Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction and Motherboard Layout

Introduction

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.

Motherboard Layout

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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.

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The board's back is completely free of components, posing no problems with case mounting or mounting the CPU backplate.

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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.

Continue reading our preview of the GIGABYTE H370 AORUS Gaming 3 WIFI motherboard!

Wiith GIGABYTE's Aorus X399 Designare EX you get what you pay for

Subject: Motherboards | March 29, 2018 - 02:35 PM |
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.

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"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."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Asus Introduces Gemini Lake-Powered J4005I-C Mini ITX Motheboard

Subject: Graphics Cards, Motherboards | March 8, 2018 - 02:55 AM |
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.

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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.

Source: Asus

ASUS' ROG STRIX X399-E Gaming, Threadripping on a budget

Subject: Motherboards | February 28, 2018 - 06:19 PM |
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. 

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"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? "

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

MSI AM4 Motherboards now suport AMD's 2nd Generation Ryzen APUs

Subject: Motherboards | February 9, 2018 - 03:23 PM |
Tagged: msi, ryzen, amd

Get ready to update your BIOS as MSI is now pushing out updated versions which will support the second generation of Ryzen processors.  That's right ladies and germs, unlike the competitors brand, with Ryzen you can upgrade your processor without buying a new motherboard!

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You won't be able to pick up the new chips until April, but there is no reason not to be ahead of the game.  The updates also include the AMD AGESA 1.1.0.1 microcode update so head over to MSI for an update if you have one of the motherboards below.

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MSI, the world leading gaming motherboard manufacturer, has pushed out BIOS updates for X370/B350/A320 motherboards to support new AMD 2nd Generation Ryzen Desktop Processors.

In order to support AMD 2nd Generation Ryzen Desktop Processors, MSI has released supportable BIOS version with AMD AGESA 1.1.0.1 for the current MSI AMD motherboards, including X370, B350, and A320 motherboards.

Updated BIOS version as below for each model could support AMD 2nd Generation Ryzen Desktop Processors and implements AMD AGESA 1.1.0.1 microcode to optimize CPU performance together with MSI AM4 motherboards.

 

Source: MSI

ASRock Launches Mini ITX Motherboards With Fanless Gemini Lake CPUs

Subject: Motherboards | January 22, 2018 - 11:24 PM |
Tagged: SFF, mini ITX, gemini lake, fanless, asrock

Not ready to let Gigabyte have all the fun, ASRock has announced two new Mini ITX motherboards of its own that come pre-loaded with quad core Intel Gemini Lake processors cooled using fanless heatsinks. The ASRock J4105-ITX and J4105B-ITX measure 6.7" x 6.7" and sport a "sapphire black" PCB constructed of a high-density glass fabric that is allegedly more resistant to humidity and helps to prevent electrical shorts. The boards use all solid capacitors and have voltage spike protections for board components. The J4105-ITX may be of more interest to home users while the J4105B-ITX variant is aimed at industrial and commercial setups since it downgrades the audio outputs but adds more USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports and adds legacy connections for serial (COM), parallel (Printer port), and D-Sub outputs to the rear I/O.

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The new Gemini Lake motherboards have a soldered-on Gemini Lake processor cooled by a black heatsink in the top left corner. Two DDR4 SO-DIMM slots sit to the right and beneath the processor (up to 8GB 2400 MHz). The J4105-ITX has a Key E M.2 slot for 802.11ac Wi-Fi + Bluetooth modules, a single PCI-E 2.0 x1 slot, four SATA 6.0 Gbps ports for storage, and headers for a CPU fan, one chassis fan, one USB 3.1 Gen 1, and two USB 2.0 headers (3 ports max). The four SATA ports are comprised of two from the Intel chip and two from an ASMedia ASM1061 chip. On the other hand, the J4105B-ITX does not have a M.2 slot, has a physical PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot (electrically x2), and only two SATA 6.0 Gbps ports. Both boards appear to use the same networking chipset for Gigabit Ethernet with the Realtek RTL8111H. Audio chipsets are a bit different with the J4105-ITX using the Realtek ALC892 and the J4105B-ITX using a slightly cut down Realtek ALC887 chipset.

