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.

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"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."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

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!

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

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

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:

Gaming9_8.jpg

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):

Gaming_7_K7.jpg

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.

Gaming_5_K5.jpg

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.

EVGA_Z270.jpg

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

EVGA_mobos.jpg

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

EVGA_stinger.jpg

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)

msi.png

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.

gigabyte.png

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.

asrock.png

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.

ASUS-Z270G-Gaming00_642_9e661.jpg

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.

z170ls05.jpg

"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.

msi-2016-30th-landing-page_102016_03.jpg

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

Kaby Lake for your Gigabyte boards

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | October 28, 2016 - 12:25 PM |
Tagged: Z170, LGA 1151, kaby lake, Intel H170, Intel B150, H110, bios

If you are running an LGA 1151 Gigabyte motherboard then you should stop at this post over at the Guru of 3D some time in the near future and grab an updated BIOS.  They were kind enough to provide links for the updates of 47 different motherboards ranging from Z170's down to H110's.  Q-Flash means you can update from within the BIOS with USB drive and with Q-Flash Plus you don't even need memory or a CPU installed; we've come a long way from the customized 3.5" boot disks involved in flashing.  On the other hand that special thrill of terror has gone away.

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"Following MSI and ASUS, Gigabyte now as well offers Kaby Lake compatible BIOS updates for their Z170, H170, B150 and H110 series motherboards. "

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Source: Guru of 3D

So you find yourself in need of an AMD board right this moment?

Subject: Motherboards, Systems | October 25, 2016 - 06:33 PM |
Tagged: amd, A68N-5200, biostar

Something awful happened and you can no longer wait for Zen to arrive; you need a low cost motherboard and chip ASAP.  Your memory, storage and PSU are all good, you just need something to plug them into and you really don't want to spend a lot upgrading with new silicon just around the corner.  Alternatively, perhaps you have some components lying around and need a system capable of basic tasks and again, you don't want to spend a lot to get it up and running. 

The BioStar A68N-5200 eTeknix just tested might just be what you need, up to 16GB DDR3, a single PCIe 16x slot, a pair of SATA 6.0Gb/s slots, two USB 3.0 slots and four USB 2.0 along with other connectors and an quad-core A6-5200 with HD8400 graphics onboard.  You won't win any benchmarking contests but it is a decent start for $60.

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"Despite a lot of the media focus being on Kaby Lake and AMD’s fabled Zen architecture, it’s important to remember that some users require a new motherboard as a matter of urgency and cannot wait for upcoming solutions. Not only that, in low-end scenarios such as a home office system or HTPC, modern processors provide more than enough performance."

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Motherboards

Source: eTeknix

MSI Will Support Kaby Lake Processors On All 100-Series Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards | October 6, 2016 - 10:06 PM |
Tagged: Z170, msi, kaby lake, Intel B150, Intel, H110

MSI has announced that it will be supporting Intel's next generation "Kaby Lake" LGA 1151 processors via a BIOS update. The company has updated its website with the new UEFI/BIOS updates that add support for Kaby Lake on all of its 100-series motherboards.

MSI Z170A XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM.jpg

According to MSI, in addition to Kaby Lake support, the updates improve stability and overclocking potential. Currently, the following Z170, B150, and H110 chipset based motherboards have a BIOS update available.

  • Z170 Motherboards
    • Z170A XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM EDITION
    • Z170A XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM
    • Z170A GAMING M9 ACK
    • Z170A GAMING M7
    • Z170A GAMING M6
    • Z170A GAMING M5
    • Z170A-G45 GAMING
    • Z170A GAMING M3
    • Z170A GAMING PRO CARBON
    • Z170A GAMING PRO
    • Z170A KRAIT GAMING 3X
    • Z170A KRAIT GAMING R6 SIEGE
    • Z170A KRAIT GAMING
    • Z170 KRAIT GAMING
    • Z170I GAMING PRO AC
    • Z170A TOMAHAWK AC
    • Z170A TOMAHAWK
    • Z170M MORTAR
  • B150 Motherboards
    • B150 GAMING M3
    • B150M NIGHT ELF
    • B150M GAMING PRO
    • B150I GAMING PRO AC
    • B150I GAMING PRO
    • B150M MORTAR ARCTIC
    • B150M MORTAR
    • B150M BAZOOKA PLUS
    • B150M BAZOOKA
    • B150M BAZOOKA D3
    • B150M GRENADE
  • H110 Motherboards
    • H110M GAMING
    • H110M GRENADE

To grab the latest bios, head over to https://www.msi.com/support#support_download and use the drop down menus to search for your motherboard model. The BIOS download will be available towards the top of the list of available downloads.

