Gigabyte's Z270X Ultra Gaming is a bargain

Subject: Motherboards | August 4, 2017 - 02:00 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, Z270X Ultra Gaming, Prime Z270-A, lga1151, Intel

A Z270 board for under $160 can be hard to find which is what makes this Z270X board interesting.  There were some sacrifices made in the design, all of the reviewers at [H]ard|OCP noticed how thin the PCB is as well as the heatsinks less than robust attachments, not a deal breaker by any means but worth considering if you are a little rough on your components.  The board does still have 7 power phases, the PCIe slots are Armored and there is a new ALC1220 CODEC with a USB DAC UP 2 so Gigabyte did not skimp on the features that matter.  Overclocking was easy and did not require an obscene amount of power for an i7-7700K to hit 5GHz.  You can see the full review over at [H] ... and yes it does have all the RGBs too.

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"GIGABYTE has been on a roll with all it's 2017 offerings. This generation has seen solid boards for both AMD and Intel fans alike. Today, we switch gears and look at the GIGABYTE Z270X Ultra Gaming. It's the most misleading name GIGABYTE has used to date, but comes in with a very affordable price of $160!"

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Asus Unveils Flagship X370 ROG Crosshair VI Extreme AMD AM4 Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | July 25, 2017 - 12:16 AM |
Tagged: ryzen, RGB LED, overclocking, e-atx, asus, AM4

Asus recently took the wraps off of its X370 ROG Crosshair VI Extreme E-ATX motherboard which is the company’s new flagship motherboard for the AMD Ryzen platform. The new board is packed with features and is aimed at extreme overclockers and gaming enthusiasts.

The massive board surrounds the AMD AM4 socket with four DDR4 DIMM slots, a 12 phase Digi+ VRM, and a plethora of expansion and storage connections including two PCI-E 3.0 x16, one PCI-E 2.0 x16, three PCI-E 2.0 x1, two M.2 slots, and 8 SATA 6Gbps ports. One of the M.2 slots sits under the passive PCH heatsink and connects directly to the CPU while the other M.2 slot does not benefit from the passive heatsink and shares bandwidth with the PCI-E 2.0 lanes coming from the chipset.

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The board has a massive VRM heatsink that can also be swapped out for a monoblock that can be integrated into a custom water cooling loop with ASUS partnering with Bitspower for a monoblock that will be sold separately (the board will also work with monoblocks from other manufacturers) and will include sensors to measure flow rate, temperature, and leak detection. The board also has a header that will allow you to attach those same sensors to another point in your loop with all the sensor data being available through ASUS’ Fan Xpert 4 software. There are 13 fans headers on board (16 with fan extension card) with one dedicated pump header and two groups of four fan headers that are placed closed together to make wiring up radiators a bit cleaner. The X370 ROG Crosshair VI Extreme also sports multiple RGB LED lighting zones and two headers that will allow users to extend the lighting to RGB LED strips, fans, and cases (one header is for addressable LEDs and the other is for standard LED strips up to 3A). The on board lighting zones include the IO and VRM cooler, the two SafeSlot (metal-reinforced) PCI-E x16 slots, the chipset heatsink, and the right edge of the board. The audio jacks are also LED color coded which is actually kind of cool since it can be hard to see what colors the jacks are when the case is under a desk! Other useful features include an ROG backplate and a right angle 24-pin power connector to make cable management a bit easier. There are also the usual overclocker friendly error code display, power and reset buttons, and voltage read points for multimeters. Further, the board features a dedicated base clock generator and a “TPU” (TurboV Processing Unit) that helps manage voltage to the VRMs and controls the clock generator. The external clock generator is important when overclocking Ryzen and hitting extremely high memory frequencies.

Asus is using an Intel I211-AT Gigabit Ethernet controller for the wired networking and there is also support for Intel 8265-powered 802.11 ac Wi-Fi. Sound is handled by a SupremeFX  S122 codec paired with ES9023P ESS Sabre DAC with high end capacitors and TI op-amps for a 113 dB line in (for recording) and 120 dB output.

