Gigabyte G1.Sniper 5 Motherboard Preview

Next up on our line-up of previews for the latest Intel based motherboards we find ourselves with another Gigabyte board in our presence.  You may have already seen some of the other Gigabyte previews that we’ve done in the past week including the Gigabyte G1.Sniper M5 which is the Micro-ATX version of what we have today; its big brother, the G1.Sniper 5.

The G1.Sniper 5 is part of the G1-Killer series of boards and is one of the top-end boards from Gigabyte with a full ATX form factor and a bundle load of features packed into it, so today gives us the chance to show our readers exactly what this top-spec board is all about. The only issue that we have is that we are of course bound by Intel’s NDA which is coming up very soon, and therefore we can’t mention anything to do with Intel or their new chipset or 4th generation CPU processors so please bare with us for the upcoming review of this board where we will be unleashing the benchmarks and performance results as well as showing how far this bad boy can go in terms of overclockability.

The G1.Sniper 5, just like its little brother incorporates the famous G1-Killer green and black colour scheme that it’s been made famous for. A black PCB is at the heart of this board with green accented components including the DIMM slots, PCI-Express lanes and of course the thermal heatsinks which also add some unique features that we’ve not seen on this range of boards before.

One thing you will notice is that the heatsink around the CPU socket has barbs for connecting watercooling loops to as well as an active fan solution to help keep the Phases nice and cool, especially when overclocking and pushing your hardware and mainly processor to the limits.

Covering the new Intel chipset (which for the moment will remain nameless) we find a low-profile G1-Killer heatsink with G1 series branding. The heatsink is powered allowing it to light up around the skull and its low-profile design causes no obstruction to longer PCI-Express expansion cards.

In typical fashion for our previews, we have a detailed video checking out the aesthetic design of the board as well as looking at the Gigabyte features, while not giving anything away in terms of Intel technology and features and of course we aren’t allowed to mention anything in terms of benchmarks and performance results, at least not for now.

 [youtube]http://youtu.be/Tf6qyQJ8G7A[/youtube]

If you’ve read my preview on the G1.Sniper M5, you’ll see that I’m a big fan of the colour scheme and design on the G1-Killer range of boards and have been since their introduction a couple of years ago and they have developed them in conjunction with what their consumer audience have told them and improved the overall design and features and this shows with the G1.Sniper 5 with its subtle branding and funky green colour scheme and with a feature set that is jam packed, you certainly won’t be disappointed.

Feature wise, we see some great potential for SLI and CrossFireX functionality which will see gamers smiling, as this board is aimed at them primarily with improved audio and LAN giving true gamers all of the special addons they need to be at the top of their game.

The bottom line is that anyone would be satisfied with this board, especially if they dabble in games or if they are a pro gaming player, and with the ability to watercool the CPU socket heatsinks with the addition of an active cooling solution with thanks to the fan, even overclockers will receive great results from this board too. For those wanting to watercool, the included barbs are going to add extra functionality and if you are clever and approach a company willing to match the green, you will have one amazing looking system at the end of the day.

Intel DZ87KLT-75K Motherboard Preview

Whenever a new chipset launches, so does a new reference board from Intel, and today sees the DZ87KLT-75K being the board in question. Now while we can’t divulge huge amounts of information in terms of features to do with the chipset and speaking about performance completely out of question, we can obviously comment on the design of the board and its aesthetics.

Firstly, it is worth noting that you are unlikely to see mass amounts of these boards appear within the retail sector, as they are generally used as reference and media viewing, though you may occasionally see them used in system integrator machines or for OEM purposes, but as it gives a further insight into the upcoming technology, we want to show as much as we can without giving too much away.

You’ll notice some similarities with their previous reference boards including those from Z77 and X79 with the black PCB and blue colour scheme that surrounds it, but with Intel being Intel, it would be wrong not to use their own blue colouring, right? It uses an ATX form factor and is jam packed full of features, so we will try to highlight a few that we can see from a visual perspective, as we don’t really want to get in trouble for breaking any NDA’s.

Around the CPU socket we find two Intel branded blue heatsinks, with one quite small and the other quite the opposite with it being on the large scale and including a skull as we’ve see before from Intel. There is still plenty of space around the CPU socket and a single 8-pin ATX power connector gives us an idea on the power delivery for the CPU giving us a small indication as to what we can work with in terms of overclocking.

The other cooling on the board is a small Intel branded heatsink covering over the chipset Not much else to see here barring some jumpers, SATA ports and a Mini PCI-Express/mSATA expansion slot.

As with all of our previews, we’ve kept the writing short, and focussed more on the videos, and therefore we invite you to check out the video below for a more in-depth look at the design of the board, but don’t expect any benchmarks or performance results, as remember this is just a preview.

 [youtube]http://youtu.be/lpfnNKhPKRQ[/youtube]

Design wise, for a reference board, Intel have really done a great job. The black PCB and the cosmic blue colour scheme really adds a professional feel to it, and the inclusion of the skull shows that it means business, and we can only hope that is reflected in the review in terms of performance and of course; overclocking.

Feature wise, we can see plenty of SATA ports, a nice variety of expansion lanes with x16 and x1 PCI-Express and a legacy PCI lane for those with older generation expansion cards. Also on top of this is the Mini PCI-Express/mSATA slot just beneath the Intel branded chipset cooler for those wanting to add even more functionality to their system. Debug LEDs and quick buttons for power and reset will see overclockers and enthusiasts loving this board too and with plenty of fan headers jotted around the board for extra cooling, which enthusiasts should also welcome with open arms.

Rounding things off, this isn’t a lot more we can say without getting in trouble with our friends at Intel, so we have to cut things a bit short and leave it there, as all of the features that we can mention are in a what you see is what you get style, and hopefully the video has more than shown you that in terms of specifications and of course design.

With talks of this being the last Intel board being produced before they pull out of the DIY market, we can honestly say that they’ve finished things off nicely, but we sure do hope that there is more to come in the future from them, as this is certainly an improvement on the Z77, which was an improvement over its predecessor, so it’s clear to say that Intel are learning and fast, and we hope that the rumours stay as just that; rumours.

Gigabyte G1.Sniper M5 Motherboard Preview

With Intel’s new chipset and 4th generation processors almost upon us, you’ll find the eTeknix team working doubly hard to bring you the latest and greatest content before and during the launch, but this comes with its hiccups to say the least. With a constant new set of BIOS updates being handed to us almost daily, we are vigorously testing away, and trying to tease our readers with some visuals at the same time which is where we see ourselves today.

We wanted to show our readers a bit of an insight into some of the boards that we’re getting a chance to work with, and to talk about their features and aesthetics, while not breaking Intel NDA and getting the whip for being naughty. This is why we have a huge set of previews being released over the next coming days, showing you exactly that, while focussing mainly on the design and style among some features that are non-Intel related.

Next up in the preview arena we find the Gigabyte G1.Sniper M5; a micro-ATX form factor motherboard which is set to pack a punch, like its predecessor did with the Z77 chipset. For those not wanting to skimp all out on the fully-fledged G1.Sniper 5, a micro-ATX board has been developed to give users the power and features of a true gaming board branded under the G1-Skiller series, without losing out on any of the beneficial traits that we expect within this range.

