AMD Releases Graphics BIOS Update for R9 Nano & Fury X

When it comes to updating your BIOS, most users would be probably thinking about their motherboards. However, graphics card also have their own video BIOS which interfaces with the system BIOS and the graphics card hardware. A new VBIOS can add support for UEFI, speed and power profiles as well as improve stability. Today, AMD released an updated BIOS for their R9 Nano and R9 Fury X graphics cards.

According to AMD, the new BIOS is meant to improve UEFI BIOS support. Normally, you would see AMD’s AiB partners release new updates for their specific card models. However, in the case of the Nano and Fury X, these are reference designed Fiji based cards. We may see the Fury cards, which are all custom, get their own BIOS updates soon.

In addition to the UEFI support, some users are reporting that overclocking stability has improved. The Fury X was not particularly well-liked due to its lacklustre overclocking abilities, something this BIOS may fix. This also suggests that the Radeon Pro Duo may also overclock better than the original Fury X.

To update your relevant graphics card, you can download the new BIOS from AMD’s website here. AMD has chosen to release the updates as .roms which will make for a more complicated flashing process. The usual cautions of flashing your BIOS apply of course.

ASRock X99 BIOS Updates Reveal Broadwell-E Line Up

Ahead of Intel’s much awaited Broadwell-E processor launch, ASRock announced the release of a new BIOS with support for X99 CPUs that are available on today’s market. The update applies to all of the motherboard manufacturers’ X99 product lines.

The new Broadwell-E processors will fit in the same LGA2011-V3 sockets as their Haswell predecessors and introduce a 14nm manufacturing process. The new BIOS will support the new ten core Core i7-6950X, the Core i7-6900K, i7-6850K and i7-6800K processors. So far there has been little in the way of information on the new processors available from reliable sources. ASRock is the first reputable place to confirm Intel’s offerings (well, the names at least) ahead of the Intel announcement due at Computex 2016. Although, MSI was the first motherboard manufacturer to release widespread BIOS updates for their X99 range.

There were rumors at one point of Intel cancelling the Broadwell-E range in favour of some Skylake chips. However, the release from Asrock certainly thwarts this. The ten core beast, the 6950X will run at a base clock of 3GHz and have a 3.5GHz boost clock, boasting 10 cores and 20 threads. From the release, it will be unlocked to allow enthusiasts and professional overclockers to tinker and overclock the processors to the absolute maximum they can get. It’ll come with a whopping 25MB of layer three cache and will work in most X99 motherboards, providing the manufacturer releases a new bios that can support them.

Will you be upgrading to the latest from Intel as soon as it hits the market? Let us know in the comments below.

MSI Socket LGA2011v3 Motherboards Now Support Broadwell-E

Intel has resigned the higher core count processors for the professional X99 platform and doesn’t look like changing this business strategy in the near future. As a result, users with hefty requirements might need a 6-core or even an 8-core CPU for complex rendering work, or perhaps huge video editing workloads. The current flagship is the Intel Core i7-5960X which utilizes 8-cores and 16-threads. Apparently this behemoth will be replaced sometime this year with a 10-core, 20-thread 6950X processor. The new range codenamed Broadwell-E is going to be an alluring prospect for extreme users wanting the absolute best performance. Theoretically, these CPUs should work on 2011v3 motherboards providing the manufacturer offers a suitable BIOS

Today, MSI revealed that they have already taken this into consideration and released BIOS updates for their entire X99 range. Here you can see the list of supported models:

  • X99S MPOWER (E7885IMS.M80)
  • X99A SLI Krait Edition (E7885IMS.N50)
  • X99S SLI Krait Edition (E7885IMS.N50)
  • X99A RAIDER (E7885IMS.P20)
  • X99A RAIDER (E7885IMS.P20)
  • X99A GAMING 7 (E7885IMS.HC0)
  • X99S GAMING 7 (E7885IMS.HC0)
  • X99A SLI PLUS (E7885IMS.1A0)
  • X99S SLI PLUS (E7885IMS.1A0)
  • X99A MPOWER (E7885IMS.M80)
  • X99A GODLIKE GAMING (E7883IMS.130)
  • X99A GODLIKE GAMING CARBON (E7883IMS.210)
  • X99A GAMING 9 ACK (E7882IMS.320)
  • X99S GAMING 9 ACK (E7882IMS.260)
  • X99S GAMING 9 AC (E7882IMS.190)
  • X99A XPOWER AC (E7881IMS.A30)
  • X99S XPOWER AC (E7881IMS.190)

This is great news for existing owners of X99 MSI motherboards who intend to upgrade to a Broadwell-E CPU upon release. I have to commend MSI for updating the BIOS way in advance (perhaps), to ensure everything is fully operational when you purchase a Broadwell-E processor. If you have any intentions of upgrading, simply navigate to the specific model number’s support page and download the latest BIOS version. Other manufacturers should follow suit very soon but it’s great to see MSI taking such a proactive approach.

Are you looking forward to Broadwell-E’s release?