MSI and ASUS have both announced support for Kaby Lake on their existing motherboards which is nice to see. If leaks are true, Intel is readying Z270 Express chipset for release in late 2016 or early 2017, but it is nice to know that you will not have to upgrade the motherboard if you do not want to just to get the latest Intel CPU.

Source: MSI

Kaby Lake support is official, ASUS releases UEFI updates their LGA 1151 boards

Subject: Motherboards | October 5, 2016 - 06:50 PM |
Tagged: LGA 1151, kaby lake, asus

ASUS is releasing UEFI updates for 87 LGA 1151 motherboard models which will add support for Intel's Kaby Lake processors.  They have a table listing all models and UEFI versions which you should update to in order to get full support for the new processors.  If you are wondering about picking up one of these motherboards during the inital release of Kaby Lake, ASUS has tested and verified that their USB BIOS flashback tool will enable you to update your UEFI even if it does not want to immediately boot with a Kaby Lake processor installed. 

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They have spent the last few months with samples of Kaby Lake chips and have tested them for compatibility as well as enhancing the features the motherboard can take advantage of to ensure you get the most out of your shiny new CPU.  Regardless if you use a Z170, H110 or even a C232 chipset your motherboard will be compatible.  Get out your USB drives and download the new versions to flash to or use EZ Flash 3's Internet option to get the latest version right from ASUS.

 

Source: ASUS

Mid-Range Gigabyte Socket AM4 (B350 Chipset) Micro ATX Motherboard Pictured

Subject: Motherboards | October 1, 2016 - 11:20 PM |
Tagged: Zen, micro ATX, Excavator, Bristol Ridge, b350, amd, AM4

Thanks to a recent leak over at Bodnara.co.kr (which has since been taken down), pictures emerged online that give a first look at an AMD socket AM4 motherboard using the mid-range B350 chipset. The Gigabyte B350M-DS3H is a Micro ATX motherboard supporting Bristol Ridge processors at launch and Zen-based processors next year.

The mid-range AM4 board has a very simple layout that leaves little mystery. There are no large heatsinks and no northbridge thanks to AMD moving most of the connectivity to the SoC itself. In fact there is only a small passively cooled chip in the bottom right corner (the B350 chipset) that between the SoC and it can offer up PCI-E 3.0, SATA 6.0, USB 3.1, USB 3.0, NVMe SSD, and DDR4 memory support. This post outlines how the duties are split between the processor and southbridge.

Gigabyte AMD AMD4 B350 Chipset Motherboard.jpg

The B350M-DS3H is powered by a 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS and Gigabyte is using a seven phase VRM to power the processor and memory. The board hosts a 1331 pin AM4 socket up top with four DDR4 slots to the right. The CMOS battery is placed just above the PCI-E slots in a position that Morry would be proud of (so long as your CPU cooler is not too massive). Below that are two PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots (electrically x16/x4 or x8/x8), a single PCI-E 3.0 x1 slot, and a NVMe M.2 (PCI-E) slot. The bottom right corner of the board hosts six SATA 6 Gbps ports.

Rear I/O on the AMD motherboard includes:

  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x PS/2
  • 3 x Video Outputs
    • 1 x VGA
    • 1 x DVI
    • 1 x HDMI
  • 4 x USB 3.0
  • 2 x USB 3.1
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet                
  • 3 x Audio Jacks

Several websites are reporting that AMD will be unleashing the floodgates of socket AM4 motherboards using the A320 and B350 chipsets in October (it is saving the launch of the enthusiast X370 chipset for next year alongside Summit Ridge). I have to say that it is nice to see an AMD motherboard with updated I/O which is a nice change from the ancient 990X AM3+ platform and even the FM2+ motherboards which were newer but still .ot as full featured as the competition.

Also read:

Source: Fudzilla

You can't keep an X99 down, the Gigabyte X99 Phoenix SLI rises

Subject: Motherboards | September 23, 2016 - 02:42 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, Intel X99, Phoenix SLI

The Gigabyte X99 Phoenix SLI certainly sports some unique colours though the design of the board is similar to other G1 Gaming boards.  It sports a rare U.2 port and an M.2 port which [H]ard|OCP describes as being specifically for a wireless NIC.  There are four PCIe 16x 3.0 slots and thanks to the X99 chipset it can run all four at 8x speeds simultaneously.  Along with a variety of other features the board including USB 3.1 is the Ambient Surround LED feature, which is exactly what it sounds like.  Pop over and take a peek.

