BIOSTAR is a hardware manufacturer which caters to a wide range of price points and often releases products to perfectly suit the budget-conscience consumer. Today, the company announced their latest motherboard based on Intel’s Skylake architecture. The Hi-Fi H170S3H features Hi-Fi Audio, Hi-Fi Power and 3D Hi-Fi to provide a wonderful listening experience. Furthermore, there is native support for PCIe M.2 SSDs and apparently DDR3 memory modules. However, I’m pretty sure that’s a typo and meant to say DDR3L DIMMs. This is because the Z170 and H170 chipsets utilize memory with a lower voltage. The motherboard supports up to 32GB of 1333/1600MHz RAM.
While H170 is designed for budget systems, it allows for a decent quantity of USB 3.0 connectors. The Rear I/O also contains two PS/2 ports, a DVI-D, dual HDMI capable of powering a 4K display, two USB 2.0, Realtek RTL8111H RJ45 port and Realtek ALC887 8-Channel HD Audio.
Other key specifications include two PCIe x16 slots, two SATA 3 ports, one SATA Express, and a dedicated audio path. Furthermore, the advanced power design and voltage regulation increases stability. BIOSTAR have set a recommended retail price of $84.90 and customers can purchase the motherboard directly from their eBay store. However, please note the shipping costs are quite high and import duties will be charged in certain regions.
Hopefully, the motherboard will be stocked in local retailers very soon.
When Intel’s new Skylake processors was announced, the chipmaker said that it would offer limited support for DDR3 RAM. It now seems that not only is that support limited to DDR3L, but that using DDR3 RAM at its default voltage could actually damage Skylake chips.
According to Intel, Skylake’s integrated memory controller (IMC) officially supports DDR3L at 1.35V and DDR4 at 1.2V. Any DDR3 RAM running at a voltage higher than 1.35 could torch the IMC and render the processor inoperable after prolonged exposure.
It does beg the question as to why OEMs like Gigabyte, Asus, and ASRock support DDR3 at 1.5V and 1.65V, respectively? While it won’t damage the board, it will most like affect the chip. Given the option, it seems sensible to opt for the more expensive DDR4.
We also now know that the Skylake IMC can support clock speeds of up to 4,133MHz. The new DDR4 RAM standard currently runs at between 2,133MHz and 3,000MHz, but some RAM kits are already pushing beyond that, with some reaching 4,233MHz. RAM with clock speeds above 4,133MHz is more likely to see errors with Skylake, so until we see Cannonlake or a Skylake Refresh, it’s worth keeping an eye on your RAM’s clock speed.
Every time there has been a change to a new DDR standard, motherboard manufacturers have often retained some models that continue to use the older ram specification. This time around, we’re getting a number of boards with dual support, being compatible with both DDR3 and DDR4. Today ASRock has quietly launched their B150M Combo-G motherboard with support for both DDR3/3L and DDR4 ram with Intel’s latest Skylake LGA1551 platform.
Based off the budget B150 chipset, the mATX board boats all of the usual modern features. Despite not being an overclocking board, there are six digital phases for power along with high-quality solid state inductors. Gigabit LAN is provided via an Intel chip while audio is provided by a Realtek ALC887 Audio Codec with ELNA capacitors. For expansion cards, 2 PCIe x16 slots are provided but the 2nd one comes from the chipset. Rounding off the features, we have up to 6 USB 3.0 ports along with full electrical surge protection.
Along with the BIOSTAR Hi-Fi H170Z3, the B150M Combo-G will be one of the better choices for those hoping to retain their DDR3 ram. As noted earlier, both 1.5v and 1.65v DDR3 should work with Skylake just fine and having DDR4 support as well means that a future upgrade to newer ram is possible. Unfortunately, both DDR3 and DDR4 cannot work at the same time and that is unlikely to change.
Budget shoppers looking for the best bang per buck will soon have more options opened up to them. According to ASUS, Skylake CPUs and their accompanying Z170 and other 100 series motherboards can support DRR3 running at 1.5 or 1.65 volts. There has been some confusion as to whether or not DDR3 would work as Intel has only talked about DDR4 and DDR3L which use 1.2v and 1.35v respectively.
For those on a budget, it means they will be able to reuse their DDR3 with the new lineup. This means with the right motherboards, budget users can avoid shelling out an extra $80+ for new DDR4 ram. Given that DDR3 performs better with Skylake unless you have high-speed and low-latency DDR4, there isn’t much performance left on the table by not using the newer ram. DDR4 also still costs a bit more than DDR3 for similar speeds, capacity and latency.
For those that might consider upgrading to DDR4 though and want a motherboard to support that, there are some options. The most notable one is the Hi-Fi H170Z3 from Biostar which has 2 DDR4 and 2 DDR3 slots. Given that DDR4 supports 16GB DIMMs, it’s possible to put up to 16GB of DDR3 in now and later upgrade to a max of 32GB of high-speed low-latency DDR4 ram. Hopefully, there will be more boards from other firms for dual DDR3/DDR4 support.
Today we are taking a look at one of Zotac’s latest ZBOX CI321 nano barebones system that is packing a dual-core 2961Y CPU. Something that makes this CI321 nano stand out of the crowd is that it carries dual Gigabit LAN and is completely silent with its passively cooled design. With the inclusion of an onboard IR receiver, this makes it an interesting option for a silent HTPC. With it being a barebones kit, you can use some memory or 2.5″ drives that you have on hand to keep the final build costs down. There has been a lot of growth in the mini PC market and Zotac has been in it for a long time with its ZBOX lineup.
