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Gigabyte Z97X-SLI Offers Supreme Bang-for-buck

Gigabyte may have struck a superb price-features sweet-spot with the Z97X-SLI, which the company unveiled at its Computex wall. This board, we're hearing, will be priced around $125, and has a feature-set to rival boards much pricier. To begin with, the socket LGA1150 board is based on Intel's Z97 Express chipset. The board draws power from a combination of 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS power connectors, and conditions it using a simple 4-phase VRM, that uses 60A chokes. The VRM area is clad with heatsinks all around. The CPU socket is wired to four DDR3 DIMM slots, supporting up to 32 GB of dual-channel DDR3 memory, and two PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots, which run at x8/x8, when both are populated. This is also among the few motherboards in its price bracket to support NVIDIA SLI, apart from AMD CrossFire.

Apart from the two PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots, three PCI-Express 2.0 x1, and a couple of legacy PCI slots make up the expansion area. Its storage area is where the package gains tons of value. You get six SATA 6 Gb/s ports, from which two can convert into a SATA-Express 10 Gb/s port; and an M.2 slot. The board features high-grade audio, including a Realtek ALC1150 HD audio CODEC, which offers SNR as high as 115 dBA; with ground-layer isolation, and a headphones amp. Networking is care of an Intel-made GbE controller. Display outputs include dual-link DVI, D-Sub, and HDMI. Legacy connectivity includes LPT and COM (by headers), and PS/2. AMI Aptio UEFI BIOS, backed by dual-UEFI redundancy, is at this board's helm. For around $125, you can't get this board's feature-set wrong.

MSI ProBox23 Thin Mini-ITX Barebone Now Shipping

MSI announces the launch of the MSI ProBox23, the first model in its new generation of commercial oriented barebone PCs. These series use the latest Intel H81 chipset, and support the 4th Generation Intel Core processors with high performance and integrated GPU providing powerful graphics processing.

Furthermore, the MSI ProBox23 is equipped with a thin mini-itx motherboard and energy efficient CPU cooler. With a length and width of only 20cm and a height of just 5cm, this barebone PC is one of the smallest in its kind. Moreover, the MSI ProBox23 can easily be mounted behind a monitor, making it the best space-saving solution for commercial and entertainment applications. The MSI ProBox23 will be available worldwide per beginning of April 2014.

GIGABYTE Announces G1.Sniper B5 Gaming Motherboard

For gamers who don't plan on overclocking their CPUs, GIGABYTE announced a new gaming desktop motherboard, branded within its G1.Killer series no less. The G1.Sniper B5 combines the key ingredients of a G1.Killer motherboard, with the mid-range Intel B85 Express platform, supporting Core "Haswell" processors in the LGA1150 package. It's built in the standard ATX form-factor. Since the chipset doesn't support CPU overclocking, GIGABYTE went easy on the CPU VRM, with a 4+1 phase design, which is guaranteed to run any socket LGA1150 CPU at its stock speeds. The board draws power from a combination of 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS connectors.

Expansion slots include two long PCI-Express slots, but only one of them is wired to the CPU, and supports PCI-Express 3.0 x16 speeds. The other slot is electrical gen 2.0 x4, and wired to the B85 PCH. Two each of PCI-Express 2.0 x1 and legacy PCI, make up the remaining expansion slots. Storage connectivity includes four SATA 6 Gb/s, and two SATA 3 Gb/s ports. The audio solution is based on a Realtek ALC898 CODEC (110 dBA SNR), ground-layer isolation, Nichicon audiophile-grade electrolytic capacitors on the AMP stage, and a removable OPAMP chip. There's no Bigfoot Killer NIC, but a decent Intel-made GbE LAN chip. The board features AMI UEFI BIOS with GIGABYTE's latest G1.Killer series setup program (minus the CPU overclocking options, of course), backed by dual-BIOS.

GIGABYTE Rolls Out H81M-HD3 Socket LGA1150 Motherboard

While GIGABYTE's first motherboards based on Intel's new entry-level H81 Express chipset were mostly focused on small business PC builds, its latest one could lure HTPC builders. The new H81M-HD3 is built in the narrow micro-ATX (244 x 190 mm) form-factor as the other H81-based motherboards from the company, with a feature-set tuned for the living room. To begin with, the board draws power from a combination of 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS connectors; the LGA1150 socket is powered by the same simple 2+1 phase VRM. The CPU socket is wired to two DDR3 DIMM slots, supporting up to 32 GB of dual-channel DDR3 memory; and a PCI-Express 2.0 x16 slot (as PCIe gen 3.0 is outside the platform's feature-set). A pair of legacy PCI slots and a PCI-Express 2.0 x1 make for the rest of the expansion area.