Following on from the G1.Sniper M3, we find the M5 keeping with the colour scheme and design of the Sniper range with a black PCB and green accented components ranging from the DIMM slots to the PCI-Express lanes, even to the heatsinks.Design wise, we see the same branding being used and from attending a MSI event in London, MSI plan to release more models within the MPOWER range, offering different price points depending on the users needs.

For a small form factor board, the M5 certainly isn’t lacking cooling potential with two heatsinks around the CPU socket area, providing sufficient cooling to those wishing to push the boundaries of the new 4th generation processors from Intel.

A small, low-profile heatsink covers over the new Intel chipset, while still allowing larger PCI-Express expansion cards room within your system. The G1-Killer branding is present here, showing you that this board means business.

For those wanting a full look around the board, checking out its design and feature list, we have produced a video preview just for you, where we take a close look at the board in a lot more detail, while trying not to give anything away in terms of benchmarks and performance.

 [youtube]http://youtu.be/-DJJGbSiC5s[/youtube]

I’ve always liked the G1-Killer range of boards, though never were a big fan of the bullets and other similar design ploys, but Gigabyte have clearly cleaned up their act and have gone down a more serious route with the G1.Sniper M5 and have opted for a simple yet effective design and have still managed to chuck on a load of features despite its micro-ATX form factor.

Now smaller components seem to be getting a lot of hype lately especially with small form factor chassis being released to the market like the BitFenix Prodigy among others, which opens up a huge pathway for mini-ITX and Micro-ATX boards, which finds the likes of Gigabyte producing more products for these markets, which is where we find the M5 suitably placed. The thing I honestly love from a personal point of view is that they still manage to include key features that we’re all used to such as improved audio, three PCI-Express x16 lanes, and overclocking technology that is generally found on higher-spec full ATX form factor products.

In summary, this is one of the boards that I’m most excited about, and that’s purely down to previous experience with the G1.Sniper M3 that seemed to keep wanting to push in terms of performance and overclockability and had no flaws whatsoever, while still maintaining a small footprint with thanks to its form factor. From a design point of view, the M5 is a personal favourite of mine and with a shiny green watercooling kit, we think modders are going to love the colour scheme and the form factor will allow for some really cool looking systems, so all we have to wait on now is to see if the performance matches this high quality of design that we’ve seen today.

MSI Z87 MPOWER Motherboard Preview

It’s getting even closer to the launch of the newest Intel based motherboards revolving around a brand new chipset and supporting the newest 4th generation Intel processors. With that creeping in closer day by day, we are getting ourselves prepared for the launch, especially with us also preparing to get the latest content from the upcoming show; Computex.

To help keep our readers in the loop, as much as we can without breaking NDA, we have a whole host of previews coming up, which is where we find ourselves today, looking at the upcoming boards one by one, starting with the Z87 MPOWER from MSI.

Now you may remember the MPOWER branding from their Z77 offering that we looked at back in March, and sticking with the styling and branding used there, they have merged it over to the new chipset with this latest addition.

Design wise, we see the same branding being used and from attending a MSI event in London, MSI plan to release more models within the MPOWER range, offering different price points depending on the users needs.

One thing worth noticing is the new heatsink design incorporated around the CPU socket which features a black and yellow design to merge in with the rest of the boards design.

The colour scheme also continues to the rest of the cooling with a large, low-profile passive design that covers over the new Intel chipset.

For a further look at the board and its many features, we invite you to check out the video below, where we take an unboxing look and overview of the board.

 [youtube]http://youtu.be/rc8uIpT_9YI[/youtube]

From what we’ve shown to you and from what we know we’re safe to say without annoying Intel or MSI by breaking NDA, we can honestly say that we’re big fans of the colour scheme and welcomed it when we originally saw it on Z77, so am happy to see that MSI have developed on this with the Z87 MPOWER among the other boards which we will have in the future. The colour scheme matches in nicely with the Lightning series of graphics cards and Avexir memory that was closely developed in conjunction with MSI.

The new heatsink design around the CPU socket is going to be a marmite decision for anyone, as some may see it as large and cumbersome, but others will see this as a godsend as it should (at least in theory) provide adequate cooling when needed the most, especially when pushing your hardware to the limits through overclocking. Another key area of the design that I’m keen to see, and have spoken directly to MSI about is the bareness of the PCB, especially around the CPU socket. As you will see MSI have ditched a lot of logos and lines across the board making it look at a lot cleaner and simpler for the user, which is ultimately what they planned to do thanks to a lot of R&D from the big wigs at MSI.

Feature wise, we are certainly not shocked with the specifications (which we can’t fully reveal) but with a high-end board like this, we did expect plenty of expansion lanes, SATA ports, USB 3.0 technology and mini PCI-Express/mSATA and that’s exactly what this board delivers.

All in all, from an aesthetics side of view, we are certainly keen to see how this board performs and we can honestly say that we think that you (our readers) will be excited to see the benchmarks too, and MSI really have (at least from a first glance) got an award-winning motherboard here.

MSI Z87 XPower Motherboard Gets Previewed

Intel’s Haswell for desktops is just around the corner and MSI are gearing up for the release by revealing some sneak previews of their Z77 XPower motherboard.  The latest teaser reveals a glowing yellow “X” logo on both sides of the motherboard VRM heatsink. These heatsinks cover MSI’s Military Class IV components which include Super Ferrite Chokes, black solid state capacitors and 16 VRM power phases.

MSI are also pushing their OC Genie 4 with the XPower. The OC Genie 4 feature allows users to adjust between gaming and default mode via the onboard DIP switch. In gaming mode the motherboard automatically adjusts to provide users with the best performance needed for gaming while in default mode it probably keeps the system at a modest level of performance to conserve power.

As you may have spotted there are additional motherboard buttons, some of which probably are a power button, reset button, BCLK adjust buttons and RAM adjustment buttons. There are also voltage read-off points or V-Check points allowing you to grab a whole bunch of RAM and CPU voltages.

As mentioned above the MSI Z87 XPower motherboard features the full MSI Military Class 4 feature set which is displayed above. You can see a whole bunch of high quality chokes and capacitors scattered all around the LGA 1150 socket.

Other key features worthy of MSI’s marketing material include a Clear CMOS button, the V-Check points, a debug LED, multi-BIOS II and Easy Button 3.

MSI’s release date and price are yet to be announced, but it seems likely it will be ready to launch alongside Intel’s Haswell processors in early June. What are your thoughts on MSI’s XPower Z87 motherboard?

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Asus PA249Q ProArt 24″ IPS Monitor Overview Preview

Asus are one of the only brands in the market at the moment who really have the facility to delve into multiple areas and different product segments. It seems that every time they venture into another market, they seem to come up trumps with a fantastic reception from customers. With this in mind, they have been developing monitors for a fair few years now and even now, they are regarded as some of the highest-end, best monitors money can buy without going into the realms of the Dell UltraSharp series or Apple monitors.

Stemming from this success, they have created this beast of a monitor that we’re taking a quick look at today which is part of their ProArt series of monitors, featuring an pre-calibrated AH-IPS panel, 99% AdobeRGB colour representation and aimed at a specific market of designers and artists alike. With it’s 16:10 1920×1200 resolution it gives extra desktop estate when needed and is LED-backlit to give a crisp, clear picture.