RAM: User Supplied – We tested with Crucial Ballistix 2x4GB DDR3-1600 9-9-9-24 1T 1.35v
SSD:User Supplied – Crucial MX200 SSD 250GB
GPU: Integrated –Intel HD Graphics
LAN: dual 10/100/1000/Gigabit Base T
WLAN: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Built-in Bluetooth V4.0
I/O: 4x USB3.0, 1x USB 2.0 , 1x HDMI, 1x DisplayPort, Headphone-out, Microphone in, 2x 1Gb LAN
OS: Supplied Barebones, Windows 10 preview used in this review
Warranty: 1 Year
Printed materials that the CI321 comes with
The hardware that you get with the CI321 allows you to mount the unit via the VESA mount of a monitor or TV. You also get an optical audio adapter for use with a Toslink connection, a dual band WiFi antenna, and screws to mount your 2.5″ SSD or HDD.
Intel will apparently broaden its low power CPU offerings later this year with the arrival of Broadwell. The current line-up consists of the socketed Xeon E3 Haswell CPUs and the Atom C2000 SoCs – both based on 22nm technology. From later on this year Intel will apparently bring Broadwell technology into the line-up in the form of both traditional socketed CPUs that will replace the current Xeon E3 line but also new BGA package SoCs that will sit alongside those traditional socketed CPUs. These new BGA SoCs are the “Broadwell-DE” family and form the “Grangeville” platform. The current Atom line-up will be replaced by the newer Denverton 14nm based Atom processors.
Broadwell-DE will be manufactured in a BGA package and early details suggest up to 8 cores will be available all using 14nm Broadwell technology. The BGA CPUs will also integrate a memory controller, I/O block and PCH logic. There is 1.5MB of L3 cache per core so 12MB of L3 cache on a fully fledged 8 core part. The Broadwell-DE platform features Hyper-Threading, Turbo Boost, VT-x and VT-d virtualization, Trusted Execution, AES and AVX2 extensions, QuickData technology 3.3, Processor Trace (can capture details of code execution), supervisor mode access prevention, and extensions to ADC instruction. The memory controller is dual channel supporting DD3L memory up to 1600MHz and DDR4 memory up to 2400MHz depending on the SKU. Each memory channel supports up to 2 DIMMS meaning 4 DIMMs max in total at a maximum capacity of 32GB per module for 128GB in total. The I/O block on the Broadwell-DE package supports a 10Gbe ethernet controller, 24 PCIe 3.0 lanes, 8 PCIe 2.0 lanes, 1Gb ethernet controller, 6 SATA III ports, 4 USB 3.0 ports and 4 USB 2.0 ports. The power consumption details and pricing are yet to be specified.
MSI announced the launch of the industry’s first 3K gaming notebook and an Adobe certified 3K workstation, the new GT60 20D-261US and GT60 2OKWS-278US. Both laptops feature a ultra-HD display resolution of up to 2880×1620 which provides bright, sharp and crisp graphics for an unmatched experience.
The GT60 20D-261US gaming notebook features an Intel Core i7-4700MQ processor, 16GB of DDR3L RAM, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M GPU, and a Killer NIC, a 720p webcam and a Dynaudio speakers and a subwoofer handle the audio. The display measures in 15.6-inches and features the 3K resolution of 2880×1620 3K, however it does not feature touch sensitivity. Three USB 3.0 ports and two USB 2.0 ports, and a 128GB SSD / 1TB HHD combo rounds things out.
The GT60 2OKWS-278US workstation has been optimized to run Adobe Creative Suite 6, Autodesk software, and Solidworks, and the 3K display allows professionals to work in stunning ultra high-resolution for the highest quality work possible from a mobile workstation. The GT60 2OKWS-278US features the same CPU, RAM, and storage, the difference being in the powerful NVIDIA Quadro K3100M workstation GPU that MSI has embedded in it.
MSI has the gaming laptop shipping with Windows 8 pre-installed, while the GT60 workstation comes with Windows 7 professional. Both new laptops are available now and have a price tag of $2199.99 and $2799.99 respectively.
Thank you TweakTown for providing us with this information Images courtesy of MSI
We love a good set of G.SKILL memory and now it looks like we’re going to get some as the company expands its Ripjaws SO-DIMM series DDR3L memory, but pushing it up to a staggering 2133MHz. Meticulously designed to operate at a low voltage of 1.35V, this 4GBx2 memory kit will give your system a much needed performance boost and it also looks pretty cool too.
The memory supports a nice and low 1.35V, DDR3L SO-DIMM memory is the required and recommended standard for most new Intel Haswell laptop systems. The G.SKILL DDR3L 2133MHz 1.35V kit is the perfect memory solution to boost your new laptop’s performance while extending battery life.
Besides notebook systems, G.SKILL Ripjaws high speed DDR3L SO-DIMM memory kits work perfectly with compatible SO-DIMM supported PCs. The systems will detect the rated memory speed automatically without extra BIOS tweaks, so you should be able to just plug and play.
The following screen shows the G.SKILL F3-2133C11D-8GRSL kit validated with Intel NUC D53427RKE Ivy Bridge Core i5 model.
Thank you G.SKILL for providing us with this information.