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ASUS Unveils B85-Pro Gamer Motherboard

ASUS' choice of decking its mainline motherboards in black and gold is coming to bite it, as the company unveiled one of the first of its "Gamer" line of motherboards. Simply put, these are boards from its mainline Z87 and B85 series products, but with black and red color scheme, and not many of the goodies that its expensive ROG (Republic of Gamers) series comes with. It's the idea of making entry-level and mid-range products more appealing to gamers that ASUS appears to have aped MSI on, even if MSI isn't the original "black + red" motherboard maker. That said, the B85-Pro Gamer isn't just a B85-Pro with fancy heatsinks. Its PCB resembles rather closely with that of the Z87-A.

To begin with, this slim ATX motherboard uses an 8-phase VRM to condition power to the LGA1150 socket. It's wired to four DDR3 DIMM slots, and a single PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slot. The other long x16 slot on this board is physically PCI-Express 2.0 x4, and wired to the B85 PCH. Three legacy PCI, and two PCI-Express 2.0 x1 make up the rest of the expansion area. Storage connectivity includes four SATA 6 Gb/s, and two SATA 3 Gb/s. Display outputs (which we doubt gamers would use), include DVI, D-Sub, and HDMI. ASUS worked on the networking and audio of this board. It features a rather premium Intel I217V GbE controller, and SupremeFX audio, with a 115 dBA SNR CODEC, electrolytic capacitors, a TI-made 300Ω headphones amp, and ground-layer isolation.

Crucial Announces the M550 Series SSDs

Crucial announced its M550 series of performance SSDs, succeeding its existing M500 series. Built in 7 mm-thick 2.5-inch SATA, mSATA, and M.2 form-factors, the M550 series offers higher sequential transfer rates, and comes in higher capacities near existing price-points, over its predecessor. It also introduces a handful new features, such as NWA (native write acceleration), RAIN (redundant array of independent NAND), adaptive thermal protection (ATP), and hardware encryption. The drives appear to be based on a Marvell-made controller platform, with Micron-made MLC NAND flash. The mSATA 6 Gb/s and M.2 models come in capacities of 128 GB, 256 GB, and 512 GB; while the 2.5-inch SATA 6 Gb/s models include 1 TB capacity. The drives offer sequential reads as high as 550 MB/s, with up to 500 MB/s of sequential writes. They're backed by 3-year warranties, and should eventually replace the M500 series from their existing price points.

MSI Z97-based Gaming Series Motherboard Lineup Detailed

With Intel's "Haswell Refresh" CPU lineup around the corner, motherboard makers are giving final touches to their next-gen socket LGA1150 lineups based on Intel Z97 Express chipset. MSI, which practically reinvented itself in the DIY hardware scene with its Gaming Series of motherboards and graphics cards, is readying three products based on the chipset, the mid-range Z97 Gaming 3, the premium Z97 Gaming 5, and the high-end Z97 Gaming 7. With it, MSI is ditching the "G45," "GD55," and "GD65" brand extensions. In addition to M.2 slots, some of the three will include SATA-Express add-on cards, which let you plug-in drives with a staggering 10 Gbps of bandwidth.

MSI unveiled early versions of the top of the line Gaming 7 and the mid-range Gaming 3 at this year's CeBIT event. The Z97 Gaming 7 offers a 12-phase CPU iVR, three PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots, four PCIe x1 slots, eight SATA 6 Gb/s ports, an M.2 slot, and possibly an included SATA-Express add-on card; in addition to a wealth of connectivity. The Gaming 5 could be based on the same PCB, but with a lighter feature-set. The Gaming 3, on the other hand, is based on a lighter PCB, with a 6-phase CPU iVR, a lack of the M.2 slot, legacy PCI slots, yet retaining the ground-layer isolated on-board audio, and Killer NIC. The "Haswell refresh" Core processor lineup, along with motherboards based on the Z97 Express chipset, could be launched around the same time as Computex.
Sources: Expreview (1, 2)

MSI Rolls Out AM1I Socket AM1 Motherboard

MSI announced its first socket AM1 motherboard, the AM1I. Built in the mini-ITX form-factor, the board draws power from a combination of 24-pin ATX and 4-pin CPU power connectors. The socket is wired to two DDR3 DIMM slots, supporting up to 16 GB of DDR3-1600 MHz memory; a PCI-Express 2.0 x16 slot, and an mPCIe slot. Connectivity includes two SATA 6 Gb/s ports, two USB 3.0 ports, 6-channel HD audio, gigabit Ethernet, display outputs that include HDMI, DVI, and D-Sub, and legacy PS/2. MSI didn't reveal pricing or availability information.

