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Ultra-small-form-factor PCs are all the rage right now. Look around and you'll see Ultrabooks, Zotac Zboxes, and all kinds of other small-form-factor systems. Intel, apparently, was unhappy with the size of the systems and wants to push the envelope just a wee bit further with its new form-factor dubbed the Next Unit of Computing (NUC).
The new 4"x4" (100mm x 100mm) board was shown off by Intel at an event in London last week. It has quite a bit more power than one would think a board of that size would contain. The board currently features Sandy Bridge-based mobile Core i3 and i5 processors. Along with the mobile theme, the board sports a pair of SO-DIMM memory slots.
A pair of Mini PCI Express slots, HDMI, USB 3.0, and Thunderbolt ports are also included. Intel expects these NUC PCs to be available in the second half of the year. Most likely they will be sporting Ivy Bridge CPUs by that time. The more capable GPU will be a nice addition as it appears that there is no room for a discrete GPU.
ASUS and Pegatron enjoy quite the relationship, but 2012 is the year of the end of everything, and ASUS now have plans to end their ODM (Original Design Manufacturer) partnership with Pegatron. ASUS first have plans to decrease ODM production of motherboards from Pegatron which will start mid way through the year, after which they'll completely end their ODM relationship by Q3 2012, according to component manufacturers.
After ending their ODM partnership with Pegatron, ASUS will have other companies stand up and take ODM motherboard production, these companies are: Thailand-based Cal-Comp Electronics, Taiwan-based Global Brands Manufacture, Info-Tek and Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS). ECS and ASUS aren't strangers to each other, either, as ECS has been an ODM of graphics cards for ASUS.
It's been a fairly busy day for the TweakTown Taipei team with a visit to GEIL and then we headed on over to MSI who were nearby.
We were shown a few products during our meeting, but the one that stood out to us the most was their upcoming Z77A-GD80 motherboard, which you can get up close and personal with in the video we embedded above. This board supports the upcoming Intel Ivy Bridge processors which if you have been reading TweakTown this past week, you know quite a bit about now.
What's probably the most interesting feature of this motherboard is that it comes with a Thunderbolt connector. It's the first time we've seen a Z77 board with Thunderbolt onboard and that's pretty impressive. We have heard rumours around Taipei of more boards including Thunderbolt, but at this stage of the game, MSI is out in front in this department...
A little birdy sent me an e-mail late last night with some pretty amazing contents: 3GHz memory barrier, smashed. The following goodies were used: Intel Core i7 3770K processor, GIGABYTE Z77X-UD5H and some G.Skill memory, in particular, the F3-2666CL10-4GBZHD kit.
The achievement is quite amazing, and there should be some proud people here. First up, the person behind the overclock: sin0822. Secondly, GIGABYTE for their motherboard allowing this, and thirdly, G.Skill for some insanely overclockable memory. The exact speed hit on the memory was 1501.5MHz, just over the 3GHz barrier.
Insane results! sin0822 - you should be very happy with yourself right now. I dub thee with the TT Hero of the Day award. If I had awards, I'd send you one. 3GHz on RAM! WOW!
You may have already seen the first video from our ASRock HQ visit today that checked out their full range of Intel Z77 Express Ivy Bridge boards and now we have two boards based around the Socket 2011 X79 chipset which deserve your attention, and here's why.
Let's start off with the Fatal1ty X79 Champion which as you may have guessed is a high-end gaming motherboard. You could probably consider this an X79 motherboard refresh from ASRock as it gets some nifty features such as the inclusion of the Creative Sound Core3D audio processor which includes "Scout Mode" that allows you to get a better idea of where your enemy is, probably with better audio positioning support compared to other cheaper audio codecs. it also comes with other high-end gaming features such as quad-SLI support.
And next up we have the ASRock X79 Extreme11 which really got out attention, nothing against the Fatal1ty board, but this one is really one to pay attention to for the following reasons. This is one of the biggest motherboards ASRock has produced and it comes totally packed with features. Let's start off with storage - it comes with no less than 14 onboard SATA 3.0 ports and eight of those SATA 3.0 ports are actually SAS 3.0 ports for more critical storage requirements...
Earlier on today we visited the ASRock headquarters here in Taipei where we were introduced to their range of Intel Z77 Express Ivy Bridge based motherboards. You know, the ones we have been covering lately over the past couple of days - with more coming!
ASRock literally had a large room filled with Ivy Bridge based motherboards with not just Z77 based products, but also H77, Q77, B75 and so on - the whole shebang. In our video above we have focused just on the boards our audience will be most interested in and knowing you guys, that is the more high-end boards in the new line-up from ASRock.