It’s also packed full of connectivity options with native DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI and D-SUB VGA giving the user multiple choices and a big highlight of USB 3.0 functionality for those needing speed when using the likes of photoshop and large RAW image files.

The specifications from a first glance certainly seem impressive with some very nice viewing angles, PiP support and plenty of connectivity options, so lets take a quick overview of the monitor itself.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64-5Gi3K21Y[/youtube]

Great first impressions from this monitor, and some really nice features for the budding artists in the market. A personal highlight for me comes with the USB 3.0 connectivity options, as USB 2.0 really is a bit of a dying breed now, especially with files getting much larger in size which Asus have clearly thought about, as this monitor is aimed at consumers and professionals who will obviously be dealing with large images such as RAW photos taken on a DSLR. I’m also very excited to see the ruler etched into the monitor frame, giving print professionals a nice guide to use when using the likes of Adobe Illustrator.

Overall, a very nice monitor from the initial unboxing and overview, and in the next coming weeks, we will be playing with its functionality to see if its the perfect device for the task its aimed at. Without expensive monitor calibration equipment, it’s hard to fully test a monitor, but with a subjective mind, we can hopefully show who this type of product is aimed at, and why it is suited perfectly for that job and task at hand.

Have Asus managed to make another award-winning product, in yet another product segment? If so, we can only assume good things for Asus to come in the near future, as they already have the motherboard and VGA component market pretty much sewn up which some elite products already in the market. Monitors and phones are just another stepping stone for them, and who knows; maybe world domination is next? Of course I kid, but we can only see more good things to come if this initial overview is anything to go by.

Gigabyte 8 Series Motherboards Preview

In preparation for the new Haswell Intel chip to release many manufacturers of motherboards have been preparing, and Gigabyte is one of them. Gigabyte has been working diligently for the past several months to bring us awesome new motherboards, though they wont tell us anything really about them. They have shown us a few close up snapshots of their new motherboards, giving us teasers.

This year at the Intel Developers Forum which took place on April 10th and 11th, in Beijing  Gigabyte showed off four of their new motherboards (shown below) and now we can start drooling at their new and innovative ideas. Though they still wont really comment, keeping tight lips, next to each new motherboard were some brief specifications for the motherboards. Which it appears that each of their motherboards will have some really cool features! It looks as if the four new boards that they will be featuring will be three ATX boards, and one Micro ATX board. I must say that is am most impressed with their Micro-ATX board such a tiny board with so many functions and features, a real LAN Warrior!

The GIGABYTE GA-Z87N-WIFI, will support 4th Generation Intel Core Processors. It will have UEFI DualBIOS, GIGABYTE 333 Onboard Acceleration which means USB 3.0, SATA 3.0 and 3x USB Power! Also featuring On/Off Charge for USB devices! Having Integrated Bluetooth 4.0 and an Intel WiFi module will make it great for anyone prefers wireless devices! Not only will it support Intel WiFi but it will also support WiDi technologies so you can hook your television up to your computer wirelessly! You’ll be able to keep your network up and running with the Dual LAN, which has 3x Electrostatic Discharge or ESD protection, GIGABYTE LAN optimizer for intelligent network optimization and management. You will also have Dual HDMI and DVI-I outputs for your monitor! What an awesome Motherboard!

GA- Z87N-WIFI

  • Supports 4th Generation Intel Core processors
  • GIGABYTE UEFI DualBIOS
  • GIGABYTE 333 Onboard Acceleration (USB 3.0, SATA 3.0, & 3x USB Power)
  • GIGABYTE On/Off Charge for USB devices
  • Integrated Bluetooth 4.0 and Intel WiFi Module
  • Supports Intel WiFi/WIDI Technologies
  • Dual LAN with 3X Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) Protection
  • GIGABYTE LAN Optimizer for intelligent Optimization network management
  • Dual HDMI, DVI-I

GA-B85-HD3

  • Supports 4th Generation Intel Core processors
  • GIGABYTE UEFI DualBIOS
  • 2-way SLI and CrossFireX Multi-GPU support
  • GIGABYTE 333 Onboard Acceleration (USB 3.0, SATA 3.0, & 3x USB Power)
  • GIGABYTE On/Off Charge for USB devices
  • Up to 3X Ethernet Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) Protection
  • GIGABYTE LAN Optimizer for intelligent Optimization network management
  • HDMI, DVI, RGB

GA-Z87X-D3H

  • Supports 4th Generation Intel Core processors
  • GIGABYTE UEFI DualBIOS
  • 2-way SLI and CrossFireX Multi-GPU support
  • GIGABYTE 333 Onboard Acceleration (USB 3.0, SATA 3.0, & 3x USB Power)
  • Intel LAN with up to 3x Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) Protection
  • Supports CFOS Speed Internet Acceleration Software
  • HDMI, DVI, RGB

GA-H87-D3H

  • Supports 4th Generation Intel Core processors
  • GIGABYTE UEFI DualBIOS
  • 2-way SLI and CrossFireX Multi-GPU support
  • GIGABYTE 333 Onboard Acceleration (USB 3.0, SATA 3.0, & 3x USB Power)
  • Dual LAN with 3X Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) Protection
  • Supports CFOS Speed Internet Acceleration Software
  • HDMI, DVI, RGB

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Intel “Haswell” Core i7 4770K Performance Preview


For all the hardcore tech enthusiasts out there that are eagerly awaiting news of Intel’s upcoming Haswell line of processors, you will be pleased to know detailed performance results have finally been revealed. Intel’s Core i7 4770K will be the next flagship CPU from Intel based on the next generation architecture, codename Haswell. Haswell represents a redesign of the 22nm architecture or a “tock” in Intel’s tick-tock model.

Traditionally we have seen tech sites get access to exclusive performance previews, well ahead of NDAs, based on engineering samples and last year we saw Anandtech do it with Ivy Bridge. Now Tom’s Hardware have had the chance to do it with Haswell.

As expected the performance of Haswell is very good in comparison to Ivy Bridge giving about 7-15% more performance depending on the application. Below you can see the i7 4770K versus the i7 3770K, i7 2700K and i7 3970X to get an estimate of how the Haswell flagship deals with the rest of the Intel competiton. Unfortunately, AMD were excluded from the testing but given the really high performance nature of these tests it is unlikely that the FX 8350 would of been able to keep up anyway.

First up, 3ds Max gives us an idea of the kind of rendering performance that the i7 4770K will have. As you can see it is clearly better than the i7 3770K but just can’t match the extra 2 cores on the i7 3970X.

Handbrake gives you an idea of what the encoding performance is like and we can see the i7 4770K knocking on the door of the i7 3970X – really impressive stuff here.

Again Visual Studio 2010 shows similarly impressive results with the i7 4770K halving the gap between Ivy Bridge and the very expensive (and power hungry) Sandy Bridge-E platform.

Multi-threaded blender performance shows about 7% extra performance over the i7 3770K but not enough extra clock-per-clock performance is present to catch the 6 cores on the i7 3970X.

If you make considerations for single core single threaded clock-per-clock performance then we can see Haswell’s i7 4770K manages only an extra 3% performance over Ivy Bridge.

