Twin phase VRM's are ready for Prime time on ASUS's newly refreshed X299 board

Subject: Motherboards | February 25, 2019 - 05:09 PM |
Tagged: x299, asus, prime x299 deluxe II, Intel, LGA 2066

ASUS have regenerated their Prime X299 Deluxe motherboard to be able to support new Intel chips such as the i9-9980XE by completely redesigning the PWMs and adding a few new features.  This is the third board which [H]ard|OCP reviewed that uses the new "Twin phase" design as opposed to the previous phase doubling used on the vast majority of boards.  Their results so far suggest the new design is at least as stable as the old standard, as you can see yourself in their full review.

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"The ASUS Prime X299 Deluxe II is an ultra-feature rich solution for today’s discerning computing enthusiast. It does not wear ROG branding, and is clad in white shrouding, letting you know that this is a PRIME motherboard. Is it a bargain priced motherboard? Nope. This one comes in at $500. Let's see if it is worth it."

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

Introduction, Technical Specs, and Motherboard Overview

Introduction

Part of the ROG (Republic of Gamers) product line from ASUS, the Maximus XI Formula is a high-end Intel Z390 motherboard option that combines support for the latest Intel processors with a host of premium features.

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Courtesy of ASUS

ASUS used the Intel Z390 chipset launch to enhance the existing design of their Maximus Formula board, reconfiguring the board layout with dual NICs, a GigE NIC and a 5G NIC, and moved the location of the integrated M.2 slots for better access and cooling. Further, they enhanced the design of the armor overlay to integrate RGB LED effects into its surface.

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Courtesy of ASUS

The Maximus Formula board line is considered a premium product by ASUS and comes with a premium price with an MSRP of $449.99. The premium price point is more than justified by its EK custom designed VRM cooler, integrated 5G NIC, and premium board design enhancements.

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Courtesy of ASUS

The ROG Maximus XI Formula motherboard was designed to ensure you of the optimal gaming experience. Its 10-phase digital power delivery system helps to stabilize the board under any overclocking conditions. The board contains the following integrated features: six SATA 3 ports; two M.2 PCIe x4 capable ports; an Intel I219-V Gigabit NIC; an Aquantia AQC111C 5G NIC; Intel 9560 802.11 AC controller; three PCI-Express x16 slots; one PCI-Express x1 slots; an 8-channel audio subsystem with S/PDIF port support; integrated LiveDash OLED display panel; integrated HDMI port; and USB 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1 Type-A and Type-C port support.

Continue reading our review of the ASUS ROG Maximus XI Formula motherboard!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Motherboard Overview

Introduction

With their latest revision in the TUF line, ASUS decided to rebrand the line as TUF Gaming, opening the brand to the rapidly growing gaming enthusiast market. The TUF Z390-Pro Gaming motherboard is the flagship board in ASUS' TUF (The Ultimate Force) product line designed with the Intel Z390 chipset.

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Courtesy of ASUS

The TUF Z390-Pro Gaming offers support for the latest Intel Coffee Lake processor line as well as dual-channel DDR4 memory running at up to 2666MHz speeds in stock configuration. ASUS priced the board competitively with a $169.99 MSRP, making it a good deal in light of the board's build quality and integrated features.

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Courtesy of ASUS

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Courtesy of ASUS

The TUF Z390-Pro Gaming motherboard is built with the same quality and attention to detail that you've come to expect from TUF-branded motherboards. The board contains the following integrated features: eight SATA 3 ports; two M.2 PCIe x4 capable ports; an Intel I219-V Gigabit NIC; three PCI-Express x16 slots; three PCI-Express x1 slots; an 8-channel audio subsystem; integrated DisplayPort and HDMI; and USB 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1 Type-A port support.

Continue reading our review of the ASUS TUF Z390 Pro Gaming motherboard!

ASRock Preparing Budget Intel B365M-ITX/ac Mini ITX Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | February 2, 2019 - 10:12 AM |
Tagged: mini ITX, LGA 1151, Intel, coffee lake, asrock

ASRock is preparing to launch a new Mini ITX motherboard based on Intel’s B365 chipset. The aptly-named ASRock B365M-ITX/ac pairs the new (but based on older 22nm fabrication processes) chipset with the LGA 1151 socket and support for the latest 8th and 9th Generation Intel Core processors along with support for up to 64GB of DDR4 memory in two DIMM slots (specifications aren’t clear if the new 32GB DC-DIMMs are supported or if this is just for future reference). The B365M-ITX/ac takes advantage of ASRock’s “Super Alloy” suite of technologies which includes five phase digital power delivery, 60-amp chokes and dual stacked MOSFETs along with the black glass PCB.

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The Mini ITX motherboard supports Intel processors up to 95W. Connectivity includes a single PCI-E x16 slot, one M.2 Key E for Wi-Fi modules in line with the rear I/O (with an included Intel 802.11ac + BT 4.2 module), one M.2 22110 slot for solid state drives (B365 does support Optane), and four SATA 3 ports. ASRock uses an Intel I219V NIC for Gigabit Ethernet and while the B365 chipset does not have built-in Wi-Fi there is an Intel wireless module for 802.11ac 2.4GHz/5GHz Wi-Fi bundled with the board. Audio is handled by a 7.1 channel Realtek ALC887 codec that has been spruced up slightly with ELNA capacitors.