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"GIGABYTE’s X99 Phoenix SLI is another entry into the G1 Gaming lineup. While there is little to nothing that’s truly unique about the feature set, the combination of features and unique aesthetics are hard to argue with. The X99 Phoenix SLI offers good features and stellar looks at a reasonable price point."

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Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Dahhhling, we only use Designare boards here. Gigabyte's new Z170X

Subject: Motherboards | September 9, 2016 - 01:55 PM |
Tagged: Z170X-Designare, gigabyte, RGB

At $250 the Gigabyte Z170X-Designare motherboard is a bit on the expensive side for this chipset but it does come with a long list of features which make it interesting.  This ATX board has both three reinforced PCIe 16x and 1x slots as well as onboard U.2, Thunderbolt 3 with dual USB 3.1 Type-C, and dual Intel LAN which is more that you find on a Z170 board.  Modders Inc offers more information on additional features present on this board, including the RGB rash present on it, as well as performance benchmarks in this recent review.

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"The majority of mainstream motherboards are priced under $200. When it comes to describing one situated north of this border, "practical" is not exactly the first word that comes to mind. For the budgetary pragmatic, this is indulgence territory and for the most part that is a correct assessment. But as the old proverb goes, all work and no play …"

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Source: Modders Inc

AMD Officially Launches Bristol Ridge Processors And Zen-Ready AM4 Platform

Subject: Motherboards, Processors | September 7, 2016 - 08:08 PM |
Tagged: Zen, Summit Ridge, Excavator, Bristol Ridge, amd, A12-9800

This week AMD officially took the wraps off of its 7th generation APU lineup that it introduced back in May. Previously known as Bristol Ridge, AMD is launching eight new processors along with a new desktop platform that finally brings next generation I/O to AMD systems.

Bristol Ridge maintains the Excavator CPU cores and GCN GPU cores of Carrizo, but on refreshed silicon with performance and power efficiency gains that will bring the architecture started by Bulldozer to an apex. These will be the last chips of that line, and wil be succeeded by AMD's new "Zen" architecture in 2017. For now though, Bristol Ridge delivers as much as 17% higher per thread CPU performance and 27% higher graphics performance while using significantly lower power than its predecessors. Further, AMD has been able to (thanks to various process tweaks that Josh talked about previously) hit some impressive clock speeds with these chips enabling AMD to better compete with Intel's Core i5 offerings.

Bristol Ridge.png

At the top end AMD has the (65W) quad core A12-9800 running at 3.8 GHz base and 4.2 GHz boost paired with GCN 3.0-based Radeon R7 graphics (that support VP9 and HEVC acceleration). These new Bristol Ridge chips are able to take advantage of DDR4 clocked up to 2400 MHz. For DIY PC builders planning to use dedicated graphics, AMD has the non-APU Athlon X4 950 which features four CPU cores at 3.5 GHz base and 3.8 GHz boost with a 65W TDP. While it is not clocked quite as high as its APU counterpart, it should still prove to be a popular choice for budge builds and will replace the venerable Athlon X4 860 and will also be paired with an AM4 motherboard that will be ready to accept a new Zen-based "Summit Ridge" CPU next year.

The following table lists the eight new 7th generation "Bristol Ridge" processors and their specifications. 

  CPU Cores CPU Clocks Base / Boost GPU GPU CUs GPU Clocks (Max) TDP

A12-98004

4 3.8 GHz / 4.2 GHz Radeon R7 8 1,108 MHz 65W
A12-9800E4 4 3.1 GHz / 3.8 GHz Radeon R7 8 900 MHz 35W
A10-9700 4 3.5 GHz / 3.8 GHz Radeon R7 6 1,029 MHz 65W
A10-9700E 4 3.0 GHz / 3.5 GHz Radeon R7 6 847 MHz 35W
A8-9600 4 3.1 GHz / 3.4 GHz Radeon R7 6 900 MHz 65W
A6-9500 2 3.5 GHz / 3.8 GHz Radeon
R5
6 1029 MHz 65W
A6-9500E 2 3.0 GHz / 3.4 GHz Radeon
R5
4 800 MHz 35W
Athlon X4 950 4 3.5 GHz / 3.8 GHz None 0 N/A 65W

Source: AMD

To expand on the performance increases of Bristol Ridge, AMD compared the A12-9800 to the previous generation A10-8850 as well as Intel's Core i5-6500. According to the company, the Bristol Ridge processor handily beats the Carrizo chip and is competitive with the Intel i5. Specifically, when comparing Bristol Ridge and Carrizo, AMD found that the A12-9800 scored 3,521.25 in 3DMark 11 while the A10-8850 (95W Godavari) scored 2,880. Further, when compared in Cinebench R11.5 1T the A12-980 scored 1.21 versus the A10-8850's 1.06. Not bad when you consider that the new processor has a 30W lower TDP!