Gaming performance is something Intel have started to take more seriously and we can see that in the evolution of the graphics from HD 4000 to HD 4600. Dirt Showdown shows some really excellent gains although you can still see we are quite some way off 1080p gaming at low/medium quality settings.

Hitman Absolution showed less impressive scaling so we can see that the Haswell GPU performance will vary significantly between titles. The general rule of thumb still seems to be that anything above 1366 by 768 is unplayable and if you use a monitor of that resolution with this CPU then it is almost criminal! Most people who buy an i7 4770K will be pairing a discrete GPU with it, especially if they are gaming.

So there you have it, a performance preview of the Intel Core i7 4770K courtesy of Tom’s Hardware. If you want some extra detail then be sure to head on over to check the full preview out.

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CES 2013, Las Vegas Preview

So another year has flown by in the tech world and we’re round to that time of year again where the industry comes in to Las Vegas for one of the biggest technology shows of the year; The Consumer Electronics Show. Spearding itself over a large area of Las Vegas and with a large number of manufacturers having private suites in various hotels up and down the strip, there is virtually no end to the kinds of technology that can be seen and a whole host of unveiling that are set to take place; some of which have been announced and some which may be left as a surprise.

For the second year running myself and Andy are heading out to the show and this time we are also joined by Peter who also does reviews on the site. By having a slightly larger team, we aim to get you more content from the show and hopefully we will be able to get a few new names to work with in the future, which could mean more reviews in the pipeline.

So what is the talk of the show this year? Well, outside of computers and the associated hardware that we normally focus on, one of the bigger things that we will be seeing relates to 4K televisions. We’ve seen and heard a lot about them just recently and we are hearing that a number of manufacturers are going to be showing off the new technology in all its super high definition glory.

As part of our pre-opening endeavour to spot some upcoming tech, its clear to say that a large number of manufacturers are not shy to let us get a small glimpse of what they have to offer. We did find that one or two however are holding their card close to their chest and Samsung had their stand covered from virtually every angle so this would lead us to believe that they must have something special to unveil this week.

Hisense (situated opposite Intel in the main convention centre) had a number 4K screens on their stand all fired up and showing some full resolution content. First impressions and all I can say for now is wow! – with screens on display that go all the way up to a staggering 110″ across, our first impressions are very good with the clarity of the image along with vibrant and deep colours, contrast and supreme detail. To give a reference as to the pure size of this screen, I stood by it just for scale (I’m just over 6ft tall).

Moving a little further in to the halls, Sony’s presence this year is massive with a stand that has a complete wrap around display suspended from the ceiling comprising of 19 projectors working seemlessly together to give a single continuous image. Their stand is broken up into many sections with areas dedicated to cameras, headphones, home audio, notebooks and largely to no surprise  monitors.

A number of side by side comparisons are on offer showing 4K working its magic in many different ways, such as displaying ultra hig resolution images that can be looked at clear as day. The two monitors below are showing the exact same image, the left in 4K and the right in standard 1920*1080. At a distance you can make out what the text to the right is meant to say, but the left hand side however is totally different with a totally transparent difference to be seen.

Moving away from the monitors, there is a whole variety of other things on display varying from cameras and home cinema systems, Intel with their ultra books by the masses, Bluetooth enabled watches that connect to your phone, Ford with new in car technologies including WiFi in the new 2013 Focus and in car audio to name but a few categories.

Outside of the convention centre and the exhibition halls in the Venetian hotel, a large number of exhibitors (especially those of whom we relate to directly) have their own private suites in hotels up and down the Las Vegas Strip. Here they have many products to show off and with a large number of meetings lined up and potentially a number of video interviews as well. All in all there is a lot to be seen, but what we will aim to get is what we feel to be the best pickings from the show for the computer and mobile markets.

Finally, as I round this off, on behalf of the eTeknix team, I would like to give our thanks to Gigabyte and Sapphire, who without their sponsorship, this trip would not have been possible. Stay tuned here on eTeknix.com, our Facebook page , our Twitter feed and finally our YouTube channel, where you can keep up to date with the latest content direct from CES 2013.

Biostar TZ77XE4 Z77 Motherboard Preview

Biostar aren’t a brand that we hear much from, at least not in the UK, but that’s not to say they aren’t any good, but simply don’t have the resources that other brands have and with a big push for Intel Z77 upon us, they wanted in on a piece of the action.

Intel Z77 is the new chipset that is due to come out in April, opening lots of new features including PCI-Express 3.0 and native USB 3.0 support, though the biggest new feature is of course support for the new 3rd generation Intel processors. While Intel won’t confirm, we all know these to be called Ivy Bridge, and will lead to new architecture based upon the already great selling Sandy Bridge CPUs.

As the date looms closer and closer, we’re finding more and more boards coming in to our labs from a variety of manufacturers, including Gigabyte and MSI. Today however, sees the turn of Biostar, with their TZ77XE4 board boasting some great, new features and a unique colour scheme to boot.

As always, we wish that we could show you performance figures, but sadly NDA by Intel restricts that, but instead we will take a look at the package on offer, the aestethics of the board, and of course, any features that Biostar have implemented into this new Z77 based board.

Specifications

CHIPSET

  • Intel Z77

CPU SUPPORT

  • Intel Core i7 LGA 1155 Processor
  • Intel Core i5 LGA 1155 Processor
  • Intel Core i3 LGA 1155 Processor
  • Maximum CPU TDP (Thermal Design Power) : 95Watt

MEMORY

  • Support Dual Channel DDR3 2600(OC)/2400(OC)/2133(OC)/1866(OC)/1600/1333/1066 MHz
  • 4 x DDR3 DIMM Memory Slot
  • Max. Supports up to 32GB Memory

EXPANSION SLOT

  • 2 x PCI Slots
  • 1 x PCI-E x1 2.0 Slot
  • 1 x PCI-E x16 2.0 Slot (x4)
  • 2 x PCI-E x16 3.0 Slot (SLi / CFX x8)

STORAGE

  • 4 x SATA2 3Gb/s Connector
  • 1 x eSATA Connector
  • Support SATA RAID: 0,1,5,10
  • Support Intel Smart Response Technology
  • 4 x SATA3 6Gb/s Connector

USB

  • 2 x USB 3.0 Port
  • 1 x USB 3.0 Header
  • 4 x USB 2.0 Port
  • 2 x USB 2.0 Header

GbE

  • Realtek RTL8111E – 10/100/1000 Controller

MULTI GRAPHICS

  • AMD CrossFireX
  • NVIDIA SLI

INTEGRATED VIDEO

  • By CPU model
  • Supports DX11
  • Supports HDCP

CODEC

  • Realtek ALC898 8 Channel Blu-ray Audio

REAR I/O

  • 1 x PS/2 Keyboard
  • 1 x eSATA Connector
  • 2 x USB 3.0 Port
  • 4 x USB 2.0 Port
  • 1 x HDMI Connector
  • 1 x Display Port
  • 1 x DVI Connector
  • 1 x VGA Port
  • 1 x RJ-45 Port
  • 6 x Audio Connector

INTERNAL I/O

  • 1 x USB 3.0 Header
  • 2 x USB 2.0 Header
  • 4 x SATA3 6Gb/s Connector
  • 4 x SATA2 3Gb/s Connector
  • 1 x Front Audio Header
  • 1 x Front Panel Header
  • 1 x S/PDIF-OUT Header
  • 1 x CPU FAN Header
  • 2 x System FAN Header
  • 1 x Serial Header
  • 1 x CIR Header