ASRock Announces a Trio of Socket AM1 Motherboards

ASRock announced a trio of socket AM1 motherboards for AMD's "Kabini" series APUs, Athlon and Sempron-branded CPUs, in the FS1b (AM1) package. The lineup includes the AM1B-M, a compact micro-ATX model; and two mini-ITX ones, the AM1H-ITX, and the AM1B-ITX. The AM1B-M draws power from a combination of 24-pin ATX and 4-pin ATX connectors, and uses a 3-phase VRM to power the APU. A PCI-Express 2.0 x16, and a PCIe 2.0 x1 make for its expansion slots. Connectivity includes two SATA 6 Gb/s ports, two USB 3.0 ports (rear), D-Sub display output, gigabit Ethernet, and 6-channel HD audio.

The AM1H-ITX, and the AM1B-ITX appear to be based on a common PCB design, but differ with connectivity. The former is gear towards modern connectivity options. It draws power from either a 24-pin ATX, or a 2-pin external DC input. The board is loaded with features, including HDMI and DVI display outputs, four SATA 6 Gb/s ports, four USB 3.0 ports, PCI-Express 2.0 x16 and mPCIe slots, and 8-channel HD audio. The latter is geared more towards essential/legacy connectivity. It features the same display outputs, but chucks out 2-pin power input, and 8-channel HD audio to make room for a parallel LPT port.

Compulab Outs AMD-Powered Fit-PC4

Israel-based system builder Compulab announced the fourth generation Fit-PC, the Fit-PC4, which builds on the proven nettop platform. Fit-PC4 comes in two main variants, the $299 Fit-PC4 Value, and the $380 Fit-PC4 Pro. The Value variant runs an AMD A4-1250 APU, with a manageable 8W TDP to speak of. The Pro variant, on the other hand, runs a peppier AMD GX-420CA quad-core SoC, with Radeon HD 8400E graphics.

Both variants feature two DDR3 SO-DIMM slots, which can hold up to 16 GB of memory; an internal 2.5-inch drive bay with SATA 6 Gb/s interface, an mPCIe+mSATA 6 Gb/s slot, and a micro-SDXC card slot, wrapping up the storage department. Display outputs include two HDMI 1.4a ports on both variants, with 7.1-channel digital audio streams. 7.1-channel digital audio is also given out by TOSLINK SPDIF, on both variants. Analog audio outputs include just the stereo headset jacks. Networking includes two gigabit Ethernet interfaces on both variants. While the Value variant offers 802.11 b/g/n WLAN with Bluetooth 3.0, the Pro variant tops that with 802.11 ac and Bluetooth 4.0. The Pro variant measures 16 cm x 19 cm x 3.7 cm; while the Value variant is more compact, at 16 cm x 16 cm x 2.5 cm.

Source: FanlessTech

Giada Announces a Pair of mini-ITX Desktop Boards for 4th Gen. Core Processors

Giada announced a pair of mini-ITX motherboards based on Intel's 4th generation Core "Haswell" platform, the MI-I56SL, and DT-H81DL/DT-B85DL (pictured in that order). The MI-I56SL is designed for digital signage and kiosk systems, and comes fully integrated with a CPU in the BGA package. It embeds an Intel Core i5-4200U dual-core processor. Connectivity includes a pair of SATA 6 Gb/s ports, and two mPCIe slots. Display outputs include HDMI and VGA. The DT-H81DL and DT-B85DL, on the other hand, are designed for mini-ITX desktops. It features an LGA1150 socket, a pair of DDR3 DIMM slots, and a PCI-Express x16 slot. As their names might suggest, the DT-H81DL is based on Intel's H81 Express chipset, and the DT-B85DL on Intel B85 Express. The company didn't reveal pricing.