MSI Z170A GAMING M5 (LGA1151) Motherboard Review

Introduction

Since the release of Intel’s Z170 chipset, MSI has unveiled a fantastic, feature-rich motherboard range which caters to contrasting user demands. For example, the Z170A GAMING PRO CARBON is an excellent choice for consumers wanting a stylish black colour scheme and great reliability at an affordable price point. In contrast to this, the MSI Z170A XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM Edition‘s gorgeous aesthetic design makes it one of the most innovative LGA1151 motherboards on the market. Of course, the iconic dragon styling on many MSI products have become a popular choice among the core gaming demographic. This red and black theme compliments mainstream hardware and retails at very competitive prices across various performance tiers.

The MSI Z170A GAMING M5 is a mid-range motherboard sporting an attractive design and impressive specification. More specifically, the product is capable of housing two PCI-E M.2 storage devices and has support for USB 3.1 Gen2 connectivity. Not only that, the motherboard includes a one year premium XSplit license and Nahimic audio enhancements. As you might expect, many of MSI’s leading technologies are incorporated such as DDR4 Boost, Game Boost and much more. Given this particular model’s astonishing software suite and military class components, I expect to see it rival higher priced offerings rather well. Could this be the best value Z170 motherboard thus far for high-end users? Let’s find out!

Specifications

Packing and Accessories

MSI always does a phenomenal job when it comes to packaging design and the Z170 GAMING M5 is no different. The bold colours and stunning product snapshot contrasts extremely well. This is one of the most eye-catching motherboard boxes I’ve seen and showcases the motherboard’s beautiful appearance.

On the opposite side, there’s a brief synopsis of the motherboard’s key selling points such as support for 3-way crossfire, 2-way SLI and Audio Boost 3.0. This is presented in a slick manner and doesn’t alienate the end-user with technical jargon.

In terms of accessories, the motherboard comes with a user’s guide, driver’s disk, metal case badge, I/O shield, SLI bridge, registration details, basic installation guide and four SATA cables. Please note, the press sample I received was previously used by another media so there’s only 3 SATA cables displayed in the photograph. Rest assured, the retail version will include four and be packaged without the need for an elastic band.

Dell Announces Cloud Based BIOS Security

Dell has taken some flak recently due to some security issues found on their machines, which they were quick to fix. Now they are showing further dedication to improving the security of their business PCs and laptops by adding functions that protect the BIOS from malware.

Attacks on a computer’s BIOS certainly aren’t common, but they are hard for typical security software to handle due to the nature of the BIOS and even typical measures such as formatting hard drives and reinstalling operating systems are unable to fix the issue. Dell’s new Data Protection Endpoint Security Suite Enterprise is to include BIOS verification functionality that is able to tackle this potentially vulnerable part of PCs.

The BIOS verification works alongside a cloud server that holds valid BIOS data. When the PC boots up, it sends a copy of its BIOS data to the secure server, where it is tested against official metrics of how the BIOS image should be according to Dell’s BIOS lab. By handling the verification on the server-side, it avoids a compromised PC sabotaging the result of the comparison and ensures any checks take place in a secure environment. Any BIOS that is detected as potentially compromised is then reported to the administrator who can take appropriate actions, with plans to automate a recovery process in the works.

This BIOS verification will be implemented on Dell systems that are based on the sixth generation Intel chipset, which includes the Latitude line of PCs as well as a number of Dell Precision, OptiPlex, and XPS PCs and Dell Venue Pro tablets. The suite will be optional for users of compatible PCs and will cost extra. It is interesting to see where Dell will go with the Data Protection Endpoint Security Suite in future, as its use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to protect against advanced and persistent threats could be the start of something great.

Intel Broadwell-E Release Coming Soon – Includes 10 Core 6950X

For those of you waiting for Intel Broadwell-E, they may still be a bit ways away but it looks like they will be right on time. According to early leaks, Intel’s roadmaps pointed to an early Q2 launch the Haswell-E successor. It looks like those leaked roadmaps are right on target as Gigabyte has released a new BIOS update for their X99 series of motherboards. According to the release notes the update is meant to “Support 2016 Q2 coming new CPU” which is likely Broadwell-E.

As the replacement for Haswell-E, the new lineup will continue to use the same X99 and LGA2011-3 platform, meaning an in place upgrade for current users. The new chips will be based on the Broadwell architecture, coming in 4 variants, the 6800K, 6850K, 6900K and 6950X. These will range from the usual 6 cores up to the new monster 10 core 6950X. Don’t expect pricing to change from Haswell-E though as the 6950X is expected to cost 50% more than the 5960X.

With a Q2 launch, Intel has a good chance to lap in some sales before Zen arrives with its rumoured 16-cores. On the flip side, some users may also choose to wait and see what AMD will be offering before sinking their hard-earned cash into some shiny new hardware. On a final note, the new BIOS also notes that “This BIOS prohibits updating to earlier version BIOS” so there will be no turning back.