DIMENSION

  • ATX Form Factor Dimension: 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm ( W x L )

OS SUPPORT

  • Support Windows XP / Vista / 7

ACCESSORIES

  • 4 x SATA Cable
  • 1 x SLI Connector
  • 1 x CrossFire Connector
  • 1 x I/O Shield
  • 1 x DVD Driver
  • 1 x User Manual

FEATURES

  • Supports uEFI GUI Interface BIOS
  • Supports THX TruStudio Pro
  • Supports BIO-Remote2
  • Supports BIO-Remote
  • Windows 7 Compatible
  • Supports 100% Solid capacitor
  • Supports Rapid Switch2
  • Supports Rapid Debug3
  • Supports HDMI Audio Ready
  • Supports Toverclcoker OC software
  • Supports GPU
  • Supports Charger Booster
  • Supports BIOS Online Update

Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H Z77 Motherboard Preview

With launch date of Intel’s new 3rd Generation processors getting closer and closer, as you will have seen, we have had a number of boards in for a first look at to see what various manufacturers have to offer and in particular Gigabyte. You may have already seen the other two boards that have been sent to us, namely the Z77M-D3H and the B75M-D3H and these cover the business and mATX sectors of the market. The Z77X-UD5H that are going to take a first look at here is more orientated towards the mainstream user and in particular overclockers and gamers. The X in the model name would say to us that this is an eXtreme board and the UD5 put it right towards the top of the line.

With this board, Gigabyte have introduced their latest 3D BIOS and 3D Power technologies and we also find their Ultra Durable 4 system protecting the board from high levels of humidity, electrostatic discharge, power failures and high temperatures. This is not where the feature end, we also have onboard mSATA, dual gigabit LAN, Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi MB2 audio, Intel Smart Response and VirtuMVP.

From what we have seen of Gigabyte’s top end boards in the past, it has a lot going for it and like all Z77 boards it will support both 2nd Generation Sandy Bridge and also the latest 3rd Generation CPUs that Intel have to offer,  making it a great stepping stone for those looking to upgrade their system in the coming weeks and months.

So with all that in mind, lets get the board out and take our first look at the Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H motherboard.

Gigabyte B75M-D3H B75 Motherboard Preview

It seems like just yesterday, we were looking at an upcoming board from Gigabyte, and here we are again with another board, and for a very good reason indeed. As we all know Intel are releasing a new set of products soon including the new 3rd generation processors; codenamed Ivy Bridge, and also the new awaited Z77 chipset. What you may not know however, is that it doesn’t just stop at Z77, as Intel plan to release several other platforms too.

These new platforms include H77, Z75, Z77 of course, Q75, Q77 and B75 and some mobile platforms; QS77, QM77, HM77, HM76 and HM75. Now B75 is the vital one as this leads us to what we’re looking at today from top-selling brand Gigabyte.

They have sent us their latest B75 motherboard in the shape of the B75M-D3H; a board aimed at a much bigger market than most may anticipate. B75 is a business based platform and is aimed at an ever-growing demographic in several industries including small, medium and large businesses, enterprise environments, government and even education. Being enthusiasts ourselves and knowing that most of our readers are too, you probably did the same as us and didn’t quite realise how big these markets actually are.

The B75M-D3H appeals to all of these markets, and we thought it was only right that we give you; our loyal readers, a chance to see what this board has to offer, especially considering the server based products we’ve been looking at recently, including NAS boxes and server based platforms, this should fit right in.

As per our usual, we can’t show any facts of figures, in terms of performance, but we will take a look at the package that Gigabyte provide, and then take a tour of the board itself in terms of style and design, and of course the Gigabyte features.

Gigabyte GA-Z77M-D3H Z77 Motherboard Preview

Over the last year or so, Intel have developed such a strong brand that even AMD users were forced to jump ship to get in on the action, and this all started when Sandybridge hit the scene, offering unparalleled performance with extreme overclockability and stability.

Moving on from the success of this, the new 3rd generation Intel CPUs are upon us and are literally a few weeks away. To support this new architecture a new platform has been born in the shape of Z77. While NDA restricts a lot of what we can say, we wanted to start dishing out the gossip on the boards that are due out in the coming weeks, starting with a budget board from Gigabyte.

Gigabyte are due to be releasing a huge array of different boards from the budget, to the gamer and to the extreme clocker. While all will have their unique features, for us today, it’s all about price and that’s where the Z77M-D3H comes in with budget/mainstream users set in its sights, we wanted to give a close-up view of the board and its included accessories.

While we wish we could comment on performance and some of the new key Intel features, sadly we’re restricted, but consider this a starter and the main course will come along shortly, and trust me, as it will be worth the wait.

Specifications

MSI Z77 Motherboard Preview

Its been a while since we have teamed up with MSI and seen any of their products, but as well as timing goes, what a time to rejoin forces!

With the launch of Intel’s new third generation chips drawing near, MSI have unveiled their new line-up of Z77 based motherboards that will support the new series of processors straight out of the box.

We recently saw some of the new motherboards that MSI will have to offer at CES, but now we are proud to say that we got a closer look at a CeBit preview event hosted by MSI where we had a look at a variety of  boards which allowed us to have a look and play around with ready for the official launch.  These come in the form of the Z77A-G45, Z77A-GD55 and Z77A-GD65.

As with Intel’s NDA that has been placed on the next range of processors, we cannot say anything about performance or Intel specific features, however we can show you what features, specifications and designs MSI have implemented onto their boards.   Such new features include PCI-e 3.0 support and specifically for MSI their boards will also feature their ‘Military Class’ components, Click BIOS II and OC Genie II.

Asus Rampage IV Extreme X79 Motherboard Preview

With the launch of the Intel X79 based motherboards approaching very soon, certain models have been long awaited and of course, the main suspect is part of the Republic of Gamers range of boards from Asus. We were lucky enough to see the Rampage IV Extreme at a recent Asus X79 event and until now, was made to wait until we could get it into our test chamber.

Much like we did with the Asus Sabertooth X79, we thought that it would only be fair to offer you the same style preview as we did with that, for the Rampage IV Extreme board, especially considering that we’ll be using it as one of our main test boards for the foreseeable future.

As per the NDA that Intel have slapped on these products, we can only comment on certain aspects of the board including the design, styling and features that Asus have included, but sadly can’t comment on anything to do with performance or Intel specific features, but we can assure you that the Asus features on their own are certainly worth shouting about.

Asus Sabertooth X79 Motherboard Preview

X79 has been on the tip of everyone’s tongues for quite some time, and with AMD not being the big hit that everyone thought it would be, Intel has gained a much bigger following than they first anticipated. Asus we knew would be one of the first to showcase what fantastic new boards they were going to release and whilst we knew the Pro and Deluxe would be available, we didn’t hear much about Sabertooth or ROG. We can now confirm, and after the fact that we saw it first hand at an exclusive Asus X79 event, that a Sabertooth board will be released.

We took a brief look at the Sabertooth X79 board at the event in a first look preview and also delved into some of the unique features that it had but a short set of videos can only say so much and we wanted to look a bit further into this board to see what it has on offer.

