Introduction and Technical Specifications
Courtesy of ECS
The ECS Z370 Lightsaber motherboard is the latest offering in ECS' L337 product line, offering support for the Intel Z370 chipset. Similar to previous iterations of the Lightsaber board, the Z370-Lightsaber builds on the those board by adding dual-m.2 slot support, enhanced power support, as well as support for the latest Intel Coffee Lake-based processors. With an MSRP of $199, ECS priced the Z370 Lightsaber to be price-competitive with other mid-tier Z370-based offerings.
Courtesy of ECS
ECS designed the Z370 Lightsaber with a 14-phase digital power delivery system, using high efficiency chokes and MOSFETs, as well as solid core capacitors for optimal board performance. The following features into the Z370 Lightsaber board: six SATA 3 ports; two PCIe X2 M.2 ports; a Rivet Networks Killer E2500 GigE NIC; three PCI-Express x16 slots; three PCI-Express x1 slots; a 3-digit diagnostic LED display; on-board power, reset, Quick overclock, BIOS set, BIOS update, BIOS backup, and Clear CMOS buttons; a dual BIOS switch; Realtek audio solution; integrated DVI and HDMI video port support; and USB 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1 Gen2 port support.
Courtesy of ECS
For the integrated audio solution, ECS used a Realtek chipset on a separate PCB to minimize audio crosstalk and interference. The also include a removable audio amplifier chipset and high-end Nichicon audio capacitors for a superior audio experience.
Subject: Motherboards | April 12, 2018 - 01:34 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: asus, ASUS ROG, ROG Strix, AM4, mini ITX, amd, x470
Asus appears to be planning a Republic of Gamers branded updated motherboard for AMD’s Ryzen 2000 series processors. The ROG STRIX X470-I is a mini ITX form factor board that is loaded with RGB, higher end power phases and onboard sound, and built-in Wi-Fi.
Videocardz obtained several images of the new X470 chipset based Mini ITX motherboard.
Asus is using a unique design with this board where it has moved the rear IO down a bit to make room for a larger 8-pin CPU power connector to be tucked into the upper left corner. The AM4 socket is surrounded by the VRMs, two full size DDR4 DIMM slots, and a heat shield that hides the M.2 slot. For storage, there are four SATA 6 Gbps ports (two next to the M.2 slot and two along the right edge) and for graphics cards there is a single PCI-E x16 slot. The board further has a USB 3.0 header, USB 2.0 header, audio header, three fan 4-pin connectors (one AIO pump header), and two RGB headers.
Around back, ASUS has provided a single HDMI output for those wishing to use an APU, four USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, two USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) ports, Gigabit Ethernet, two 802.11ac Wi-Fi antenna ports, and three LED-backlit audio jacks.
Because this motherboard is a refresh of the X370-I, I think it’s safe to say that it is very likely that Asus is using Intel for the Gigabit Ethernet and the same SupremeFX S1220A codec (with high end Japanese capacitors and dual TI op amps) on the shielded M.2 Audio combo card.
As for the RGB, the board supports Asus Aura Sync and has a 3-pin addressable LED header and a 4-pin RGB header as well as built-in RGB LEDs along the right edge and on the M.2 heatsink.
Not much else is known about this small form factor motherboard, but with the launch of Zen+ coming any week now (allegedly), we should know more soon! You can find more photos of the motherboard over at Videocardz.
With the previous generation X370-I going for $230+ online though, I would not expect the X470-I to be cheap, however. It is interesting that it will continue to carry the ROG and STRIX branding though in light of ASUS moving its Radeon graphics card offerings to a new AREZ brand to get around the whole GeForce Partner Program situation. I am glad to see the SFF boards getting updates this quickly from many manufacturers in time for the launch of the 400 series chipsets and Ryzen 2000 series processors.
In other Mini ITX X470 news:
Subject: Motherboards | April 6, 2018 - 05:10 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Intel, H370, B360, H310, H370N Wifi, gigabyte, coffee lake
The Tech Report published an overview of Intel's new entry level boards and chips which were introduced to compete with AMD's Ryzen 3 2200G and Ryzen 5 2400G. Along with the look at the new silicon comes a review of a new Gigabyte board which is wee bit different from the one Morry reviewed. Even with the small stature of the H370N WiFi, Gigabyte still included a pair of M.2 ports, two HDMI ports of which one is HDMI 2.0, DP 1.2, four USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A and a single Type-C. If you are looking to build a fully functional and yet affordable SFF system you should check this out.
