Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

With the release of Intel Z270 chipset, GIGABYTE unveiled its AORUS line of products. 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 Z270X-Gaming 8 is one of two "enhanced" boards in the AORUS, factory-customized with a Bitspower designed VRM hybrid water block. The board features the black and white branding common to the AORUS product line, with the rear panel cover and chipset featuring the brand logos. The board is designed around the Intel Z270 chipset with in-built support for the latest Intel LGA1151 Kaby Lake processor line (as well as support for Skylake processors) and Dual Channel DDR4 memory running at a 2400MHz speed. The Z270X-Gaming 8 can be found in retail with an MRSP of $399.99.

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

GIGABYTE integrated the following features into the Z270X-Gaming 8 motherboard: four SATA III 6Gbps ports; two SATA-Express 10Gbps ports; two U.2 PCIe Gen3 x4 32Gbps ports; two M.2 PCIe Gen3 x4 32Gbps capable ports with Intel Optane support built-in; two RJ-45 GigE ports - an Intel I219-V Gigabit NIC and a Rivet Networks Killer E2500 NIC; a Rivet Networks Killer 802.11ac 2x2 Wireless adapter; four PCI-Express x16 slots; two PCI-Express x1 slots; Creative® Sound Core 3D 8-Channel audio subsystem; integrated DisplayPort and HDMI video ports; Intel Thunderbolt 40Gbps support; G-Chill hybrid VRM water block (designed by Bitspower); and USB 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1 Type-A and Type-C port support.

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

GIGABYTE partnered with Bitspower in designing the integrated cooling solution for the Z270X-Gaming 8 motherboard. The integrated VRM hybrid block, dubbed G-Chill by GIGABYTE, can operate with or without coolant. The block itself consists of a nickel-plated copper base plate, an acrylic top plate, a metal overplate, and a plastic cover to give it a unified appearance with the rest of the board components. The inlet and outlet ports are sealed with port covers by default, and are G1/4" threaded for use with any after-market water fittings currently available.

Continue reading our preview of the GIGABYTE Z270X-Gaming 8 motherboard!

Colorful Reveals Custom Eight Slot Motherboard For Cryptocurrency Miners

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | September 14, 2017 - 02:13 AM |
Tagged: password cracking, mining, gpgpu, cryptocurrency, colorful, ai

Colorful recently unveiled an interesting bare-bones motherboard focused on cryptocurrency miners and other GPU heavy workloads with its main feature being eight double spaced PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots. The non-standard form factor Colorful C.B250A-BTC PLUS V20 motherboard measures 485mm x 195mm (approx. 19.1 x 7.7 inches) and offers a no-frills setup that is ready for miners to attach to open racks. The motherboard is based on Intel’s LGA 1151 socket and B250 chipset.

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The majority of the board is taken up by eight PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots where the top slot is wired directly to the CPU and is electrically x16 while the rest are wired to the B250 chipset and are x1 slots. There are 16(!) PCI-E power connectors (eight 6-pin and eight 8-pin) for providing power to the GPU and two 4-pin ATX power connectors for powering the CPU and single SO-DIMM slot through what looks to be six power phases. Notably, there is no 24-pin power connector on this board to make it easier to use multiple power supplies and share motherboards between power supplies (though it’s not clear how Colorful plans to control turning all these power supplies on/off at the same time). Beyond the PCI-E slots there is not much to this motherboard. Internal I/O includes the 1151 socket for Skylake and Kaby Lake CPUs, a single DDR4 SO-DIMM slot, one SATA port, one M.2 slot, and six fan headers. Around back are two USB ports, one HDMI video output, and a single gigabit ethernet port.

The board is a no-frills design that should be quite appealing for miners but also as an easy way to jump into GPGPU projects (AI research, rendering, machine learning, password cracking, etc.). The 2-slot spacing allows air cooled (hopefully blower style) cards to be installed without needing to find and test quality PCI-E riser cables. There is no word on pricing yet, and while it should be on the cheaper side based on the features and hardware it’s packing as it’s a custom design aimed at mining it may actually come out at a hefty premium for the convenience it offers them. On the bright side, it might have decent resale value to factor into the ROI calculations for the other non-mining applications I mentioned (a mean password cracking rig!). A neat board in any case, and as I mentioned previously it is interesting to see the new designs and configurations the mining craze has enticed manufacturers into exploring.