Due to Intel being extremely strict on the finer details, we can’t mention anything to do with the processor or the chipset, but instead we want to focus on the features and design that Asus have implemented, so for now, sit back and enjoy the Sabertooth X79 TUF series motherboard.

Asus Sabertooth X79 First Look Preview

At the Asus LGA2011 X79 event, we took a look at the Sabertooth X79 motherboard which carries on with the famous Sabertooth branding including the fantastic features that consumers have come to love.

Some new and unique features have hit this board and we take a first hand look into what they are and how they’ve been developed.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7t8McFdjd0[/youtube]

Asus P9X79 Preview

Taking a very quick overview look at the Asus P9X79 motherboard from Intel’s new LGA2011 X79 lineup. We were able to attend the Asus LGA2011 X79 launch event, where press from across Europe were shown the upcoming boards.

The board includes some of the much loved features that we’ve seen before, but with some newer technology.

Gigabyte A75M-UD2H Motherboard First Look Preview

Earlier today DHL came and delivered Gigabyte’s newest motherboard on the market; the A75M-UD2H which supports the latest new Llano APU’s from AMD. Whilst AMD have an NDA in place forbidding us to divulge any information on the APU or its performance we were able to take a first look at the motherboard and its main features that it includes.

We would normally produce a lengthy plot of text and pictures in this space but have decided to show you in the form of a high definition video as shown below:

The next couple of days will see us showing the performance of the board and APU together.

Cooler Master Silencio 550 Chassis Preview

Now some of you may have heard on our forums that the official release date of the Cooler Master Silencio 550 was the 23rd May. We do here at eTeknix like to give you the reviews, when possible, at the earliest time that we are allowed to release them.

Unfortunately, some times other aspects of life do get in the way – it is exam season after all – and as we want to show you this product in as much detail as possible we are not going to be releasing the review straight away. It is, we feel, quite a unique product and as such we want the review to do Cooler Master justice and to highlight the good and bad (if there are any) points about this case.

In the mean time we thought we would tease you a little bit more with a small preview of the review coming soon:

It seems that quite a few cases have been released recently and while this might seem a bit repetitive it does at least allow us to compare the cases quite well.

Today’s case is the Cooler Master Silencio 550 Chassis which is trying to be slightly different to your standard case but at a price that will not break the bank. The name itself might give it away slightly but if it’s not obvious Cooler Master do claim ‘near silent’ operation when using this case. That seems like quite a tall order when most users will be using fairly hefty CPU Coolers and a decent powered PSU. All we can say from the start is that they certainly haven’t compromised the looks of this case.

Cooler Master are a huge player in the computing world and are probably best known for their cases so we are expecting very good things. They are also certainly willing to listen to the public and to give the support that is needed to their customers, which in turn is helping them to create even better products and we certainly hope this Silencio Chassis is one of those.

In Cooler Master’s words:

The dominating part of the Silencio 550 is, as the name already suggests, the very low sound it produces when the case is turned on. Insulated with silencing foam padding internally on both sides cancels the noise made by the slight reverberations of the fans and the whirrs and clicks of hard drives. Combine this with a solid-steel unshakable frame, shiftless rubber feet and two Cooler Master low noise fans and you will get a
chassis which you will hardly hear when it is on; perfect for those who value peace and quiet as a must in the computing environment.

Specifications:

[TABLE=class: grid, width: 100%]
[TR]
[TD]Available Color[/TD]
[TD]Full Black[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Material[/TD]
[TD]Steel body, Plastic front bezel[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Dimension (W / H / D)[/TD]
[TD](W) 210 x (H) 415.5 x (D) 505.2 mm / 8.3 x 17.8 x 19.9 inch[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Weight[/TD]
[TD]9.2kgs (20.3lb)[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]M/B Type[/TD]
[TD]Micro – ATX / ATX[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]5.25″ Drive Bay[/TD]
[TD]3 (without the use of exposed 3.5″ drive bay)[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]3.5″ Drive Bay[/TD]
[TD]7 Hidden[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]3.5″ X-Dock[/TD]
[TD]1 Exposed (converted from one 5.25″ bay)[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]I/O Panel[/TD]
[TD]USB3.0 x 1, USB2.0 x 1, Mic x1, Audio x 1, SD card reader x 1[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Expansion Slots[/TD]
[TD]7[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Cooling System[/TD]
[TD]Front(Intake): 120mm x 1, 800rpm silent fan pre-install

(Support 120mm fan x 2 or 140mm fan x 1 optional)

Rear (Exhaust): 120mm x 1, 800rpm silent fan pre-install[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Power Supply[/TD]
[TD]Standard ATX PS2 (optional)[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Maximum Compatibility[/TD]
[TD]CPU cooler height: 6.10-inch (154mm)

VGA card length: 11.10-inch (281mm) (With HDD cage)

15.80-inch (400mm) (Remove HDD cage w/120*25 fan)

16.80-inch (427mm) (Remove HDD cage w/o fan)[/TD]
[/TR]
[/TABLE]

Gigabyte Z68X UD5 B3 Motherboard Preview

Gigabyte have been hard at work with the upcoming launch of the Z68 platform from Intel, and we thought we’d jump straight in there to show you a preview of one of the boards that we have at the eTeknix labs.

We managed to secure a sample of the Z68-UD5 motherboard from Gigabyte which follows the same sexy black styling that Gigabyte introduced at the beginning of the year when Sandy Bridge was released.

Whilst the next page will expose the board in terms of styling and main features, we want to touch lightly on what Z68 will offer, and to end any speculation.

Firstly, Z68 will offer more options to the user, thus meaning they can find the right board for them and not being left with mass amounts of features that they simply don’t require. This is why Gigabyte have split their boards into two segments depending on if the user requires a discrete graphics option, or whether they need the integrated graphics option.

A lot of speculation as to what Z68 will offer has been thrown around as of late, and most users will simply believe that it’s a mixed bag of H67 and P67 rolled into one and whilst you are right to some degree, it all depends on which option you will be taking as to what features will be available to you.

Touch BIOS is one of the key features that has been implemented by Gigabyte, and Z68 paves the way for this new feature to be included. It features an Icon-based navigation system that is similar to the way that Apple and Google based devices work with a simple yet effective, colourful interface. This in turn makes it a simple layout for novice users and gives expert users another way of altering settings.

Another key feature to be rolled out by Intel is SSD caching or as they call it; Intel Smart Response Technology. This feature enables the use of a SSD and mechanical HDD to work together to give 4 times more performance than a HDD-only system and more than 2 times performance when compared to a hybrid drive in PC Mark Vantage. This gives an affordable option to users wanting a quick burst of performance for a very small outlay of cash.

We will be showing the SSD cache technology in our review, as well as taking a look at Touch BIOS in all its glory, but for now we thought we’d leave you with some pictures of the UD5 to wet your lips with until the full review is posted up later, but for now, turn the page and enjoy!