The H81 PCH gives out two each of SATA 6 Gb/s and SATA 3 Gb/s ports. With the help of an additional VLI-made USB 3.0 host controller, the board features a total of six USB 3.0 ports (four on the rear panel, two by header). Display connectivity includes dual-link DVI, D-Sub (VGA), DisplayPort, and HDMI. 8-channel HD audio with optical (TOSLINK) SPDIF output, driven by Realtek ALC892 CODEC; and gigabit Ethernet, driven by Realtek 8111F controller, make for the rest of the connectivity. COM and LPT ports are given out by headers. The board is driven by AMI Aptio UEFI BIOS, backed by GIGABYTE's dual-UEFI technology. We expect this one to go for around $60.

Realtek Announces Low Power Consumption USB Ethernet Controller Solutions

Realtek Semiconductor Corp., one of the world's leading network and multimedia IC providers, announced today its USB 3.0-to-Gigabit Ethernet controller. The RTL8153 will target Ultrabook, Tablet, IPC, and Motherboard applications, and support the latest system platforms and features. Alongside ultra low power consumption and package size, the RTL8153 also offers simplified design-in with very low RBOM. It is pin-to-pin compatible with the current USB2.0-to-10/100M RTL8152B.

Realtek also provides an industrial version of the USB3.0 GbE Controller (RTL8153I) that meets heavier demands required for industrial use and features increased operating temperature range (-40 to 85°C) and support for IEEE 1588. The feature rich RTL8152B/RTL8153 USB-to-Ethernet controllers support the latest power saving scheme 'LPM/LTM', which is ideal for the Intel Shark Bay platform and for AOAC for Windows 8 from Microsoft.

Gigabyte Rolls Out 990FXA-UD3 Rev. 4

Gigabyte rolled out the fifth revision to its 990FXA-UD3 socket AM3+ motherboard, which possibly heralds a series of upgrades to the company's existing socket AM3+ motherboard SKUs. The 990FXA-UD3 Rev. 4 features a host of changes over its UEFI-equipped predecessor, beginning with a refreshed 10-phase CPU VRM (Digital Power Engine), a different selection of chokes, capacitors, and MOSFETs, newer VRM and chipset heatsinks capable of handling higher thermal loads, and Gigabyte's newest UEFI setup program. The board is otherwise identical to the 990FXA-UD3 Rev 3.

Designed with support for AMD FX "Vishera" processors out of the box, the 990FXA-UD3 Rev. 4 features a split power-plane 10-phase CPU VRM, with chokes that don't whine under load, and lower footprint MOSFETs. The CPU socket is wired to four DDR3 DIMM slots supporting up to 64 GB of dual-channel DDR3-2133 MHz memory, and the AMD 990FX northbridge. This chip gives out two PCI-Express 2.0 x16 slots, and two PCI-Express 2.0 x4 slots (physical x16). Two PCI-Express 2.0 x1, and a legacy PCI make for the rest of its expansion. All six SATA 6 Gb/s ports from the SB950 southbridge are assigned as internal ports, while a Marvell 9172 controller handles two eSATA 6 Gb/s. The board offers a total of four USB 3.0 ports, driven by EJ168 controllers by Etron. 8-channel HD audio driven by Realtek ALC889 CODEC, and a gigabit Ethernet interface driven by Realtek 8111F, cover the rest of its connectivity. Since it's a revision to an existing SKU, we expect it to be priced the same, around $140.

ASRock Unveils H87E-ITX/ac Mini-ITX Motherboard

ASRock unveiled the H87E-ITX/ac, its first mini-ITX motherboard featuring 802.11ac WLAN. Based on Intel's H87 Express chipset, the board seats Core "Haswell" processors in the LGA1150 package. It draws power from a combination of 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS connectors, conditioning it for the CPU with a 4-phase VRM. Up to 32 GB of dual-channel DDR3 memory is supported through a pair of conventional 240-pin DIMM slots. A PCI-Express 3.0 x16 makes for the board's lone expansion slot, aside from the mPCIe that's populated by the WLAN card.