ASRock Releases BIOS Update to Fix Skylake Instability Bug

Intel’s Skylake architecture has received a number of negative headlines regarding its high cost compared to the previous generation, flexing with high pressure coolers and most recently, stability issues during heavy workloads. The stability bug predominately revolves around demanding software like Prime95 and caused systems to hang on a regular basis. Thankfully, motherboard vendors including ASUS, Gigabyte, MSI and now ASRock have quickly identified the problem and launched BIOS fixes. Here is the original statement from Intel:

“Intel has identified an issue that potentially affects the 6th Gen Intel® Core family of products.  This issue only occurs under certain complex workload conditions, like those that may be encountered when running applications like Prime95.  In those cases, the processor may hang or cause unpredictable system behavior.  Intel has identified and released a fix and is working with external business partners to get the fix deployed through BIOS.”

As you can see, Prime95 is now completely stable across every ASRock 100-series motherboard, and all you have to do is apply the latest BIOS update. It’s great to see manufacturers release bug fixes so quickly especially when the issue impacts on system stability. Clearly, it’s only a minority of people who use complex workloads such as Prime95. On the other hand, I’d theorize that most Z170 customers overclock their CPU and require stress testing programs to gauge if a certain frequency/voltage combination is stable.

Personally, I’d recommend using AIDA64’s stress test because it appears to have fewer issues with Skylake CPUs. Although, it’s safe enough to run OCCT or Prime95, especially after the BIOS update. It seems Skylake has disappointed users and prices definitely need to come down to respectable levels. In the UK, an i7-6700K can cost upwards of £350, which almost defies belief!

Have you upgraded to Skylake or moved to the X99 platform instead?

ASUS Integrates ROG BIOS Functionality Into Claymore Mechanical Keyboard

ASUS’ Claymore mechanical keyboard was originally demoed during Computex last year and showed a great deal of promise. Since then, the company has been working extremely hard to separate the Claymore from other mechanical keyboards currently dominating the peripherals market. One major change is the option to remove the number pad section and position it on the left hand side. This adds a large array of macro keys or you can even disregard it entirely and create a TKL layout. Of course, this isn’t an exclusive feature and other keyboards in the past have adopted a similar design. The more interesting development revolves around dedicated BIOS function keys and provides the end-user with various commands providing they are using an ROG ASUS motherboard.

According to Tom’s Hardware, ASUS has implemented a BIOS key which boots directly into the UEFI without having to frantically time the correct key presses. It’s even possible to adjust CPU and RAM overclocking settings from the keyboard. Another neat feature is the ability to cycle between XMP profiles and configure system fan RPM values. In addition to the enhanced BIOS functionality, there’s the usual array of RGB colour customization and dramatic lighting effects. I’m also quite fond of the keyboard’s style which makes it look unique. It seems every major manufacturer has moved into the peripherals market and released a high-end mechanical keyboard. It will be interesting to see what kind of switches the ASUS Claymore comes with. Ideally, I’d love to see more gaming keyboards with switches designed for typists such as Cherry MX Blues.

The Claymore is scheduled for release in Q2 this year and more official information regarding its price, and specification should be unveiled shortly. It’s always going to be difficult to compete with Corsair, but the BIOS features might just be enough to shift units in impressive numbers. When the product is finally released, we should have an in-depth review detailing the feel, build quality and unique selling points.

Which is your favourite mechanical switch type?

MSI Releases Fix For Skylake Bug Causing Instability

Intel’s Skylake architecture has received a barrage of negative publicity after reports suggested the CPUs could bend under the weight of high pressure coolers and now, a bug was discovered during intensive workloads which causes the system to freeze. The root cause of this is hyperthreading and the use of CPUsupportsFMA3. Intel responded to the claims with an official statement which reads:

“Intel has identified an issue that potentially affects the 6th Gen Intel® Core family of products.  This issue only occurs under certain complex workload conditions, like those that may be encountered when running applications like Prime95.  In those cases, the processor may hang or cause unpredictable system behavior.  Intel has identified and released a fix and is working with external business partners to get the fix deployed through BIOS.”

Thankfully, MSI has released a very swift BIOS update to eradicate the issue although this only covers the Z170A XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM and Z170A GAMING M7 so far. However, the rest of MSI’s Skylake line-up will receive a fix pretty soon and be avaliable via MSI’s website. Please note, if you desperately need to apply the latest BIOS now for either the Z170A XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM and Z170A GAMING M7, navigate to this page.

Clearly, Intel’s latest release hasn’t gone as smoothly as the company expected, and issues have arisen which could deter consumers from upgrading. Despite this, it’s great to see such a fast response to any technical problems and helps to reassure users that Skylake is a worthwhile investment. Customer service is key in the technology industry, and once again MSI is displaying their commitment to providing the best communication possible. It will be interesting to see if any other technical problems arise from Skylake, but it’s important to remember that the freezing bug only really comes into play during extreme stress workloads.

MSI Z170 Motherboards Receive BIOS Update to Support Non-K Overclocking

Intel’s business strategy for some time has been to only offer an unlocked multiplier on higher end CPUs. While this makes the overclocking process extremely simple, it encourages the enthusiast user to spend more money to access any manual frequency boosts. However, professional overclocker Dhenzjhen managed to attain 4.6GHz on a locked multiplier Intel Core i3 6320. Not only that, this was achieved on the Supermicro H170 motherboard. This is remarkable because Intel’s H170 chipset theoretically doesn’t allow for any overclocking headroom whatsoever even with an K-series CPU. So how does this work?

