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Intel's 7-series chipset is only a month away, but the PC motherboard industry is seeing some huge movement, with ASRock and GIGABYTE both teasing us with some new boards, and now we have ASUS joining the ranks.
ASUS are teasing with their Republic of Gamers-based board, the next-gen Maximus V board. It seems as though ASUS have the ROG Maximus V ready, and should sport the latest Intel Z77 chipset. The board will most likely come in three flavors: Extreme, Formula and the micro-ATX-based Gene.
Full pictures, and more details should be made available this week, so a little patience is needed. Personally I run a ROG-based board and love it. Never had a single hiccup on it, whatsoever. The new Maximus V board should be a delight to see, and I'm excited to see where ASUS can take their new ROG board.
After typing up this news, I stumbled across some the Maxishine forums, where they've shown the ASUS ROG Maximus V GENE mATX-based board, and boy does it look pretty. It definitely sports Intel's Z77 chipset, which in turn supports Intel's 3rd-generation processors. We now have some details on the board:
ASRock have literally just started to show off the upcoming X79 Extreme11 motherboard that hopefully isn't too far away and will get a showing at CeBIT this week. If the previous X79 Extreme9 is anything to go by we should be excited as we found ourselves impressed with what ASRock was doing with the board when we looked at it earlier in the year.
We don't have heaps of information on the board at the moment as the covers have literally just come off it, but you can see, we're dealing with a total of five PCIe x16 slots which offer support for 4-way video card setups (SLI and CrossFireX) along with two legacy PCI slots.
The board comes with two GEN3 PLX 8747 chips allowing for four way setups to run at x16 / x16 / x16 / x16 along with an LSI SAS2308 chip offering us eight SAS ports or eight SATA3 ports which are only part of the 14 total SATA ports on offer with 10 of them being SATA3.
Audio is provided by the Creative Core3D chip which is impressive and you can see eight DDR3 slots, two 8-pin CPU connectors, the typical debug readout and a power and reset button sitting next to it. Extra power connectors also include a Molex connector on the far left under the bottom most PCIe slot along with a second Molex connector next to the top most slot.
Gigabyte's G1 series of gaming motherboards have shared their fair share of success in the ATX or XL-ATX form factor, but it seems Gigabyte want to continue this success and launched a much-requested mATX model with the G1.Sniper M3.
The Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 shares some of its features with the G1.Sniper 3, but is found in an mATX form factor, where some compromises had to be made. The G1.Sniper M3 sports two PCI-Express 3.0 slots, but both slots would run in x8 mode when populated. It also sports one x16 PCI-Express 2.0 slot, but only has four lanes connected via the chipset, on top of this, we also have a single x1 PCI-Express 2.0 slot.
The G1.Sniper M3 only includes two SATA 6Gbps ports, with three SATA 3Gbps ports to back it up. Considering this is an mATX board, one would only be using a small form factor-based case, which would have limited HDD capacity anyway. It does sport the G1. Sniper 3's same Creative Sound Core3D, too, but with a changed design. VR-Zone have spotted that there are empty spaces where the additional audio-grade capacitors seem to be missing. What will go there, or not go there, is not currently known.
As you might have seen, we just got done covering four of GIGABYTE's upcoming Intel Z77 "Ivy Bridge" motherboards in an earlier story we posted today.
What we also saw today during our meeting at the GIGABYTE headquarters here in Taipei was a revised version of its 3D BIOS. If your memory fails you a bit, that is GIGABYTE's name for its fancy UEFI graphical BIOS for its current motherboards. 3D BIOS adds a layer of interactivity over the "Advanced Mode" BIOS (more like an old style BIOS setup) which shows a picture of your motherboard and options to quickly adjust settings for various areas of the motherboard by simply clicking on that part that you want to change.
The new version of 3D BIOS is refined just in time for the launch of the upcoming Intel Z77 "Ivy Bridge" platform. At this stage only these new Z77 boards we'll get the new and improved 3D BIOS, but at a later stage, older boards may also get upgraded, but that hasn't been decided on yet.
You can see now that the motherboard looks like it is somewhat snowed over (or LN2'ed over) and other things have been cleaned up such as nice and more readable fonts, more detailed information on settings, more icons and so on. There are some more pictures below in the gallery if you want to see some more detail.
Earlier on today we visited the GIGABYTE headquarters here in Taipei where we got some exclusive hands-on time with its range of upcoming Intel Z77 "Ivy Bridge" Socket 1155 motherboards. GIGABYTE told us to say "3rd generation" processors, but to be more clear, we're telling you they are indeed "Ivy Bridge" processors. These are the boards that will support the upcoming third generation Intel Core processors that are due to come onto the market sometime in April as far as we know at this stage of the game. These boards will also support current Sandy Bridge based processors such as the 2500k, 2600k and 2700k.
We also know that the performance of these said processors is really impressive and the power consumption numbers are great, too. We cannot go into too many details about this platform at this stage, but what we can do is give you a look at what GIGABYTE has planned for the platform with a look at four of its upcoming Z77 boards which we went hands-on with today.
