Don’t Expect Socketed Intel Skylake with eDRAM

When Intel frist revealed that the eDRAM cache introduced with Iris Pro could be accessed by the CPU, many users were elated. CPU performance had long been relatively stagnant and extra faster cache would help improve performance. With up to 50GB/s in each direction, the relatively massive 128MB eDRAM L4 cache would bridge the gap between the large yet slow DDR3/4 and the small yet fast L3 cache. Unfortunately though, Intel has no plans to introduce this to socketed Skylake chips, limiting it to soldered BGA SKUs.

One reason many had hoped that Intel would introduce socketed Skylake with eDRAM was due to Broadwell. With the socketed i7 5775C and i5 5675C, Intel paired LGA 1150 Broadwell with 128MB of eDRAM as L4. What’s more, both chips were also unlocked and overclockable. Many had hoped that the unlocked Skylake SKUs or even a locked SKU would offer the same combination. Even with the lackluster overclocks, the 5775C can actually match overclocked 6700K in performance. This means a Skylake part with eDRAM would likely far surpass our current 6700K.

There is still room for Intel to add eDRAM to a socketed chip later on with the Kaby Lake refresh. Set for 2016, that will be little more than a minor refresh on the Skylake architecture and probably a drop in replacement on LGA 1151 motherboards. Even then though, we may not truly see eDRAM as a real option till AMD pressures Intel with Zen combined with maybe HBM or eDRAM.

Thank you TechReport for providing us with this information

Gigabyte GA-6LASL, the New £99 Server Board


When you look around for a server motherboard with multiple onboard LAN connections and support for Intel’s E3-Xeon V3 CPUs, you won’t find anything that could be considered cheap. That is up until now, as Gigabyte’s GA-6LASL is just that; a lot of server board for a tiny price tag.

The mATX form-factor motherboard comes with an LGA1150 socket and Intel C222 chipset, supporting the Xeon E3-1200 V3 and the 4th generation Intel Core i3 processor families. The four DIMM slots support up to 32GB ECC memory with a speed of up to 1600MHz and the board comes with two SATA3 ports and four SATA2 ports for storage. DOM storage is of course also supported.

As previously mentioned, the GA-6LASL has dual onboard LAN controlled by an Intel I210-AT chip and an integrated Aspeed AST1300 2D graphics card for up a resolution of up to 1920×1200 at 60Hz. Being an intel board, the SATA ports support Intel RST with RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10. It comes with one PCIe x16 Gen3, one PCIe x8 Gen2 x4, and one PCIe x4 Gen2 x1 slot.

There are no direct USB 3.0 ports, but it does have a header for two front-panel ports. There are plenty of USB 2.0 options with four onboard ports and two headers for four more ports. Being a server board, it comes with support for Windows Server 2008 and 2012 as well as Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.x and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11.3.

The Gigabyte GA-6LASL is a lot of server board for just £99, well worth considering.

ASUS Announces TUF Trooper B85 Motherboard

ASUS’ Republic of Gamers division created a new motherboard that is something a little bit out of the ordinary, the new TUF Trooper B85 motherboard. The new Trooper is built around the B85 Express chipset and with an Intel LGA 1150 socket for the 4th and 5th generation Intel Core CPUs. It uses DDR3 memory of which it supports up to 16GB with the two DIMM slots. Being a TUF board it also comes with all the extra tested and reliable TUF components, and it also has support for Quad-GPU CrossFireX setups.

If you think that the motherboard looks a bit out of shape, then you aren’t wrong. The height is still the standard ATX form factor, but ASUS cut 64mm off the width of the board and moved the southbridge between the PCIe slots. Nothing looks cramped in there and there’s plenty of room for everything, so why not. The long design allows the use of more PCIe cards over a square design such as the mATX.

The TUF Trooper motherboard comes with six SATA ports where four of them are SATA3 and the last two are SATA2 ports. It has onboard headers for both USB 3.0 and 2.0 and also comes with two USB 3.0 and four USB 2.0 on the IO panel. The network is covered by an RJ45 gigabit ethernet connector powered by a Realtek 8111GR controller. Users who want a great sound aren’t left out either as the Trooper has an onboard and shielded 8-channel Realtek ALC887 HD codec.

The ASUS TUF series of motherboards isn’t just built with extra reliable components and tested rigorously, they also come with a row of exclusive features. The TUF Thermal Radar Core keeps track of all your components with more sensors than usual and allows for easy setup of your fan profiles. The TUF ESD Guards 2 is the second generation of protection against inadvertent electrostatic discharges when connectors are inserted into the IO panel and it’s been improved with a 30% better resistance over the previous generation.

The TUF LANGuard helps your network to keep a better and more stable network connection, which even improves the throughput with extra surface-mounted capacitors. The TUF Audio design keeps the sound pure with extra shielding that is LED-lit and uses a dedicated audio layer.

Asrock Z97E-ITX/ac (LGA-1150) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


Intel’s Z97 platform is a perfect basis for a mini-ITX system build as it features enough performance to please even the most demanding user while still being power efficient enough to be tamed by small form factor cases and modest cooling solutions. Due to those reasons it isn’t surprising to see Intel’s LGA 1150 platform dominate the mini-ITX landscape. Creating a mini-ITX motherboard from AMD’s AM3+ or Intel’s LGA 2011 platforms is unfeasible from a number of perspectives including heat and for LGA 2011, the size of the socket and number of memory lanes required. We have seen other mini-ITX motherboards emerge for low power platforms like Intel’s Bay Trail, AMD’s Kabini and AMD’s FM2+ APU platform but relatively speaking all three of these platforms cannot rival Intel’s LGA 1150 in terms of raw performance. In short, Intel’s mainstream LGA 1150 platform offers the best balance of features, performance, pricing and power efficiency for the mini-ITX form factor.