The motherboard in question features a BIOS which allows for BCLK adjustments. Unlike the previous generation, BCLK isn’t linked to the PCI-E bus and any changes only impacts on the CPU, graphics and memory. There’s also a greater degree of accuracy when changing the CPU strap, and you no longer have to rely on 100MHZ, 125MHz and 167MHz. Without giving too much away, our review of the motherboard in question will be published soon and let’s just say the results are fascinating.

Now that this has been replicated by some vendors, it’s possible to enable identical functionality on other motherboards. Today, MSI announced their entire Z170 range will now support non-K series BCLK overclocking with a BIOS update. Here is a complete list of supported MSI Z170 models as of 18th of December:

Please note, the process does have some limitations. For example, you cannot overclock via this method and use the CPU’s iGPU. However, this isn’t a major problem as overclocking aficionados usually have a dedicated graphics card. On another note, the CPU’s EIST, C-states and Turbo Boost will all be disabled. Clearly, this isn’t recommended by Intel and they might refuse any warranty if you cause damage to the CPU. Although the likelihood of this happening, or Intel finding out is almost zero. Nevertheless, MSI rightfully included a disclaimer which reads:

“Overclocking Intel non-K CPUs is not officially supported by Intel and the BIOS versions created by MSI unlocking this option are all beta versions. Intel may choose to disable this option at any time. At no point MSI can be taken responsible for disabling overclocking for non-K CPUs.”

No-one currently knows how Intel will react, and I’m fairly sure they aren’t best pleased with this discovery. Despite this it’s a great development for consumers wanting to maximize their money when purchasing a CPU.

Please visit this page to access your motherboards BIOS update.

ASUS Z170I PRO GAMING (LGA 1151) Motherboard Review

Introduction


The capabilities of ITX motherboards have progressed at an exponential rate and easily provides the overclocking prowess, connectivity and stability required without making too many concessions compared to their ATX counterparts. Furthermore, the huge popularity of small form-factor LAN cases like the BitFenix Prodigy have made ITX systems a more viable proposition. However. feature-laden ITX motherboards traditionally incur a significant price increase as consumers pay for the convenience of more compact PCB designs.

ASUS has bucked this market trend and launched the aesthetically pleasing Z170i PRO GAMING motherboard around the £130 mark. This is an alluring price, given the SupremeFX audio, excellent software package and intuitive UEFI BIOS. Additionally, the 1151 chipset allows for large frequency overclocks and massive DDR4 memory speeds. When the single PCIe x16 slot is populated with a premium graphics card, you should be able to create a stunning portable gaming system which ekes out every inch of performance. Size isn’t a contributing factor during synthetic benchmarks and I expect the Z170I PRO GAMING to be quite competitive when compared against its ATX-based larger brother.

Packing and Accessories

The Z170I PRO GAMING packaging coincides with a World of Warships promotion and includes an exclusive invite code and 15-day premium account. From a visual standpoint, the box’s red and black theme fits with ASUS’ PRO GAMING branding.

On the rear, there is a brief synopsis of the motherboard’s flagship components, back I/O and main specification. The clear diagrams explain each notable feature in a clear and concise manner.

The Z170I PRO GAMING includes an I/O Shield, Cable Labels, user guide, driver disk, M.2 mounting hardware and WiFi antennas.

There is also an LGA1155 CPU holder and ample supply of SATA cables. The CPU holder is an ingenious tool which ensures the end-user avoids prolonged contact with the CPU. This reduces the chance of pin damage and offers a virtually foolproof installation procedure.

How to Flash a BIOS: Graphics Card and Motherboard Edition

Introduction


Flashing a BIOS can seem a daunting process and in some cases, it really is. You have the potential at any moment to completely break the component thanks to any number of causes from power cuts to accidental premature turn off; although the latter only normally happens if your computer is connected to a plug and someone else wants it.

So why are we required to flash the BIOS? Well firstly is system stability, in recent weeks we have seen the release of new graphics cards and motherboards and while the out of the box stability is great, things can only get better. While in the manufacturers testing facilities, they can only test so much. When testing motherboards, there are so many different types of RAM, Processor, Hard Drive, Graphics Card, etc… options available, that the manufacturer would have millions of different possibilities to test; taking up much-needed time. If you think of game testing, there is in-house, Alpha and Beta tests, consider that the early weeks after the launch is the Beta testing period where most of the issues are fixed, but there may still be some remaining.

Secondly, performance. We all want the maximum performance and while when the product is first released it roughly lands within expectations, after weeks or months of consumer testing; there could be a new stable performance level which could be permanently saved through the BIOS. This part impacts both graphics cards and motherboards, so periodically checking for updates could unleash a decent amount of performance.

Updating your BIOS can bring good and bad experiences, if you are updating to a Beta BIOS, you may experience some issues such as instability or even incompatibility with some external hardware; though that is extremely unlikely. Worst case scenario is a power cut or early removal of the flash drive and the BIOS breaks through corrupt file saving. On some motherboards and graphics cards, this can be rectified through a dual BIOS system that can repair the broken BIOS.

