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ASRock has jumped out ahead of Computex 2015 in June, announcing some new USB 3.1-capable motherboards and PCIe cards. The company has announced that it will have a range of USB 3.1 products, including USB 3.1 PCIe cards that will either have two Type-A ports, or a combination of Type-A and Type-C.
Starting off with the motherboards, we have the Z97 Extreme6/3.1 and the X99 Extreme6/3.1. The Z97-based motherboard features a combination Type-A and Type-C card, where the X99 version includes two Type-A because the board already rocks a Type-C port on its I/O.
When it comes to the PCIe cards, which provide a huge 10Gbps of bandwidth that will be capable of saturating a USB 3.1 port. The two ports will have a combined throughput of 10Gbps, versus 10Gbps per port. The PCIe cards have power requirements, with the dual Type-A cards requiring a 4-pin molex connector, while the combo card requires a 4-pin custom/floppy-sized connector. Each card has up to 3 amps at 5V, which allows for 15W charging.
CES 2015 - We went on down to the GIGABYTE CES event here in Vegas, where we looked at all of the latest stuff that the company has on offer. So without further delay, let's dive right into the juicy goodness.
X99 SOC Champion
GIGABYTE just launched their greatly anticipated X99 SOC Champion. The board had been in the works for months, during that time top overclockers from around the world gathered to see how far GIGABYTE's champion could go. They ended up with 9 world records, 14 global firsts, 2 hardware firsts, and even the top X99 reference clock. This motherboard's name is well deserved.
I was invited to overclock at GIGABYTE's CES ballroom event, and the champion does live up to all the hype. Much of its success comes from the hardware on the board. Since the board has 4 SMT DIMMs instead of the typical 8 through-hole DIMMs found on most X99 motherboards, memory signaling is much cleaner and memory overclocks are higher as a result.
If you're looking to add a little safety to your rig and already have a surge-protection power-board installed, Taiwanese motherboard manufacturer BIOSTAR are now offering built-in LAN surge protection for their whole product range.
They've added an integrated chip to strengthen the electrical stability of their newest motherboards, said to prevent any damage from lighting strikes and electrical surges. BIOSTAR is the first manufacturer of its kind to offer such a service, with this features official name being "SUPER LAN Surge Protection" as laid out in their recently issued press release.
It looks like ASRock is about to unveil a true beast of a motherboard, in the form of the X99 WS-E/10G, which will feature no less than four Ethernet ports. Yes, four.
This will be the first time a consumer motherboard has shipped with four Ethernet ports, two of which are GbE (1Gbps) but the other two are 10GbE (10Gbps). All four Ethernet ports are Intel made, with the GbE ports being based on the Intel I210AT chip, while the two 10GbE ports are the X540-BT2 for some super-intensive, high-speed networking transfers. On top of that, all four of them can be bridged together for an absolutely insane amount of networking bandwidth, hitting 22Gbps.
ASRock hasn't just made the networking side of the X99 WS-E/10G impressive, as we also have two PLX 8747 bridge chips, allowing for up to seven PCIe 3.0 x16 slots. This means you can have full x16/x16/x16/x16 quad SLI or Crossfire. If you wanted to go single cards the whole way, you can do x16/x8/x8/x8/x8/x8/x8/x8.
We also have 60A 12-phase power circuitry, plus inductor memory alloy, 12K Nichicon capacitors, Ultra Dual-N MOSFET, sapphire black PCB, eight DDR4 UDIMM/RDIMM ECC support, supporting up to 128GB of DDR4 RAM. There are 12 x SATA 6Gbps, an eSATA port, a SATA Express port, SATA DOM, M.2, support for PCIe 2.0 x4/SATA 6Gbps, four USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, and Realtek ALC1150 7.1-channel sounr with Purity Sound technology. It's quite the feature-packed motherboard, that's for sure.
Hardware maker ASRock introduced the X99 WS-E/10G motherboard, the latest X99 enthusiast and workstation motherboard supporting Dual Intel X540 10GBase-T LAN, quad LAN, Windows Server OS, and supporting PCIe Gen3 video cards (4-way SLI or CrossFire X).
ASRock included support for LGA 2011-3 CPUs that range from 18 core 160W Xeon E5-16000/2600 V3 CPUs to unlocked Intel Core i7 CPUs. The X99 WS-E/10G also has eight DDR4 memory slots with support for UDIMM/RDIMM memory modules up to 128GB capacity. There are 12 SATA3 ports, 1 SATA Express 10Gb/s connector, 1 PCIe Gen2 x4 M.2 slot, a SATA DOM and a USB DOM.
The motherboard supports the Intel X540 Ethernet controller, with the single chip able to support dual 10G BASE-T LAN ports, significantly faster than regular gigabit LAN. 10GBase-T can be easily integrated, but the 10GBase-T Ethernet card is pricing, along with a higher level of power consumption.
We don't see many water-cooled motherboards, but here we are: the iGame Z97 motherboard is a concept board that shows off a beautiful, sleek motherboard, cooled with liquid.
