Computex 2012 - Hanging out at the VIP Media Room at Taipei 101 we've had a chance to check out a couple of new motherboards that Gigabyte has launch or are launching over the coming weeks and months. The first motherboard we got a chance to look at is the upcoming GA-F2A85X-UP4 which falls into the new UP series from Gigabyte
Supporting next generation FM2 A Series APUs from Intel the GA-F2A85X-UP4 brings with it support for Dual Channel DDR3 2400MHz DDR+, 8 SATA3 ports, 6 USB 3.0 ports and Lucid Virtu technology.
You can see we've got the same black color scheme we've grown to love from Gigabyte along with our quick access power button in the top right corner and our debug reader on the bottom right.
Gigabyte had the board on display running three monitors and we should get a chance to take a closer look at the board when it becomes available soon.
AMD still has yet to release the desktop version of Trinity, but that hasn't stopped ECS from showing off its latest creation. ECS has released pictures and a bit of information about its upcoming motherboard designed for the AMD desktop Trinity APUs. The full-size ATX board is called the A85F2-A Deluxe and looks pretty good.
About all we know about the chipset is that it is an A85X chipset, which is one that AMD has yet to announce. We have a few more details available about the board such as it features six USB 3.0 ports, four of them near the I/O section. The board sports 7 SATA III 6Gbps ports just in case you have that many SSDs. That number also includes an external eSATA port.
The board also features two PCIe-x16 sots for graphics cards. ECS has also said that there are four more FM2 sockets in the works: the A75F2-A2, A75F2-M2, A55F2-A2, and A55F2-M3. Furthermore, the announcement says nothing about backwards compatibility, so for now, I would assume that it is not. And of course, a release date is missing as AMD has yet to release the Trinity APUs.
Thunderbolt has been all out of thunder lately, debuting last year on the refreshed Apple MacBook line up, it now looks like the technology will make a bigger appearance on motherboards later this year. DigiTimes is reporting that it is expected to become one of the key specifications that motherboard makers will be competing with in the second half of this year.
This is thanks to sources from motherboard players, but we all know Thunderbolt will eventually be a bigger thing as time goes on. Thunderbolt supports PCI Express and DisplayPort, allowing a Thunderbolt port to smash through data at high speeds. Compared to USB 3.0, unfortunately, the higher costs stop Thunderbolt's market penetration.
At the moment, Thunderbolt chips are offered only by Intel, with quotes of around $20-$25. This leaves non-Intel chipmakers unable to make much profit from the technology, which leaves us with adapter chips being more popular. We should hopefully see more Thunderbolt-powered products at Computex in just over a weeks time.
I love me some new hardware. I don't read Chinese the best, if at all, but what I gather from these pictures and a bad Google Translate is that ASUS has released two new motherboards that support Intel's super fast Thunderbolt port. The products in question are the P8Z77-V PREMIUM and P8Z77-V PRO/THUNDERBOLT and ASUS claims they have been Intel certified.
The boards appear to be ATX standard based and the P8Z77-V PREMIUM features 4 PCIe-x16 slots and 2 PCIe-x1 slots. It also comes with dual Gigabit Ethernet ports. Additionally, it features an mSATA SSD for Smart Response and a front USB 3 expansion module. These boards are both, as the name implies, using the Intel Z77 chipset that was released in conjunction with Ivy Bridge.
The second board, the P8Z77-V PRO/THUNDERBOLT, sports the same 2 PCIe-x1 slots with only 3 PCIe-x16 expansion ports. It features a single Gigabit Ethernet port and DVI, VGA, and HDMI video connectors. It does not come with an mSATA SSD, nor does it feature a DisplayPort output. Prices are unknown at this time. More as it comes.
ASRock has unveiled a high-end Z77 motherboard, the ASRock Z77 Extreme9, and when I say high-end, it's filled to the brim with features. First up, it sports the Z77 chipset which will give us compatibility for Intel's latest 22nm Ivy Bridge CPUs. The Z77 Extreme9 sports 4-way NVIDIA SLI support as well as 4-way AMD CrossFireX support.
As for the SLI and CrossFireX support, if all four PCI-Express 3.0 ports are filled, we're looking at x8 for all four slots, or if a 2-way setup is used, it will sport x16 speeds. With graphics out of the way, the board includes no less than twelve (12!) SUB 3.0 ports, with four on the front, and eight on the rear, as well as six SATA 6Gbps ports.
The ASRock Z77 Extreme9 comes with a single x1 PCI Express 2.0 slot, backed up by a mini PCI Express slot that takes a dual-band combo 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 card. On the back of the board along with the eight USB 3.0 ports, you'll find two USB 2.0 ports, an eSATA port, a FireWire port, dual Gigabit Ethernet, 7.1-channel audio with optical S/PDIF out, an HDMI-out port, and a clear CMOS button.
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.
Intel's third-generation Core processor platform is almost ready to begin selling and that of course means we are starting to get new Intel ZZ Express based motherboards in for testing. MSI told us to say third-generation Core, but we all know that of course means Ivy Bridge and we know many of you are really excited about this platform.
MSI were one of the first to ship us a Z77 board to our Taipei Test Lab and in something new here at TweakTown which we are starting today, we are giving you an unboxing of it as an early preview before our full review gets posted later on. We hope to do several of these unboxing each week as long as everything goes to plan.
MSI sent us its Z77A-GD65 which is their mid-range Z77 board, but still comes packed with plenty of great features including PCI-Express gen 3 support, Military Class II, OC Genie II, Click BIOS II and much more. The motherboard itself looks brilliant with its stylish black and blue theme. It features passive cooling, but looks to be a rather solid cooling setup with impressive heatsinks, that also looks just great.
Check out the video above as we give you a full unboxing of the MSI Z77A-GD65. You can look forward to our full review in the future once the Intel Ivy Bridge platform goes on sale.
GIGABYTE motherboards kick ass, we all know this, but just how much? Well, enough for them to claim the No. 1 spot in the world for motherboard durability. A lot of this comes from GIGABYTE's Ultra Durable technology, which has now spread its tentacles into Ultra Durable 4 on their upcoming 7-series motherboards.
GIGABYTE's industry-leading Ultra Durable 4 technology, is coming on their 7-series motherboards, and helps safe-guard GIGABYTE motherboards from common everyday threats such as humidity and moisture, electro-static discharge, sudden power loss and high operating temperatures.
Henry Kao, Vice President of GIGABYTE Motherboard Business Unit says:
With the launch of the first Ultra Durable motherboard in 2006, GIGABYTE revolutionized the motherboard industry by making quality the number one focus in our motherboard design. Five and a half years later, GIGABYTE maintains our leadership in quality design by equipping our upcoming 7 series motherboards with even more lifespan enhancing technologies in the form of Ultra Durable™ 4.
GIGABYTE's Ultra Durable 4 is some seriously slick stuff, read up more on it here.
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.