New Utility lets you Unlock Disabled Compute Engines on AMD GPUs

A new utility has emerged, entitled, “CUINFO” on Overclock.net which outlines how many compute units are enabled on Fiji, Hawaii and Tonga GPUs. The tool is designed to provide information on your card’s capabilities and offer the ability to unlock specific disabled compute units. However, many CUs are hardware locked and cannot be enabled using this software. According to VideoCardz, if the hardware message resembles the text below, you cannot perform a manual unlock or overriding might cause some kind of component failure:

Adapters detected: 1
Card #1 PCI ID: 1002:7300 – 174B:E329
DevID [7300] Rev [CB] (0), memory config: 0x00000000 (unused)
Fiji-class chip with 16 compute units per Shader Engine
SE1 hw/sw: 00030000 / 00000000 […………..xx]
SE2 hw/sw: 02400000 / 00000000 [……x..x……]
SE3 hw/sw: 90000000 / 00000000 [x..x…………]
SE4 hw/sw: 00090000 / 00000000 […………x..x]
56 of 64 CUs are active. HW locks: 8 (R/W) / SW locks: 0 (R/W).
8 CU’s are disabled by HW lock, override is possible at your own risk.

The developer of this tweak, who goes by the name of TX12, said:

“In general, you can try to unlock some cores ONLY if you have at least one of the two rightmost columns filled with ‘x’-es.”

“On this example map, rightmost column (#1) is filled with ‘x’-es only, but second (#2) is not.”

“If none of the two rightmost columns is filled with ‘x’, you’re most probably out of luck and shouldn’t try this unlock method.”

“Or just try all the roms to catch some luck (not recommended).”

TX12 explained the entire process in a lengthy forum post and is available here. Interestingly, he created a script which creates three unique ROMs, and one of these called ALL will instigate the entirety of Fuji’s cores. Although, this hasn’t been achieved as of yet.

Preliminary benchmarks indicate a clear increase in graphical horsepower after applying the tool.

Please note that this doesn’t mean your card will be compatible and you should proceed with caution.

Thank you Video Cardz for providing us with this information.

Hacking Team’s Rootkit Can Survive Hard Drive Scrubbing

Investigations by Trend Mirco have uncovered that the now-infamous spyware distributed by Italian surveillance outfit Hacking Team can survive the scrubbing or removal of a hard drive. Trend Mirco has revealed that the Remote Control System, Hacking Team’s backdoor malware, writes itself to the target computer’s BIOS.

The virulent malware was developed to hide itself within Insyde BIOS, popular amongst laptop vendors, via a Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) BIOS rootkit, though AMI BIOS is also thought to vulnerable. This way, the program can survive a hard drive purge or swap, since it exists on the computer’s non-volatile BIOS ROM chip.

As Trend Micro explains it:

“Three modules are first copied from an external source [..] to a file volume (FV) in the modified UEFI BIOS. Ntfs.mod allows UEFI BIOS to read/write NTFS file. Rkloader.mod then hooks the UEFI event and calls the dropper function when the system boots. 

The filedropper.mod contains the actual agents, which have the file name scout.exe and soldier.exe. This means that when the BIOS rootkit is installed, the existence of the agents are checked each time the system is rebooted.”

If the agent is missing, the malware will reinstall the scout executable. Anyone with a password-protected BIOS, however, will be protected against such an attack.

Thank you ZDNet for providing us with this information.

PlayStation 4 Gets New Hack That Allows Users to Install Pirated Games

As security measures and tech advances, so do methods to take them down or work around them. This is the case for a new hack recently discovered for Sony’s PlayStation 4 consoles, which allows users to install pirated games on their consoles.

Reports say that the hack might be coming from a Russian Website that Brazilian retailers use to install games on customers’ PS4 consoles, charging between $100 and $150 for 10 games and $15 for extra games, should they choose to get more than 10.

Sony was faces with a similar hack for its PS3 consoles, but the method used on the PS4 appears to be different. Unlike the PS3 hack which required users to have a modified firmware to allow installation and play of pirated content, the PS4 version seems to use some sort of NAN/BIOS cloning that will keep Sony scans from shutting you down.

The war on piracy has been raging on for ages now, but there’s still a long way to go before it will end (if ever). However, though it has been mentioned before, it is useless to use a lot of funds to try to take down piracy methods due to the fact that other ones will just crop up in their place again. Nevertheless, Sony will not turn a blind eye to this hack and will eventually find a way to plug it as it did with the PS3.

Thank you Sci-Tech Today for providing us with this information

Gigabyte Updates With Support for Upcoming 5th Gen Intel Core Processors

One of the real pains in building computers comes at the times where you need to upgrade several components in order to keep everything compatible to the one new component that you actually had the intention to upgrade. This won’t be an issue if you plans are to invest in the upcoming and fifth generation of Intel Core processors and you own a Gigabyte Z97 or H97 based motherboard.

GIGABYTE’s engineers have been busy in their labs and they have tested and verified that the new generation of Intel Core processors all work perfectly on their H97 and Z97 chipset based motherboards and offer an optimal performance.