Today we are setting our sights on one of ASRock’s newest additions to the line-up, the Z97E-ITX/ac. ASRock, a previous subdivision of AsusTek, has really taken the world by storm, becoming the 3rd biggest supplier of motherboards for the year 2013-2014. Being set on the Intel Z97 chipset, allows this motherboard to be compatible with all the LGA 1150 socket CPU’s such as the i5-4570k and i7-4700k. This particular board has been built using all the typical ASRock components; premium alloy chokes, 12K platinum capacitors and a sapphire black PCB, all combining to producing a stonker of a motherboard. Along with the usual hardware components, ASRock has managed to squeeze on the newest Wi-Fi standard 802.11ac, meaning a boost of up to 289% over 802.11n Wi-Fi, a M.2 port for super fast storage and much more.

Key Features

Manufacturers nowadays need to find innovative ways to stand out from the crowd, ASRock is no different and has brought a huge array of features to this motherboard.

  • ASRockSuper Alloy
  • ASRock 802.11ac WiFi
  • ASRock HDMi-In
  • ASRock Full Spike Protection
  • ASRock Cloud
  • ASRock App Shop
  • ASRock A-Tuning
  • ASRock Disk Health Report
  • ASRock USB Key
  • ASRock App charger
  • ASRock XFast LAN
  • ASRock XFast RAM
  • ASRock Restart to UEFI
  • ASRock FULL HD UEFI
  • ASRock My Favourites in UEFI
  • ASRock UEFI Guide
  • ASRock Instant Flash
  • ASRock Internet Flash
  • ASRock Crashless BIOS
  • ASRock Online Management Guard (OMG)
  • ASRock UEFI System Browser
  • ASRock UEFI Tech Service
  • ASRock Dehumidifier Function
  • ASRock Easy RAID Installer
  • ASRock Easy Driver Installer

For more information on these functions, please visit ASRock’s Z97E-ITX/ac product page.

Packaging and Accessories

Very typical enthusiast level extra’s. 2x SATA3 cables, install CD, ASRock Cloud manual, quick start manual, ASRock sticker and a single WiFi antennae.

Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming 5 (LGA 1150) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


Intel’s Z97 platform feels like it has been here forever; since its official launch in early May 2014 we’ve ploughed through a sizeable 13 Z97 motherboard reviews here at eTeknix. Yet in the grand-scheme of things that 5 months is barely any time at all:the average PC user will tend to abide to a 2-3 year upgrade cycle meaning they’ll sit through about three new Intel platform launches before choosing to upgrade. With that said Z97 is still as relevant to the PC user today as it was 5 months ago even if Z97 has lost some of its “latest & greatest” status with the recent launch of X99. Today we are examining Z97 motherboard number 14 courtesy of Gigabyte: we have their Z97X-Gaming 5 motherboard in for review.

There is nothing particularly exciting or innovative going on with the Gigabyte Z97X Gaming 5 if I’m being totally honest. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing because “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” as the old saying goes. We have a very familiar red & black colour scheme which predictably gives this motherboard its “Gaming” denotation. Being a gaming board we also find this motherboard adheres to the usual high quality audio and networking package which makes use of Realtek’s latest and greatest ALC 1150 codec and Qualcomm’s Killer E2201 networking chip. The fact that the Z97X Gaming 5 is based on Intel’s Z97 chipset means we also get all of the new desktop storage interfaces: M.2 and SATA Express, in addition to the tried and trusted SATA III. I won’t pretend you can’t get these specifications anywhere else: ASRock and MSI offer very similar motherboards with virtually identical hardware configurations. The real question is: why should you choose Gigabyte? The simple answer is because of the value for money proposition and the fact Gigabyte do offer some unique features of their own such as their patented dualBIOS and Amp-Up audio package: but we’ll get onto all this later on in the review.

Packaging and Accessories

The Gigabyte Z97X Gaming 5 is a budget board in the wider Z97 market, it starts at £105/$145, so we aren’t surprised to see a modest accessory bundle. Included is the usual documentation, a utility DVD, four SATA cables, a case sticker and an I/O shield which didn’t come with our review sample. An I/O shield does come with the standard retail version and is identical to the I/O shield used with the Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming 7 for those who are interested.

MSI Z97S SLI PLUS (LGA 1150) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


Something that becomes apparently obvious with the motherboards I review on a regular basis is that most of them have too many features for the average user. That’s too many in the sense that most of them would go unused but mainly it is too many in that it adds unnecessary cost. Let’s face it none of us would say no to extra features if we didn’t have to pay for them, even if they remained unused.

In the Z97 space, MSI appear to have come up with a solution to that problem with their Z97S SLI PLUS motherboard. Sure it isn’t the prettiest motherboard available sporting the Z97 chipset, neither is it the most feature rich but what it does have going for it is a well struck-up balance of pricing and features. For around £100 in the UK, or $135 in the USA, the MSI Z97S SLI PLUS offers you a feature rich platform which includes SATA III, SATA Express, M.2, USB 3.0, SLI and CrossFire support, a UEFI BIOS, Intel Gigabit Ethernet, a decent amount of fan connectivity and solid audio. The colour scheme does seem a little confusing with a combination of a brown PCB and blue/black heatsinks, so this is definitely aimed at being a motherboard for people without side panel windows.

Packaging and Accessories

MSI have pitched the board in a strange way. Despite clearly gearing this board towards SLI users the box draws upon the stability, reliability and protection mechanisms rather than things like the PCIe configurations.

On the back we find MSI pushing their components and protection mechanisms such as circuit protection, EMI protection and ESD protection.

The accessory bundle includes some documentation, a utility DVD, a labelled rear I/O plate, a SLI bridge and four SATA cables. That’s quite a lot for a seemingly budget board.