World of Warcraft Cataclysm Gaming Mouse Preview

Second in this series of Massively Multiplayer Online gaming peripherals is the World of Warcraft Cataclysm (WoW) mouse. Produced by Steelseries and Blizzard Entertainment this mouse is designed to synergistically work with the game World of Warcraft more than any other mouse could. Out of the box the mouse has almost all of its 14 buttons mapped to specific in-game tasks, and each button can be re-mapped at the user’s discretion. The mouse is designed to look like the scales of Deathwing, the killer dragon from the Cataclysm expansion, and its pulsing backlights give it a serious look. So the mouse looks great and has a ton of buttons, but is it any good? In short, yes it’s pretty much awesome.

The mouse is larger and heavier than its traditional counterparts, and given its sensitivity this may be a good thing. Despite its size the mouse fits well in the hand, and although the button layout at first seems a bit chaotic it begins to make sense quickly. Working on both PC and MAC, the software that comes with the WoW mouse sports some powerful features including:

  • Bind all buttons without leaving the game
  • Over 130 preset game commands onboard
  • Use WoW commands to write macros and bind them to the mouse
  • Store your in-game profile
  • Up to 10 unique profiles
  • 16 million colors with four levels of backlight intensity

Although having millions of colors to choose from seems a bit silly, the rest is really powerful. Setting up the mouse is also fast and easy. After plugging in the mouse and downloading the configuration program the default profile is already set up and ready to go. The default button settings control in-game tasks such as:

  • Opening the map
  • Targeting friends and foes
  • Opening bags
  • Opening your character sheet
  • Several social commands

Customizing button functionality and key binds is simple. Since the mouse is made specifically for WoW, all of its buttons are recognized by the game automatically and can be bound from the game’s user interface. This prevents the necessity for creative and unusual binds that get unwieldy and impossible to remember. Macros and their subsequent binds are as easy as writing them in the game. If you can write a WoW macro, then you already know how to set one up on this mouse.

Although the mouse is clearly designed for World of Warcraft, the 10 custom profiles allow for more varied use. I myself have different profiles for WoW, Rift, D.C. Universe Online, and of course work. The profiles are easily switched by accessing the mouse configuration software via the system tray, and the standard mouse functionality can also be customized here including sensitivity, pointer speed, scroll speed, and double-click speed.

From a World of Warcraft perspective this mouse easily stands above the rest. As for other games and more common uses the Razor line of mice can compete, but even then the WoW mouse shines.

Attached files

wowcataclysm.jpg (10.6 KB)

AMD Fusion Mini-ITX Preview

The rivalry between Intel and AMD was as fierce as ever at CES 2011. While Sandy Bridge continued Intel’s domination of the performance desktop segment (AMD’s Bulldozer doesn’t arrive till later in the year), AMD upped the pressure in the mobile and low power markets. Intel’s Atom has had some fairly weak competition from VIA and AMD since its launch in 2008. Hands up anyone who owns an AMD Nile powered netbook. Okay you two at the back, you can put your hands down!

AMD hopes to challenge the Atom’s position in 2011 with Fusion. A combined CPU and GPU, dubbed “APU” by AMD, which offers dual core processing, HD video capability and low power consumption. Combined with the Hudson chipset, Fusion offers DDR3, SATA3 6Gbps, USB3 and PCI-E. The total power consumption for APU and chipset is around 20w. Here at eTeknix we can’t wait to see AMD’s tiny APU in netbooks, notebooks, nettops, HTPCs and all-in-one PCs.

However, we are enthusiasts and like to spec and build our own systems. AMD Fusion is ideal for low power applications like HTPCs and NAS systems. Software like Myth, XBMC, Boxee and Windows Media Centre can playback media from your local network or from the Internet to your TV. Building a NAS and using UnRaid, FreeNAS or Windows Home Server allow you to share media over a network and if configured correctly can offer data protection via RAID and automatic backups.

Mini-ITX is a popular form factor for both NAS and HTPC applications and manufacturers have been quick to design mini-ITX products featuring AMD’s Bobcat APU and Hudson chipset.

Here we round up 6 mini-ITX boards.

Foxconn H67A-S H67 Sandy Bridge Motherboard Preview

Foxconn have been out of the consumer channel market for quite some time now with their focus more on OEM markets for the likes of some big players out there. Whilst this has been going on, we have seen Intel move forward, ready for the launch of Sandy Bridge and the new socket 1155 processors.

Anybody who’s anybody wants to get in on this action as it’s a huge step in the right direction for consumers wanting the most for their money. Getting bang for buck means that the consumer wants to pay the least amount possible, and get the best performance possible at the same time. Now, how we all wish this was simple and easy, when it comes to the real world, it’s not always possible. Intel’s vision makes this possible with the upcoming technology being released nearer to CES.

With CES just around the corner, motherboard manufacturers are keen to get as much exposure as they can through sites like eTeknix, without breaking any non-disclosure agreements or NDA’s. This means that we can get you a detailed look around the board, but no benchmarks or performance figures can be spoken about as much as we’d love to. Instead, we can just sit back and enjoy being child-like because I know something you don’t know nerr nerr nerr.

We are willing to share as much information as we can with you without getting in trouble, and we promise that as soon as the products are officially launched, you’ll be the first to know how well they perform.

So let’s talk a bit more about the generic background of these boards that are due out very soon, as we all know there are 2 chipset’s. The first being P67 which is aimed at the mid to high end market giving you the best performance for the mainstream user whose on a budget. H67 is aimed at the slightly more budget market where things are a lot simpler giving the user everything they need and nothing more, whereas P67 will give you everything you need and also everything you don’t.

Foxconn will also be fighting back with a high-end segment to the market with their exciting Quantum Force brand offering up every feature you can think of, but be prepared to pay the price for motherboards in this high-priced range.

AMD Catalyst Software Update Preview

No matter what operating system you use these days you will find that you need drivers, and with more complex hardware you will find that the more complex driver you need to run it. Taking a simple device like a webcam for instance that requires drivers; but most of the settings are down to the application itself. Graphics cards however, rely a little bit more on the drivers themselves to function, and with technology moving at such a fast pace constant driver updates are needed to get the best possible results from the chosen hardware.

Generally when we think drivers we purely think of something to enable a component to work, couple that with an application which is where we generally see settings and can make any alterations that we need to. With graphics card drivers it’s normally an all in one package and drivers for AMD Radeon graphics products are no different, with an all in one software suite that gives us the functionality of the drivers with the flexibility to alter them dependent on our system and the user needs.

Gigabyte Sandy Bridge Motherboards Preview

With the new LGA1155 platform from Intel soon on its way for the early stages of next year, Gigabyte has been busy creating a new range of boards for this new platform based on the P67 and H67 chipsets.

All of these boards will have support for Intel’s ‘Sandy Bridge’ chips, as well as at least one PCIe x16 socket and TWO SATA 6Gbps ports. Boards with an ‘A’ in the model number will also have USB3.0 capability.

There are 12 boards to date that we know of and these are broken down into 3 groups:

Intel P67 series:

Gigabyte P67A-UD7
Gigabyte P67A-UD5
Gigabyte P67A-UD4
Gigabyte P67A-UD3R
Gigabyte P67A-UD3P
Gigabyte P67A-UD3

Intel H67 series:

Gigabyte H67MA-UD2H
Gigabyte H67MA-D2H
Gigabyte H67M-D2
Gigabyte H67A-UD3H

Intel PH67 series:

Gigabyte PH67A-UD3
Gigabyte PH67-UD3

So what are the differences between all these boards I hear you ask. We’ll let the specs and pictures do all the talking on the folling pages.