MSI Rolls Out Z87 MPower MAX AC with 802.11 ac WLAN

MSI rolled out a variant of its Z87 MPower MAX flagship socket LGA1150 motherboard, the Z87 MPower MAX AC. As its name might suggest, it includes an 802.11 ac wireless LAN interface. The board integrates a daughterboard with an Intel-made communications processor, which gives it 802.11 ac dual-band Wi-Fi at speeds of up to 867 Mbps at 5 GHz; and Bluetooth 4.0. MSI includes a pair of antennae with the board.

Built in the standard ATX form-factor, the Z87 MPower MAX AC features a 20-phase VRM to power the CPU, which is wired to four DDR3 DIMM slots, and three PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots (x16/NC/NC or x8/x8/NC or x8/x4/x4, depending on how they're populated). Four PCI-Express 2.0 x1 slots, and an mPCIe slot, wired to the Z87 Express PCH, find some in the middle. Storage connectivity includes eight SATA 6 Gb/s ports (six from the PCH, two from a third-party controller). Apart from the WLAN, the board features a gigabit Ethernet interface driven by Killer E2205 controller. Display outputs include two HDMI, and a DisplayPort. Ten USB 3.0 ports, 8-channel HD audio with headphone amplifier, make for the rest of it. It features a boatload of overclocking features. MSI didn't reveal pricing details.

MSI Rolls Out H81M-E35 V2 Motherboard

MSI rolled out the H81M-E35 V2 entry-level socket LGA1150 motherboard. Designed for Core "Haswell" processors, the board draws power from a combination of 24-pin ATX and 4-pin ATX power connectors. It uses a simple 3-phase VRM to power the CPU, which is wired to two DDR3 DIMM slots, and a single PCI-Express 2.0 x16 slot. A couple of PCI-Express 2.0 x1, and a legacy PCI make for the rest of the expansion area. Storage connectivity includes two each of SATA 6 Gb/s and SATA 3 Gb/s. Display outputs include one each of DVI, D-Sub, and HDMI. Six USB 3.0 ports (four on the rear panel, two by header), six USB 2.0/1.1 ports, gigabit Ethernet, 6-channel HD audio, and legacy PS/2 connectivity make for the rest of it. Expect a sub-$100 pricing.

MSI Rolls Out 760GMA-P34FX Socket AM3+ Motherboard

MSI rolled out the 760GMA-P34FX, a cost-effective socket AM3+ motherboard in the micro-ATX form-factor, designed with out of the box support for AMD FX "Vishera" processors. Based on the dated AMD 760 chipset with SB710 southbridge, the motherboard still offers modern connectivity, such as SATA 6 Gb/s and USB 3.0, but using third-party controllers.

Drawing power from a combination of 24-pin ATX and 4-pin CPU power connectors, the 760GMA-P34FX offers two DDR3 DIMM slots, supporting up to 16 GB of dual-channel DDR3 memory. A PCI-Express 2.0 x16, a PCI-Express 2.0 x1, and a legacy PCI slot make up its expansion area. Storage connectivity includes six SATA 3 Gb/s ports (from the SB710 southbridge), and two SATA 6 Gb/s ports (from an ASMedia ASM1061 controller). Display connectivity includes one each of DVI and D-Sub. The board offers four USB 3.0 ports, two on the rear panel, two by headers. 6-channel HD audio, and gigabit Ethernet make for the rest of the connectivity. Expect this one to be light on your wallet. Really light.

Mushkin Shows off its SandForce 3700-powered Scorpion PCIe SSD

Mushkin unveiled its second-generation Scorpion line of PCIe SSDs, which made its debut in June, 2013. A prototype of the series was shown at the 2014 International CES. The second-generation Scorpion leverages LSI's SandForce 3700 controller, which features both SATA 6 Gb/s and PCI-Express 2.0 x4 interface. In this implementation, the chip is wired to the latter, and is seated on a half-height add-on card with PCI-Express 2.0 x4 bus interface. The drive is bootable. All eight ONFI channels on the controller are populated by Toshiba-made 20 nm MLC NAND flash chips.