Connectivity on the H87E-ITX/ac include 802.11ac WLAN, based on Intel's i217V chipset, offering up to 867 Mbps of wireless bandwidth, gigabit Ethernet, and Bluetooth 4.0. It makes use of all SATA channels of the H87 PCH, offering five internal SATA 6 Gb/s, and an eSATA 6 Gb/s. 8-channel HD audio based on Realtek ALC1150 CODEC, with optical SPDIF, four USB 3.0 ports, a pair of USB 2.0/1.1 ports; and display connectivity that includes one each of DVI, DisplayPort, and HDMI, make for the rest of it. ASRock will begin shipping the board a little later this week.

GIGABYTE Rolls Out 990FXA-UD7 Rev 3.0, with Updated Feature-Set

GIGABYTE created UEFI-equipped revisions of most of its socket AM3+ motherboards with the advent of FX "Vishera" processors last year, but held back with its flagship motherboard for the platform, the 990FXA-UD7. The company released an updated revision of the motherboard, dubbed 990FXA-UD7 Rev 3.0, completely skipping "Rev 2.0." While the new board is essentially laid out similar to its predecessor, a lot has changed.

To begin with, its based on GIGABYTE's newer (though not latest) Ultra Durable 4 construction. A 10-phase high-amperage VRM powers the AM3+ socket, which appears to be ready for AMD's FX-9000 series CPUs for overclockers. The CPU VRM uses driver-MOSFETs, although not quite the PowIRStage chippery we find on Ultra Durable 5 motherboards. A thicker, chunkier heatsink is used to cool these driver-MOSFETs and the AMD 990FX northbridge. This cluster of heatsinks is connected to the one that cools the AMD SB950 southbridge over a heat pipe. The AM3+ socket is wired to four DDR3 DIMM slots, which support up to 64 GB of dual-channel DDR3-2000+ MHz memory.

MSI Unleashes Z87 XPOWER Flagship LGA1150 Motherboard

Z87 MPOWER and Z87 MPOWER MAX, two of MSI's top overclocker-targeted socket LGA1150 motherboards, are joined by the company's new flagship motherboard, the Z87 XPOWER. Built in the XL-ATX (345 x 264 mm) form-factor, this board gets you the best MSI has to offer, and is ideal for both CPU and VGA overclocking benches. The CPU is powered by a gargantuan 32-phase digital-PWM power supply, which draws power from two 8-pin EPS connectors, in addition to the 24-pin ATX, and an optional 6-pin PCI-Express connector.

The CPU socket is wired to four DDR3 DIMM slots, supporting up to 64 GB of dual-channel DDR3-3000+ memory, and a PLX PEX8747 PCI-Express gen 3.0 bridge chip, which gives out four PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots, two of which are x16 capable, all four of which are x8-capable. One of the five x16 slots, the second one from top, is directly wired to the CPU, and plugging a graphics card on that slot will bypass the bridge-chip. This slot is ideal for when you have just one card. Two PCI-Express 2.0 x1 slots take seat between the x16 slots, wired to the PCH. In addition to 4-way NVIDIA SLI and 4-way AMD CrossFireX, the board includes Lucid Virtu MVP 2.0 software.

ASRock Introduces A-Style Purity Sound

Onboard audio solutions, an essential yet long-overlooked part of computing, especially in this era of rich multimedia contents. In the past, the quality of these onboard audio solutions has been loathed by music lovers, while countless audiophiles mourned over bleeding ears caused by distortion. Woe no more! Everyone can dry their eyes now, because ASRock is here with music to your ears. ASRock's 8 Series motherboards will be packed with a set of various new features with the code name A-Style, which includes Purity Sound, a revolutionary audio solution for people who take audio seriously.

Purity Sound is a combination of several hardware, software audio solutions and technologies that will satisfy even the pickiest audiophiles. Including 7.1 CH HD audio with Realtek ALC1150 audio codec that supports 115dB SNR DAC, and two TI NE5532 amplifiers, one is a Differential Amplifier and the other one is a Premium Headset Amplifier which supports up to 600 ohm headphones. And there's also cap less Direct Drive technology, EMI shielding cover, PCB isolate shielding and support for DTS Connect.