Rear I/O is where the Extreme board is a bit wanting with:

  • 2 x Antenna connectors
  • 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 2
  • 6 x USB 3.1 Gen 1
  • 4 x USB 2.0
  • 5 x Gold plated 3.5mm jacks
  • 1 x S/PDIF (Optical)
  • 2 x Clear CMOS and BIOS Flashback buttons

On one hand, I am not sure what else they could have included (Thunderbolt is really the only missing thing and not strictly needed), but it does look a bit barren even compared to the Crosshair VI Hero.

Asus’ flagship AMD AM4 motherboard will be available in early August with an MSRP of $349.

I am interested to see if the X370 ROG Crosshair VI Extreme really does up the ante especially in the overclocking department versus the ROG Crosshair VI Hero which seems to be a popular choice for overclockers aiming to break records. I am looking forward to reviews to see whether the $100 premium is worth it (the Crosshair VI Hero is $245 or $270 with AC Wi-Fi).

Personally, I think I would rather go with a cheaper motherboard and better graphics card or SSD, but for those not on a budget I can see them opting for the board with all the bells and whistles (and RGB)!

Source: Asus

A new BioStar has Ryzen, the Racing X370GT7

Subject: Motherboards | July 19, 2017 - 04:23 PM |
Tagged: x370, ryzen, Racing X370GT7, biostar, amd, AM4

BioStar have greeted the release of AMD's Ryzen with enthusiasm, releasing numerous AM4 boards, some of which are garnering better reviews than the main brands.  [H]ard|OCP tested out their Racing X370GT7, an ATX model with a ~$160 price tag.  The silkscreen on the board is rather unique and the layout is extremely clean.  You get a lot of nice high end features such as a heatsink for the M.2 slot located just below the CPU socket, Realtec ALC1220 8 channel audio and even an LN2 switch for extreme overclockers.  As with many other X370 boards there were some quirks with memory compatibility as well as some questionable UEFI choices specific to this board.  It will offer a solid base for someone building a Ryzen platform and it will likely improve as the AMD Generic Encapsulated Software Architecture for AM4's matures.

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"BIOSTAR isn’t exactly a juggernaut of a manufacturer here in the U.S. Despite stiff competition, the big boys are blowing it bad enough at the X370 Ryzen motherboard game that BIOSTAR’s X370GT7 just might be one of the best AM4 motherboard options around. While we think it might actually be good, it still doesn’t make for a smooth ride."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of ASUS

With the latest revision of the TUF line, ASUS made the decision to drop the well-known "Sabertooth" moniker from the board's name, naming the board with the TUF branding only. The TUF Z270 Mark 1 motherboard is the flagship board in ASUS' TUF (The Ultimate Force) product line designed with the Intel Z270 chipset. The board offers support for the latest Intel Kaby Lake processor line as well as Dual Channel DDR 4 memory because of its integrated Intel Z270 chipset. While the MSRP for the board may be a bit higher than expected, its $239 price is more than justified by the board's build quality and "armored" offerings.

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Courtesy of ASUS

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Courtesy of ASUS

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Courtesy of ASUS

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Courtesy of ASUS

The TUF Z270 Mark 1 motherboard is built with the same quality and attention to detail that you've come to expect from TUF-branded motherboards. Its appearance follows the standard tan plastic armor overlay on the top with a 10-phase digital power system. ASUS also chose to include the armored backplate with the TUF Z270 Mark 1 motherboard, dubbed the "TUF Fortifier". The board contains the following integrated features: six SATA 3 ports; two M.2 PCIe x4 capable ports; dual GigE controllers - an Intel I219-V Gigabit NIC and an Intel I211 Gigabit NIC; three PCI-Express x16 slots; three PCI-Express x1 slots; an 8-channel audio subsystem; MEM OK! and USB BIOS Flashback buttons; integrated DisplayPort and HDMI; and USB 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1 Type-A and Type-C port support.

Continue reading our preview of the ASUS TUF Z270 Mark 1 motherboard!

As cheap as Mortar? MSI's new B350 motherboard for Ryzen

Subject: Motherboards | July 10, 2017 - 03:38 PM |
Tagged: amd, b350, B350 Mortar, msi, AM4, mATX

MSI's B350 Mortar comes in the model you see below as well as an Arctic version if you prefer a different colour scheme.  AMD's B350 chipset carries a lower cost than the X370 series but retains most of the features enthusiasts delight in, such as M.2, support for DDR4-3200MHz, a USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-C plug and a Realtek ALC892 HD audio codec for audio.  Indeed about the only thing you lose is the ability to run multiple GPUs, which is not exactly a common need on an mATX build.  Modders-Inc were taken with this low cost motherboard, especially the amount of customization available in the UEFI to adjust your fan speeds ... and yes it has your RGBs.