The controller is so highly integrated, that there are virtually no other components on the card, than itself, and the NAND flash chips. There are traces on the card for three large capacitors, which the controller can use for its bad power protection mechanism. When it senses a power failure or erratic power, the capacitors will supply enough power for the drive to finish its last safe write operation, and power down, to prevent data loss. In terms of performance, the controller offers sequential transfer rates as high as 1800 MB/s. Mushkin also showed off an M.2 drive based on the same controller, but with just four of its eight ONFI channels populated, which shouldn't be a problem, given that M.2 interface, with its two notches only offers 6 Gb/s interface speeds.

Kingston Also Shows Off SandForce 3700-powered SATA SSD

In addition to the HyperX Fury series, Kingston showed off one of the first client SSDs in the 2.5-inch SATA form-factor that's based on the new SandForce 3700 controller platform by LSI. The drive is unnamed as of now, but will feature in the company's SSDNow family of client SSDs. The controller features pins for both SATA 6 Gb/s and PCI-Express 2.0 x4. On drives built in the PCIe add-on card form-factor, the controller offers sequential transfer rates as high as 1,800 MB/s. SATA 6 Gb/s should certainly bottleneck it, but it could also be one of the fastest drives in its form-factor. The dual interface makes the controller ready for the SATA-Express form-factor, with backwards compatibility for SATA 6 Gb/s; as well as NGFF. Kingston didn't reveal launch details.

Gigabyte BRIX Pro Detailed

Picture this - an NUC-like desktop so powerful for its size, that it qualifies to be a Steam Machine by Valve. The new BRIX Pro from Gigabyte is its most powerful BRIX desktop. Measuring all of 114.4mm x 111.4mm x 62 mm, the BRIX Pro tucks in some powerful hardware. To begin with, it features an off-spec 100 x 105 mm motherboard, which seats an Intel Core i7-4770R quad-core processor. Based on the big 22 nm Haswell silicon, it features Intel's Iris Pro 5200 graphics, which runs 40 compute units, and an L4 cache.

The Core i7-4770R chip inside the BRIX Pro is wired to up to 16 GB of dual-channel DDR3-1600 memory. The only internal storage option is an mSATA 6 Gb/s slot. Network connectivity includes gigabit Ethernet, and Wi-Fi + Bluetooth using an optional mPCIe card. The rest of its connectivity includes a total of four USB 3.0 ports, mini-DisplayPort and HDMI display outputs, and 6-channel HD audio. Gigabyte didn't finalize pricing.

ASUS Z87-Deluxe/SATA-Express Detailed

ASUS released a prototype of the first desktop PC motherboard with SATA-Express support, the Z87-Deluxe/SATA-Express. A variant of ASUS' flagship socket LGA1150 motherboard from its mainline Z87 series, the Z87-Deluxe, the board features two SATA-Express ports. SATA-Express sees a fusion between two of the most successful serial I/O interfaces, SATA and PCI-Express. It's essentially ATA over PCI-Express 2.0 x2, which offers a raw bandwidth of 8 Gbps per direction, 16 Gbps total. The SATA-Express port is structured similar to the classic SATA port, with PCI-Express lanes running over two 7-pin SATA connectors, and an additional block of 4 pins that make up the 18 pins required by 2-lane PCI-Express. A SATA-Express connector is thus unified, and legacy SATA devices should still be able to run off one of the two 7-in SATA connectors in a SATA-Express block.

Since there are no SATA-Express drives in the market, ASUS gave TweakTown a MacGyver contraption that adapts SATA-Express to a physical PCI-Express 2.0 x4 slot (electrical x2). An ASUS RAIDR Express PCI-Express SSD was found to offer sequential transfer rates of around 750 MB/s on ATTO. The rest of the board is practically identical to the Z87-Deluxe. The board uses a 16-phase VRM to condition power for the LGA1150 CPU. It draws power from a combination of 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS connectors. Expansion slots include three PCI-Express 3.0 x16 (x16/NC/NC or x8/x8/NC or x8/x4/x4, depending on how they're populated); and four PCI-Express 2.0 x1 slots.