With that said, the comparison to Intel is perhaps most interesting to the readers. In this case, the A12-9800 is about where you would expect though that is not necessarily a bad thing. It does pull a bit closer to Intel in CPU and continues to offer superior graphics performance.

  AMD A12-9800 (65W) Intel Core i5-6500 (65W) AMD A10-8850 (95W)

3DMark 11 Performance

3,521.25 1,765.75 2,880
PCMark 8 Home Accelerated 3,483.25 3,702 Not run
Cinebench R11.5 1T 1.21 Not run 1.06

Source: AMD

Specifically, in 3DMark 11 Performance the A12-9800's score of 3,521.25 is quite a bit better than the Intel i5-6500's 1,765.75 result. However, in the more CPU focused PCMark 8 Home Accelerated benchmark the Intel comes out ahead with a score of 3,702 versus the AMD A12-9800's score of 3,483.25. If the price is right Bristol Ridge does not look too bad on paper, assuming AMD's testing holds true in independent reviews!

The AM4 Platform

Alongside the launch of desktop 7th generation APUs, AMD is launching a new AM4 platform that supports Bristol Ridge and is ready for Zen APUs next year. The new platform finally brings new I/O technologies to AMD systems including PCI-E 3.0, NVMe, SATA Express, DDR4, and USB 3.1 Gen 2.

According to Digital Trends, AMD's AM4 desktop platform wil span all the way from low end to enthusiast motherboards and these boards will be powered by one of three new chipsets. The three new chipsets are the B350 for mainstream, A320 for "essential," and X/B/A300 for small form factor motherboards. Notably missing is any mention of an enthusiast chipset, but one is reportedly being worked on and will arive closer to the launch of Zen-based processors in 2017.

The image below outlines the differences in the chipsets. Worth noting is that the APUs themselves will handle the eight lanes of PCI-E 3.0, dual channel DDR4, four USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, and two SATA 6Gbps and two NVMe or PCI-E 3.0 storage devices. This leaves PCI-E 2.0, SATA Express, additional SATA 6Gbps, and USB 3.1 Gen 2 connection duties to the chipsets.

AMD Bristol Ridge AM4 Chipsets.jpg

As of today, AMD has only announced the availability of AM4 motherboards and 7th generation APUs for OEM systems (with design wins from HP and Lenovo so far). The company will be outlining the channel / DIY PC builder lineup and pricing at a later (to be announced date).

I am looking forward to Zen and in a way the timing of Bristol Ridge seems strange. On the other hand, for OEMs it should do well and hold them over until then (heh) and enthusiasts / DIY builders are able to buy into Bristol Ridge knowing that they will be able to upgrade to Zen next year (while getting better than Carrizo performance with less power and possibly better overclocking) is not a bad option so long as the prices are right!

The full press blast is included below for more information on how they got their benchmark results.

Source: AMD

ASUS Introduces X99-E-10G WS Motherboard with 10 Gigabit Ethernet

Subject: Motherboards | August 29, 2016 - 01:28 PM |
Tagged: X99-E-10G WS, workstation, motherboard, Intel X99, asus, 10GbE, 10 gigabit

ASUS has officially announced their latest workstation board for the Intel X99 platform, and the X99-E-10G WS offers a 10GbE NIC. In fact, it has two of the Intel X550-powered 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports onboard (along with many more premium features).

X99E10G_1.jpg

ASUS lists these key features:

  • First workstation board with dual Intel® 10G LANs (X550-AT2) on board
  • 4-Way PCI-E Gen3 x16 link supporting NVidia GeForce SLI® and AMD CrossFireX™ on demand
  • 5-Way Optimization by Dual Intelligent Processors 5 – One click, total system optimization
  • Ultimate transfer speed : the latest 10Gb/s USB 3.1 type-A and type-C, 32Gbit/s M.2 and U.2
  • SafeSlot : reinvented, strengthened PCIe slot utilizes a new insert-molding process for superior retention and shearing resistance

X99E10G_2.jpg

The full list of specifications is daunting, as ASUS has packed just about every imaginable option into this board. Processor support also extends beyond Core i7 processors to include Intel Xeon E5-1600 v3, E5-2600 v3, E5-1600 v4, and E5-2600 v4 series CPUs. (Naturally, ECC memory is supported when using a compatible CPU.)

We await info on pricing and availablity.

Source: ASUS