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.
CES 2012 - We met up with JJ from ASUS today in their lovely suite at the Trump Towers here at CES and he was good enough to give us a hands-on introduction of the upcoming Z9P3-D8 Workstation server motherboard which is a dual socket board supporting upcoming Intel Xeon processors and chipsets.
This board comes with no less than eight DIMM slots supporting up to 128GB of memory, USB 3.0, dual Intel server grade gigabit LAN ports, an amazing seven x16 PCI-E 3.0 slots and a total of 14 SATA ports.
It should be going on sale towards the end of Q1 2012 in time for the new server processors from Intel.
Shamino has posted a thread on the kingpincooling forum, where the ASUS R&D have figured a way to publish voltage modifications for graphics cards.
These include control of the VGA loadline, switching frequency, OverCurrent Protection and core voltage. The picture above shows what to solder with the Rampage IV Extreme. These headers are then plugged into the video card, in the below shot. There are some steps you should follow:
Do Not plug in the header before boot.
After Boot and go into OS, plug in header
Open Digipower CNTRL (install from CD)
CES 2011: CES is a time where technology porn is at its highest. ASUS stepped up their game by showing off their ASUS Z9PE-D8 WS motherboard which supports the soon-to-be-released Intel Sandy Bridge-EP Xeon E5 platform.
As you can see in the above shot, the board looks insanely hot, sporting no less than seven PCIe slots, and eight DIMM slots. It also has ten SATA ports, and of course, dual Socket LGA 2011 support. The board is powered by a single 24-pin ATX power connector backed up by dual 8-pin connectors.
Considering how feature-packed the board is already, it's surprising that on the rear panel we only see two USB 3.0 connectors. On top of using Intel PHYs and Realtek audio, there's an ASPEED AST2300 2D VGA controller and also provides management over IP. Also spotted on the board is a swappable LOTES 'X-Socket' which is also used on the X79 ROG boards and CHiL PWMs.
CES 2012 - We missed our appointment with MSI today but that doesn't mean we missed the scoop. With other motherboard manufactures showing their nearly ready designs MSI wanted to show that they are ready to roll right now.
Here we see the Z77A-GD65 with all of the heatsinks and color scheme ready to go. Everyone is very excited about this release since it should include native USB 3.0 built into the chipset and four SATA III ports. If you look at the specs there is also something quite exciting, DDR3-2667. ROCK ON!
Next up is the flagship Z77A-GD80. The specs are incredible and we can't wait to see how they perform.
CES 2012 - GIGABYTE just got done holding their "Meet the Executives" event at the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas and one of the big points for staying ahead of their competition (ASUS) was to be first out with new technology.
One big new piece of technology coming out sometime later this year is Intel's Ivy Bridge platform. We are already bound by an NDA, so there is little we can say. A quick search on Google though shows things like native USB 3.0 and PCI Express 3.0 support. It will be a mid-range platform, you can think of it as an updated Z68 Express for upcoming Intel processors.
After giving attending media a rundown on GIGABYTE's aims for 2012, Colin Brix of GIGABYTE started bashing on the door of a nearby room in the hotel suite and asked if we could interrupt and show off the Taiwanese company's range of upcoming Ivy Bridge boards. We got see the full model range including the G1. Sniper 3, G1 Sniper 3 M3 (Micro-ATX), Z77X-UD5H, Z77X-UD3H and B75M-D3H.
Fortunately we had video camera in hand and captured the whole deal. Watch it above. There are a lot of pictures in the photo gallery below, too.
MSI have officially released their flagship motherboard based on the X79 Express chipset, taking the LGA2011 Sandy Bridge-E CPUs. MSI have dubbed the board Big Bang-XPower II and boy does it have some great features.
The board sports support for PCI-Express 3.0, 4-way NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFire technologies, 8 DIMM slots that can handle an insane 128GB of RAM, 22-phase PWM design with Hybrid Digital Power, dual 8-pin CPU and single 6-pin VGA power connectors to reach Xtreme Power Design as well as the introduction of MIL-STD-810G certified Military Class III components.