Rear I/O is as follows:

J4105-ITX J4105B-ITX
2 x PS/2 1 x PS/2
1 x D-Sub (VGA) 1 x D-Sub
1 x DVI-D 1 x COM
1 x HDMI 1 x Printer Port
2 x USB 3.1 (5Gbps) 3 x USB 3.1 (5Gbps)
2 x USB 2.0 1 x USB 2.0
1 x RJ45 (Gigabit Ethernet) 1 x RJ45 (Gigabit Ethernet)
6 x Audio (5 x 3.5mm + 1 x S/PDIF 3 x Audio (3 x 3.5mm)

The Gemini Lake processor used is the Intel Celeron J4105 which is a quad core part (no Hyperthreading) with Intel UHD 600 graphics, 4MB cache, and clockspeeds from a base of 1.5 GHz to a maximum turbo of 2.5 GHz. The UHD 600 GPU reportedly has 12 EUs (execution units) and a max frequency of 750 MHz and supports 4K60 video output, multiple displays, and hardware acceleration of HVEC H.265 10-bit (and 8-bit), H.264 AVC, VP8, VP9 8 and 10-bit video codecs.

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This new processor is based on the Goldmont+ architecture which is a bit more efficient and features higher clocks than Apollo Lake along with more L2 cache. You won't be gaming on these things (at least not locally; you should look for APUs or the Intel+Vega Kaby Lake-G CPU for that in this SFF space), but if you need small and silent low power PC for a streaming box, or office work this might fit the bill. I think the biggest market for these particular boards will be small businesses, kiosks, signage, and industrial control and monitoring systems though as they may be a bit too bare bones for enthusiasts to tinker with or home users to get the most out of them (e.g. only one GbE port, 8GB of RAM max, and somewhat limited USB 3.1 ports).

ASRock has not yet announced pricing or availability.

What are your thoughts on these low power SFF boards?

Also read:

Source: ASRock

ASRock's X299-ITX/ac, tiny and flexible

Subject: Motherboards | January 22, 2018 - 04:03 PM |
Tagged: itx, asrock, x299-itx/ac, Intel, SFF

ASRock's X299-ITX/ac is a decent choice to build a tiny system with, offering a wide variety of features as well as the ability to trim some of them off if you do not need them.  There are two removable PCBs, one which holds the SATA ports as well as a USB 2.0 and a USB 3.0 header while the second carries the LAN chips, a USB hub and your M.2 slots.  There may be cases in which removing one or the other makes room for other equipment in your enclosure, with the option to add them back later on.  You can see how the ~$400 board performs at TechPowerUp

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"ASRock's X299-ITX/ac is that mini motherboard for Intel's X299 platform that takes all that is good and shoves it into a board smaller than a shoebox. With a triplet of M.2 ports and dual LAN chips, plus Wi-Fi, there's almost nothing missed, other than some PCIe slots, making this board an engineering feat only ASRock could accomplish."

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Source: TechPowerUp

GIGABYTE Announces Gemini Lake Motherboards with Intel Pentium Silver Processors

Subject: Motherboards, Processors | January 19, 2018 - 01:39 PM |
Tagged: small form-factor, SFF, pentium, motherboard, mini ITX, Intel Pentium Silver, Intel, integrated CPU, gigabyte, gemini lake, fanless, embedded, celeron

GIGABYTE has announced motherboards for the new Gemini Lake platform featuring built-in Intel Pentium Silver and Intel Celeron processors. These fanless J/N series motherboards also offer the company's trademark "Ultra Durable" components and customizable performance settings.

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As to the Gemini Lake platform, here are some of the details as reported by CNXSoft at last month's CPU launch:

"The models include two Pentium Silver quad core processor with N5000 for mobile, J5005 for desktop, and four Celeron dual/quad core processors with N4000 & N4100 for mobile, and Celeron J4005 & J4105 for desktop.

All processors share the same 4MB cache which will help with performance improvement, and dual channel DDR4-2400, LPDDR4-2400 memory. Pentium processors come with Intel UHD Graphics 605 clocked up to 750/800 MHz, and Celeron processors are instead equipped with UHD Graphics 600 up to 650/750 MHz which the exactly frequency depending on model."

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Image credit: CNXSoft

From GIGABYTE:

"[our] newest J/N series motherboards utilize a fanless cooling solution and the built-in Intel Gemini Lake processors make them perfect for compact, mainstream builds. The motherboards support HDMI 2.0 4K at 21:9 resolution for high definition video quality. Integrated PCIe Gen2 x2 M.2 slots supporting high speed NVMe SSD allows for fast data transfer speeds. The board's native Intel WIFI via the M.2 Connector along with an independently sold Intel CNVi wireless networking solution can make way for impressive wireless connectivity exceeding 1 gigabit per second, traditionally found in wired connections. Additionally, its support for M.2 SATA SSD, UDIMM DDR4 modules rated for 2400MHz, and noise free configurations makes it a perfect option for school, business, and home usage."

Pricing and availability were not specified in the press release (full PR after the break).