PC Specialist Vanquish 270X System Review

Introduction


Intel’s Pentium G3258 Anniversary Edition CPU release has been very exciting for the PC market, the main reason is that you can now get high-end desktop performance for the price of an entry level system. This is because the bulk of applications and games are still largely dependent on the performance of 1-2 CPU cores, so with the potential to get around 4.5-4.8GHz on both its cores the Pentium G3258 can offer Core i7 4790K-like performance in one to two threaded applications. Today we are testing PC Specialist’s Vanquish 270X system which they have configured and built especially for us! This system features a Pentium G3258 CPU overclocked to a whopping 4.7GHz and that’s paired up with a Powercolor R9 270X 2GB graphics card and 8GB of RAM. All in all this means there is more than enough grunt in this system to drive all the latest gaming titles maxed out at full 1080p or even as high as 1440p depending on the game, as well as to do a wide variety of other productivity and home tasks. What’s even more impressive is that the components used are really cost effective, so this build comes in at just £579! PC Specialist have made very sensible component choices to keep the pricing in that sweet spot zone: they’ve opted for the unlocked Pentium, AMD’s R9 270X, an SSHD, Gigabyte’s entry level Z97 gaming series motherboard and Corsair’s affordable 230T chassis houses it all. Below you can see the full specifications of this build:

Specifications

  • Name: PC Specialist Vanquish 270X
  • Case: Corsair 230T with Red LEDs and Side Window
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte Z97X Gaming 3
  • Processor: Intel Pentium G3258 “Anniversary Edition” Dual Core at up to 4.7GHz w/ OC
  • Processor Cooler: Titan Universal CPU Cooler with Arctic MX4 thermal paste
  • System Memory: 1 x 8GB DDR3 Kingston HyperX Beast 2133MHz
  • Main Boot Drive: Seagate 1TB Hybrid Solid State Hard Drive with 8GB SSD Cache
  • Additional Storage Drive(s): Not included
  • Graphics card: Powercolor AMD R9 270X 2GB
  • Power Supply: Corsair VS 450W
  • Optical DriveSuper WriteMaster DVD RW
  • Wireless: Not included
  • Monitor: Not included
  • Peripherals: Not included
  • OS: Windows 8.1 64 Bit
  • Warranty: 3 Year Warranty (1 month collect & return, 1 year parts, 3 year labour)
  • Price: £579 (accurate at the time of writing)

Packaging & Accessories

PC Specialist’s Vanquish 270X system comes very well packaged with soft cell foam to absorb shock and vibration in transit as well as some protective plastic to prevent dust and scratches.

In terms of accessories you get PC Specialist’s welcome pack which has all the additional manuals and documentation that came with all the components in your system. There’s also a welcome guide written by PC Specialist that they advise you to read before using your new PC.

CPU-Z

Jumping into CPU-Z and we can see that as promised our Pentium G3258 (which CPU-Z is mistakenly reading as the Pentium G3420) is clocked at 4.7GHz using 1.35 volts. This core voltage is a little high for 24/7 operation, I maybe would have preferred to see 1.3 volts and a slightly lower clock speed.

The memory is just a single DIMM so we have to use single channel mode, that memory is clocked at 2133MHz.

GPU-Z

On the GPU side we have Powercolor’s R9 270X which comes clocked fairly high and has bags of overclocking headroom if you want to push things further.

MSI Z97 MPOWER MAX AC (LGA 1150) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


When it comes to premium motherboards bursting at the seams with features MSI’s MPower and XPower motherboards are certainly well recognised. Although tailored specifically for overclocking, and themed to join the ranks of other MSI Lightning hardware, the M and XPower motherboards still offer all the high-end features we’d expect from a good motherboard. Today we have a motherboard with us that epitomises that from MSI, the Z97 MPower Max AC. Not only is it geared towards overclockers with its advanced BIOS, voltage read-off points, assortment of onboard tweaking buttons and even integrated liquid cooling but it is also geared towards the power user with Gigabit Intel LAN, AC WiFi, Bluetooth, M.2, SATA III, high quality audio and a shed-load of USB connectivity. There isn’t really a lot else to say about the Z97 MPower Max AC other than it has just about everything you could possibly want in a motherboard, and better still it certainly won’t make your wallet cry with a very reasonable price of £170 or $260. The full specifications are as follows:

Packaging and Accessories

The packaging proudly displays the yellow and black colour scheme of MSI’s Lightning series, you can also see that AC WiFi takes pride of place: this is a feature MSI are really pushing so we are excited to test it.

The back details all the features and specifications, find more details on those here at the product page.

The accessory pack is absolutely jammed packed. For documentation we get an overclocking guide, quick installation guide, software guide, user manual, some driver and utility CDs and a MSI LN2 themed door-hanger.

You also get front panel MConnectors, stickers to label your cables with, voltage checkpoint cables, the WiFi AC module, a rear I/O and a screw and user manual for the WiFi module.

You also get 8 SATA cables, that’s a SATA cable for every port – something vendors rarely do, you get the WiFi antennae, an SLI bridge, an eSATA rear I/O bracket and a molex to dual SATA power adapter.

Intel’s Skylake Gets Detailed: Z170 “100 Series” Chipset in Mid 2015

Intel’s Broadwell CPUs will continue the shelf-life of Intel’s Z97 and H97 platforms as Intel migrates from the current Haswell CPU architecture next year. Broadwell will arrive on the Intel performance and Mainstream platforms next year, that’s on the Z97 and H97 chipsets and this is expected to occur in Q2 of 2015. However, we won’t just be seeing Broadwell in Q2 of 2015 because according to the latest leaked Intel Roadmap Intel will also offer Skylake shortly after, something we heard about a few weeks back. Skylake will arrive on all Intel platform segments shortly after Broadwell and will take Intel’s chipset family into the new “100” series. Unlike Broadwell and the 9 series which are only offered in the consumer performance and mainstream segments, Skylake and the 100 series will be offered across the entire Intel range of chipsets.