GIGABYTE G1.Sniper 5 and G1.Sniper M5 Motherboards Pictured

At a media event held in its Taipei headquarters, GIGABYTE demonstrated its AMP-UP integrated audio solution that will feature on some of its upcoming motherboards. On that pretense, it even got to show of two of its top socket LGA1150 motherboards, built for Core "Haswell" processors, the G1.Sniper 5, and the G1.Sniper M5. Positioned in gamer-overclocker targeted G1.Killer series, the two boards are based on Intel Z87 Express chipset. The G1.Sniper 5 is the larger standard ATX motherboard; while the M5 is a compact micro-ATX offering. The pictures also confirm that socket LGA1150 retention module and bolt-spacing is identical to sockets LGA1155 and LGA1156.

The G1.Sniper 5 appears to feature a 16-phase VRM, which uses ferrite-core chokes, and the same International Rectifier PowIRstage components as Ultra Durable 5 motherboards from the previous generation. This time around, the CPU plays a greater role in voltage regulation. The driver-MOSFETs on the board are cooled by an active fan-heatsink, which also has a liquid channel running through it, so you could make it part of your CPU loop. Thankfully GIGABYTE didn't let its imagination run away with designs of the other heatsinks on the board, one of which cools the Z87 Express chipset, and the other we imagine, a PLX PEX8747 48-lane PCI-Express 3.0 bridge chip. This chip gets you 4-way SLI/CrossFireX support.

Habey Intros BIS-6621 Fanless Embedded System

HABEY USA, a leading manufacturer of embedded computer and an Associate member of the Intel Intelligent Systems Alliance, introduces the BIS-6621. It is the latest and greatest offering of our ultra compact fanless PCs. This tiny box measures 5"x5.25"x2", just slightly larger than the incredibly tiny Intel NUC. Besides the small footprint, the features available on this tiny system will simply amaze you.

Equipped with a 2.5" drive bay, this fanless PC will accept just about any 2.5" form factor storage device. The full size mini PCI-e slot can also be an mSATA compatible expansion slot as an option. The mini PCI-e card can also be used to run a WIFI card for wireless network access. Additionally, the BIS-6621 offers an externally accessible SIM card slot allowing for wireless data from a mobile carrier. It also includes 3 USB 2.0 ports for all your needed peripherals and also a COM port for any serial peripherals.

MSI Unveils 970A-G43 Entry-Level Socket AM3+ Motherboard

MSI rolled out a new value socket AM3+ motherboard, the 970A-G43. Based on the AMD 970 chipset with SB950 southbridge, the ATX form-factor board covers all the essentials for a single graphics card gaming PC build, on a tight budget. It uses a simple 5-phase VRM to power the AM3+ socket. The board uses an all solid-state capacitor loadout, by saving on MOSFETs. The CPU VRM uses inexpensive On-Semi DPAK fare. The socket is wired to four DDR3 DIMM slots supporting up to 64 GB of dual-channel DDR3-1866 MHz memory.

Among the expansion slots are a PCI-Express 2.0 x16 (wired to the 970 northbridge), a PCI-Express 2.0 x16 (electrical x4, wired to the SB950 southbridge), and two each of PCI-Express 2.0 x1 and legacy PCI. Storage connectivity is care of six SATA 6 Gb/s ports supporting RAID 0/1/5/10. A couple of 2-port USB 3.0 controllers wired out four ports, of which are two are given out by a standard front-panel header. Completing the package are 8-channel HD audio (Realtek ALC887), gigabit Ethernet (Realtek 8111E), and a handful of USB 2.0/1.1 ports. The board is driven by AMI UEFI BIOS. The 970A-G43 is priced at $89.99.

Gigabyte Announces the Z77X-UD4H Motherboard

Gigabyte launched the Z77X-UD4H, a new socket LGA1155 motherboard model designed to fill the gap between the $155 Z77X-UD3H and $190 Z77X-UD5H. It is built with Gigabyte's Ultra Durable 4 construction, featuring 2 oz copper layer, temperature, humidity, and electrostatic protection features. The LGA1155 socket is powered by a 11-phase VRM that draws power from an 8-pin EPS connector. The socket is wired to four DDR3 DIMM slots, and three PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots (electrical x16/NC/NC, x8/x8/NC, x8/x4/x4, depending on how they're populated). 3-way NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFireX are supported. Other expansion slots include three PCI-Express 2.0 x1, and a legacy PCI.