Source: GIGABYTE

MSI motherboards BIOS versions with updated security microcode

Subject: Motherboards | January 17, 2018 - 09:56 PM |
Tagged: msi, spectre, meltdown, bios, update, security

MSI have released updated BIOS versions for their Z370 motherboards to protect against Meltdown and Spectre which you can grab here.

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These patches are live now, with new BIOS versions in the works for the renaming series, including all X299, 200, 100-series and X99 series including the various X, H and B sub-series motherboards.  The list is quite impressive, follow that link to see if your board will be getting an update in the near future.  The page lists the version number of the upcoming BIOS you will need, so keep an eye on this page and MSI for the official release.

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Source: MSI

CES 2018: Gigabyte Shows Off AORUS X470 Gaming 7 WiFi

Subject: Motherboards | January 11, 2018 - 01:18 AM |
Tagged: Zen+, x470, ryzen, gigabyte, CES 2018, CES, aorus gaming 7, aorus, amd, AM4

Gigabyte had several motherboards on display at CES including an AMD AM4 motherboard with an unreleased AMD 400-series Promontory chipset! The stealthily displayed AORUS branded motherboard was spotted by Steven Burke over at Gamer’s Nexus who then jumped at the opportunity and started taking it apart! The AORUS X470 Gaming 7 WiFi appears to check all the boxes for a high-end gaming focused motherboard and should allow enthusiasts eyeing a Ryzen or Zen+ (Ryzen 2000 series) processor to push it as far as possible.

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We went hands-on with the AORUS X470 Gaming 7 WiFi

The X470-based motherboard features a six layer PCB and improved CPU power delivery in the form of a 10+2 power phase (doubled 5-phase for CPU plus 2 phases for memory) with VRMs that are cooled by a hefty copper heat-pipe and aluminum fin stack. Gamer’s Nexus reports that Gigabyte is using hardware from International Rectifier in the form of IR 3599 drivers, IR 3553 MOSFETs, and a IR 35201 PWM controller. For those interested in how motherboard VRMs and power phases works, Buildzoid has several great introductory videos on Youtube that are worth watching.

Other overclocking friendly features include an external clock generator, diagnostic LED readout, power and clear CMOS buttons on the rear IO panel, dual BIOSes, and various hybrid fan headers for air and water cooling. Gigabyte reportedly rates the motherboard at 4,000+ MHz memory overclocking which is good news for Ryzen and Ryzen 2 users since memory speeds have a big impact on performance.

The AORUS X470 Gaming 7 WiFi feeds the AM4 socket with both an 8-pin and 4-pin ATX power connectors. To the right of the processor socket sits four DDR4 DIMM slots and the accent LED along the right edge. Expansion is handled by three PCI-E x16 slots (two are wired to the CPU for graphics), two PCI-E x1 slots, and two M.2 slots that sit under black head spreaders. There are six SATA ports in the right corner. While the heatsink is covering the audio chipset, whichever solution they are using (likely Realtek as it does not appear this is a Killer-equipped board) has high end WIMA and Nichicon caps and also supports USB DAC-UP technology.

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Rear I/O includes two antenna connectors for the built in Wi-Fi chipset, power and clear CMOS buttons, four USB 3.0 ports plus two more USB 3.0 ports that support USB DAC-UP, two USB 3.1 ports (one Type-C and one Type-A), a RJ45 connector (likely Gigabit Ethernet), and six audio outputs (one S/PDIF and five 3.5mm analog outputs).

It is interesting to finally see a 400-series motherboard and for Gigabyte to give AMD its Gaming 7 treatment. Also comforting is that while the new 400-series boards will offer slight connectivity benefits, users that bought into Summit Ridge and X370/B350/A320 boards aren’t missing out on too much and may actually get multiple CPUs out of one motherboard for a change. The 400-series chipsets allegedly enable a bit more bandwidth for devices hanging off of the chipset thanks to the upgrade from PCI-E 2.0 (5GT/s) to PCI-E 3.0. With this upgrade, a M.2 drive connected through the chipset would be able to hit its full speeds. While the chipset’s eight PCI-E 3.0 lanes could in theory support two nearly full speed M.2 NVMe drives, the PCI-E 3.0 x4 link between the chipset and processor would ultimately bottleneck things. At least a single drive can hit its full speeds though and bring Ryzen systems up to three total PCI-E M.2 drives running at full speed.

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Oh, and did I mention there is RGB? Yep, Gigabyte has hooked the X470 Gaming 7 WIFI up with RGB LEDs around the PCI-E x16 slots, DIMM slots, over the chipset, and under the accent overlay in the top right corner. All things considered, the RGB is pretty tame in this model, which isn’t a bad thing in my opinion.

What are your thoughts on Gigabyte’s upcoming motherboard and on the 400-series motherboards in general? Are you ready for Pinnacle Ridge?