ASRock Fatal1ty 990FX Killer Detailed

Here's the first detailed body-shot of ASRock Fatal1ty 990FX Killer, which was teased by the company earlier today, and which could end up being one of the most feature-rich socket AM3+ motherboards, if the end is neigh for AM3+. Designed for gaming PCs with up to two graphics cards, although it features three long x16 slots, the Fatal1ty 990FX Killer is a full-size ATX motherboard. It's design appears to be more gamer-centric than overclocker-centric. It draws power from 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS connectors, with an optional 4-pin Molex connection to stabilize power to add-on cards; and conditions it for the AM3+ CPU using a 10-phase VRM that's cooled by an heatsink that's independent from that which cools the AMD 990FX northbridge (i.e. no heat-pipe linking the two). The AM3+ CPU socket is wired to four DDR3 DIMM slots, which support up to 64 GB of dual-channel DDR3-2400 MHz memory; and to the 990FX northbridge over a 5.2 GT/s HyperTransport link.

The AMD 990FX chipset puts out two PCI-Express 2.0 x16 slots, the third slot is electrical PCI-Express 2.0 x4, and possibly wired to the SB950 southbridge. The southbridge handles five internal SATA 6 Gb/s ports, the sixth port is wired out as eSATA. The Fatal1ty 990FX Killer, as teased this morning, is among the first motherboards to feature an M.2 slot, extended out of a PCI-Express link. PCIe SSDs tend to be faster, as more interface bandwith is on tap. As many as six USB 3.0 ports are on offer, of which one switches between header and internal type-1 port (for those tuck-away software license keys) all of which are driven by third-party controllers. Wired networking is care of a Killer E2200 network controller, that's optimized for gaming. The board features 7.1-channel HD audio, with a high SNR CODEC, PCB ground-layer isolation (to prevent electrical noise), and an EMI shield for the CODEC; which ASRock collectively labels "Purity Sound." The board is driven by AMI UEFI BIOS, with full support for Windows 8 Secure Boot.

Samsung 840 Pro Gets RAPID Mode Support

Samsung extended RAPID mode, a burst performance enhancing feature enabled through its Magician software, to its 840 Pro series SSD. The mode was exclusive to its recently launched 840 EVO series. RAPID mode is known to exploit various sub-systems of the machine and time transfers through SATA 6 Gb/s in a way that produces throughputs as high as 1.1 GB/s on the 840 EVO. TheSSDReview put the mode to test on the 840 Pro, and found it to offer throughputs nearing 1 GB/s, again, in short bursts. To get RAPID mode, simply update your Samsung Magician software to the latest version available, and the mode should show up on the side-pane.

Source: TheSSDReview

Akasa Rolls Out Tesla H NUC Case

Akasa rolled out the Tesla H, an all-aluminium fanless case for Intel's second-generation NUC, based on its Core "Haswell" processor. At 240 x 150 x 48 mm, it's somewhere in between traditional NUCs and slimline mini-ITX cases; but uses that volume productively, in adding not one, but two 2.5-inch drive bays. The first one takes advantage of the standard SATA 6 Gb/s port on the D54250WYK motherboard, and the other requires the included mSATA to SATA adapter. The case is also compatible with Intel's D54250WYB and D34010WYB motherboards.

As mentioned earlier, the all-aluminium case features ridges along its body that let it double up as a passive heatsink for the Core "Haswell" processor and PCH. In addition to the two 2.5-inch drive bays, the Tesla H offers two front-panel USB 3.0 ports, HDA audio jacks, a USB infrared receiver, three holes for WLAN/Bluetooth antennae, a Kensington lock slot, and VESA wall mounts. Akasa didn't announce pricing or availability details.

Source: FanlessTech

Western Digital Debuts World's First SSD+HDD Dual Drive

WD, a Western Digital company and storage industry leader, today announced the release of the WD Black2 dual drive, a unique storage innovation that fuses a 2.5-inch 120 GB solid state drive (SSD) with a 1 TB hard disk drive (HDD) to offer a powerful dual drive solution. Perfect for consumers and service providers looking to upgrade notebooks, small form factor desktops, and single-slot and all-in-one (AIO) systems with both SSD level performance and HDD capacity, the WD Black2 dual drive connects through a single cable and fits into a conventional 9.5 mm slot.