The specifications of Intel’s upcoming chipsets can be seen above. As we see they are not too different to the 8 and 9 series boards; Z87 and Z97 also offer 6 SATA III and 20 PCIe lanes for example. Intel has increased the USB 3.0 count and also the SATA Express and M.2 capabilities of the 100 series. It is important to remember that 100 series motherboards and Skylake CPUs will not be compatible with anything from the 8/9 series or Haswell/Broadwell. Skylake, which are Intel’s sixth generation Core Series CPUs, will utilise a new LGA 1151 socket and they will also have the ability to run DDR3 or DDR4 memory depending on the configuration. Expect exciting things in 2015 from Intel if these rumours are anything to go by!

Source: VR-Zone

Images courtesy of VR-Zone

ASUS Z97 Gryphon Armor Edition (LGA 1150) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


The ASUS TUF line is always one of the more exciting product ranges to come out of the ASUS consumer motherboard platform, albeit a very niche form of excitement (well I find it exciting anyway…). I took a look at my first ASUS TUF series motherboard last year when ASUS kindly sent over their Z87 Sabertooth board. My general thoughts were that the board was a very good piece of kit although the monitoring, reliability and stability aspects of it seemed to be quite niche, aimed at a specific form of power user. I don’t really expect that to change given that the TUF series is still about giving you military grade reliability and stability but I am hoping there will be lots of new features on offer with the new Z97 TUF series. Today we are looking at the ASUS Z97 Gryphon motherboard which is the micro-ATX version of the TUF line. More specifically we have the ARMOR EDITION equipped with the ASUS thermal armor but ASUS do offer a version without for users who find it garish or unnecessary. The full specifications of the motherboard are fairly basic given that there’s no M.2, no SATA express, no WiFi and so on. However, for a micro-ATX motherboard it still has all the key features a desktop user would expect such as Gigabit LAN, dual PCIe 16X lanes, SATA III ports and decent spec audio.

Packaging and Accessories

The flagship feature of the ASUS TUF series is that 5 year warranty, that really is the selling point for all the reliability and stability features.

The back breaks down the key features of the motherboard, most are related to reliability and stability aspects such as reducing dust and heat.

Included is an extensive bunch of documentation including details on how to install all the extra accessories.

The “standard” accessories include a rear I/O shield, four SATA cables, SLI bridge and some Q connectors for the front panel I/O.

The “TUF” accessories include a small fan for the rear I/O (part of the Dust De-Fan feature), thermal sensor probes and a variety of slot covers for things like the unused rear I/O ports and so on. These are to prevent dust build up.

You also get dust covers for the PCIe lanes, the RAM slots and some miscellaenous screws and fittings for attaching things. The included guide explains all if you get overwhelmed by the mass of accessories.

MSI Going Green: Unveils Its New ECO Series Motherboards

The environment isn’t something that interests most people, but when it comes to the cost of electricity most of us are interested in saving a bit of money and if that helps the environment, then great! Enter MSI’s latest motherboard range which is to be dubbed the ECO series. As the name suggests it is about being “environmentally friendly” with the word ECO being derived from ecological. MSI’s new motherboard range features three basic chipsets: H97, B85 and H81. All three support socket LGA 1150 “Haswell” and “Haswell Refresh” based CPUs of all segments and TDPs, but obviously to go along with the “ECO” theme MSI recommends Intel’s S and T series power efficient Haswell processors.

The motherboards themselves appear nothing out of the ordinary and they have been given some rather dubious green packaging and styling to go along with the ECO theme. The main power saving aspects come from the reduced form factor, micro-ATX boards consume less than full ATX. MSI also claim to have a new ground-breaking PCB design where it can actually cut off power to components on the motherboard that are not being used, as opposed to just disabling them. To accompany the new MSI ECO series motherboards MSI has revamped its ECO Center Pro software which it claims when used will offer an additional 40% power consumption reduction on ECO series motherboards, non-ECO series MSI motherboards can still benefit up to a 29% reduction. It does this by disabling power to parts of the board not being used, this works in tandem with the new PCB design.

Back in March MSI detailed that their B85M ECO concept board consumed as little as 17.3W at idle, roughly 12W lower than rival motherboards.

The motherboards certainly sound smart and make sense. For anyone looking to run a 24/7 home server, have an always-on workstation, or for someone who just uses their PC a lot these boards could be an ideal solution to saving a bit of money. I’d like to find out more from MSI in terms of what they do to ensure the boards are “ECO” other than reduce their power consumption. I.e. do they use recycled materials, carbon-offsetting and so on.

What are your thoughts on these ECO series boards? A good idea or a gimmick?

Source: TechPowerUp

Images courtesy of MSI

Media Outlet Slams Intel’s Devil’s Canyon, Did It Disappoint?

Intel’s Devil’s Canyon CPU is a product that we have already reviewed. In the run up to its release there was so much talk about bringing back the “good old days” of 5GHz overclocking on air, and all that shabang. However, as our review revealed that simply wasn’t the case. Now media outlet Digital Trends has come out and publicly attacked Intel’s newest offering stating it has let enthusiasts down once again. Digital Trends claim it is part of a longer term anti-overclocking mentality at Intel. They claim that Intel’s Lisa Graff hyped up the product and misled consumers because it doesn’t actually bring anything new. Indeed as most reviews of Devil’s Canyon now show we’ve got a CPU that overclocks more or less the same as the Core i7 4770K, runs marginally cooler but requires more volts: hardly progress, and I must say I agree.

