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Yesterday during the IDF show in San Francisco, Intel announced news that it would be shipping its mini-ITX form factor based Desktop Board D945GCLF2 Essential Series motherboard sometime in September but that might turn into a little later from what we have heard.
Intel's D945GCLF2 motherboard has the 45nm manufactured Atom dual-core 330 soldered onto it (now with active fan cooling due to extra heat generated by the additional core) and is designed for nettop systems such as the low cost ASUS Eee Box and MSI Wind desktop. Intel reckons it will work brilliantly as a second home system or for Internet kiosks, thin clients or POS (point-of-sale and not piece of... never mind) systems.
The Atom 330 runs on a 533MHz FSB which is the same as its single core brother and is powered by the 945GC Express chipset with built-in Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 - and no, you won't be able to play Crysis using this onboard GPU. There is a single DIMM socket designed to support up to 2GB of DDR2 667/533 SDRAM, which should be enough even for fairly basic Windows Vista usage.
As far as expansion goes, Intel was kind enough to include two SATAII ports as well as an IDE connector supporting up to two ATA 100/66 devices for something like a DVD burner or a couple old hard drives being this mobo will support up to four drives. You could use the PCI expansion slot to add in an old RAID controller or maybe add in a TV tuner card. Let's hope in future versions the PCI slot is ditched in favor of a PCI-E slot, a single PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot would be lovely.
It also gets a single Gigabit Ethernet port and eight Hi-Speed USB 2.0 ports (four back panel ports and two onboard headers supporting four additional USB 2.0 ports). As far as video output goes, you can output via VGA or S-Video. A tweaked up version of this board with the PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot and HDMI output would surely begin to get more interested but it wasn't to be this time around.
You can read the full press release right here.
Intel has just loosened the restrictions on what can be said and posted about the X58 Express supporting Socket 1366 Nehalem Core i7 chipset this week. And that is great for us as it allows us to report some juice bits of information to you, from here in Taipei.
We visited the GIGABYTE HQ this afternoon and they had a single X58 board to show us. It is a dummy sample right now which doesn't work (dammit - no benchmarks!) and is labeled GA-X58-Extreme but it will actually turn out to be the GA-X58-DS4, which is a cut down and cheaper version.
We were told that board you are looking at here is also not 100% complete and the final X58 Extreme will see some changes such as a different color cooling setup, 12 phase power (DS4 is 6 phases) and all onboard SATA ports will be angled 90 degrees.
GIGABYTE's X58 Extreme lacks some features such as onboard hardware RAID and TPM (which are found on DQ6 and some other models) with the philosophy being that the Extreme range of mobos is designed purely for overclockers and high-end enthusiasts and they don't need these extra features. They only drive up the price and may influence overclockability - and that makes perfect sense to us really.
Instead of including those features, GIGABYTE spends more money on adding extra power phases and fancy cooling and whatever other tricks it has up its sleeves to push the FSB increasingly higher. Stuff the real enthusiast will appreciate more. GIGABYTE has some nifty ideas for the final X58 Extreme but unfortunately we were sworn to secrecy but we really look forward to pushing it to the max in our OC tests later on.
One feature that was focused on though was the huge amount of LEDs that GIGABYTE has added - not only do you get the usual DES power phase indication but added are LED diagnostic lights for RAM as well as a series of LEDs above the CPU socket that indicate things such as CPU and case temperatures. These are aids for overclockers to assist in knowing exactly what is going on without having to always refer back to the BIOS and monitor.
X58 brings Triple Channel memory support and as you can see from the pictures, the version of the DS4 we saw today will get the triple memory loving treatment.
X58 Extreme will have four PCI-E 2.0 x16 slots but there is a bit of a story to tell here. The PCI-E slots are paired in groups of two - if you use just the two blue x16 slots (one from each group), they will operate electronically at x16. If you use one x16 and one orange x16 slot in the same group, each will operate at x8 electronically. If you use all four x16 slots, they will all operate electronically at x8. The top two PCI-E x4 slots always run at x4 electronically, no matter what type of setup is in use.
As far as the I/O panel goes, we see the return of two PS/2 ports for keyboard and mouse. GIGABYTE said that these were included purely for overclockers as when they are overclocking, many commented to GIGABYTE's engineers that they like to have USB disabled to find the highest clock speeds. GIGABYTE also mentioned that their engineers discovered that when USB is enabled and when a device is plugged in (even if it's not being used), it drives up power consumption by 3 - 4 watts.