"Our customers told us they like our Solid State Hybrid Drive technology, but our tech savvy users asked for more control of where they store their data," said Matt Rutledge, senior vice president of WD's Storage Technology business unit. "The WD Black2 dual drives empower our customers to enjoy SSD performance and access high capacity storage in a no-compromise package. The WD Black2 dual drive is a direct result of our interaction with our customer base through WD Labs initiatives. WD devised its beta labs program to provide an exclusive testing arena for key customers and technology influencers of existing and emerging WD storage products."

ASUS Announces TUF Vanguard B85 Motherboard

ASUS launched its first The Ultimate Force (TUF) series motherboard based on a mid-range chipset by Intel, the TUF Vanguard B85. Designed for gamers who don't overclock their CPUs, and for businesses that change their IT infrastructure every decade, this motherboard is a tight ship. To begin with, it uses a simple 4-phase VRM to condition power for the CPU, but that VRM consists of high-grade components, and is cooled by heatsinks. The board draws power from a combination of 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS connectors. The LGA1150 socket is wired to four DDR3 DIMM slots, supporting up to 32 GB of dual-channel memory; and one PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slot. A second PCI-Express x16 slot is electrical gen 2.0 x4, wired to the PCH. One each of PCI-Express 2.0 x1, and legacy PCI, make up the rest of the expansion area.

Storage connectivity on the TUF Vanguard B85 includes four SATA 6 Gb/s, and two SATA 3 Gb/s, all of which are assigned as internal ports. Display connectivity includes one each of dual-link DVI, HDMI, D-Sub, and DisplayPort. The board offers a total of six USB 3.0 ports, four on the rear panel, and two via internal headers. 8-channel HD audio, gigabit Ethernet, PS/2 mouse/keyboard combi-plug, and a number of USB 2.0/1.1 ports, complete the connectivity package. The board feature all the TUF military-grade durability paraphernalia, including the Thermal Radar feature from the TUF Sabertooth series. Expect this one to go for about $110.

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.

Western Digital Rolls Out WD Green 4 TB 3.5-inch Hard Drive

Keeping up with its product roadmaps, Western Digital rolled out WD Green 4 TB hard drive (model: WD40EZRX). Designed for personal desktops that need energy-efficient, high-capacity storage, the drive offers 4000 GB of unformatted space, which should yield about 3.6 TB under a Windows NTFS file-system. Built in the 3.5-inch form-factor, the drive features SATA 6 Gb/s interface, variable sub-6,000 RPM spindle-speeds, 64 MB cache, and acoustics management. When spinning and idling, the drive is designed to draw about 3.3W, which goes up to 4.5W under stress, and just 0.4W, when the drive is parked and spun-down. Available now, the WD Green 4 TB is priced between $170 and $190, depending on what package you choose.

Gigabyte Also Shows Off Thunderbolt 2.0-Equipped Motherboards

In addition to the G1.Assassin 3, Gigabyte showed off its first motherboards with Thunderbolt 2.0 connectors. Armed with 20 Gb/s of bandwidth, Thunderbolt 2.0 gives you enough bandwidth to drive high-resolution displays (beyond WQHD), and storage arrays with SSDs. Among these motherboards are the Z87X-UD7 TH. Gigabyte distinguished the "UD7" brand extension from "OC," which marks products that prioritize performance-enhancing components over connectivity, while the UD7 leads the company's mainline Z87X pack with top-grade connectivity, and electricals not too far behind the Z87X-OC.

The Z87X-UD7 TH is built in the standard ATX form-factor. It draws power from a combination of 24-pin ATX, 8-pin EPS, an optional 4-pin ATX, and an optional SATA power input. It uses a 16-phase VRM to power the CPU, which uses high-grade PowIRstage driver-MOSFETs. The VRM cooler is a combination of an active air-cooled heatsink, with a coolant channel that lets you make it part of your liquid cooling loop. This cooler shares some of its heat with the heatsink covering the PLX PEX8747 bridge chip, and the PCH, which also features a fan-heatsink. The board features five PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots, of which three are gen 3.0 x16 capable, and four gen 3.0 x8 capable. A mechanism lets you bypass the bridge chip, and connect a single graphics card directly to the CPU. Two PCI-Express 2.0 x1 slots complete the expansion area.