So users who wish to take advantage of Intel’s new processor generation as soon as possible can rest assured that their GIGABYTE motherboards will support it. You will need to download and install the latest BIOS to make sure that everything runs smoothly and that every function is properly supported, but that is kind of a normal thing and one that you have to do with each new generation of processors.

You can find and download the latest UEFI BIOS files for your 9 Series motherboards directly on GIGABYTE’s own website and be ready for the upcoming launch.

Colorful Announces Their iGame GeForce GTX 960 KUDAN Mini-ITX Graphics Card

Colorful has revealed their iGame GeForce GTX 960 KUDAN Mini-ITX graphics solution, featuring a custom PCB design and factory overclock frequencies.

The GeForce GTX 960 KUDAN is said to be one of the very few Mini-ITX designs with a GM206 chip, making it very popular in the $200 range market. The graphics solution is said to have a low-wattage percentage and provide great 1080p performance.

In terms of specs, the graphics card comes with 1024 CUDA cores, 64 texture mapping units, 32 raster operation units and a 2 GB GDDR5 VRAM with a 128-bit memory interface. While the memory is clocked at 7010 MHz, the GPU clock comes in two blocks.

The factory overclocked specs that come with the card are set at 1127 MHz base and 1178 MHz boost, but a second OC BIOS is said to be available that can ramp up the card to 1152 MHz and 1216 MHz respectively at the push of the button.

Looking at the aesthetics of the card, we see that it features the same design as the iGame GeForce GTX 980 KUDAN, only a bit smaller. It boasts only one fan, but given its low-budget design, it is enough to keep the Mini-ITX card cool.

Power is said to be provided via a 6-pin connector, having the card coming with a 120W TDP. There is also a single SLI connector present on the card and comes with a single DVI, HDMI and three DisplayPort connectors.

Colorful has already listed the card on its website, but details regarding its availability and pricing have yet to be made available.

Thank you WCCF for providing us with this information

UEFI BIOSes Are Threatened By New LightEater Malware

While the new UEFI BIOSes are neat and come with a lot of features, they are also miniaturised OSes in their own, which makes them as vulnerable as a normal OS. Security researchers Corey Kallenberg and Xeno Kovah proved at CanSecWest how easy it is for an unskilled individual to implant a so-called LightEater malware and infect the system in a few moments.

The researchers proved that unpatched BIOSes can easily be affected with a malware and virus, they pointed out that motherboards from manufacturers such as Gigabyte, Acer, MSI, HP and Asus are at risk, especially if the BIOS is not updated to the most recent version from the manufacturers’ website.

BIOS malwares are especially dangerous since, as the researchers point out, the OS antivirus or other antivirus softwares only protect the OS it is running and not the BIOS too. The malware is said to be able to infect huge number of systems by creating System Management Mode implants, which can be custom made for individual BIOSes with a simple pattern matching. They also point out that a BIOS from Gigabyte was found to be particularly insecure.

We didn’t even have to do anything special; we just had a kernel driver write an invalid instruction to the first instruction the CPU reads off the flash chip, and bam, it was out for the count, and never was able to boot again.

While the vulnerability is said to already be exploited by the NSA, the researchers are encouraging businesses and governments to take some extra time in updating their PCs to the latest BIOS in order to plug the security hole.

Thank you Guru3D for providing us with this information

BIOS Vulnerability Still Roaming Wild despite Warnings

A multi-year effort to prevent hackers from altering computers while they boot up has largely failed and the flaws are still being exploited despite their disclosures. According to researchers from the federal founded MITRE lab, many Intel customers have still not adopted the revised security design distributed in March after even more vulnerabilities were discovered.

This could leave many newer Windows computers exposed, MITRE told Reuters ahead of their Black Hat presentation.

Intel’s point person on the issue, Bruce Monroe, said that he didn’t know how many suppliers and computer makers had followed Intel’s recommendations. “We’re not privy to whether they’ve fixed it or not. We asked them to let us know.”

The NSA Director Keith Alexander already urged the chief executives of major American technology companies years ago to do something about the boot-up procedure (BIOS). Because the start-up code is given more authority, hackers who break the code can make major changes to programs and hide their presence as well as survive power-down and reboots.

The successor called Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) is widely adopted now and has features like secure boot where digital signatures are checked before code is run. Microsoft was one of the first to embrace the new system with their Windows 8.

With flaws like this, it’s no surprise that well-funded spying programs as those exposed by Edward Snowden can continue to succeed against targets that depend on a complex supply chain.

MITRE made a similar presentation at last years Black Hat conference where Corey Kallenberg and Xeno Kovah broke into Dell’s boot-up process. Since the talk they have deployed sensors to about 10.000 computers to determine whether the boot procedures were still vulnerable. A shocking 55 percent of them still were, but the actual percentage is said to be even higher as the checks were done by Intel’s old UEFI guidelines that still allowed for memory corruption.

The threat is very real as shown for recent events. The 2011 Mebromi attack on Chinese computers using the Phoenix BIOS, last years report by Der Spiegel about the NSA tool called DeityBounce and just earlier this year Reuters reported about a U.S. Defense Contractors product, priced over $100k, for “incapacitating target computers by attacking BIOS and other critical elements”.