However, the sad conclusion (as Digital Trends so rightfully note) is that there is no incentive for Intel to do better. AMD simply cannot compete and Intel has no reason to compete with itself. If enthusiasts want more then Intel wants you to spend more and choose X79 or X99 (when that arrives in September).

You can read the interesting opinion piece at the source link below.

Source: Digital Trends

Image courtesy of Intel

Intel Core i7 4790K “Devil’s Canyon” Processor Review

Introduction & What’s New?


Intel released its Devil’s Canyon CPUs at the start of this month in time for this year’s Computex event. Sadly we were delayed in getting our sample of the Core i7 4790K, which means our review has come out a little late, but nevertheless we have Intel’s new flagship on the test bench today for a good thorough review. For those of you who don’t know about Devil’s Canyon, it is Intel’s internal codename for its new Haswell Refresh K series CPUs. Devil’s Canyon includes the Core i7 4790K and Core i5 4690K, both quad core parts based on Haswell Microarchitecture but with speed bumps and a few modifications. There isn’t that much to say specifically about the Core i7 4790K that wasn’t already noted in our Core i7 4770K review, because the microarchitecture is still Haswell. However, there are a few new features that Intel is bringing to the table with Devil’s Canyon that have specifically been done to appease Intel enthusiasts and overclockers. The Core i7 4790K is unique in the regard that Intel have listened to the feedback and concerns of its user base and tried to make specific modifications to eliminate or reduce those concerns.

The first major change comes with regards to the physical characteristics of the CPU. Intel has swapped out the thermal paste under the IHS for a better quality thermal paste which should allow for lower temperatures and better overclocking as a result. Intel have also added additional capacitors to the back of the CPU which they claim smooths power delivery to the CPU die, which again should enhance overclocking potential. Another change that Intel aren’t really marketing is the addition of support for Virtualization Technology for Directed I/O (VT-d) and Transactional Synchronization Extensions New Instructions (TSX-NI)

Intel hasn’t just tweaked the physical design of the CPU either – they’ve also pushed the CPU’s performance even further. For the first time Intel is shipping a consumer processor with a 4GHz clock speed, that’s a barrier AMD broke many years ago but Intel has always been fairly cautious with its clock speeds. The CPU goes even further than 4GHz with a 4.4GHz Turbo frequency, from my experiences on a number of Z97 motherboards this basically means your CPU will always be at 4.4GHz so that’s a significant jump up from anything Intel have ever offered before. Frequency bumps aside the core count, thread count, cache size, graphics and socket all remain the same. Devil’s Canyon CPUs will price match their predecessors on paper but at retailers you can expect to see the older Core i7 4770K and Core i5 4690K slightly cheaper to the tune of $10-50. I also just want to clear up a note about backwards compatibility. Intel’s Core i7 4790K, Core i5 4690K and other Haswell Refresh CPUs will theoretically work in all 8 and 9 series LGA 1150 motherboards. Some motherboard vendors will need to issue BIOS updates to enable this support but all motherboards should get this support because the sockets still have identical pin-outs and the CPU pin-out has not changed either.

Gigabyte Z97X-UD5H-BK (LGA 1150) “Black Edition” Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


Gigabyte have given their Ultra Durable series a bit of a revamp for Z97 offering their boards up in Black Edition flavours. Whilst the implications of the Black Edition are fairly obviously, it is an overwhelmingly black-coloured motherboard, it also implies a new standard of durability. Gigabyte test all Black Edition series motherboards for an impressive 168 hours using server grade durability tests to ensure high reliability and stability. As if that wasn’t enough Gigabyte also go to town on offering a hefty 5 year warranty and use some of the highest quality components including their “DuraBlack” solid capacitors and their dual layer copper PCB. However, the Gigabyte Z97X-UD5H-BK isn’t just about reliability, this motherboard has bucket loads of features too. Among them this motherboard has dual Gigabit LAN, one provided by Intel and the other by Killer, it has extra SATA III ports, extra USB 3.0 ports, SATA Express and M.2, support for 3-Way CrossFire, a dual UEFI BIOS, high quality ALC1150 Realtek audio, voltage measurement points, onboard buttons and a hefty 12 phase CPU VRM. On paper the Gigabyte Z97X-UD5H-BK is a fantastic high-end board so let’s get on with our review and see how it shapes up in testing.

Packaging and Accessories

In keeping with the Black Edition naming the motherboard comes in a fully black box. Upon opening it you’re greeted with a pull-down flap with more feature marketing material.


On the back there’s a fully labelled pictured of the motherboard as well as a specifications list and some more details on all the features.

Gigabyte include a certificate of stability and reliability to let you know that your board has been through Gigabyte’s testing procedures that enable them to certify the motherboard as “Ultra Durable” and part of the “Black Edition” series.

Included with the motherboard is an in-depth user manual, multilingual installation guidebook, driver and utility CD and a case badge/sticker for your system if you wish to show off your Gigabyte motherboard.

Accessories include a nice matte black, padded and labelled rear I/O shield. There’s also four braided SATA III cables (braided SATA cables…I know right?!) and an SLI bridge.

Gigabyte Z97MX-Gaming 5 (LGA 1150) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


While mini-ITX is the “fashionable” small form factor of choice for most compact system builders, the micro-ATX form factor is still popular as it offers a better compromise between size, features and cost. Unlike mini-ITX motherboards micro-ATX motherboards require less R&D, encounter less technical challenges and are much cheaper to execute as a result. Enter Gigabyte’s latest Intel 9 Series based motherboard, the GA-Z97MX-Gaming 5. At just $130 this motherboard offers a great balance between size, performance and features – at least on paper. Today we will be putting this micro-ATX offering from Gigabyte through its paces to see how it shapes up in practice. As a Gaming series motherboard it comes with the usual beefed up audio implementation and Killer networking as well as support for multiple GPUs meaning it has most things a gamer could want in a motherboard. Being an Intel 9 Series motherboard there’s also support for the new storage options like M.2 and SATA Express. Below you can find detailed specifications on exactly what this motherboard offers:

Packaging and Accessories

As we’ve seen with Gigabyte’s latest Intel 9 Series motherboards the Gigabyte “eye” makes an appearance. Typically we only saw this on VGA products in the past.