The company is closer to releasing the board, with a release date that is still "unknown" for the iGame Z97 Ymir X - a confusing name, but it doesn't take anything away from its beauty. We have 16-phase IPP high-profile power, a silver and all-metal look, with a brushed surface. We have four DDR3 slots, three PCIe 3.0 16x slots, four PCIe 2.0 single-land slots, eight SATA 6Gbps ports, mSATA and mPCIe, HDMI, DVI, DisplayPort, Killer NIC E2200, four USB 3.0 ports, and more from the front header, 8-channel HD audio, and more.
GIGABYTE has teamed up with EK Water Blocks, where they have collaborated on making some water blocks exclusively for GIGABYTE's X99 range of motherboards. The new EK-FB KIT GA X99 water blocks can be slapped onto both the X99 chipset, and the motherboard's power-regulation circuitry.
GIGABYTE explains it a bit better: "The EK-FB KIT GA X99 is a complete water cooling solution, made with a base of nickel-plated electrolytic copper while the top is made of quality POM Acetal or acrylic glass material (depending on the variant). Tailor designed for GIGABYTE X99 series motherboards, the coolers consist of two separate water blocks; one water block directly cools the Intel X99 chip while the other takes care of the power regulation area. Not only do the water blocks look amazing and are quieter than an air cooling system, they are actually as efficient as the GIGABYTE factory cooling solution. The screw-in standoffs are already pre-installed and allow for easy and trouble-free installation by utilizing original motherboard back plates".
The competition between GIGABYTE and ASUS is as fierce as ever, but ASUS is set to lower the prices of its motherboards, and spend considerable amounts of money on furthering its marketing reach according to DigiTimes' industry sources.
ASUS has reportedly planned multiple promotions, where it will sell bundles with its GPUs and motherboards, hoping to gain thousands more consumers with its impressive line up of GPUs. DigiTimes' sources noted "GIGABYTE's motherboard and video card businesses are separate units and the two departments hardly cooperate over sales and marketing. Although GIGABYTE's motherboard business has been performing strongly recently, Asustek's new strategy is expected to impact GIGABYTE's motherboard business group".
Just how much is ASUS planning to spend on marketing? According to DigiTimes' sources, the Taiwanese manufacturer has already prepared between $32 million and $65 million to boost its marketing. The company is expecting to see its profits for 2014 drop because of this, but the marketing should gain more sales going into 2015. The sources continued "GIGABYTE had profits of NT$3-3.3 billion from the motherboard business in 2013. Although the company's shipments in 2014 are unlikely to achieve the targeted growth of one million units, profits in the year are expected to stay at around NT$3 billion because of the rising proportion of high-end models".
Reports pointed out that AMD is strengthening its partnership with Asustek Computer, one of the tier 1 manufacturer of many components. In this case, AMD is apparently pairing itself with Asustek to boost the sales of its AMD-based products.
In exchange, Asustek gets an exclusive price cut of AMD products. According to sources, AMD's desktop processor currently holds 30% of the desktop processor market. While by theory it looks favourable for AMD, the amount of success from this partnership is something that only time will prove. It is also pointed out that AMD will be using the word 'Zen' to name its next-generation desktop APU that will be coming out in 2016. Of course, the popularity of these hardware components can only stand out if the performance justifies the price against its competition. AMD doesn't have any new architecture for their FX series lineup at the moment, but have been concentrating on APUs.
Of course, that would also mean that it might create issues with other motherboard manufacturers. It's not clear the amount of 'special discount' or what special services that Asustek gets from AMD, or how this would benefit AMD once their upcoming APU is released. That will simply create a friction between AMD and motherboard manufacturers, while other manufacturers may even start to reduce AMD-based projects, which defeats the purpose of having a special alignment with a single tier-1 motherboard manufacturer.
BIOSTAR has announced that it has launched its new Hi-Fi Z97Z7 motherboard, which features "cutting-edge features and innovative durability enhancements". As you can probably tell, the new motherboard is based on Intel's new Z97 chipset, which provides the usual PCI-Express 3.0, PCIe M.2 support, and more. What makes this board stand out from the rest, though, is BIOSTAR's exclusive Super Hi-Fi Audio technology.
The motherboard itself is an ATX board, with four DDR3 slots, HDMI out, SATA Express, and of course: the Super Hi-Fi Audio which provides power regulation upgrades like Hi-Fi Power and Hi-Fi AMP. The HDMI output offers HDCP, paving the way for full video and Hi-Fi 7.1-channel Blu-ray audio support, even through the standard DVI port.
BIOSTAR has driven its durability and stability even higher, offering Super Durable Solid Caps, which the company explains "are the best quality solid state capacitors with ultra low ESR design, which doubles the lifespan. Another feature is 8-phase power design which gives unparalleled overclocking ability and the lowest temperature to reach maximum performance levels". The new BIOSTAR Hi-Fi Z97Z7 also features the new Super Durable Ferrite Choke, which provides higher current capacity, lower energy loss, and better power stability to the electric current across the board.
BIOSTAR is pricing the new motherboard with an MSRP of $119.99.