We are going to let the video above do the talking, but as an introduction to it we got a look at ASRock's gaming boards including the Fatal1ty Z77 Performance, Professional and Professional-M. What's probably most interesting for us is that the Professional-M is the first Micro-ATX based board from ASRock to get the Fatal1ty treatment. We can't wait to test it...
We just posted about our video hands-on coverage of three upcoming ASUS Z77 boards including the P8Z77-V Deluxe, Maximus V Gene ROG and Sabertooth right here and now we have yet another ASUS Ivy Bridge motherboard to tell you about it. It's tiny, but definitely not a small deal.
The tiny item we are talking about is the ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe which is a Mini-ITX based motherboard based on the upcoming Intel Z77 Express Ivy Bridge platform. It's small in size, but not in features - that's for sure. Starting off ASUS has created what we think is a super intelligent design by creating a separate daughter board which houses the Digi+ VRM (the power stuff) for this ITX platform instead of squeezing it onto the motherboard and sacrificing the inclusion of other features on the board. Actually, they probably wouldn't have been able to fit the digital VRM stuff on the board itself as it features a 10 phase CPU power setup, which is simply amazing amount of power to be given to a motherboard of this miniature size.
What this all means is that instead of expecting mediocre performance as with most Mini-ITX based motherboards, you get a similar type of experience as you would on even a full sized ATX motherboard in terms of overclocking and gaming performance...
Intel Z77 coverage keeps on rolling in and this time we give you a look at three upcoming ASUS boards based on the upcoming Ivy Bridge chipset. Once again we were told not to say "Ivy Bridge" by ASUS, but surely by now you all know exactly what we are working with here, so we just decided to say it.
As you can see in the video above, ASUS has many bases covered with a full line-up of Z77 boards that support the third generation Core processors based on a 28nm architecture including ones for those who want it all, those who are into gaming (for small systems) and those who are interesting in impressive cooling performance.
We'll start off with the Sabertooth Z77 which is built for consumer workstation level performance. The big thing with this board is that it includes Thermal Armor which is an original ASUS invention to bring a new way to cool your motherboard. The cooling assembly is split into two cooling zones with one covering the northern part of the board and the other the southern part of the board. Two fans are included in the package with are optional to be installed - meaning, the board doesn't really active fan cooling, but if you add the fans in, ASUS measured up to a 10 degree Celsius drop in temperature on some areas of the board...
Earlier on today I did an unboxing video of the brand new and upcoming ASRock Z77 Extreme6 motherboard. This new board based on Intel's Z77 Express Ivy Bridge chipset is due out soon and comes with plenty of features packed in such as ASRock XFast 555 technology (XFast LAN, XFast USB, XFast RAM), Lucid VirtuMVP, Intel Smart Response, Intel Smart Connect and much more.
ASRock told us to say that this board supports 2nd and 3rd generation Intel Core processors and not "Ivy Bridge" processors, but at this stage of the game we're going to say Ivy Bridge, because we all know what we are talking about here.
ASRock's Z77 Extreme6 motherboard features a stylish and attractive gold and black color scheme which looks really great. The PCB is black and gold comes into the theme by way of the gold touches on the coolers as well as the Japanese golden caps. The board includes three PCI Express x16 slots for up to three-way SLI and CrossFireX support. ASRock does claim that the board can support Quad SLI, which it can, but only by way of using two dual-GPU video cards such as the GeForce GTX 590.
There are a total of four DDR3 DIMM slots which provides dual-channel memory performance all the way up to DDR3-2800 with the aid of overclocking, so you should be able to expect some good memory performance which is something ASRock has focused on for a while now...
ECS has shown up with some pics of the new Z77H2-AX motherboard that is due in the coming weeks and the first bit that stands out is the epic gold and black color scheme on the board which looks awesome.
The socket looks especially fantastic; it's such a pity that it's going to be covered by a cooler. At least the fancy heatsinks are going to stand out and the I/O ports which have also got the Midas touch.
Alongside some fancy gold heatsinks we can see three PCIe x16 Gen3 slots, two legacy PCI slots and two PCIe x1 slots. There is also four DDR3 DIMM slots, mSATA, SATA, DEBUG, power and reset buttons and the normal line up of connectors we'd expect to see.
This is a fantastic looking board, though. Fingers crossed performance is also strong. Expect a review in the coming weeks when the NDA officially lists on the new Intel chipset and we can finally take the board for a spin.