Straightaway, you'll notice that Gigabyte did away with the mSATA slot featured on the Z77X-UD3H and Z77X-UD5H. In addition to the two SATA 6 Gb/s and four SATA 3 Gb/s ports that the Z77 PCH provides (all of which are wired as internal ports), Gigabyte added two additional 2-port SATA 6 Gb/s controllers, which provide two each of internal SATA 6 Gb/s, and eSATA 6 Gb/s. The board features a total of eight USB 3.0 ports, six on the rear panel, and two by headers. In addition to the four ports the Z77 PCH provides, a 4-port VLI-made host controller is used.

Gigabyte Intros F2A85X-D3H Socket FM2 Motherboard

Gigabyte announced its newest socket FM2 motherboard, the F2A85X-D3H. Built in the ATX form-factor, and as a pleasant surprise, with a black PCB, the F2A85X-D3H is based on AMD A85X chipset. The APU socket is powered by a simple 4+2 phase VRM, which has been featured on several of the company's micro-ATX models. The APU is wired to four DDR3 DIMM slots, supporting up to 64 GB of dual-channel DDR3-1866 MHz memory; and a PCI-Express 2.0 x16 slot. Other expansion slots include a PCI-Express 2.0 x4 (physical x16, wired to the A85X FCH), three PCI-Express 2.0 x1, and two legacy PCI.

All eight SATA 6 Gb/s ports from the A85X FCH are wired as internal ports, two of which are angled. The board features four USB 3.0 ports, two at the rear panel, two via headers. Display connectivity includes dual-link DVI (capable of 2560 x 1600 @ 60 Hz or 1080p @ 120 Hz), D-Sub, and HDMI. Other connectivity includes 8-channel HD audio with optical SPDIF output (Realtek ALC892 CODEC), gigabit Ethernet (Realtek 8111F), eight USB 2.0 ports, mouse/keyboard PS/2 combo port, legacy COM header, and trusted platform module header.

MSI Z77IA-E53 Mini-ITX Motherboard Pictured

MSI is working on a new socket LGA1155 motherboard based on the Intel Z77 Express chipset, and some of its first pictures were leaked to the web. The Z77IA-E53 from MSI is designed not only to provide a feature-rich board in its tiny footprint, but also one that's fit for CPU overclocking. The LGA1155 socket is powered by a 7-phase VRM that uses DrMOS and tantalum capacitors. The board draws power from 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS power connectors. The processor is wired to two DDR3 DIMM slots, supporting up to 16 GB of dual-channel DDR3 memory, and a PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slot.

To make the most out of the limited board area, MSI stuck to the feature-set of the Z77 PCH. Storage connectivity includes two SATA 6 Gb/s, two SATA 3 Gb/s, an eSATA 3 Gb/s, and an mSATA 3 Gb/s. The mSATA slot shares its board space with an mPCIe 5 GT/s slot, which is stacked on top of it. The board provides four USB 3.0 ports, two on the rear panel, two via headers, all of which are driven by the Z77 PCH. Display outputs include D-Sub and HDMI. Other connectivity includes 6-channel HD audio (Realtek ALC892), gigabit Ethernet, and Bluetooth. The board is driven by UEFI BIOS with ClickBIOS II setup program. More details are awaited.

Source: Cowcotland

GIGABYTE Shows Off Z77X-UP7 Motherboard with 32-Phase CPU VRM

It's good to see GIGABYTE back to doing high-end motherboards with overkill CPU power designs. Its latest creation, the Z77X-UP7, was shown to sections of the media, at a private exhibition, ahead of Computex. The Z77X-UP7 is the company's first motherboard to feature its Ultra Durable 5 motherboard construction technology, which is basically Ultra Durable 4 augmented with higher current 60A chokes, and International Rectifier PowIRStage IR3550 ICs (a highly potent driver-MOSFET implementation). The Z77X-UP7 is based on the Intel Z77 Express chipset, and supports Core "Ivy Bridge" and "Sandy Bridge" processors in the LGA1155 package.

"Hackintoshing" Easiest with GIGABYTE 3D UEFI BIOS

Hackintosh (running Apple OS X on a non-Apple PC) interest group tonymacx86 discovered that GIGABYTE's 3D UEFI BIOS is most trouble-free with hackintoshing, leaving you with no risky BIOS modding to do. The BIOS tells OS X about what the hardware environment is like. If the OS doesn't have an environment that it's designed for, it crashes with a kernel panic.