Thank you Reuters for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of Hardware Analysis

Two New World Records Broken With The ASRock Z97 OC Formula

It seems that ASRock’s latest motherboard, the ASRock Z97 OC Formula, was designed to break one world record after another. John Lam, a professional overclocker from HKEPC OC, has apparently used the motherboard and achieved what has been previously dubbed as ‘impossible’.

John has used the ASRock Z97 OC Formula along with the Intel Core i7-4770K CPU and overclocked the processor to an astonishing 7181.23 MHz, thus ranking as the world’s number #1 at HWBOT.org. However, John apparently was not satisfied with the world record. Having the same motherboard and processor combination, he also managed to achieve another world record, scoring 1601 marks in Intel XTU, giving a new definition of CPU overclocking.

People might be wondering how this was possible. The answer seems to lie in the motherboard itself, having it be designed and tuned by legendary overclocker Nick Shih. This is why the ASRock Z97 OC Formula comes with “Super Alloy Technology”, which includes XXL Aluminium Alloy heatsink for fast heat dissipation, Premium Alloy Choke used to largely lower working temperature, Dual-Stack MOSFET contributing to a more efficient CPU Vcore power and NexFET MOSFET, providing DRAM power more efficiently and resistance against electrostatic discharge of up to 15 KV.

Besides the Super Alloy Technology, the ASRock Z97 OC Formula also contains 4 Phase Memory Power design, Multiple FIlter Cap, Hi-Density Power Connectors, 12 Phase CPU Power design, 8 Layer PCB, four 2oz copper, and the list just goes on and on. In addition to the latter, the BIOS also features Jumbo V technology, allowing overclockers to select the most optimal settings for extreme overclocking.


Summing it all up, ASRock has just proved that the company has a beast amongst motherboards, specially designed by overclockers and dedicated to overclockers and overclocking. Therefore, if anyone would like to test his or her overclocking skills to the limit and does not know what motherboard to use, the ASRock Z97 OC Formula could be the answer.

Thank you TechPowerUp for providing us with this information
Images courtesy of TechPowerUp

Asus Go Against Intel, Add Devil Canyon Support To Z87 Motherboard

Intel was working hard to encourage motherboard makers to push users into upgrading to Z97, which features the latest Intel Series 9 chipsets. This meant that to use the new Devil Canyon CPU’s from Intel, you had to upgrade your motherboard, until now.

Most of us thought that the new chips would require an upgrade, but ASUS have their own ideas. ASUS has taken Intel down a few pegs by adding support for Devil’s Canyon CPUs on its Z87 motherboards!

“Most, if not all of their Z87 boards have received a BIOS update allowing the use of Intel’s devil canyon processors. This is also backed up on their Cpu support lists”. said a post on the XtremeSystems forums.

This is obviously a very good thing for consumers, and it’s good to see ASUS giving us the option of an update, not a forced upgrade, especially when high-end motherboard that you own in Z87 format and a new Z97 board could end up costing you hundred of dollars.

Thank you TweakTown for providing us with this information.

Intel Announces The i5-4460S Haswell CPU Featuring A Slight Speed Boost

Intel is reportedly going to launch a new series of Haswell i5 and i7 SKUs in Q2 2014 featuring a slight performance boost, according to CPU World. One of the CPUs is the Intel i5-4460S, which has also been spotted on the support list of some ASRock motherboards, like the B85M-ITX and H81M-GL.

There performance boost will consist of an additional 100 MHz added to the original Haswell CPU clock speeds, making no exception for the i5-4460S. The CPU is reportedly going to run at 2.9 GHz, having 4-cores, no Hyper-Threading and will most likely come with Intel’s HD 4600 graphics. It is also reported to have 6 MB of L3 cache and a 65W power envelope.

The C0 stepping is said to be the same as on the current Haswell CPUs, meaning no BIOS update should be required in order for it to function. However, manufacturers will release BIOS updates nonetheless (for current motherboards which plan on getting support for the new CPU) in order to get the motherboard to identify the CPU properly in some cases.

Pricing and availability has not yet been revealed, though it should be available when Intel will release more information about the upcoming SKUs later on.

Thank you CPU World for providing us with this information

MSI Announces the MS-98D3 Ultra Low-Profile Embedded Board

A Mini-ITX embedded board has been  released by MSI, the leading brand of embedded computers, that focuses on advanced POS application. Powered by the 4th Gen Intel Core processor, MS-98D3 brings the POS system to a new level with the capability of multiple processing covering front-end retailing to back-end management at the same time, while keeps the system active and prompt at both ends. With increasing POS system connected to network, wireless, or cellular communication to form a networked or even cloud-based POS system, high-end POS host is required by the market. The MS-98D3 is an embedded board designed in response to this demand.

The fast growth of information technology and network communication has made POS even more demanding, and that’s where the MS-98D3 is a tailor-made solution for POS systems that require just that. It features the ultra low-profile thin Mini-ITX design and the powerful 4th Gen Intel processor. Complex tasks which include not only multiple ordering/payment data processing and printing, but also inventory management, sales analysis, CRM, financials, warehousing, and store management, can be done by the high-end POS hosts with MS-98D3. With this advanced POS board, true Point-of-Sale control from manufacturing/purchasing, logistics, to retailing is realized, and consequently the executive efficiency is enhanced.

