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CES 2010 - One of the standout items being showcased at ASUS' booth is a final sample of the company's next flagship LGA1366 X58 motherboard, the Rampage III Extreme.
Some radical changes have been made to this board over its predecessor, the Rampage II Extreme. The biggest and most useful performance oriented change is this board's ability to run up to four double slot NvIDIA or ATI graphics cards with its well spaced out PCI-e 2.0 x16 slots. ASUS ensures there'll be no hindrance in the way of available PCIe lanes by including NVIDIA's nForce 200 chip and PCI bridge to assist in taking on four-card SLI and CrossFire.
Other enhancements include ROG Connect with the ability to overclock using Bluetooth (mobile phones etc.), discrete SATA 6Gb/s and USB 3.0 controllers which won't affect graphics performance when used unlike other boards, thanks to ASUS' PCI-E 2.0 bridge implementation, a superior CPU VRM setup with super-ML capacitors being used for both the CPU and memory power circuits and slimmer low-profile heatsinks said to be made of ceramic composite which help make the board more adaptable to larger CPU cooling solutions.
The Rampage III Extreme is expected to arrive to market sometime this quarter, with pricing, while not confirmed, sure to be sky high.
CES 2010 - On display at ASUS' booth was a new ATX form-factor motherboard based on AMD's 890G chipset, a known successor to 790GX with its performance oriented IGP.
Dubbed the M4A89GTOD PRO, the board supports 2-way CrossFireX (x8 / x8) discrete graphics, but also has an integrated DX10.1 compliant IGP (DX11 would have been nice, when's that coming AMD?).
The feature-set on this board is very nice thanks to the AMD SB800 Southbridge. This is potentially the first motherboard chipset that gives native SATA 6Gb/s support with the ability to control up to six of them (which the M4A89GTOD PRO makes full of). Further to those six ports is another (black) SATA 3 Gb/s port, an IDE port and an eSATA port which is controlled by an external JMicron storage controller.
The AM3 CPU socket is given a 5-phase VRM and there's four DDR3 DIMM slots for dual-channel memory support. Other features include a VIA made 8+2 channel HD audio codec with optical S/PDIF support, FireWire, a bunch of USB 2.0 ports (hmm, USB 3.0 please) and both DVI and D-Sub display connectivity for the IGP.
Whilst not confirmed, rumour has it the board will surface a bit later in the year, likely sometime during Q2.
CES 2010 - We caught up with MSI this afternoon at its suite here at CES where they were showing off its much spoken about Big Bang Fuzion motherboard that uses the Lucid Hydra chip to create some pretty special video card options.
We finally got to see the motherboard in action with a pair of GeForce and Radeon video cards that are able to run together in a SLI or Crossfire type mode. Watch the video now and you will even see the 3DMark06 benchmark results!
While details are still unconfirmed at this stage, this board should be on shop shelves by the end of Q1.
With Intel's new 32nm Clarkdale officially unveiled yesterday, details of supporting H55 and H57 motherboards from various manufacturers are beginning to surface. Yesterday we took a look at one of ASRock's initial H55 models in the H55M Pro which impressed us.
Details have surfaced in relation to two new offerings from eVGA, one using the H55 chipset and the other, H57.
As you can see from the pictures above, both are full ATX sized, each with a pair of x16 slots for CrossFire(X) use. Other features include eight SATA ports, Gigabit Ethernet, FireWire, 7.1 audio and in conjunction with the in-built IGP on the CPUs themselves, there's a D-Sub, DVI and HDMI output on the rear I/O.
Shouldn't be long before eVGA make more noise about the new boards including pricing and availability.
In what seems to be a flashback to the Lynnfield/P55 launch we now hear that H57 boards from at least one manufacturer are showing up for sale in the Taipei computer market. The culprit this time is the Asus P7H57D-V EVO, the problem? Well the launch for this and the CPUs that support it are not until sometime in January.
What does this mean for Clarkdale and the new H5x chipsets? Well it can go one of two ways really. The first is the worse of the two scenarios as we start seeing Clarkdale Core i5 CPUs hitting the shelves in the same stores in Taipei. At the time of this writing that is not the case. The other is one where the boards hang out and are picked up by those wanting to get an early start on Clarkdale Core i5 and i3 CPUs.