GIGABYTE 3D UEFI BIOS, tonymacx86 reports, as tested on a GA-Z77-DS3H, already has power-management descriptors, so you don't have to add any power-management DSDT tables for sleep/wake or power-management functions. Most other onboard devices on the Z77-DS3H run seamlessly with Apple's native drivers. The Atheros gigabit Ethernet controller works with MultiBeast driver, Realtek ALC887 HDA codec works with ALC8xxHDA/AppleHDA, and Intel HD 3000 graphics embedded into the Core i5-2500K (used in the testing) works just fine.

Sources: tonymacx86, VR-Zone

inXtron Akitio MyCloud Pro NAS Pictured

inXtron showed off its newest small-business NAS server at Intel Storage Forum, the Akitio MyCloud Pro. As the venue might suggest, this 2-bay desktop NAS is powered by Intel x86 architecture. inXtron even put is logic board for display, which revealed it to be driven by an Intel Atom D425 single-core (HTT-enabled) processor, with its usual NM10 chipset. The board also revealed several interesting components, such as two 2-port USB 3.0 controllers, giving out two ports on the rear panel and two for the front-panel, via a standard header.

The primary storage controller is the Intel NM10 chipset itself, the NAS uses a USB DOM (disk-on-module) it boots from, to hold its operating system. The primary network interface is a 1 GbE, driven by a Realtek-made PHY. Interestingly, the board has a vacant mini-PCIe slot, on which WLAN cards can be installed. The MyCloud Pro supports two SATA 3 Gb/s hard drives in the 3.5" form-factor. It supports all modern NAS features, such as UPnP-AV, NFS, FTP, Samba, but DLNA wasn't mentioned. The OS also includes a Bit-torrent client, and Apple iTunes-compatible music server. inXtron has apps for Android and iOS smartphones, with which you can use the phone to control the NAS. inXtron is targeting a sweet price-point under US $200, with the Akitio MyCloud Pro NAS.

Source: VR-Zone

Sapphire Intros Pure Platinum A55V Motherboard

Sapphire released the new Pure Platinum A55V motherboard to the market. The board offers a value socket FM1 platform based on AMD A55 FCH chipset, in the ATX form-factor. The motherboard supports AMD A4, A6, A8, and Athlon II "Llano" APU/CPUs in the FM1 package. This model is not exactly designed to be "no-frills", as it does pack an interesting mix of features that could help it grab a comfy price-point in the market.

The FM1 socket is powered by a 6-phase VRM, which uses a simple whine-free choke + DPAK MOSFET design, but throws in a heatsink to cool the MOSFETs. The socket is wired to four DDR3 DIMM slots, supporting up to 16 GB of dual-channel DDR3 memory, with speeds of over DDR3-1600 MHz with overclocking. The APU is also wired to a PCI-Express 2.0 x16 slot, and two PCI-Express 2.0 x1 slots. Apart from these, you get three legacy PCI slots, wired to the FCH.

ASUS Makes Z9PE-D8 WS 2P-LGA2011 Motherboard Official

ASUS made its workstation-grade Z9PE-D8 WS motherboard official. The board is built for 2P Xeon E5-2600 series processors in the LGA2011 package, is based on the Intel C606 "Patsburg" chipset, and is built in the 30.5 x 33 cm EEB form-factor. Each of the two sockets is wired to four DDR3 DIMM slots, supporting quad-channel memory, each. Up to 256 GB of registered DDR3 memory is supported.

Expansion slots include four PCI-Express 3.0 x16 (blue), two PCI-Express 3.0 x16 (electrical x8, top two black), and one PCI-Express 2.0 x16 (electrical x4, bottommost black). 4-way SLI and CrossFireX are supported. Storage connectivity includes six SATA 6 Gb/s (two from the PCH, four from two Marvell 9230 chips), and eight SATA 3 Gb/s (all from the PCH). An ASPEED ASMB6 provides basic display and iKVM functions. Realtek ALC898 provides 8-channel HD audio. There are two gigabit Ethernet interfaces, driven by Intel 82574L chips. The Z9PE-D8 WS from ASUS is priced around US $630.