The MS-98D3 support RJ11 cash drawer, 8 USB and 6 COM ports, with COM1-4 powered and selectable by BIOS instead of H/W jumper, allowing users to friendly configure the COM port power without removing the chassis. Moreover, the 2nd display of MS-98D3 can be connected to an extended monitor or play multimedia files as a local digital signage that shows advertising messages at the shop or restaurant. More features of MS-98D3 are waiting for you to experience.

Key features of the MS-98D3 motherboard and full specs can be found on MSI’s official website.

Thank you TechPowerUp for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Micro-Star Int’l Co., Ltd.

EVGA Reveal Double BIOS Graphics Cards

Having a dual BIOS function on higher end graphics cards is a feature we’ve seen become normalised in recent times by quite a few vendors. EVGA has today announced that the majority of its GTX 700 series of graphics cards now come with a dual BIOS function, or will do in the future. EVGA claims the dual BIOS is essential for overclockers to get the most from their graphics card. It allows users to play around with a custom BIOS without having to fear bricking their graphics card – something that is easily done if you add a bad BIOS to your card.

EVGA claim BIOS recovery is as easy as flicking a switch. EVGA will offer BIOS updates to some cards which can be found on their respective product pages. The full list of included models and the number of BIOS they have can be found at the EVGA website here.

Images courtesy of EVGA

Nvidia GTX 600 Series BIOS Flash Gives You GPU Boost 2.0

According to one user on the Chiphell forums the GTX 660(Ti)/670/680 video cards can be flashed to support GPU Boost 2.0 through the BIOS. GPU Boost 1.0 is currently equipped on the GTX 660, GTX 660 Ti, GTX 670 and GTX 680 and the GPU Boost 1.0 calculates clock speeds and voltages based on a power target. Unlike GPU Boost 2.0, GPU Boost 1.0 has no consideration of temperatures in addition to the power factor thus the card can run potentially very hot which can be dangerous for the longevity of the card particular when paired with mediocre cooling solutions. GPU Boost 2.0 on the other hand utilises a combination of temperature and power levels to calculate boost levels making it a much safer solution.

The BIOS in question, discussed on the Chiphell forums, allows you to update to GPU Boost 2.0. “Cherubim” has been working on this BIOS for a while and it supports the previously mentioned cards. He demonstrates the BIOS used on a GTX 680 and shows the difference it makes to performance. The BIOS is currently not available but will be made available in a few weeks. Using NVFlash you can easily change out your BIOS on your Nvidia card but for most this is risky and will probably void your warranty so this certainly isn’t for the faint hearted. Though it does make you wonder that if Nvidia will continue selling the GTX 660 alongside the GTX 700 series, why don’t they update it to GPU Boost 2.0 out of the box?

Image courtesy of Nvidia, Information Via ChipLoco

MSI Z87 MPOWER (Z87) Motherboard Review

It wasn’t that long ago that MSI released a new range of products to the market, branded under MPOWER and with the release of the Z87 chipset from Intel and 4th generation CPUs, it’s only right that the MPOWER range gets a new addition, and of course it is simply called the Z87 MPOWER and features the same bright yellow colour scheme that reminds me of Bumblebee from the Transformers.

The theme is also being used on the Lightning range of VGA cards from MSI and memory manufacturer Avexir have worked hard with them to produce matching memory, so that you can have a nice system that matches with all other components, much like they’ve done with the gaming series of boards that we also looked at quite recently.

The MPOWER series isn’t quite the top-end as that is where XPOWER comes in, but with the Z87 XPOWER delayed until after launch, the MPOWER range is taking the launch as its flagship and today we are ready to see what it can do and what it has to offer, especially as I’m a BMW owner and the word MPOWER purely sings to my emotions.

The MPOWER series of boards cater for many different customers with an onus on stability and overclockability, and we’re sure that this won’t disappoint, especially from what we’ve seen MSI do with the MPOWER series so far. So lets find out if it can give us the performance that we crave, as well as give a full feature set that will keep gamers, general consumers and overclockers all happy.

First things first, we need to take a look at the box and what comes included in terms of added extras and accessories. After, we can take a detailed look at the board itself and what feature set it has including the BIOS and how things have improved with the new Z87 chipset from Intel. Once all of that is out of the way, we can focus on the stock performance, seeing how far we can overclock the CPU and how the performance looks once we’ve pushed it to the limits, so what are we waiting for?

The packaging for this board has got to be one of the most interesting with a big “M” flap on the front, which once turned over reveals some of the key features in terms of components, thermal dynamics, overclocking features and power delivery. Inside is a door hanger, quick installation guide, software guide, user manual and the typical driver CDs. Also we find six SATA data cables, a casebadge sticker, M-connectors, V-check connectors, SLI bridge and rear I/O panel shield plate. On top of all of this, we also have a Wi-Fi/Bluetooth module and external antennas to allow you to get the very best signal. This addon is something that we’re seeing much more frequent and we are glad to see this addition to the package.