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"AMD's B350 chipset is challenging Intel's market dominance in a different subset that the chip giant did not expect: affordability. If AMD's Ryzen product releases sound too familiar with that of Intel's line, that is because it is deliberate. It is basically an aggressive move by AMD, challenging Intel directly that they can take over the naming scheme and do …"

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Source: Modders Inc
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

For the launch of the Intel X299 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 X299 AORUS Gaming 3 is among GIGABYTE's intial release boards offering support for the latest Intel HEDT chipset and processor line. Built around the Intel X299 chlipset, the board supports the Intel LGA2066 processor line, including the Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X processors, with support for Quad-Channel DDR4 memory running at a 2667MHz speed. The X299 AORUS Gaming 3 can be found in retail with an MRSP of $279.99.

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

GIGABYTE integrated the following features into the X299 AORUS Gaming 3 motherboard: eight SATA III 6Gbps ports; two M.2 PCIe Gen3 x4 32Gbps capable ports with Intel Optane support built-in; an Intel I219-V Gigabit RJ-45 port; five PCI-Express x16 slots; Realtek® ALC1220 8-Channel audio subsystem; and USB 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1 Type-A and Type-C port support.

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

To power the board, GIGABYTE integrated integrated a 9-phase digital power delivery system into the X299 AORUS Gaming 3's design. The digital power system was designed with IR digital power controllers and PowIRstage ICs, Server Level Chokes, and Durable Black capacitors.

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

Designed to withstand the punishment of even the largest video cards, GIGABYTE's Ultra Durable PCIe Armor gives added strength and retention force to the primary and secondary PCIe x16 video card slots (PCIe X16 slots 1 and 3). The PCIe slots are reinforced with a metal overlay that is anchored to the board, giving the slot better hold capabilities (both side-to-side and card retention) when the board is used in a vertical orientation.

Continue reading our preview of the GIGABYTE X299 AORUS Gaming 3 motherboard!

Gigabyte Launches GA-AB350N-Gaming WIFI Mini ITX AM4 Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | June 28, 2017 - 01:44 AM |
Tagged: gigabyte, mini ITX, b350, amd, AM4, raven ridge, SFF, ryzen

Gigabyte is joining the small form factor Ryzen motherboard market with its new GA-AB350N-Gaming WIFI. The new Mini ITX motherboard sports AMD’s AM4 socket and B350 chipset and supports Ryzen “Summit Ridge” CPUs, Bristol Ridge APUs (7th Gen/Excavator), and future Zen-based Raven Ridge APUs. The board packs a fair bit of hardware into the Mini ITX form factor and is aimed squarely at gamers and enthusiasts.

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The AB350N-Gaming WIFI has an interesting design in that some of the headers and connectors are flipped versus where they are traditionally located. The chipset sits to the left of CPU socket above the 6-phase VRMs and PowIRStage digital ICs. Four SATA 6Gbps ports and a USB 3.0 header occupy the top edge of the board. Two DDR4 dual channel memory slots are aligned on the right edge and support (overclocked) frequencies up to 3200 MHz depending on the processor used. The Intel wireless NIC, Realtek Gigabit Ethernet, and Realtek ALC1220 audio chips have been placed in the space between the AM4 socket and the single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot. There is also a single M.2 (PCI-E 3.0 x4 32Gbps) slot on the underside of the motherboard. Gigabyte has also integrated “RGB Fusion” technology with two on board RGB LED lighting zones and two RGBW headers for off board lighting strips as well as high end audio capacitors and headphone amplifier. Smart Fan 5 technology allegedly is capable of automatically differentiating between fans and water pumps connected to the two fan headers and will automatically provide the correct PWM signal based on fan curves the user can customize in the UEFI BIOS. The motherboard is powered by a 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS and while it does not have a very beefy power phase setup it should be plenty for most overclocks (especially with Ryzen not wanting to go much past 4 GHz (easily) anyway).