Gigabyte G1.Assassin 3 Motherboard Detailed

Gigabyte showed off an early version of its upcoming high-end socket LGA2011 motherboard, the G1.Assassin 3, at IDF. Based on the same Intel X79 Express chipset as its predecessor, this board is built in the standard ATX form-factor. It draws power from a combination of 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS connectors. It uses a 9-phase VRM to condition power to the CPU socket, which uses PowIRstage driver-MOSFETs by International Rectifier. The CPU socket is wired to eight DDR3 DIMM slots, supporting up to 64 GB of memory, and four PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots. A couple of PCI-Express 2.0 x1 slots complete the expansion area.

Storage connectivity on the G1.Assassin 3 includes four each of SATA 6 Gb/s and SATA 3 Gb/s ports. Network connectivity includes two gigabit Ethernet interfaces, from which one is driven by an Intel-made controller, and an add-on card with 802.11ac WLAN, and Bluetooth 4.0. A hyped up feature here is its Creative Sound Core3D audio, with a high SNR DAC, audiophile-grade OPAMP circuitry with user-replaceable amps (Gigabyte calls this AMP-UP). Six USB 3.0 ports, and a number of USB 2.0/1.1 ports make for the rest of it. Gigabyte didn't finalize heatsink designs for the VRM or PCH, and there's no word on when exactly the company plans to launch the thing.

Source: Legit Reviews

Gigabyte Unveils BRIX with Iris Pro 5200 Graphics

At IDF, Gigabyte unveiled its latest BRIX mini-PC variants, running Core i7-4770R and Core i5-4570R processors. The two chips embed Intel's Iris Pro 5200 integrated graphics, which features 40 execution units, L4 eDRAM cache, and more than double the integrated graphics performance of a regular Core i7-4770. Sadly, to accommodate these chips, BRIX needed to stretch out, and is almost double the thickness of 2nd generation BRIX, running regular variants of Core "Haswell" processors. Gigabyte didn't use the added thickness to add more ports, either. You get room for a single 2.5-inch SATA 6 Gb/s drive, and two mini-PCIe gen 2.0 slots, one of which holds the WiFi+Bluetooth card. The BRIX with Iris Pro lineup is expected to start at $500.

Source: LegitReviews

ASUS Announces X79 Deluxe Socket LGA2011 Motherboard

ASUS announced its first socket LGA2011 motherboard after Intel's Core i7 "Ivy Bridge-E" family launch. Sticking to the simplified model naming scheme introduced by its LGA1150 motherboard lineup, the board is named X79-Deluxe, and is styled just like them (black PCB, black expansion-slots, gold heatsinks). It is expected to ship with out of the box support for Intel's latest HEDT chips. The board is built in the standard ATX form-factor, drawing power from a combination of 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS connectors. It uses a 10-phase VRM to power the CPU socket, which is wired to eight DDR3 DIMM slots, and four PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots. A couple of PCI-Express 2.0 x1 slots, wired to the PCH, make for the rest of its expansion.

Storage connectivity includes eight internal SATA 6 Gb/s ports, of which just two are wired to the X79 PCH, four SATA 3 Gb/s ports, and two eSATA 6 Gb/s. Out of the eight USB 3.0 ports on this board, you get six on the rear panel, two by header. The X79 Deluxe features the latest WiFi GO! module by ASUS, which lends it 802.11 ac WLAN, and Bluetooth 4.0 support. Of the two gigabit Ethernet ports on the board, one is driven by an Intel-made controller. 8-channel HD audio, and a number of USB 2.0/1.1 ports make for the rest. Among the ASUS-exclusive features are USB BIOS Flashback, EPU, TPU II, ASUS SSD Caching, and USB 3.0 Boost. The X79 Deluxe from ASUS is expected to go for US $349.99. Find a comprehensive review at the source.

Source: TechReport
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