The back details the features of the motherboard, much of the focus is on the audio implementation.

Once the box is opened up we get a little flap on the inside which details those key Gaming series features more.

Included is a variety of documentation, driver & utility DVD and case sticker.

Four SATA III cables, a black labelled and colour coded rear I/O and a SLI bridge make up the accessories.

ASUS Z97I-PLUS (LGA 1150) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


Since the popularisation of mini-ITX motherboards a few years ago (if I remember correctly they took off with the Intel 6 series chipset) the price of mini-ITX motherboards has been falling sharply. However, combined with that falling price has also been rising quality, increasing innovation and more features – particularly with ASUS mini-ITX motherboards. Irrespective of which motherboard vendor you prefer it would be fair to say ASUS have driven a lot of the mini-ITX innovation over the past few years. Today we’re looking at the culmination of some of this innovation, but for a respectably low price of just $160. Enter the ASUS Z97I-PLUS which is one of the new ASUS Z97 motherboards that has ingenious ways of taking advantage of all the great features we’ve come to expect from a fully fledged PC. ASUS have managed to cram M.2 on the board by moving it underneath, they’ve added a WiFi AC and Bluetooth 4.0 module, equipped four SATA III ports, included fairly high quality ALC 892 audio and offered up the latest Intel Gigabit LAN. Despite the motherboard’s size you still get a fully fleshed out rear I/O and an impressive 6 phase VRM. On paper the ASUS Z97I-PLUS looks like a very impressive Z97 mini-ITX motherboard so let’s proceed on with our review to see what the product and its performance has in store for us!

Packaging and Accessories

The flagship selling point of the ASUS channel series is the quality of the motherboards: this is clearly denoted in terms of compatibility, reliability and protection mechanisms.

Moving round to the back of the box and we can see the specifics of those claims made on the front. If you’re looking for even more details you can find those on the product page right here

Included with the motherboard is well laid out and presented user guide, a driver and software DVD and an ASUS case badge.

The accessories include the wireless antenna for the AC module with connecting cables, two SATA cables, a labelled black rear I/O and a revised version of the “Q connector” which is essentially an extension cable for the front panel connectors.

Biostar Hi-Fi Z97WE (LGA 1150) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


Biostar aren’t a brand of products we review that often as their main presence is within the Asian market, however, every now and then we do get a motherboard from them which they are targeting towards the Western market. Today is one of those rare days as we are looking at Biostar’s primary Z97 offering, the Biostar Hi-Fi Z97WE. This motherboard is Biostar’s attempt at making a well spec’d motherboard for a very affordable price, as they are well-known for doing. The motherboard comes with an impressive 10 phase VRM, dual Gigabit LAN (a massive rarity at this price point), a range of PCI express connectivity, M.2 and high quality audio. The specifications are certainly nothing to scoff at when you consider the MSRP of just $125 – this makes it only a fraction more expensive than cheaper H97 9 series motherboards. The styling of the motherboard may certainly be an “acquired taste”, however, the motherboard on the whole seems like an extremely feature packed and great value for money option. I have seen a lot of people discuss this motherboard as a “workstation” board, presumably because the “Z97WE” bares striking resemblance to the ASUS “Z97WS” which stands for workstation. However, from what I can tell this is not a workstation motherboard – this is an entry level Z97 motherboard aimed at a broad user which no particular preferences towards anything (aka it is not a gaming, overclocking or workstation motherboard but rather an “all-rounder”).

Packaging and Accessories

The packaging shows us Biostar are really pushing the audio side of things. This is of course something we will examine on our audio tests. The dual GbE is another one of the more unique features and certainly this will attract a lot of people especially as both ethernet controllers are physically identical and thus support teaming.

The rear details more of the features about the motherboard including the unique audio features. More details on all the features can be found at the product page here.

Included with the Hi-Fi Z97WE is a user manual, driver and utility DVD and an audio usage guideline brochure.

The accessory pack is fairly basic with a rear I/O and four SATA cables.

ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Performance (LGA 1150) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


There are plenty of affordable Z97 motherboards on offer, in the UK they start from about £70-80 while in North America they can be had from about $110. However, these entry level Z97 motherboards tend to be fairly basic in their feature set, styling and specifications. If you’re looking for a gaming motherboard at that price point you simply won’t be able to afford one. The reason is that the Z97 chipset costs motherboard vendors quite a lot. However, H97 is a cheaper chipset so motherboard vendors can make a much higher quality H97 motherboard for the same price as an entry level Z97 motherboard because they have lower chipset costs so can afford to allocate more funds to other aspects of the board like buying better power components, better networking components, better audio components and so on. As a result gamers at the really budget price points are better off buying gaming motherboards that aren’t of the “flagship” Intel chipset. We saw this logic applied last year when ASRock released their Fatal1ty B85 motherboard for a a diminuitive £70~ and yet it contained all the “gaming features” of significantly more expensive motherboards such as a Killer NIC, high quality audio, XSplit gaming software and that typical gamer styling. Today we have something very similar to that based on the Intel H97 chipset, the Fatal1ty H97 Performance motherboard. This motherboard takes advantage of the cheaper H97 chipset to offer up a gaming motherboard at the very attractive price of $100, or about £75. If anything this board is quite a step up over the B85 Fatal1ty board from last generation coming with more CPU VRM phases, an improved audio design, Intel Gigabit LAN and more SATA III ports, all while being at a very similar price.

