Computex 2002 Coverage - IntroductionIntroduction
Day 3 of Computex has been and gone, and what a day it was. After posting our day 2 coverage yesterday evening, Cameron and I headed off to the Plush lounge for DFI's party. The Plush lounge is really a beautiful place - Comfortable couches, a good view, nice bar, friendly people. Unfortunately for us thuogh, our itinery would not let us stay for too long. After catching up with some of our DFI contacts and having a few drinks, it was time to head off to Abit's party, held at the In-house bar and lounge. Throughout the night the media were entertained by a live band and magic show - the atmosphere was great. We even got to take home a blow-up Abit soccer ball when the party was over.... score!At around 2:30am after a long night of chatting, partying and of course, drinking, Cameron and I decided to call it a night. When we finally woke up at around 11am this morning after our alarm failing on us at the crucial time, it was time to get back to business and head out to the show floor. Most of our day was spent in Hall 3 of Computex, which is populated mainly by motherboard manufacturers such as Shuttle, EPoX, MSI, Iwill, Asus, Gigabyte and many more. Most of these motherboard manufacturers were displaying Hammer solutions, KT400 solutions and even nForce solutions. We also got the chance to check out other neat stuff such as Serial ATA and new barebones systems from Shuttle and ASUS.Day 3 at Computex can be best described as "motherboard day" for TweakTown, and after it was all over, we were pretty impressed. Why? Read on....
Computex 2002 Coverage - ShuttleShuttle
Shuttle had quite a large stand at Computex, and they used this space to showcase their latest motherboards and barebones systems. Shuttle have become very popular in recent months with the release of these barebones systems, as they offer high performance for use as a home entertainment system or game server, yet feature such a small footprint. One of their latest barebones systems was hooked up to a PC to show exactly what a Shuttle barebones system is capable of. This particular system was called the S540G which consisted of an AthlonXP running on a SiS740-based motherboard with onboard video.
Shuttle also had a variety of motherboards on display. The first one that caught my eye was their P4X333 board, the AV49N. It features DDR333 memory support, AGP 8x, 6-channel onboard audio and 6 USB 2.0 ports. We'll have our P4X333 reference motherboard review posted within the next week or two.
They also had their i845G and i845GL boards on display. Both of these feature onboard graphics and DDR266 support, however, the i845G includes an AGP slot and the i845GL does not. We found that Intel's "Extreme Graphics" solution used in the i845G chipset was sufficient for the non-gamer, however, it could not run current games at a sufficient framerate. As well as DDR266 support and onboard video, Shuttle's i845G (MB45N) and i845GL (MB47N) boards feature 3 PCI slots, 4-channel audio, 6 USB 2.0 ports and onboard 10/100 Ethernet. The i845G/GL chipsets are great for people looking for a cheap, integrated motherboard, however, enthusiasts will most likely want to steer clear.
A Crush18D reference board was another interesting product on display at Shuttle's booth. The Crush18D chipset supports DDR400 memory and will be directly competing with VIA's KT400 chipset and ALi's new chipset. Unlike the Crush18D board we showed you yesterday, the board at Shuttle's booth featured integrated video and will come with an AGP riser that adds TV and DVI outputs.
Remember the new SiS648 chipset we talked about in yesterday's coverage? Well, Shuttle had their SiS648 based motherboard on display at their stand, called the AS45GT. It features DDR333 support, AGP 8x, ATA133, Serial ATA and 6-channel audio.
Computex 2002 Coverage - IwillIwill
After our meeting with Iwill, Nancy Wang was kind enough to show us around their booth and tell us a bit about new Iwill products. Iwill are not known for providing as many overclocking features on their motherboards as companies such as Abit and Asus do, however, don't be surprised if they start strongly pushing their way into the enthusiast market in the near future.The first interesting thing we noticed at Iwill's stand was their P4E board. The P4E is based on the i845E chipset and features Serial ATA. Serial ATA was provided through a Silicon Image SATALink controller and the interesting thing about this board is that it features regular ATA133 connectors as well!
Iwill also had their KT400 board on display, named the KK400. It supports DDR400 memory, AGP 8x, ATA133 and Serial ATA. Iwill have also started packaging a "Smart Panel" with all of their motherboards that features a CompactFlash card reader, headphone and mic. input, secure digital card and memory stick reader, and dual USB ports.