Rear I/O includes:

  • 1 x PS/2
  • 2 x Antenna (Intel 802.11ac Wi-Fi + BT 4.2)
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gbps)
  • 4 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5Gbps)
  • 6 x Audio (5 x analog, 1 x S/PDIF)
  • 1 x DisplayPort 1.2
  • 1 x HDMI 1.4
  • 1 x Realtek GbE

Gigabyte has an interesting SFF motherboard with the GA-AB350N-Gaming WIFI and I am interested in seeing the reviews. More Mini ITX options for Ryzen and other Zen-based systems is a good thing, and moving the power phases to the left may end up helping overclocking and cooling in smaller cases with tower coolers.

Unfortunately, Gigabyte has not yet revealed pricing or availability. Looking around online at its competition, i would guess it would be around $85 though.

Also read;

Source: Gigabyte
Author:
Manufacturer: ASUS

Overview

It feels like forever that we've been hearing about 802.11ad. For years it's been an up-and-coming technology, seeing some releases in devices like Dell's WiGig-powered wireless docking stations for Latitude notebooks.

However, with the release of the first wave of 802.11ad routers earlier this year from Netgear and TP-Link there has been new attention drawn to more traditional networking applications for it. This was compounded with the announcement of a plethora of X299-chipset based motherboards at Computex, with some integrating 802.11ad radios.

That brings us to today, where we have the ASUS Prime X299-Deluxe motherboard, which we used in our Skylake-X review. This almost $500 motherboard is the first device we've had our hands on which features both 802.11ac and 802.11ad networking, which presented a great opportunity to get experience with WiGig. With promises of wireless transfer speeds up to 4.6Gbps how could we not?

For our router, we decided to go with the Netgear Nighthawk X10. While the TP-Link and Netgear options appear to share the same model radio for 802.11ad usage, the Netgear has a port for 10 Gigabit networking, something necessary to test the full bandwidth promises of 802.11ad from a wired connection to a wireless client.

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The Nighthawk X10 is a beast of a router (with a $500 price tag to match) in its own right, but today we are solely focusing on it for 802.11ad testing.

Making things a bit complicated, the Nighthawk X10's 10GbE port utilizes an SFP+ connector, and the 10GbE NIC on our test server, with the ASUS X99‑E‑10G WS motherboard, uses an RJ45 connection for its 10 Gigabit port. In order to remedy this in a manner where we could still move the router away from the test client to test the range, we used a Netgear ProSAFE XS716E 10GigE switch as the go-between.

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Essentially, it works like this. We are connecting the Nighthawk X10 to the ProSAFE switch through a SFP+ cable, and then to the test server through 10GBase-T. The 802.11ad client is of course connected wirelessly to the Nighthawk X10.

On the software side, we are using the tried and true iPerf3. You run this software in server mode on the host machine and connect to that machine through the same piece of software in client mode. In this case, we are running iPerf with 10 parallel clients, over a 30-second period which is then averaged to get the resulting bandwidth of the connection.

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There are two main takeaways from this chart - the maximum bandwidth comparison to 802.11ac, and the scaling of 802.11ad with distance.

First, it's impressive to see such high bandwidth over a wireless connection. In a world where the vast majority of the Ethernet connections are still limited to 1Gbps, seeing up to 2.2Gbps over a wireless connection is very promising.

However, when you take a look at the bandwidth drops as we move the router and client further and further away, we start to see some of the main issues with 802.11ad.

Instead of using more traditional frequency ranges like 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz like we've seen from Wi-Fi for so many years, 802.11ad uses frequency in the unlicensed 60GHz spectrum. Without getting too technical about RF technology, essentially this means that 802.11ad is capable of extremely high bandwidth rates, but cannot penetrate walls with line of sight between devices being ideal. In our testing, we even found that the given orientation of the router made a big difference. Rotating the router 180 degrees allowed us to connect or not in some scenarios.

As you can see, the drop off in bandwidth for the 802.11ad connection between our test locations 15 feet away from the client and 35 feet away from the client was quite stark. 

That being said, taking another look at our results you can see that in all cases the 802.11ad connection is faster than the 802.11ac results, which is good. For the promised applications of 802.11ad where the device and router are in the same room of reasonable size, WiGig seems to be delivering most of what is promised.