"Intel's H370, B360, and H310 chipsets promise to power the kinds of affordable boards that have been sorely missed alongside locked Coffee Lake CPUs. We explore what kinds of load-outs builders can expect from this new silicon and check out Gigabyte's H370N Wifi to see how motherboard makers might implement H370's fresh features."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- Intel B360 vs. Z370 Chipset: Finally an 8th-Gen Budget Platform @ TechSpot
- Gigabyte Aorus H370 Gaming 3 WIFI @ Guru3D
- Gigabyte Aorus B360 Gaming 3 WIFI @ Guru3D
- MSI B360 Gaming Pro Carbon @ Guru3D
- ASUS ROG STRIX H370-F Gaming @ Guru of 3D
- EVGA X299 Dark Motherboard Review @ Hardware Asylum
- Gigabyte MZ31-AR0: EPYC Motherboard With Dual 10Gb/s LAN, 16 SATA Ports, Seven PCI-E Slots @ Phoronix
Subject: Motherboards | April 5, 2018 - 08:27 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: x470, mini ITX, ddr4, biostar, amd, AM4
Biostar is planning to release an updated Mini ITX AMD motherboard according to leaked images sourced by Videocardz. According to the image, the new board will be called the Biostar Racing X470GTN and will feature the AMD X470 chipset which is a refreshed enthusiast chipset that is supposed to be more power efficient and contain tweaks and optimizations for AMD’s upcoming “Zen+” Ryzen 2000 series of desktop processors and APUs.
The Racing X470GTN looks very similar to the Racing X370GTN that Biostar released last year down to the same black PCB and board component layout though the VRM heatsink has been spruced up a bit and is now in red and white rather than black and white. Further, the X470 chipset heatsink lacks the carbon fiber aesthetic and the PCI-E slot is white instead of black. Lastly, the PCB audio isolation for the onboard audio may have been slightly tweaked. The LED-equipped Mini ITX motherboard is powered by a 24-pin ATX and a 4-pin EPS CPU power connector that feeds the seven phase (4+3) power phases. Unfortunately, the heatsink on the VRMs does not look any larger which may hamper any heavy overclocking attempts on the processor as Hardware Canucks saw rather high temperatures (though not magic smoke bad) at stock clocks on the X370GTN they reviewed. In any event, the AM4 socket sits up top and is surrounded by two DDR4 memory slots, four SATA 6 Gbps ports, and one PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot. There is also a PCI-E M.2 slot hidden behind the board for enthusiasts. The onboard audio codec is a Realtek ALC892 chip (per Videocardz) and while the leaked image does not confirm anything I am guessing the Gigabit Ethernet NIC is also of Realtek origin and is likely the same RTL8118AS used in the previous generation motherboard.
As far as rear I/O is concerned, there is not much to speak of but Biostar does include a decent amount of high speed USB ports with at least two being USB 3.1 Gen 2 and the remaining four being USB 3.0 or USB 3.1 Gen 1 (the X370GTN had USB 3.0 but the X470 update may have bumped these up to USB 3.1 Gen 1 not that it matters in practical terms of speed). In addition to USB, the Racing X470GTN’s rear panel hosts a combo PS/2 port, DVI and HDMI video outputs, Gigabit Ethernet, and six audio outputs (one optical, five analog).
Naturally, being a leak, there is no word on official pricing or availability on this motherboard, but I would guess it will be priced around $120 following the launch of AMD’s Ryzen 2000 series CPUs and 400 series chipsets.
In other Mini ITX X470 news:
Subject: Motherboards | April 5, 2018 - 01:33 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: asrock, x470, AM4, mini ITX, 802.11ac, usb 3.1
Videocardz managed to snag several photos of an upcoming AMD X470-based motherboard from ASRock. Specifically, the ASRock X470 Fatal1ty Gaming ITX/ac is a Mini ITX board ready for AMD's Ryzen 2000 and other AM4 processors. Powered by a 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS power connectors, the Mini ITX board uses an eight phase (6+2) power phase cooled by a black heatsink that is a bit larger than the red affair on the previous generation X370 Fatal1ty motherboard.
The AM4 socket sits at the center of the board and is paired with two DDR4 DIMM slots, one PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot, and four SATA 6 Gbps ports. There is also a single PCI-E x4 M.2 slot on the back of the motherboard for your NVMe solid state drives. The motherboard further features built-in 802.11ac 2x2 Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, and (likely Realtek) Gigabit Ethernet for networking and 8-channel Realtek codec audio enhanced with Nichicon capacitors.
Rear I/O is difficult to ascertain by the photos, but it appears that the X470 Fatal1ty Gaming ITX/ac includes a Fatal1ty mouse port, two USB 2.0 ports, four USB 3.1 ports (including one Type-C), one HDMI, one DisplayPort, one Gigabit Ethernet, six audio outputs (one optical, five analog), and two Wi-Fi antenna connectors.