We'll start off with the big daddy which is the G1.Sniper 3, this is a board designer for gamers as well as overclockers and represents as the highest end Z77 board from GIGABYTE at this stage. It comes with an improved cooling setup with oversized heatsinks and a more minimalistic cooler design - rather than a big gun shaped heatsink at the south end of the board, there is just a small golden skull with a knife held in its mouth...
ASRock have just unveiled a new X79-based motherboard, where they've partnered up with pro-gamer Johnathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel, who worked closely with ASRock engineers to develop a well-featured motherboard based on Intel's X79 chipset. Enter, ASRock/Fatal1ty X79 Professional. Fatal1ty is quoted:
This Fatal1ty motherboard was designed to bring your gaming performance to the highest level. The Fatal1ty X79 Professional comes with a Fatal1ty Mouse Port that delivers the precise control needed to elevate your game. In addition to gaming functions, the board packs 4 PCIe 3.0 slots, supporting up to 4-Way SLI and 4-Way CrossFireX. This combination will make you deadly and feared in the battlefield.
James Lee, Vice President of ASRock Sales and Marketing chimes in with:
ASRock-Fatal1ty motherboards represent quality. This board is crammed full of features like XFast 555 and F-Stream. The blistering performance will satisfy users who require both overclocking and gaming needs.
Earlier this week we took a trip to the VIA Technologies office not far from our very own actually here in Taipei and got an introduction to a few new products including the brand new VIA EPIA-M900.
The EPIA-M900 is a Mini-ITX motherboard designed for the embedded market and what's special about this board is that it is the world's first to offer a quad-core processor on a Mini-ITX platform. This processor we speak about is the new VIA QuadCore E-Series at 1.2GHz and it also includes Adaptive Overclocking to increase the processor clock speed a little when under heavy load. What's great about this platform besides its small size and fit me anywhere type design, is that it has a TDP (thermal design power) rating of just 27.5 watts.
The processor is teamed up with the VIA VX900H Media System Processor (chipset) and when combined is able to playback 720p and 1080p video as well as offer up to 8GB of DDR3 memory support along with some other goodies you'd expect such as gigabit LAN, HDMI, VGA, four USB 2.0 ports and audio output. The board also includes a single PCIe x16 slot (with effective speed up to PCIe x8) which would allow you to add in a video card if you require additional video outputs for your digital signage needs or whatever else it may be.
We shot a video as you can see above with Mike from VIA who gave us a bit of an introduction and hands-on time with the VIA EPIA-M900.
Earlier today Shane Baxtor and I ventured out to the ECS headquarters here in Taipei where we were given exclusive access to look at the Taiwanese motherboard company's range of upcoming Intel Ivy Bridge motherboards that are due to come out onto the market sometime in late March or April as far as we can tell.
In the video above we spent most of our time focusing on ECS' most high-end Ivy Bridge motherboard, the Z77HS-AX Black Extreme. This is a full size ATX motherboard with plenty of the bells and whistles ticked including onboard Bluetooth 2.1 and Wi-Fi as well as native USB 3.0 provided by the Intel Ivy Bridge chipset. It also gets some other nice goodies such as onboard power and reset buttons as well as a heatpipe cooling design which looks like it should do an adequate job of keeping things under control in the temperature department.
Some of the big features of this board is the inclusion of not two, but three PCI-E x16 3.0 slots which allows for SLI and CrossFireX support. The first slot is 16 lanes while the other two other eight lanes - ECS was able to achieve the extra lanes by adding in an additional chip which is said to cost $30 alone. As far as memory goes, you get support for DDR3 dual channel and in early testing so far, ECS engineers told us that they have been able to reach over 2600MHz DDR so far...
CES 2012 - As any ASUS user will tell you, on the ROG series there is already a pretty full gamut of offerings for software overclocking and control of various features that come with their motherboards and add-on devices. As seen in this screen shot, there are now seven windows of opportunity. We all know there is a version of CPU-Z and GPU-z, along with the GPU Tweak program, as well as others, but there is a couple of hidden gems in this image.
The first offering I am going to cover is the new ROG Exchange program. What this offers is the ability to go to a database on ASUS' web site and pick from a multitude of pre-clocked configurations saved into a file that users can download. You simple pick through a list of offering with your board and processor and find the file you think fits your needs and let the software load it into the bios for you. Also with this software, you can be in the driver's seat and load bios files that you have found to work well and share it with everyone else. This should make overclocking much easier for those who don't have the time to learn everything in the bios, and let the professionals do all the tedious testing for you...
CES 2012 - In our second video with JJ from ASUS at their Trump Towers suite we got a close up look at the new ASUS ROG Rampage IV Formula and Gene and learned a lot about what ASUS is doing to really take audio to the next level.
Exclusive to the aforementioned two motherboards, ASUS engineers are taking audio quality very seriously and have created a special route for the audio tracers from the back IO to the onboard audio codec towards the south of the motherboard. When held up to sunlight with a static board demo we could clearly see the separation in the PCB for the audio. When the system is turned on, the route actually glows red as you can see in the video above.
The reason for all this? By creating a dedicated route for the audio signals, ASUS is able to offer better audio performance that is somewhat separate from the other parts on the PCB and this should go a long way to reducing any audio interference.