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It is likely we won't see high adoption rates of 802.11ad for networking computers. The range limitations are just too stark to be a solution that works for most homes. However, I do think WiGig has a lot of promise to replace cables in other situations. We've seen notebook docks utilizing WiGig and there has been a lot of buzz about VR headsets utilizing WiGig for wireless connectivity to gaming PCs.

802.11ad networking is in its infancy, so this is all subject to change. Stay tuned to PC Perspective for continuing news on 802.11ad and other wireless technologies!

Biostar's ITX Ryzen motherboard in action; the X370GTN

Subject: Motherboards | June 19, 2017 - 01:41 PM |
Tagged: itx, ryzen, biostar, Racing X370GTN, SFF

Barely the size of a Threadripper CPU, the Racing X370GTN ITX motherboard is a decent platform to build a Ryzen powered SFF system on.  Biostar kept the design fairly simple, to keep the costs down on this motherboard but don't worry, they did include RGB headers for 5050 RGB LED light strips and you can set up your personalized light show using the Racing GT utility.  Even with the compact design, Hardware Canucks were able to fully populate the two DIMM slots even with a Prolimatech Mega Shadow cooler installed, they did discover that users of AiO watercoolers will have to ensure to rotate the cooler to ensure the tubing does not block the closer DIMM however.  The M.2 slot has been relocated to the back of the motherboard due to the size constraints of the board which did not impact performance.  Pop by to take a look at this ~$110 motherboard if you are in the market for an ITX Ryzen system.

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"ITX motherboards have finally arrived for AMD's Ryzen and in this first review we look at Biostar's brand new Racing X370GTN. Can its diminutive size belie its true performance?"

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Computex 2017: ASRock Shows Off Two X399 Threadripper Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards | June 5, 2017 - 05:08 PM |
Tagged: tr4, Threadripper, computex, asrock, amd

In case you need just a bit more Computex news, ASRock is jumping into the high-end AMD desktop platform with two new X399 motherboards using the massive TR4 socket for AMD Threadripper. The new premium motherboards are part of the company’s Professional Gaming and Taichi series and are packed with workstation friendly features.

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HardwareCanucks spotted the new boards on the show floor.

Both motherboards arare clad in black and silver colors with the professional gaming having some red accents and the Taichi having a stylized gear shaped chipset heatsink. The ASRock X399 Professional Gaming and X399 Taichi both feature eight DDR4 DIMM slots supporting quad channel memory, four PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots, one PCI-E x1 slot, three Ultra M.2 (x4 PCI-E or SATA drives), one U.2 port, and eight SATA 6Gbps ports. The boards are powered by a 24-pin ATX, 8-pin and 4-pin EPS12V and a 6-pin PCI-E power connector to provide stable slot power to PCI-E devices like graphics cards. The Professional Gaming reportedly has a 10+2 power phase feeing the CPU and memory, and while there is no confirmation that the Taichi also has this it should be close if not the same power phase design.

In addition to aesthetic design choices, the boards differ in networking and audio with the ASRock X399 Professional Gaming sporting Creative Sound Blaster Cinema 3 and the X399 Taichi have Purity Sound 4. The Threadripper motherboards both support Wi-Fi and two Intel Gigabit Ethernet ports. The X399 Professional Gaming adds a 10 Gigabit Ethernet interface that is not present on the Taichi, however.

Rear I/O on the TR4 X399 motherboards include eight USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, three USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports (including one Type-C), dual (Intel) Gigabit Ethernet, six audio connections (5 analog, one digital), two Wi-Fi antenna connectors, and a single PS/2 port. The X399 Professional Gaming also has 10GbE port.

Unfortunately, no word on pricing or availability.

We will have to wait for reviews to know for sure, but it appears that while ASRock did not go quite as crazy with the power input as Asus and it’s ROG Zenith Extreme, the company has some nice-looking motherboards. Hopefully they perform as well as they look and enable enthusiasts to push the envelope in terms of hardware and clockspeeds when overclocking. If you are interested in these motherboards, Computerbase.de has several more photos of them on their site.

If you are looking for something a "bit" smaller, ASRock also unveiled the Mini ITX X370 Gaming-ITX/ac that uses the X370 chipset on the AM4 (Ryzen) platform.

Source: Videocardz