AMD's "Zen+" Ryzen 2000 series CPUs are not quite out yet, but will be soon enough along with the new 400-series chipsets. No word on how much this Mini ITX motherboard will cost, but I am glad that SFF options are coming at launch with the updated chipsets that are said to be lower power and optimized for Zen+. We will have to wait a bit for reviews to see how well it overclocks and what the pricing works out to.
Subject: Motherboards | April 4, 2018 - 06:03 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: asus, mini ITX, ASUS ROG, ROG Strix, H370, Intel H370, 8th generation core
Asus has launched a new Mini ITX motherboard using Intel’s new H370 chipset and LGA 1151 socket for 8th Generation Core Coffee Lake processors. The H370-I Gaming motherboard is part of Asus’ ROG (republic of gamers) Strix lineup and supports Aura Sync addressable RGB LEDs along with other enthusiast features like SupremeFX audio and dual Gigabit Ethernet.
The ROG Strix H370-I Gaming pairs the LGA 1151 socket with two DDR4 memory slots (up to 32GB 2666 MHz before overclocking), four SATA 6 Gbps ports, a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot, and two M.2 PCI-E (one also supports SATA mode) 2280 slots with one under the heatsink above the PCI-E x16 slot and one on the back of the motherboard. Power delivery is handled by the Digi+ VRM and fed by an eight pin CPU power connector (I'm not sure how the power phases are split.) Asus offers overcurrent and ESD protection as well as the various Q-DIMM, Q-LED, and Q-Slot convenience features along with a front panel connector breakout cable.
The motherboard Is fairly barren of chips as it uses the Intel H370 chipset for Wi-Fi and USB. There is a Realtek RTL8111H chipset and Intel I219-V chipset for Gigabit Ethernet as well as SupremeFX S1220A audio with dual op amps. Wireless is handled by the intel 9650 and features 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity. The board features “Fan Xpert 4” technology which amounts to three 4-pin fan headers (one geared towards AIO water pumps) and multiple temperature sensors across the board.
Rear I/O on the Strix H370-I Gaming includes:
- 1 x DisplayPort
- 1 x HDMI
- 2 x Gigabit Ethernet
- 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 2
- 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 (Type-C)
- 3 x USB 3.1 Gen 1
- 1 x Optical Audio Out
- 5 x Analog Audio Out
- 2 x Wi-Fi Antenna connectors
Surprisingly, it appears the Mini ITX motherboard is already available for purchase with a going price of around $140 USD. If you are looking for a motherboard for a SFF system using Coffee Lake (and love RGB), the H370-I Gaming may be worth a look.
- GIGABYTE H370 AORUS Gaming 3 WIFI Motherboard Review
- Intel Adds New Processors and Chipsets to 8th Generation Desktop Lineup
- The Coffee Lake Story: Intel Core i7-8700K and Core i5-8400 Review
Introduction and Motherboard Layout
For the launch of the Intel H370 chipset motherboards, GIGABYTE chose their AORUS brand to lead the charge. The AORUS branding differentiates the enthusiast and gamer friendly products from other GIGABYTE product lines, similar to how ASUS uses the ROG branding to differentiate their high performance product line. The H370 AORUS Gaming 3 WIFI is among GIGABYTE's intial release boards offering support for the latest Intel consumer chipset and processor lines. Built around the Intel H370 chlipset, the board supports the Intel LGA1151 Coffee Lake processor line and Dual Channel DDR4 memory running at up to 2667MHz speeds. The H370 AORUS Gaming 3 WIFI can be found in retail with an MRSP of $139.99.
The HS370 AORUS Gaming 3 WIFI motherboard features a black PCB with black and chrome colored heat sinks covering all the necessary board components. The AORUS series logos are emblazoned on the chipset heat sink and the rear panel cover. Further, a large rendering of the logo is silk-screened in the upper left quadrant of the board. The ATX form factor provides more than enough surface area to house the integrated features, as well as giving the board compatibility with most available consumer enclosures.
The board's back is completely free of components, posing no problems with case mounting or mounting the CPU backplate.
GIGABYTE designed the H370 AORUS Gaming 3 WIFI motherboard with a 10-phase digital power system in an 8+2 configuration. The CPU VRMs are passively cooled by dual aluminum heat sinks above and to the upper right of the CPU socket.