But no matter which way it goes the Asus H57 board is a little higher priced that it should be. It runs for about $240. This is more than many P55 boards will run, but I suppose they are banking on the IGP on the CPU to make the cost seem more logical. The issue still remains that we do not yet know if the IGP on Clarkdale is worth the extra money or not.
For that we will have to wait for the official Clarkdale launch, or for some brave and enterprising website to push out a review early to get some extra page hits before the end of the year.
Word's now entered the rumour mill that DFI are going the way of Abit, looking to pull out of the motherboard market, which would be a real shame for the niche of avid DFI LANParty fans that look to no other when it's time to purchase their next enthusiast oriented motherbord.
If website SemiAccurate are onto anything solid with regard to this story, we could see DFI make an official announcement as early as next month saying their goodbyes as they exit the mobo market and put sole focus into the 'industrial PC business'.
As it stands now, Newegg only have stock of two DFI motherboard models across their inventory of 21 Intel boards and five AMD boards, so signs sure aren't looking good.
Come the official launch of Intel's new Atom processor range earlier today, ECS are one of the first out the gate with an Intel NM10 Express chipset based mini-ITX board and embedded Atom D510 processor designed for fan-less systems, small form factor PCs and the like.
The TIGT-I's features include integrated GMA3150 DX9 graphics, two DDR2-800 memory slots, one PCIe x1 slot, Gigabit Ethernet, HD audio, 2 x SATA 3Gbps, 1 x PATA and 4 x USB 2.0.
For further info, check out the official PR here.
Intel's value positioned desktop chipset for LGA-1156, H55 Express is set for launch in Q1 2010 and a trio of H55 boards from GIGABYTE have been spotted online. These include the GA-H55M-S2H and GA-H55M-UD2H, both of which are mATX based, and also a full sized ATX board, the GA-H55-UD3H.
Where the GA-H55M-S2H has only two DDR3 DIMM slots, no eSATA or FireWire and the lack of Ultra Durable 3 (which includes all solid-state capacitors and a 2 oz copper PCB), the GA-H55M-UD2H has four DDR3 slots and makes welcome these other additional features.
Both of these mATX boards use a 7-phase CPU VRM, have two PCI-E x16 slots (with the lower electrically at x4), two legacy PCI, six SATA 3 Gbps ports (the sixth on the GA-H55M-UD2H is routed to an eSATA port on the rear I/O), and DVI / D-Sub / HDMI connections.
As for the full sized ATX model, the GA-H55-UD3H. Running the same CPU VRM setup as the H55M boards, this board is equipped with equivilent features to the GA-H55M-UD2H, only its larger physical size gives it seven expansion slots; two x PCI-E x16 (x16 / x4), one x PCI-E x1, and four legacy PCI slots. This board does not have eSATA, however, with all six ports internally on the board like the GA-H55M-S2H.
An interesting bit of news has surfaced in regards to ASUS' plans for its motherboard and GPu products in July of next year. ASUS feels it's a more beneficial business decision in the long term to spin off these segments to subsidiary mob, Pegatron.
The split is motivated with intent to bolden its ASUS branding and continue stronger competition against the likes of big guns HP and Dell whilst still collecting ODM and motherboard orders from those companies.
Once Pegatron have full grasp, it's expected that this will in turn push ASRock up from the entry-level position and well into the mainstream (and possibly high-end) market segment.
I'm sure a lot of people are a bit sour at the idea of seeing the name "ASUS" dissapear off motherboard boxes in replacement for Pegatron, but at the end of the day it shouldn't really affect the top notch quality and range of which ASUS' has proven itself to be capable of for a long time running.
AMD have a successor to its current Dragon platform due out in Q2 of next year; this known as Leo. Two of the three individual components that make up this platform are the Thuban six-core processor and RD890 chipset (using the SB850 Southbridge).
A picture of MSI's first RD890 offering has already surfaced on the web which it calls the 890FX-GD70. What we can learn from the picture is that it looks to sport MSI's 5-phase DrMOS, four DDR3 slots, a very extensive set of PCIe x16 slots (six!), six SATA 6Gbps ports along with a seventh blue one which may or may not also be SATA 6Gbps.
Further to that are buttons directly on the board for Power, Reset and OC'ing on the fly as well as Gigabit Ethernet, 7.1 audio, eSATA, FireWire and two USB 3.0 ports controlled by NEC's chip.