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Source: TechPowerUp

Threadripping on MSI's new GAMING PRO CARBON AC

Subject: Motherboards | September 13, 2017 - 03:53 PM |
Tagged: amd, msi, X399, Threadripper, GAMING PRO CARBON AC

MSI have added a GAMING PRO CARBON AC motherboard to their X399 offerings for AMD's ThreadRipper.  The exceptional socket makes the ATX board look a little disproportionate compared to previous members of this motherboard family but there is still a lot of space on the board.  There are four PCIe Express x16 Gen 3 slots along with two 1x slots, three M.2 ports and an impressive array of USB ports including two USB 3.1 Gen. 2 Type-C ports, a single USB 3.1 Gen. 3 Type-A and nine USB 3.1 Gen.1 Type-A ports.  The Guru of 3D provides benchmarks and overclocking results in their full review.

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"Let's check out another Ryzen Threadripper motherboard. We review the one from MSI as they have released their X399 Gaming Pro Carbon AC. The board is stylish, comes with very subtle LED effects and obviously offers everything you need from quadruple x16 PCI-Express slots, triple M2 SSD slots, quad-channel memory and some really supreme AC WIFI."

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Source: Guru of 3D

AORUS would like you grab a Coffee and take a guess

Subject: Motherboards | September 11, 2017 - 03:17 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, aorus, Z370, Intel, coffee lake

Obviously this is neither raven nor writing desk, instead it is confirmation we will see a new Z370 motherboard arrive soon, October 5th being the expected end of term.  While the picture below is from AORUS' official Twitter feed; in this rare case the social media platform is a reliable source, there have also been a few leaks about AORUS' Z370 lineup.

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The models include the Aorus Z370 Gaming K3, Z370 Gaming 3, Z370 Gaming 5, Z370 Gaming 7 and Z370 Ultra Gaming with no Gaming 9 model announced as of yet.  You can expect quad channel memory support as well as at least two M.2 ports and support for Intel Optane on these ATX boards when they arrive for sale.

 

Source: Twitter
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ECS

Introduction and Specifications

For Intel’s Z270 chipset ECS has a pair of motherboard options, with the ATX Z270-LIGHTSABER and mini-ITX Z270H4-I. We have a look at both of these offerings today.

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The Z270-LIGHTSABER tries to live up to that name with customizable LED lighting around the board, which is controlled through the system setup. It boasts a 14-phase power delivery and all solid caps, and offers simplified overclocking through the ECS MIB X interface and Intel XMP 1.2 and 1.3 memory support. Additionally the LIGHTSABER offers comprehensive storage options with a PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slot (Intel Optane is supported), U.2 port, and a full complement of SATA III ports. There is also a Killer E2500 NIC, and premium audio with a dedicated TI headphone amp, among the other features.

For its part the Z270H4-I packs many of the same features as its ATX cousin, though this mini-ITX motherboard only provides a 6-phase power design, and does not feature the LED lighting or dedicated headphone amp of the Z270-LIGHTSABER. It does provide the same full PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slot with Intel Optane support, and while the Z270H4-I does not have a Killer NIC it replaces this with a pair including an Intel I-219V and Realtek LAN. The Z270H4-I also supports M.2 wireless cards and includes an optional pair of wireless antennae.

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I installed my Core i7-7700K in both motherboards and in addition to some baseline benchmarks I tried out some casual overclocking and will provide general usage impressions with both boards.

Continue reading our review of the ECS Z270-LIGHTSABER and Z270H4-I motherboards!

Asus Launches B250 Expert Mining Motherboard With 19 PCI-E Slots

Subject: Motherboards | August 24, 2017 - 12:30 AM |
Tagged: mining, LGA 1151, Intel, cryptocurrency, b250, asus

Asus recently took the wraps off of a monster ATX form factor motherboard aimed squarely at crypto currency miners. The aptly named Asus B250 Expert Mining motherboard is based on Intel's B250 chipset and features an impressive 19 PCI-E slots! The board is based around Intel's budget chipset and is paired with an LGA 1151 socket for Intel Skylake or Kaby Lake CPUs. There are also two DDR4 memory slots and four SATA 6 Gbps ports.

