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Today is the big day for Intel and its new Sandy Bridge-E processors and X79 Express chipset platform. The NDA just came off moments ago and now we can give you the full run-down on the ASRock X79 Overclock King Series of motherboards based off the new platform.
Last week we met up with Chris Lee, Director of Marketing, at the ASRock HQ here in Taipei where he gave us a full introduction to its first batch of X79 motherboards. ASRock is launching with five X79 boards right now including the Extreme3, Extreme4-M (Micro-ATX), Extreme4, Extreme7 and the Extreme9.
We spent most of our time in the video above focused on the top-dog, the ASRock X79 Extreme9. This board is packed out with loads of good features including eight DDR3 DIMM slots for quad-channel memory support, five PCI-E x16 slots, active fan cooling for the X79 chipset, loads of SATA-III ports and full digital VRM power management with 18 phases of power for RAM (2) and CPU (16).
One of the big additions with the Extreme9 is the bundle inclusion of the ASRock Game Blaster which is a PCI-E x1 add-on audio and LAN card which uses the quad-core Creative SoundCore 3D audio processing chip for greatly improved gaming audio support over usual onboard audio usually found on most motherboards.
Now that the Intel NDA is up for the X79 Express chipset, we can finally let fly with all of our content on the subject. Our latest is from the GIGABYTE headquarters here in Taipei where last week we visited them and got a good look at their range of motherboards to support the new Socket 2011 Intel processors.
Since we've already spent a good amount of time previewing some GIGABYTE X79 boards and others, we didn't want to focus too much on the boards themselves, but some of the features included. We will start off with the all new 3D Dual UEFI BIOS. 3D, you say? Yes - well probably not the kind of 3D you are thinking with movies and the need to pull out some fancy active shutter glasses.
Check out the video for a full hands-on look at the BIOS.
ASUS may have the amazingly sexy Republic of Gaming boards, but Workstation (WS) series boards are filled to the brim with great detail and are fit for mission-critical environments. The WS-branded boards are usually based on chipsets from Intel's client product lines rather than Enterprise lines. Intel's Sandy Bridge-E 1P platform will get a similar treatment with the P9X79WS.
The board is based on an ATX form-factor, and uses the tpyical X79 layout. The socket LGA2011 is powered by a 10-phase Digi+ VRM, which is cooled by a heatsink that shares its heat with a VRM heatsink cluster over the memory VRM, and one over the X79 PCH.
ASUS' P9X79WS features eight DDR3 DIMM slots, supporting SB-E's quad-channel memory, and all PCI-Express slots are long-type, and the board supports 4-way NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFire X support. Storage-wise we have two SATA 6Gbps and four SATA 3Gbps from the PCH, two SATA 6Gbps from a discrete controller, and to my surprise, a lack of eSATA.
MSI have had their turn, twice, and now its BIOSTAR's turn. BIOSTAR have just announced the TPOWER X79 motherboard that is squarely aimed at the most demanding of overclockers and enthusiasts. The latest Sandy Bridge-E, Socket 2011-based CPUs will feature in the board when the X79 chipset is officially launched on 11/14.
BIOSTAR's TPOWER X79 sports the ability of extreme overclocking capabilities, rich functionalities as well as the highest standard of quality. It includes an integrated heat-pipe design, three-way CrossFire X or SLI support, quad-channel memory support, eight USB 3.0 ports and nine-phase 'luxurious' power supply design.
Earlier today, MSI shot us an e-mail with some teaser shots of their various boards. Instead of an update to that post, this motherboard deserves its own spot on the news page just because it looks like a boss.
Enter, MSI's Big Bang XPower II, which features eight DIMMs, ten SATA ports (!), a slew of PCIe ports enough to plug in eleventy million cards, X-Fi MB2 on-board, and what stands out on its military black theme, is a row of 6 bullets that make up a magazine as a heatsink. We have never seen this before, except for oh wait, Gigabyte's G1 Sniper boards, but hey, two can play at this game, right?
My inbox this morning had some glorious news, a tease of the upcoming Sandy Bridge-E boards from MSI. Included, was the super high-end Big Bang XPower II board, all the way down to the smaller micro-ATX X79MA-GD45. If you like pics, there's a bunch below:
First up is the X79A-GD65 8D, which does look quite pretty. It sports various features such as the usual quad-channel DDR3, but includes THX TruStudio PRO sound, CrossFire X and SLI support. It also includes eight SATA ports and eight DIMMs if you're RAM and Storage crazy like most of us.
GIGABYTE wants to have something that is more functional than the competitions' UEFI setup programs, and this is where GIGABYTE 3D BIOS steps up and into the ring to have a swing at things. When you hit DEL at POST to load up the setup program, it starts up the 3D BIOS home screen. On the home screen, you find a 3D rotatable image of your motherboard.
Cool, right? Well, you can use your mouse to spin the board around and check it out - certain parts of that motherboard image can be clicked to open up settings related to it. Let's say you want to click on the SATA ports on that image, click it and the program will open up SATA controller settings. Clicking on the memory slots brings up the memory tuning settings window. Very, very cool.
The visual elements all look spiffy, including smooth fonts, curves and lavish use of alpha. The fine tuning pages don't look like a re-skinned, mouse-enabled version of the old interface, but now include genuine GUI elements like sliders, tickboxes, radio buttons and tabs. A video demo of this is available below:
GIGABYTE are using an AMI UEFI backend, mixed with its own patented DualBIOS technology that protects against bad flashes.
We've seen quite the frey of final revision X79 motherboards being readied up to coincide with the big Sandy Bridge-E launch in just a little over a week from now, but MSI's X79MA-GD45 has just been exposed and should peak interest for many particularly due to one bold attribute - it is built around the Micro ATX form factor.
I bet you're already thinking of how cool it would be to have so much power hiding inside a nice compact mATX chassis for your gaming pleasure. The board doesn't disappoint in the features dept. either and should be quite the solid board with the use of MSI's Military Class III components all round.
Any reason to show off some more Sandy Bridge-E / X79 related goodness is a good one, especially now with it being one of the hottest topics thanks to the launch right around the corner. And thanks to Biostar we can give you some more of it with pics and details on their upcoming TPower X79 motherboard for the next-gen LGA-2011 platform from Intel.
The board, while being by Biostar who tend to be renowned for delivering a more no frills, lower priced piece of hardware, looks to be quite strong by design overall, with no real shortcomings over the many other X79 motherboards we've been lucky enough to see pre-launch; unless of course you compare it directly to something like ASUS' Rampage IV Extreme.
Bluetooth 4.0 and WiFi are set to be included on Gigabyte's upcoming X79-based motherboards; G1.Assassin 2, X79-UD7 and X79-UD5. The card will be included in the boxes of those models, which will be a mini-PCI Express Wireless N module, two moveable base antennas, Bluetooth 4.0 and a USB port.
The mini Wireless card sports an Atheros chip and will be powered by the PCI-Express bus, with the USB port being an internal connector which will allow you to add any USB device from within the case. A unique feature.
The Bluetooth 4.0 side of things will continue to be compatible with Bluetooth 3.0 +HS as well as low-power 4.0 devices. Both ASUS and ECS have chosen to go down the Bluetooth 3.0 route, so this gives GIGABYTE the one-up on those companies. There are only a low number of devices that support Bluetooth 4.0, such as the iPhone 4S.
Is it too early to put one of those G1.Assassin 2 boards on my Christmas list? GIGABYTE, have I been a good boy?