M.2 slots 3 3 2 2

H270 will see the biggest benefit from the additional PCI-E lanes which could mean systems like HTPCs and budget desktops where overclocking and multi-GPU setups are not a concern using H270 chipset motherboards could still support a full range of external IO and fast storage.

One interesting thing I noticed from the table is that Z270 and H270 do not support additional M.2 slots. The maximum number of M.2 slots remains the same as their 100-series counterparts at three and two respectively.  After talking with Allyn, this makes sense because of that limiting factor that is the four lane DMI 3.0 link to the CPU and memory. Specifically, he explained:

“Think of the chipset as a means of fanout to individual things that won't simultaneously consumer more than x4. You can use the extra lanes for other stuff, like additional USB 3.1 controllers, Ethernet, audio, etc. Heck, you can route them to the last PCIe slot if you wanted.”

Further, Intel will continue to differentiate the Z270 Express and H270 Express by supporting multiplier overclocking and multi-GPU setups solely on Z270-based motherboards. H270 will be single x16 slot boards that do not allow multiplier-based overclocking at best and more than likely any CPU overclocking. The tradeoff being that H270-based boards should be much cheaper.

Intel Optane support is compelling, but will not be a reason to upgrade quite yet as drives are still a ways off and when they do arrive are sure to be very expensive. Rumors do suggest that Intel may introduce a small 3D XPoint-based Optane SSD up to 32GB alongside the rollout of Kaby Lake and new motherboards but as that is not large enough for an OS drive it will remain more of a niche thing at first. As larger drives come out at lower price points, the support for them on Z270 and H270 would help make the case for enthusiasts running Z170 and H170 boards to make the jump.

Of course, that brings me to my main thought surrounding Z270 and H270 based motherboards which is that while someone looking to build a new PC could justify going straight to the newer chipset-based motherboards, users running existing Z170 and H170 motherboards – many of which will support Kaby Lake processors with a BIOS update – have little reason to jump at an upgrade. Budget builds might even justify going to the older and cheaper boards if they don’t need the new features and putting the saved money towards something like more memory or a better CPU cooler.

For the highest end (save HEDT) builds, Z270-based boards should offer more connectivity options for Thunderbolt and USB 3.1 ports and the ability to dive into XPoint storage when it fully rolls out is nice. There are arguments to be main on both sides.

What are your plans for Kaby Lake? Will you be upgrading to the new processor, and if so will be using a Z170/H170 or a new Z270/H270 board?

Also read:

Source: TechPowerUp

Lightsaber beats Claymore, ECS' improved Z170 motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | November 17, 2016 - 01:32 PM |
Tagged: Z170, ECS, LEE7 Z170-Lightsaber, Intel, LGA 1151

ECS have upgraded their lineup of Z170 motherboards with the LEE7 Z170-Lightsaber, using improved capacitors and offering some new features.  The back panel offers a pair of USB 3 ports which receive a steady 5V, perfect for a USB DAC as well as a pair marked in yellow with a polling rate of 1000Hz for your mouse and keyboard, unless you prefer the PS/2 port.  There are an additional four USB 3.0 ports and a pair of USB 3.1 Type-A ports as well; the LAN is powered by a Killer E2400 NIC.  Drop by Modders Inc for a full review and yes, before you ask, it does have RGB disease.

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"The ECS Z170-Lightsaber is a significantly upgraded version of the Z170-Claymore, bringing more competitive features on-board, literally. Buttons directly on the Z170-Claymore motherboard PCB are designed to give users once click access to automatic overclocking, BIOS update, BIOS backup, clear CMOS, UEFI shortcut and more."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: Modders Inc

MSI Is Turning Thirty Years Old with Thirty Giveaways

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Motherboards | November 1, 2016 - 05:23 PM |
Tagged: msi, giveaway, giveaways, pc gaming

To celebrate their 30th anniversary, MSI is having a massive giveaway. Each day, from today (November 1st) to November 30th, you are able to answer a trivia question to be entered in that day's drawing. Being that it's MSI, they are also requiring that you capitalize every letter of your answer. I'm not joking; that really is in their How to Enter process. You also need to follow MSI and HyperX on Twitter to enter but, although the form is through Facebook, it looks like you do not need a Facebook account. I could be wrong about that last part, though.

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Also, winning a prize does not exclude you from winning future prizes. Don't bother trying to game the system, like waiting to enter until the “good prizes” but not the “great prizes” that will get too many entries, etc. Try every day if you can, even if you already won previously.

The prize for today is the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GAMING 4G from MSI, but they vary wildly from day to day. Even though NVIDIA is a partner in this giveaway, along with HyperX and Intel, there are even some AMD cards scattered throughout the month. I mean, it makes sense: MSI sells AMD cards. Their contest page claims that the total prize pool is up to $14,000 USD.

Check out the contest page for more details, and enter at the button below the list of prizes.

Source: MSI