Rear I/O on the B365M-ITX/ac includes HDMI, DVI, and DisplayPort video outputs up top followed by one PS/2 port, four USB 3.1 Gen 1 (10Gbps), one RJ45 jack for Gigabit Ethernet, two Wi-Fi antenna connectors, and three 3.5mm audio outputs.

Unfortunately pricing and availability have not been announced yet. With that said, looking around online, I would guess that the B365-based board will launch somewhere around $100 at retail (MSRP may be a bit higher) with the B360M-ITX/ac board sitting at around $90 right now and the higher end Fatality boards using the higher end Z chipsets sitting around $120+. 

The B365M-ITX/ac appears to be an interesting board that will hopefully fall on the budget side of pricing. I am looking forward to the reviews on this as the spacing seems better than average (Morry will appreciate the CMOS battery placement), and I/O is decent. The audio doesn’t seem to be as beefed up as some of the competition, however, and USB 3.1 Gen 2 or Thunderbolt would have been nice-to-have along with right angled power connectors but all that would add to the cost. In any event, the more small form factor options, the merrier (so long as the quality is there)!

What are your thoughts on ASRock’s latest SFF offering?

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Source: ASRock

ASUS shows off their aesthetic Formula for success

Subject: Motherboards | January 18, 2019 - 01:53 PM |
Tagged: asus, ROG, maximus XI formula, Z390, Intel

The ROG Maximus XI Formula is a rather nice looking board, for those who prefer their guts hidden beneath a nice RGB encrusted, waterblock enhanced covering.  Beneath the covering are some interesting design choices, for instance you will find a pair of M.2 mounts between the first and second PCIe slots which fit into that small space by being installed in opposite directions.  There are numerous features on this high end board which are covered in [H]ard|OCP's review, and at the end you will also find an official statement from ASUS about their "Twin 8-Phase" VRM claims and the removal of phase doublers.

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"ASUS brings us the one of it most aesthetically pleasing and expensive Z390 motherboards this generation. Even if you have no interest in spending a ton of money on an LGA 1151 motherboard, you will want to give this Formula a look as it certainly shows us that ASUS is not sitting around on its thumbs on the high end"

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

ASUS' new X299, second Prime's the charm?

Subject: Motherboards | December 20, 2018 - 02:58 PM |
Tagged: x299, prime x299-deluxe II, Intel, i9-9980XE, asus

ASUS have refined their Prime X299-Deluxe with a second version, which includes a redesign of the VRMs and power phases that lead to much discussion about the original board.  The Tech Report noticed that the change is not as simple as the marketing material would lead you to believe and they go into great detail about that in the beginning of their review.  In the end, the changes did result in decent thermals on the VRMs when overclocking and no discernible stability issues.  That's not all that is new about the board, mostly good with the exception of the default enabling of Windows Platform Binary Tables to load ASUS' software hub in the UEFI

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"Motherboard manufacturers are introducing refined X299 boards in the wake of Intel's Basin Falls platform refresh, and Asus' Prime X299-Deluxe II promises to fix some of the teething pains of its predecessor. We paired this board up with the Core i9-9980XE to see whether it's up to the job of hosting Intel's highest-end desktop chip yet."

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Source: The Register

Gigabyte Launches Z390 AORUS Xtreme Waterforce Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | December 14, 2018 - 07:04 PM |
Tagged: Z390, water cooling, gigabyte, aorus

Gigabyte’s Aorus brand is planning to make its flagship Z390 Aorus Xtreme motherboard even more extreme by pairing it with a RGB LED-lit perspex monoblock that covers the processor and PCH areas. The aptly named Z390 Aorus Xtreme Waterforce is an E-ATX form factor motherboard for 8th and 9th Generation Intel Core processors (LGA 1151) that comes packed with overclocking features and a plethora of I/O and expansion options.

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The Z390 Aorus Xtreme Waterforce is powered by two 8-pin CPU power connectors, a right angle 24-pin ATX, and a six pin PCI-E input for extra PCI-E slot power delivery. The LGA 1151 socket sits front and center up top with four DDR4 memory slots off to the right of it. Power delivery is handled by a 16 phase PowIRStage digital VRM. Below the CPU sit three PCI-E x16 slots (which run at x16/x8/x4), two PCI-E x1 slots, and three M.2 slots with heatspreaders. There is also a mini PCI-E slot but it comes with an Intel wireless card pre-installed. Additional expansion options include six SATA 3 ports. The Gigabyte motherboard includes 10 sensor points and eight hybrid fan headers. It also supports Smart Fan 5 and RGB Fan Commander software tools as well as support for external RGB LED strips and addressable LEDs via headers (RGB Fusion). The Aorus board also supports OC Touch which offers physical buttons and switches for adjusting overclocks without needing to go into the UEFI BIOS.