This board is aimed squarely at overclockers, super high-end gamers and those who simply want the best in motherboards. The color scheme of the board looks slick too, as well as the magazine-looking heatsink that just looks amazing. Because the Big Bang-XPower II has a 22-phase PWM design with Hybrid Digital Power, it can deliver up to 770W output, 2.4 times the reference 9-phase design.
Our latest poll had almost 3,000 people who answered, Which company made the best desktop motherboards in 2011?.
Well out in front with almost half the votes, ASUS was voted as the maker of the best desktop motherboards in 2011 by TweakTown readers.
In second place GIGABYTE got 20% of the votes while ASRock came in third with 14% of the votes.
Last week I reported on some news that three Gigabyte motherboards, X79-UD3, X79-UD5 and G1.Assassin 2 had issues with build quality and a bad BIOS. I've received official word from Gigabyte that it was not a board-related, or build-related problem, but a BIOS-related issue.
I used a specific quote "Gigabyte has said the issue stems from a combination of poor quality PWM components and bad firmware." I should've fact checked before posting, and done some background work before making a statement like that and trusting a single source. For this, I apologise on behalf of TweakTown.
The problems does not stem from the board, but from a BIOS issue and Gigabyte have released a new bios: F7, which fixes the issue. If you have one of the boards and would like to update its BIOS, visit this page.
Biostar have officially launched their first Sandy Bridge-E (LGA2011) motherboard, after the previously-leaked TPower X79 made the rounds a few weeks ago. We posted about it last month and now the board has been made official.
The Biostar TPower X79 has the standard ATX form-factor and features support for Intel's latest LGA 2011 socket Sandy Bridge-E processors, a 9-phase power design, an 8-layer, 2 oz Copper PCB, four DDR3-2400 memory slots, and three PCI-Express x16 3.0 slots which enable Quad CrossFireX and 3-way SLI setups.
The TPower X79 also sports dual 8-pin EPS connectors, one PCI and two PCIe x1 slots, three SATA 3.0 Gbps and four SATA 6Gbps ports, one eSATA connector, Gigabit Ethernet, six USB 3.0 ports on the back plate, 7.1-channel audio, a debug LED, UEFI BIOS, and on-board Power, Reset and Clear CMOS buttons. The board is aimed at the enthusiast/overclocking market and should be available next month.
Intel's upcoming LGA2011 server board product, S4600LG (codenamed "Lizard Head Pass") which will be capable of handling 1TB of RAM. Yes, that's 1024GB of RAM. The board is designed mainly for high-performance computing and math-intensive server applications, such as video streaming sites using it for transcoding, etc.
The board is capable of achieving such large memory expansion room by providing three DIMM slots per memory channel, with each socket giving four memory channels. The S4600LG supports the 8-core Xeon E5-4600 series Sandy Bridge-EP processors. The S4600LH is driven by an Intel C600 "Patsburg" chipset with up to 8 SCU ports and 2 SATA 6 Gb/s ports. One of the downsides is the board doesn't have any standard expansion slots, with only two PCI-Express 3.0 x48 risers, which daughterboards with three x16 slots each, can be attached (as shown in the picture above).
The board also sports dual Intel LAN with VT support, KVM and BMT logic is in-built and the board should be available in Q2 2012. 1TB of RAM, doesn't that just sound insane to others? I really think we'll see a shrink in personal machines over the future as Windows becomes much better on resources, but for a server build, this thing is a beast and a half.
[update] I've been informed by Gigabyte that it was not an actual build issue, but a BIOS-related problem. Gigabyte recommend that users who own the below boards update their BIOS immediately, or contact Gigabyte directly (details on this link). Gigabyte have stated it was an isolated case and can be fixed with the use of the F7 BIOS.
I do apologise greatly for the mistake, to both our readers and Gigabyte.
Last week, YouTube user "japan0827" uploaded a video of his overclocked testbed releasing a plume of smoke. Of course, being upset, posted on various Asian message boards with detailed pictures of the board that failed: a Gigabyte X79-UD3, and more specifically, a MOSFET in its CPU VRM.
But, he isn't the only one. Gigabyte had released a press release this week acknowledging the fault, and that they had received other complains from other overclockers who own other X79-based boards: GA-X79-UD3, GA-X79-UD5 and G1.Assassin 2 - the company's main LGA2011 products. Gigabyte has said the issue stem
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.
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.
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.