Gigabyte Z77X-UD3H and Z77X-UD5H Pictured, Too

Here are the Z77X-UD5H and Z77X-UD3H pictured up-close. The two form Gigabyte's upper-mid range and mid range offerings based on the Intel Z77 chipset, supporting socket LGA1155 "Ivy Bridge" and "Sandy Bridge" Core processors. The Z77X-UD5H is an extremely feature-rich offering, in some aspects a more complete package than even the G1.Sniper 3. It provides a 15-phase CPU and 2-phase memory VRM. Expansion slots on this board include two PCI-Express 3.0 x16 (x16/NC or x8/x8), one PCI-Express 2.0 x16 (electrical x4), three PCIe 2.0 x1, and one legacy PCI.

ASUS P8Z77-V Deluxe Starts Selling in China

Chinese online marketplace site Taobao has listings of two yet-to-launch motherboards based on the Intel Z77 Express chipset, the Wibtek Z77 Hacker (we earlier covered news of that listing in early January) and now, the ASUS P8Z77-V Deluxe. This will be among ASUS' premium LGA1155 motherboards based on the new chipset. It is priced at 2,499 RMB (US $396), which seems overpriced. The seller is probably looking to make a quick Mao with pre-launch orders. The seller was kind enough to paste ASUS' marketing poster for the P8Z77-V Deluxe, which can typically also be found on the back side of product packaging.

The P8Z77-V Deluxe supports DDR3-2800 MHz with overclocking. Expansion slots include two PCI-Express 3.0 x16 (x8/x8 when both are populated), wired to the CPU, supporting NVIDIA SLI, AMD CrossFire and Lucid VirtuMVP; one PCI-Express 2.0 x16 (electrical x4, wired to the PCH); and four PCI-Express 2.0 x1 slots. Good riddance to legacy PCI. Display connectivity lacks archaic connectors such as DVI and D-Sub, includes HDMI and DisplayPort, instead. Storage connectivity consists of four SATA 6 Gb/s (two from the PCH, two from a third-party controller), four SATA 3 Gb/s, and two eSATA 6 Gb/s.

ASUS ROG Phoebus Sound Card Pictured, Driven by New CMI Oxygen Express Chip

ASUS displayed its latest sound card, the Republic of Gamers (ROG) Phoebus. This card is designed for multichannel gaming audio. While it might not pack any fancy DSP that doesn't already exist, its AMP circuitry is so designed to give the best positional audio that could come handy with competitive online gaming. With this card, ASUS also brought to the fore C-Media's latest audio chipset, the CMI 8788DH Oxygen Express, which packs native PCI Express support. All PCI Express sound cards launched by ASUS so far feature OxygenHD and ASUS-rebadged AV-100 chipsets, that use legacy PCI, and hence depend on PCIe-to-PCI bridge chips by PLX to function on PCI Express.

The primary DAC for headphone/front-out channel of the ROG Phoebus is TI-BB PCM1792A, with stellar signal-noise ratio (SNR) of 127 dBA. Other main channels are handled by Cirrus Logic, probably the CS5381, with SNR of 120 dBA. There's also a tertiary Realtek ALC889 (110 dBA) CODEC that probably handles an independent set of audio channels, or handles the digital outputs, since it's licensed with a few Dolby technologies. On the AMP side, we spy bleeding-edge OPAMPs, a Texas Instruments 6120A2(?) AMP chip (for the headphones channel), etc.

Giada Unveils Mini-ITX Z68 Motherboard

Chinese company JEHE is launching its latest compact mini-ITX motherboard in Europe under the Giada brand, the MI-Z68. As the name suggests, it is based on Intel Z68 chipset, and supports Core i3/i5/i7 processors in the LGA1155 package. There is no TDP restriction, as the board features a full-fledged CPU VRM that draws power from a 4-pin 12V connector apart from a 20-pin ATX connector (any of today's PSUs with 24-pin connector will support it). The board uses a 4+1 phase CPU VRM, with single phase memory. There are two DDR3 DIMM slots, supporting dual-channel memory. The lone expansion slot is a PCI-Express 2.0 x16.

There's impressive storage connectivity, this includes two mSATA 3 Gb/s (on on either side of the slot), two SATA 6 Gb/s (blue), and two SATA 3 Gb/s (black). There are just two USB 3.0 ports, both on the rear panel, and driven by a Renesas-made controller. 8-channel HD audio with optical SPDIF output, one gigabit Ethernet connection (driven by Realtek-made PHY), display outputs that include DVI and HDMI, a number of USB 2.0 ports and PS/2 keyboard, make for the rest of the rear panel. The Giada MI-Z68 will be priced at €88.

Source: TechConnect Magazine
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