Audio duties are handled by the Realtek ALC1220-VB codec along with ESS Sabre ES9018K2M DAC, LME 49720 dedicated analog power delivery, Ti OPA1622 Op amp, and several WIMA and Nichicon audio capacitors. The reported 127 dB SNR audio also supports “Amp Up” which can automatically adjust to various headphones. Networking on the Z390 Xtreme Waterforce is handled by Intel (CNV1) for 802.11ac Wave 2 2x2 wireless and Gigabit Ethernet and by Aquantia for the 10 GbE.

Rear I/O on the flagship motherboard shouldn’t disappoint with:

  • 2 x SMA antenna connectors (Wi-Fi)
  • 2 x Thunderbolt 3 40 Gbps
  • 4 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10 Gbps)
  • 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5 Gbps)
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x 10 Gigabit Ethernet
  • 1 x 1 Gigabit Ethernet
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 5 x Analog audio
  • 1 x S/PDIF audio

The Aorus All In One Monoblock is the star of the show though as it is what differentiates it from the normal Z390 Aorus Xtreme board. The monoblock uses standard G1/4” threads and uses dense copper fins to help heat transfer to the water loop. Water flows over the CPU, VRM, and PCH areas to keep everything nice and cool even when overclocking. According to Gigabyte there is a leak detection circuit that will shut down the PC if a leak in the waterblock/loop is detected to protect your components. The downside to the monoblock is, of course, the added complexity to the build process, it certainly looks nice though so some enthusiasts may well find it worth it.

Gigabyte has not yet released pricing or availability information, but it’s going to come at a premium price. The Z390 Aorus Xtreme (sans waterblock) has a MSRP of $549.99, for example, and the addition of the Aorus RGB monoblock could add another $50 to $100 to that price.

The reviews on this board and the monoblock should be interesting. While it may be expensive, I'm sure that some watercooling enthusiasts will find uses for it in all-out "cool all the  things" builds!

Source: Gigabyte

MSI's new Z390; Ace in the hole or jumping the shark?

Subject: Motherboards | December 11, 2018 - 06:19 PM |
Tagged: msi, Z390, Intel, MEG Z390 ACE

MSI's MEG was the cream of the crop for Threadripper, even though it carried a significant price.   Now we have a chance to see how this design works on Intel, as MSI have the MEG Z390 ACE for under $300, to pair with a processor such as the i7-9900K.   MEG sports an enhanced backplate, as you can see from the picture below, for those who like to insert a lot of extras into their motherboard. 

As for general performance, stability and overclocking?  Check out [H]ard|OCP's review to see why the board was sporting Gold once it was unstrapped from the bench.

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"The MSI Enthusiast Gaming lineup expands once again with two Z390 offerings for Intel’s latest 9000 series CPUs. The MEG boards offer a blend of quality, features, with power delivery, and overclocking in mind. MSI has certainly raised the bar for its products over the last few years. So our expectations for the ACE motherboard are high."

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

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

With the release of Intel's lastest consumer-oriented chipset, the Z390, GIGABYTE has unveiled its own Z390 motherboard lineup. We got our hands on one of these new boards, the mid-range GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS Pro.

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

The Z390 AORUS Pro features a matte black PCB and an integrated rear panel shield. In keeping with its previous AORUS series board designs, GIGABYTE spread RGB LEDs throughout the board's surface, which are configurable via a Windows applet. The board offers support for the latest Intel 9th generation processors (as well as maintaining support for the 8th generation processors) and Dual Channel DDR4 memory via the Intel Z390 chipset. The Z390 AORUS Pro can be found at retail at an MRSP of around $190.

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

The following features have been integrated into the board: six SATA III 6Gbps ports; two M.2 PCIe Gen3 x4 32Gbps capable ports; an RJ-45 port featuring an Intel I219-V Gigabit NIC; three PCI-Express x16 slots; three PCI-Express x1 slots; a Realtek ALC1220-VB Audio CODEC; an integrated HDMI video port; and USB 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1 Type-A and Type-C port support.

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

To power the board, GIGABYTE integrated a 13-phase (12+1) digital power delivery system into the Z390 AORUS Pro board's design. The digital power system was designed with an IR Digital PWM Controller and DrMOS ICs, high grade choke, and all-metal long-life capacitors. The power circuitry and board trace design works together to give the board excellent overclockability when used in combination with Intel 9th generation processors.

Continue reading our review of the GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS Pro motherboard!

AORUS offers a smokin' hot Z390 at a decent price

Subject: Motherboards | November 20, 2018 - 01:49 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, Z390 AORUS Pro WiFi, Z390, Intel

If you were lucky enough to score a new 9th generation i9 chip from Intel you are probably looking for a Z390 board to stick it in.  For those that do not want to take the opportunity to spend $500-600 on a motherboard, Gigabyte's Z390 AORUS Pro WiFi is worth consideration as it usually costs less than $200.  Bjorn3D took a look at the board to see what was removed to lower the price by such an amount and to check out those sexy VRMs.

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"The board we are testing today carries the AORUS branding which has been earmarked as the Gigabyte gaming brand. But now the Aorus Master and Extreme boards which are targeted at Extreme users muddies the waters a bit as normally you will see an extreme OC board with the LN2/Force moniker."

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Source: Bjorn3D