Packaging and Accessories

The packaging is nothing out of the ordinary for an ASRock Fatal1ty product, this board is very clearly positioned as a gaming product from the moment you look at the box.

The back details the key features of this motherboard, some of them seem a bit dubious to call “gaming features” such as Orbweb.Me cloud software or Super Alloy power components. I think ASRock would benefit more from focusing on things like the Intel networking and high quality audio as this is definitely something Gamers will find more alluring.

Included is a user guide, software user guide, ASRock Cloud setup guide, a driver/utility DVD and XSplit Broadcaster 3 month premium certificate.

The accessory pack is very basic: a plain unlabelled I/O shield and a pair of SATA cables. At this price point this is really to be expected.

ASRock Z97 Extreme6 (LGA 1150) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


ASRock’s Extreme series of motherboards offer a nice balanced and more well rounded alternative to their Fatal1ty series, which are geared towards gamers, and their OC Formula series, which are geared towards overclockers. For the past few generations of Intel motherboards the ASRock Extreme series has been renowned for its great balance of performance, features and value for money compared to rival offerings. Today we have a new Z97 board from the Extreme series looking to carry forward this good reputation. More specifically we have ASRock’s Z97 Extreme6 motherboard. This motherboard is quite exciting for the more productivity or prosumer style user. It offers up a ton of storage connectivity including two M.2 ports, a SATA Express port and 10 SATA III ports as well as eSATA. What’s more you get a range of PCI connectivity including mini-PCIe and you get dual gigabit LAN supporting wake-on-WAN functionality so you can use this as a home cloud or server. As if that wasn’t impressive enough there’s also 10 USB 3.0 and 5 USB 2.0 one of which is an internal port wired to the motherboard. You also get a debug LED and onboard buttons as well as high quality Realtek ALC1150 based audio and 12K rated capacitors with a 12 phase VRM for the CPU area. This motherboard literally has it all and it comes in at a staggeringly low price of just $170, about £125-130.

Packaging and Accessories

The flagship feature is ASRock’s Super Alloy power implementation as well as their Ultra M.2 port which uses x4 Gen3 PCI speeds instead of x2 Gen2 PCI speeds found on the normal M.2 port.

The rear of the motherboard has the usual marketing sheet detailing all the features and specifications of the product.

Included in terms of documentation is an ASRock Cloud guide, quick installation guide/user manual and software setup guide as well as the driver and utility DVD.

Accessories include the rear I/O shield which is colour coded, four SATA III cables, the HDD saver SATA power cable, a 2-Way SLI bridge and three screws (2 for the two M.2 ports and one for the mini-PCIe port).

ASRock Fatal1ty Z97X Killer (LGA 1150) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


We’ve covered an absolute ton of Intel Z97 based motherboards since the chipset launched back on June 11th, a couple of weeks ago, but in that time we’ve yet to see an offering from ASRock. Today, and over the coming weeks, we will be rectifying that by having a look at a lot more motherboards from ASRock’s Z97 series. Up first we have their Fatal1ty Z97X Killer motherboard which is part of their Fatal1ty gaming motherboard product series. Interestingly this motherboard will compete with MSI’s Gaming 7 and Gigabyte’s Gaming 7 in that hugely competitive sub-£140/$190 price point and it actually comes in a fair amount cheaper than the competition at just £125/$160. ASRock are equipping all their usual features with this motherboard such as their Purity Sound audio implementation, their Fatal1ty USB gaming port, their Super Alloy power components and a Killer E2200 gaming NIC. This motherboard has fairly similar specifications and features to other motherboards at this price point although this board does have the advantage of offering SATA Express and M.2 whereas a lot of the gaming motherboards at this price point offer only M.2. Full specifications of this motherboard can be seen directly below:

Packaging and Accessories

The packaging lets the Fatal1ty branding take centre stage while offering an overwhelming number of logos on the front that denote features, brands, software and so on.

On the back we can see these explained in more detail with the usual motherboard marketing page we’ve come to expect from all motherboard brands.

Included in terms of documentation is a a couple of user guides for the board and its software, an explanatory brochure for the ASRock Cloud feature, a driver DVD and case badge and a 3 month premium license to XSplit Broadcaster (note this is not the same as the XSplit Gamecaster Premium license a rival vendor includes with their products).

Other accessories included are four SATA cables, a colour coded rear I/O, 2-way SLI bridge, SATA power cable for the HDD saver feature and a screw for the M.2 SSD port.

Rumour: Intel Devil’s Canyon Will Be Z87 Compatible

Devil’s Canyon is the apparent codename for Intel’s newest unlocked K series CPUs that will probably be released on or around Computex 2014 in June according to widely circulated rumours. Devil’s Canyon is expected to include a Core i7 4790K and a Core i5 4690K both of which are supposedly based on Haswell architecture and part of “Haswell Refresh” series from which we’ve already seen a few locked CPUs released. We’ve heard from a lot of sources that there will not be backwards compatibility of Devil’s Canyon CPUs with 8 series motherboards (Z87, Z85, H87, H81, B85, Q87, Q85 etc) because of some hardware level changes in the CPU design such as the way power is delivered.However, one source reports that this is simply not the case and Devil’s Canyon will be compatible with 8 series motherboards.

The lack of compatibility is apparently just a formal thing because the specification of the TDPs do not match up between the revised LGA 1150 socket spec on 9 series and the LGA 1150 8 series socket spec. Therefore Intel is obliged to state incompatibility between 8 series and Devil’s Canyon. However, the difference is a mere 4 watts and apparently motherboard vendors are already validating Devil’s Canyon CPUs in existing 8 series motherboards to great success. Devil’s Canyon is still a fourth generation processor design so Broadwell might still be incompatible with 8 series motherboards even if Devil’s Canyon is compatible. However, this latest development does also call that rumour into question as well.