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The B250 Expert Mining motherboard is powered by a single 8-pin CPU power connector driving a 6-phase DIGI+ VRM, three (!) 24-pin ATX12V connectors, and three Molex power connectors. The top 24-pin drives the first seven PCI-E slots (including the single PCI-E x16 slot) while the other two 24-pin connectors are responsible for powering 6 of the remaining PCI-E x1 slots each.

Asus claims that the upcoming motherboard has several mining focused features including a tuned BIOS tweaked to improve mining efficiency, a splash screen at startup that shows the state of each PCI-E slot at-a-glance at each boot (Asus Mining Expert software) as well as voltage stabilization capacitors for each GPU slot.

With this motherboard miners will be able to hook up to 19 graphics cards to each motherboard which reduces the number of complete systems they need to build and maintain improving ROI time, increasing power efficiency, and reducing maintenance costs. At the time of writing there is a bit of hiccup with this plan though as miners will not be able to fully take advantage of all 19 slots for graphics cards. First off, miners will have to use Linux and even then they will be limited to a maximum of eight graphics cards from AMD and eight graphics cards from NVIDIA (if they can even get that working reliably...). Not all hope for an uber mining motherboard is lost though as Anandtech reports that AMD is working on a driver update slated for release later this year that will enable miners to use all 19 slots for their graphics cards.

Asus has not yet released pricing, but I would expect it to come at a hefty premium considering it offers the highest number of PCI-E slots on a standard motherboard so far. Asus has reportedly already begun sampling the B250 Expert Mining board to partners and it should be available at retail soon.

Even if you are not into the crypto currency mining scene, it is intriguing seeing the response to miners from the hardware manufacturers with new focused product lines.

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Source: TechPowerUp

What difference is it 2 you? X99 versus X299

Subject: Motherboards | August 17, 2017 - 03:18 PM |
Tagged: X99, Intel X299, Intel

There has been a trend recently in which we see rather lacklustre improvements in Intel's CPUs and chipsets which have changed the reaction of many to new releases.  When a new chip drops enthusiasts no longer immediately switch to a diet of pot noodles so they can upgrade ASAP, instead they are more likely to have to squint to see the performance difference an upgrade would provide.

[H]ard|OCP recently took a look at the differences offered between the modern X299 chipset and the three year old X99 chipset.  The new X299 chipset offers full PCI-Express 3.0 support, 24x HSIO lanes and up to 24 PCIe lanes but the small number of systems with multiple GPUs seems to be decreasing instead of increasing so perhaps those extra lanes are merely nice to talk about but are never used.  Read through the article for a look at what the differences are, and if you feel there is a compelling reason to upgrade or if X99 is good enough to last until the next generation of Intel chipset arrives.

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"New processors and another socket means a new chipset. Intel's X299 Express chipset replaces the venerable and X99 Express Chipset and updates it's HEDT platform to match it's mainstream offerings and then some. This chipset promises to be the most versatile and feature rich Intel has released to date, but is it really an improvement?"

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

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of MSI

The MSI X299 Gaming M7 ACK motherboard features a black PCB with a black chrome overlay covering the board's heat sinks and rear panel cover. The chipset overlay has fingers that extend in between the PCIe x16 slots in the areas just under the two PCIe x1 slots. Further, there is a plastic overlay protecting the audio components above the PCIe slots. MSI integrated LEDS into the rear panel cover, the VRM heat sink, the chipset cover, and the audio cover for a unique look. The board is designed around the Intel X299 chipset with in-built support for the latest Intel LGA2066 Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X processor line and Quad Channel DDR4 memory running at a 2667MHz speed. The X299 M7 Gaming ACK can be found in retail with an MRSP of $399.99.

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Courtesy of MSI

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Courtesy of MSI

MSI integrated the following features into the X299 Gaming M7 ACK motherboard: six SATA III 6Gbps ports; two M.2 PCIe Gen3 x4 32Gbps capable ports with Intel Optane support built-in; one U.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 32Gbps port; a Killer E2500 Gigabit controller; a Killer 802.ac wireless controller; four PCI-Express x16 slots; two PCI-Express x1 slots; a 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 MSI

To power the X299 Gaming M7 ACK motherboard, MSI integrated a 12 phase digital power delivery system dubbed Military Class VI. The Military Class VI integrated components included Titanium Choke II chokes, 10 year-rated Dark capacitors, and Dark chokes.

Continue reading our preview of the MSI X299 Gaming M7 ACK motherboard!

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