On the back I/O panel there are a total of eight USB 2.0 ports, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, optical and coaxial SPDIF audio out, 1394 firewire port and the very handy clear CMOS button.
That's all the X58 goods we have for you at this stage but stay tuned for more over the following weeks until Intel get it out on shop shelves.
ASUS has jumped the gun by a good few weeks or more and has started showing media early shots of its upcoming P6T Deluxe motherboard which is based on Intel's yet-to-be-released X58 Express chipset.
This is the chipset, of course, that will power Intel's upcoming Socket 1366 Core i7 Nehalem processors and included some fancy features such as Triple Channel memory and Turbo Mode overclocking.
Our colleagues over at Custom PC were lucky enough to get a good close up look at the P6T Deluxe and have posted many pictures and details about the product here for all to see.
Our friends over at PCGH in Germany (link translated from German to English by Google) also managed to get the same nice treatment from the local ASUS PR reps over in that part of the world.
We might just get lucky ourselves shortly and be able to show some shots of another brand X58 motherboard - stay tuned!
ASRock are feeling rather generous at the moment, and as such they have decided to fire up a P43/P45 motherboard Lucky Draw! - If you're excited about the prospect of picking up a new ASRock P45 or P43 based motherboard for free, you'd be silly to turn your back on this one.
Three different motherboards are up for grabs and there will be two seperate rounds (taking place on 7th and 21st July) to double your chances of winning.
All you need to do is go to this page and answer three basic questions followed by some personal details, and you could end up with a freebie in hand; worth a shot - Good luck folks.
COMPUTEX TAIPEI 2008 AMD is not due to officially release its codenamed RS780D named 790GX chipset (along with SB750 chipset and AMD Overdrive Extreme overclock tweaking utility) until a little later but several companies were showing off their early design boards at Computex Taipei 2008 this week.
Our first stop was at MSI who had its K9A2GX-Digital motherboard on display for all to see. The MSI rep we spoke to mentioned that the board is nowhere near finished and the product we saw on display actually only arrived from the factory in China a couple days before the show began.
AMD's 790GX chipset is a new version of the 790FX with onboard graphics card better overclocking ability according to the folks we spoke to during Computex. MSI's K9A2GX-Digital gets a couple PCIe x16 slots for CrossfireX support, as well as generation two of Dr.Mos and five phases of power just for the CPU.
As far as I/O goes, you get all the usual goodies in addition to a single eSATA port and HDMI output with an optical port above it, in case you aren't using the HDMI cable to output audio into the same device as the video part.
Next up we saw DFI who had a couple rather interesting AMD 790GX based mobos on show. First up is the LANPARTY DK (stands for Dark) 790GX-M2RS which DFI is targeting towards "hard-core gamers and overclockers". They say it will offer excellent performance but not cost a bomb.
The 790GX-M2RS is the full-sized ATX option from DFI and it gets four + one phase digital PWM, Hybrid Graphics support of course, ALC885 HD eight channel sound, DFI's Auto Boost System (ABS), fanless cooling for 0db operation and six stacked 90 degree angled SATA-II ports. It gets two PCIe x16 slots for CrossfireX but if you have two cards installed, each slot will operate at x8 electronically.
Next up is the DFI LANPARTY JR (stands for Junior) 790GX-M2RS which is the little brother of the other one you just saw. It is a Micro-ATX based motherboard and the big thing with this product is that it manages to squeeze in dual PCIe x16 slots for gamers looking to build a small system which is still able to offer good performance.
It gets pretty much most of the features as the LANPARTY DK 790GX-M2RS but with the addition of an even more attractive price tag.
COMPUTEX TAIPEI 2008 Normally combination memory motherboards mean you have to compromise on the total capacity.
Traditionally we have either two slots for one type of memory and two for the other. In some cases, you have two slots for one type and four for the other, depending on which technology is newer gets the extra slots.
Well here comes MSI, aiming at giving you the best combo board without compromising on anything. The new P4S8D is an Intel P45 Express based motherboard with single graphics card option but with memory capacities of 8GB of either DDR2 or 8GB of DDR3.
Eight total memory slots are given, four of them are for DDR3 (blue and purple) and four for DDR2 (Green and Orange). This makes MSI's board the highest capacity combo board out there. Way to go.