Subject: Motherboards | March 29, 2018 - 02:35 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gigabyte, designare EX, X399, aorus
Speaking of the X399 Designare EX, [H]ard|OCP recently reviewed this high end Threadripper motherboard. The features of this motherboard are as impressive as the price, you get eight DDR4 slots, three M.2 ports, 13 USB 3.1 slots with a mix of Gen 1 and 2 though only a single Type-C, dual wired NICs plus WiFi and Bluetooth, not to mention four PCIe 3.0 16x slots. All of these features do add to the complexity of setting up a system, especially when overclocking so read through the full review for hints on how best to set up your system.
"GIGABYTE’s X399 Designare EX is a rich, full featured solution for AMD’s Threadripper CPUs. At $370, this isn’t a budget-oriented offering. The thing people usually want to know when looking at motherboards in this price bracket is if such products are worth the extra cost. Read on to find out if this gaming and workstation offering is worthwhile."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- MSI B350M Gaming Pro with Ryzen 5 2400G @ Guru of 3D
- MSI Z370I Gaming Pro Carbon AC mITX @ [H]ard|OCP
- ASUS ROG Maximus X Formula @ Kitguru
- ECS Z370-Lightsaber Motherboard Review @ Neoseeker
- Gigabyte Z370N WiFi @ Kitguru
- ASRock X299 Extreme4 @ TechPowerUp
Subject: Graphics Cards, Motherboards | March 8, 2018 - 02:55 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: passive cooling, mini ITX, j4005i-c, Intel, gemini lake, fanless, asus
Asus is launching a new Mini ITX motherboard packing a passively-cooled Intel Celeron J4005 "Gemini Lake" SoC. The aptly-named Asus Prime J4005I-C is aimed at embedded systems such as point of sale machines, low end networked storage, kiosks, and industrial control and monitoring systems and features "5x Protection II" technology which includes extended validation and compatibility/QVL testing, overcurrent and overvoltage protection, network port surge protection, and ESD resistance. The board also features a EUFI BIOS with AI Suite.
The motherboard features an Intel Celeron J4005 processor with two cores (2.0 GHz base and 2.7 GHz boost), 4MB cache, Intel UHD 600 graphics, and a 10W TDP. The SoC is passively cooled by a copper colored aluminum heatsink. The processor supports up to 8GB of 2400 MHz RAM and the motherboard has two DDR4 DIMM slots. Storage is handled by two SATA 6 Gbps ports and one M.2 slot (PCI-E x2) for SSDs. Further, the Prime J4005I-C has an E-key M.2 slot for WLAN and Bluetooth modules (PCI-E x2 or USB mode) along with headers for USB 2.0, USB 3.1 Gen 1, LVDS, and legacy LPT and COM ports.
Rear I/O includes two PS/2, two USB 2.0, one Gigabit Ethernet (Realtek RTL8111H), two USB 3.1 Gen 1, one HDMI, one D-SUB, one RS232, and three audio ports (Realtek ALC887-UD2).
The motherboard does not appear to be for sale yet in the US, but Fanless Tech notes that is is listed for around 80 euros overseas (~$100 USD). More Gemini Lake options are always good, and Asus now has one with PCI-E M.2 support though I see this board being more popular with commercial/industrial sectors than enthusiasts unless it goes on sale.
Subject: Motherboards | February 28, 2018 - 06:19 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: X399, Threadripper, ROG STRIX X399-E GAMING, asus, amd
ASUS' ROG STRIX X399-E Gaming motherboard for Threadripper offers a less expensive alternative to some of their higher end boards; however the $350 price tag is still a little steep. You still get a wide variety of internal and external connections, but there is no DIMM.2 adapter for an additional M.2 drive and [H]ard|OCP found the PCB to be flimsy enough that they popped out a standoff on one of the installed heatsinks due to that flexibility. The layout of the board was lauded as was the overall performance, so if you are looking to build a Threadripper system for a little less then this is a board worth investigating.
"The ROG STRIX X399-E Gaming promises to be a lower cost options for AMD’s Threadripper processors. This is a "less is more" approach to motherboard design than the exquisite and expensive ROG Zenith Extreme. The ROG brand has always been a premium brand. With these lower cost STRIX boards, does this remain true? "
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- Gigabyte X299 Aorus Gaming 7 PRO @ Guru of 3D
- MSI X299M Gaming Pro Carbon AC @ KitGuru
- ASUS ROG STRIX Z370-I Gaming @ [H]ard|OCP
- ECS Z370-Lightsaber @ TechPowerUp
- Gigabyte Aorus Z370 Gaming K3 @ Guru of 3D
- ASUS MAXIMUS IX CODE @ TechPowerUp
- Asus Maximus IX Extreme – with Bitspower monoblock @ Kitguru
- Don't Bother with A320 Motherboards, Go for AMD's B350 Instead for Raven Ridge @ TechSpot