With Intel recently bumping the Pentium 4's bus speed up to 533MHz, official motherboard chipset support had to come with it. Intel's new i850E chipset provides 533MHz bus support and also supports the new PC1066 RDRAM standard. Iwill had their i850E solution on display and they have decided to call it the P4R533N.
Computex 2002 Coverage - EPoXEPoX
Next to Iwill's stand was the stand of one of our favourite motherboard manufacturers, EPoX. EPoX were kind enough to sponsor Cameron and I to fly up to Computex and cover the show this year, and we are very grateful that they gave us this opportunity. Thank you EPoX.The first board we noticed at EPoX's stand was their 4SDA5+, based on the SiS648 chipset. It features 6 PCI slots, AGP 8x, a HPT372 controller for ATA133 RAID, 6-channel AC97 audio w/ digital SPDIF support, two IEEE1394 ports and a 10/100 LAN connector.
Like Iwill, EPoX had their i850E board on display, called the 4T4A+. It features PC1066 RDRAM support, 6-channel onboard audio, two IEEE1294 ports, 10/100 LAN connector and 5 PCI slots. We will have this board for review at TweakTown in the near future.
EPoX also had a reference ClawHammer board on display based on VIA's upcoming K8HTA chipset. VIA, ALi, SiS and nVidia all have ClawHammer chipsets planned and i'm sure i'm not the only one that is hanging with anticipation for the chipset war to begin. VIA have held a comfortable lead on the AMD chipset market for some time now and it will be great to see some competition.
We were really surprised at how many motherboard manufacturers were displaying KT400-based motherboards at Computex, considering the fact that VIA have not even released the chipset yet. EPoX's KT400 board will be called the 8K9A and will feature DDR400 memory support, AGP 8x, 5 PCI slots, 2 Serial ATA ports, 6-channel audio and 10/100 LAN port.
Finally, one of the most interesting things I saw at EPoX's stand and no where else was a Pentium 4 game server called the G100. It features an i845D-based motherboard with a 10/100 LAN connector and an AGP riser. It also comes with a 250watt power supply and has both audio and game ports.
Computex 2002 Coverage - MSIMSI
Out of all motherboard manufacturers, MSI had one of the largest stands at this year's Computex. MSI were displaying a whole range of motherboards ranging from the KT400 chipset to the AMD 8151 chipset as well as their range of graphics cards and DVD ROM drives.MSI's ClawHammer motherboard based on the VIA K8HTA chipset was on display, called the K8H Gem-ABIL. It supports a CPU frequency of 3GHz+, DDR333 memory, AGP 8x, 6 USB 2.0 ports, 10/100 LAN connector, three IEEE1394 ports, 2 SerialATA ports that support SerialATA RAID through the Promise 20375 controller, onboard BlueTooth and an 802.11b wireless LAN solution. This is one of the most feature-packed motherboards I have ever seen and it is the first motherboard to feature onboard bluetooth.
The second ClawHammer motherboard at MSI's stand was the K8A Gem, based on the AMD 8151 chipset. This looks to be just a reference board from AMD and thus it is not as feature-packed as the K8H Gem-ABIL. It features onboard 10/100 LAN, two IEEE1394 ports, AC'97 software audio and six USB 2.0 ports.
For current Athlon/Duron processors, MSI had their KT4 Ultra-ABIL board on display. Like the K8H Gem-ABIL, it features DR333 support, AGP 8x, 6 USB 2.0 ports, 10/100 LAN connector, three IEEE1394 ports, 2 SerialATA ports, onboard BlueTooth and an 802.11b wireless LAN solution. We asked one of MSI's staff when the board would be officially released and they said around October of this year.
MSI's SiS648 solution was also on display, the SiS648 Max-BL. It features DDR333 support, onboard 10/100 LAN, six USB 2.0 ports, bluetooth, 802.11b wireless LAN and integrated AC97 5.1 audio. Are you beginning to see the trend yet? MSI have really gotten behind bluetooth technology and we will most likely be seeing it included on all future MSI motherboards.
Slightly moving away from motherboards, MSI had a 2.4x2.4x12x10 DVD+RW drive on display called the MS-8602. It features a DVD+RW write speed of 2.4x and a 12x CD-R write speed. Not many people have rushed out to buy a DVD+RW drive yet because they are just too expensive at the moment. They are, however, very useful for creating backups as DVDs feature a maximum capacity of 4.7GB, compared to a CD-R that can only hold up to 700MB. It has a 2MB internal buffer, a built in headphone jack, volume control knob and a play/skip button.