AMD ATi Radeon HD 5700 Series Preview

With the recent release of the first fully DirectX 11 compatible graphics card, AMD have dealt a good first blow to nVidia, with the 5870 offering performance exceeding nVidias fastest single GPU card the GTX285 and the 5850 offering impressive performance for £100 less. However if history tells us anything it is that high end cards are not where most purchasers will be putting their hard earned cash and as a result the 5700 series will be far more critical to AMDs success in this latest generation of graphics cards, than the 5800 series. If this mid-range series of graphics card sell well then AMD will do very well the graphics hardware market, it really is that crucial.

In this preview we will be looking at what to expect from AMDs Radeon HD 5700 series cards, aimed at consumers who don’t want to spend £300 on a single graphics card but still want impressive single card performance and full DX11 compatibility. I’m sure that many 4800 series users will be keeping a keen eye on the 5700 series, it could well be an inexpensive upgrade route which gains them DX11 support.

Key Features of the HD5700 Series

  • It really doesn’t need saying that all the cards in this latest generation fully support the much touted DX11 which is coupled with OpenGL 3.2 support, making the 5700 series cards ready for the very latest games. It is not yet clear if the improvement over DX10.1 will be anything to get excited about and currently with the only game released to the UK market that supports DX11 being Battleforge (through a patch), it may be sometime before we find out. The history of the recent DirectX upgrades tell us that it is unlikely that the improvements will be mind blowing, but even if this is the case with the marketing machine in overdrive, it is unlikely to matter.
  • Affordable PC Gaming is becoming more and more critical, especially with consoles increasing their share of the gaming market and the economic climate reducing the amount that people spend. The 5700 series is therefore being wisely marketed as cutting edge graphics card which offers impressive performance, for a very affordable price.
  • Excellent connectivity including native Display Port and HDMI is part of the continued progression away from adapters towards providing native ports for the increasing popular digital connections, used on most TVs and Monitors. This coupled with AMDs Eyefinity technology gives even these affordable cards impressive connectivity. We can expect dual DVI ports along with one native HDMI port and one native Display Port. This makes connecting the card to a High Definition TV easy and also would make Tri-Monitor setups very easy and affordable assuming at least one of your monitors supports either HDMI or Display Port, which many of the premium models do.
  • Lower power requirements requiring only one 6 Pin PCI-E power connector for both 5750 and 5770 is perfect for the market that these cards are aimed. Most PSUs offer at least one 6 Pin PCI-E power connector or if yours does not suitable adapters can be used, which will no doubt be provided by many graphics card manufacturers. These lower power requirements are not only great compatibility but also for the environment, which is never a bad thing. With the increasing concern for the environment AMD are clearly using these green credentials in their marketing, which I can’t blame them for. Not only has this become a hot topic over the past few years but with the economic situation people will no doubt see the reduction in their electricity bills from the very low idle power usage as a key plus point.
  • Like the 5870 and 5850 the 5700 series will use a 40nm manufacturing process, some may recall the 4770 was AMDs first real trial of the 40nm technology with proved very successful and proved that 40nm was viable. The smaller fabrication process offers lower energy consumption and heat generation, along with lower production costs, part of the reason that these cards are so affordable.
  • For this latest generation of cards AMD have fully adopted GDDR5, with every card in the 5800 and 5700 series adopting this memory type which just shows how mainstream GDDR5 has become. With AMD/ATi having started using this memory technology early it has become a key marketing point as nVidia are still using GDDR3 on all their previous generation of cards, including the very high end GTX285 and GTX295.

Models

In the same vein as the 5800 series, the 5700 cards will come in two flavours with a numbering system that everyone should be familiar with. The first two digits denote the series the card belongs to and the last two digits denoting the performance of the card. So the 5700 series will have the 5750 and 5780 with the latter offering the best performance out of the two. This is a helpful if predictable system that allows an easy way to see which will offer the best performance, the higher the numbers the higher the performance. AMD are clearly sticking to what they know works, so anyone familiar with the previous generation of cards should have no problem grasping where each card sits in the model line up things.

Specifications

  • 5750
  • Codename: Juniper LE
  • Computing Power: 1.008 TeraFLOPs
  • Transistor Count: 1040 Million
  • Fabrication Process: 40nm
  • Stream Processors: 720
  • Texture Units: 36
  • Core Clock: 700MHz
  • Memory Clock: 1150MHz
  • Memory Type: GDDR5
  • Memory Size: 512MB or 1024Mb
  • Memory Bus Width: 128bit
  • Memory Bandwidth: 73.8 GB/s
  • Memory Bandwidth: 4.6Gbps
  • Idle Power Consumption: 16W
  • Max Power Consumption: 86W
  • Bus Interface: PCI-E 2.1 x16
  • Target Price: $109USD 512MB $129 1024MB

5770

  • Codename: Juniper XT
  • Computing Power: 1.36 TeraFLOPs
  • Transistor Count: 1040 Million
  • Fabrication Process: 40nm
  • Stream Processors: 800
  • Texture Units: 40
  • Core Clock: 850MHz
  • Memory Clock: 1150MHz
  • Memory Type: GDDR5
  • Memory Size: 1024Mb
  • Memory Bus Width: 128bit
  • Memory Bandwidth: 76.8 GB/s
  • Memory Data Rate: 4.8Gbps
  • Idle Power Consumption: 18W
  • Max Power Consumption: 108W
  • Bus Interface: PCI-E 2.1 x16
  • Target Price: $159USD

Well I’m sure you will agree that these are some impressive specifications for cards with Target prices of under $200USD and the 5770 appears to have the raw power to exceed performance of the current 4800 series, all but the x2 cards of course. As we’ve seen in the past, raw power isn’t always enough so we will have to wait for some benchmark results before drawing any conclusions, but once the drivers reach maturity I can see these cards being the budget and mid range choices for some time to come. From the pre-order prices that I’ve seen, UK retailers appear to be pricing the 5700 series very keenly, even with the poor exchange rate. Pre-Order prices are £115 to £120 for a 1GB 5750 and £130 to £145 for a 1GB 5770. With the minimal price difference of around £15 between the cheapest 5750 and 5770 it would be wise to go for the 5770, as it is unlikely that dormant stream processors and texture units on the 5750 could be unlocked and for such a small extra amount of cash not really worth the hassle of trying.

Conclusion

Although it is not clear yet if DX11 is anything more than marketing hype, it is clear that these two new graphics cards have the potential to become very popular upgrades for the mid-range user. They offer an impressive amount of hardware and performance for very little money, although this may not be enough for some 4800 series owners to take the plunge. Many users will however see these cards as an affordable route to DX11, which regardless of the near complete lack of compatible games currently released will still be very attractive. So assuming they are priced as keenly as the pre-order target prices suggest and the drivers mature quickly enough nVidia could well have some serious problems breaking into the mid range market that these cards are aimed at. We should see their response to the 5870 and 5850 in December 2009 and a response to the 5700 series in Q1/Q2 2010, but for now it appears that AMD have a good footing in the market. If the benchmarks are as impressive as the hardware and pricing, AMD appear to be onto a winning formula with the 5700 series.

Attached files

5700series.jpg (8.1 KB)