COMPUTEX TAIPEI 2008 MSI and Foxconn were both showing off their upcoming motherboard products at Computex out in the new Nangang hall and a couple that got our attention were mobos based on Intel's upcoming G45 Express chipset. This chipset will be package in Intel's GMA-X4100 graphics chip for onboard graphics support.
First up we have the Foxconn Concerto (which I assuming means concert in some other language). It is part of Foxconn's new Digital Life motherboard portfolio which is designed for boards with onboard graphics.
The Concerto will feature an ICH10R Southbridge, support for all Socket 775 45nm processors, it officially supports an FSB of 1333MHz but claims it will be overclockable to 1600MHz FSB, unofficially of course. The big feature with this mobo is the fact that it supports DDR2 and DDR3 memory up to 8GB in total. It gets two PCIe x16 2.0 slots but if both are in use, they will split down and work at x8 electronically.
Next up we move onto MSI who were showing a stack of motherboards at its booth but agan our focus is back on its G45 products.
First up we have the MSI G45 Platinum which will be MSI's flagship most high-end G45 product and it looks rather impressive. It basically uses a similar design to MSI's P45 and X48 boards but of course with a different chipset under the impressive Circu-Pipe 2 cooling setup. Differing from the Foxconn board, it just gets a single PCIe X16 2.0 slot that works at x16 and to us this makes more sense since people buying this board will probably not be a gamer but something looking at building a high-end HTPC setup or fairly well equipped office PC.
It will see generation 2.0 of Dr.MOS power saving technology and MSI claims it will operate at 10 watts low power usage using its GreenPower technology. For a board with onboard graphics, it really seems like MSI is still pushing good overclocking with it with 2-phase dedicated power supply for memory and chipset systems.
The final G45 based mobo MSI were showing was its G45M which is a Micro-ATX version and cheaper than the previous board - it is pictured above.
COMPUTEX TAIPEI 2008 Intel had many people gathered around the Atom area of its booth with obviously much interest in something very small.
Our attention was focused on a small wall of Mini-ITX Atom based motherboards from Intel, Foxconn, Gigabyte and J&W.
Before we show you the pictures of these boards, take a moment to get an understanding at just how small the Atom CPU chip is from the small picture we created below.
People have been mixing up the Northbridge and Atom CPU but probably for good reason.
Now we get a close-up look at the boards displayed on the wall.
These boards will be placed inside systems such as the ASUS Eee Box and MSI Wind Desktop as well as another unit that we are about to write about from ECS. Stay tuned!
COMPUTEX TAIPEI 2008 Intel has the largest booth here in Nangang hall at Computex Taipei 2008 and they were showing off all their latest goodies including the obvious Atom based netbooks and other related products.
On it's Great Wall of 4 Series Motherboards, we spotted two Intel X58 samples on display to the public.
The first was an early MSI X58 sample. Intel was hush hush on anything remotely related to it but we did get some close up shots for your viewing pleasure.
These boards will see many changes before they go on sale but it does give you a basic idea of what to expect.
1366 pin LGA socket for the upcoming Nehalem CPU and triple-channel memory support are the major things to take away from these picture.
COMPUTEX TAIPEI 2008 For my first meeting of 2008 I was invited to the GIGABYTE suite in Taipei 101 and what a view from the 36th floor but being the computer geek I am the sight from within was even better.
On entering the suite we were greeted with all of GIGABYTE's new and up and coming boards.
First on the tour was a G45 based system. This little beauty was playing Blu-ray movies through the integrated graphics.
For the elite users the EP45-Extreme comes equipped with three PCI Express graphics card slots, DDR3 memory as well as a hybrid water cooling for the mosfets, NB and SB.
If you're not keen on getting DDR3, there is a DDR2 version.
With Atom launching today, GIGABYTE's GA-GC230D Atom powered motherboard was on display. We are really looking forward to getting this one in for review.
For a more budget conscious option to the DQ6, DS4 has the same six PCI Express GPU slots but runs less voltage regulation system.
GIGABYTE was only showing one AMD board at its suite, but what a board, based on the new AMD 790GX chipset with Hybrid Graphics support.
As for graphics cards, the only really exciting part (apart from the new ATI graphics card we couldn't photograph due to NDA) was a 9600GT based board is a new three heat core passive cooler onboard.