Computex 2002 Coverage - GigabyteGigabyte
Gigabyte were mainly focused on their motherboards and graphics cards at this year's Computex. It looks like Gigabyte have moved completely away from nVidia graphics chipsets, as there were only Radeon and SiS-based graphics cards on display at their stand. The first of their graphics cards that caught our eye was their SP64DG, based on the SiS Xabre 400 chipset. It features AGP 8x, a built in programmable 24-bit true colour RAMDAC with up to 375MHz pixel clock, DVI and TV outputs and SiS's Frictionless Memory Control technology.
Gigabyte were also displaying their AP128D-H3 card based on the Radeon 8500XT graphics chipset. It features 128MB 3.3ns memory, a 300/300MHz core/memory clock speed, DVI and TV outputs and Gigabyte's double sided "advanced feedback cooling system".
There were other Gigabyte video cards on display based on variations of the Radeon 8500 and 7500 chipsets, however, they are nothing you haven't seen before and not worth including in this coverage.As far as motherboards are concerned, Gigabyte had their KT400-based motherboard on display, called the GA-7VAXP. It features AGP 8x, 5.1 Creative integrated audio, DDR400 memory support, 10/100 Ethernet and Gigabyte's patented DualBIOS technology. Gigabyte were also displaying their new GA-K8A board based on the AMD 8151 chipset. It supports two SerialATA devices as well as three ATA133 devices, AGP 8x and DDR333. It also features integrated 10/100 Ethernet, 5.1 Creative audio, three IEEE1394 ports and six USB 2.0 ports.
Another thing that interested me at Gigabyte's stand was the GA-8TRML motherboard they had on display based on the upcoming ATi IGP340 chipset. It supports the Socket478 Pentium 4, DDR266 memory, integrated 10/100 Ethernet and AC97 audio. There was not much information available about this chipset, however, judging by its specifications it will be directed at the value market.
Computex 2002 Coverage - AsusAsus
What motherboard coverage would be complete without a mention of Asus. Asus had a variety of demo systems on display as well as notebooks, motherboards, video cards and even a SerialATA demo. Their SerialATA drive was connected to a KT400 motherboard and was running through a 3DMark2001 SE demo. The demo was running quite smoothly, but no benchmark scores or comparisons are available at this time to see exactly how much better SerialATA is over ATA133.
Asus were also displaying their range of GeForce4 video cards. One thing that impressed me about them was that Asus have decided to ship their cards with copper coolers now. This will be great for overclockers and it certainly justifies the extra cash you'd have to fork out for an Asus card.
Motherboard-wise, Asus had both their AMD 8151 (K8M) and KT400 (A7V8x) boards on display. The A7V8X features AGP 8x, DDR400, SerialATA, USB 2.0, 6-channel audio, onboard 10/100 Ethernet and IEEE1294 ports. The K8M features AGP 8x, dual-channel DDR, SerialATA, USB 2.0, integrated 10/100 Ethernet and IEEE1394 ports.
Asus were also displaying their 850E motherboard, the P4T533. It features 4200/3200 32-bit RAMBUS support, USB 2.0 (NEC controller), 6-channel audio, ATA133 RAID and an onboard 10/100 Ethernet port.
Computex 2002 Coverage - ConclusionConclusion
That's about all for our coverage of Computex Day 3. We did not cover every motherboard manufacturer as there are just too many of them and there simply isn't enough time to cover them all. Also, many of the motherboard manufacturers had similar, if not identical boards on display and it would be wasting both yours and my time to cover the same products over and over again.The majority of motherboard manufacturers had SerialATA, ClawHammer and VIA KT400 solutions on display at their stands. We are sitll yet to see a Serial ATA hard drive from the major manufacturers (IBM, Seagate, Western Digital, Maxtor, etc), however, they should not be too far off considering how much support the standard is getting from motherboard manufacturers.As time has gone by, manufacturers have packed more and more integrated features onto their motherboards. MSI's boards in particular were very impressive this year, being the first to integrate bluetooth and wireless 802.11b LAN solutions - Who knows what they will think of next?Now it's time for Cameron and I to head off to EPoX's party and then it's back to the hotel for a good nights sleep, awaiting another big day on the show floor. Who knows what surprises are in store for us at Computex Day 4? Whatever the case, we are looking forward to it and will definitely keep you updated.