Source: Hardware.fr

Image courtesy of Hardware.fr

ASUS Republic of Gamers Maximus VII Ranger Z97 (LGA 1150) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


During the launch of Z87 motherboards ASUS surprised a lot of people when they announced their “Hero” SKU of the Republic of Gamers line of motherboards. When the Hero was released it was an extremely popular motherboard simply because it brought an ASUS ROG motherboard into the reaches of most peoples’ budgets. A surprising move because ROG motherboards have traditionally been extremely expensive products that target a fairly niche market. It is unlikely that ASUS ROG would have made this move last generation without the price pressure of rival brands such as Gigabyte, with their G1 Sniper Z87, MSI, with their Z87-G45 Gaming and ASRock, with their Z87 Fatal1ty Killer. All of these competing products have driven the price of gaming motherboards down to the point where gaming motherboards are no longer exclusive or expensive products, but accessible to the fairly mainstream PC user and mainstream budget. Now ASUS have added the Ranger to sit just below the Hero for the Z97 platform which is another smart move given that Gigabyte and MSI have become even more aggressive with the pricing of their Gaming Series motherboards which start at just £100/$140. The main benefit of the ASUS Maximus VII Ranger is that it carries a 10-15% lower price premium (depending on the region and retailer) than the ASUS Maximus VII Hero but drops fairly little in terms of features or specifications. From our discussions with ASUS they have clarified that the main differences between the Hero and the Ranger are that the Hero has:

  • Better power componentry (such as 4 more PWM drivers and 60A ferrite chokes) to provide more efficient power delivery and better overclocking potential
  • Two more SATA III ports via an ASMedia controller for additional storage options
  • A heat pipe joining the two CPU VRM heatsinks to provide more effective cooling and longevity
  • Additional onboard lighting to provide more striking aesthetics
  • A dual colour PCB design which includes red PCB accents around the heatsinks, audio codec and across parts of the motherboard
  • A slightly better bundle which includes a few extra SATA III cables

Of course, while those extras on the Maximus VII Hero are nice and will be useful to a lot of people, they are not essential for the more value-minded user so the Ranger offers a way for users to save a bit of money by opting out of those extra features. That said the Maximus VII Hero and the Ranger both still have a place in the market but it is important to distinguish the differences between the two. We anticipate a fair amount of confusion about the differences between the two models, and we expect consumers interested in the Ranger will be interested in the Hero (and vice versa). Hopefully this has cleared up some of the differences so let us now move onto to taking a look at the specifications of the ASUS Maximus VII Ranger:

Packaging and Accessories

The packaging is the usual high quality we’ve come to expect from ASUS ROG. Once you open up the product you are greeted with a couple of glossy “marketing” sheets on an additional internal box. The basic jist of those can be seen on the product page.

The back details the specifics and features of the motherboard, of course you can find those in full on the product page.

The accessories include an ASUS ROG door hangar, user guide and some cable labels.

ASUS ROG also provide four SATA III ready cables, a black labelled rear I/O and front panel Q Connectors.

Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming 7 (LGA 1150) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


 

Intel’s first Haswell Refresh CPUs have just been recently released, Intel’s Devil’s Canyon (unlocked K series Haswell Refresh) CPUs are expected in just a month or two and rumours going around suggest that Intel’s Broadwell CPUs could even be released this year too – from an enthusiast perspective there has never been a better time to upgrade your motherboard to the latest chipset on the block – Z97. Today we are taking a closer look at our third Z97 motherboard courtesy of Gigabyte, more specifically it is their Z97X-Gaming 7 motherboard which is their top of the range Gaming Series motherboard, although they will have other more premium boards from their Ultra Durable and OC ranges but those aren’t targeted specifically at gamers. For anyone used to the Gigabyte G1 Gaming series of motherboards you may be surprised by two obvious aesthetic changes. The first is the colour scheme has shifted from green and black to red and black. The second is that that G1 Series Bullets and Skulls have been replaced by the “Gigabyte Eye” typically seen on their VGA series products. For some this may be a great move by Gigabyte, moving towards the more desired and traditional “gaming” red and black colours, but for others it might be a bit frustrating to see ASUS, Gigabyte and MSI all offering red and black as the primary colour scheme on their gaming motherboards. What might be even more worrying is that MSI and Gigabyte both have Z97 gaming motherboard models dubbed “Gaming 7”, which will no doubt serve to confuse consumers.

In terms of the feature set we have the usual emphasis on high quality audio and networking which is pretty much the mainstay of the gaming motherboard scene. Additional features include multi-GPU support and the new storage connectivity supported by Intel’s Z97 chipset. All the detailed specifications can be seen in the table below:

Packaging and Accessories

The packaging features Gigabyte’s Eye as the show piece, the box looks very similar to what we might expect if we were unboxing a high end Gigabyte graphics card.

The back introduces some of the key features in more detail, you can see all the details here at the product page.

Included with the motherboard is some documentation and a driver/utility DVD.

The accessories include a black and labelled rear I/O, a couple of Gigabyte stickers, 3 SATA III cables and an SLI cable.

 

ASUS Z97-A (LGA 1150) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


After a lot of messy NDA politics between Intel and the main motherboard vendors the launch day of Intel’s Z97 Express chipset is finally upon us. In respect of our relationship with Intel we have been holding off with publishing our reviews until now and today we have a couple of reviews for you. The first is the entry level ASUS Z97 motherboard, the dash A model. This motherboard will be hitting the market at a fairly affordable £115 or $150 price point making it an attractive price point for entering onto Intel’s new enthusiast Z97 platform. Despite the ASUS Z97-A being fairly affordable it still gets most of the features we will see on higher end motherboards such as M.2, SATA Express, Intel Gigabit LAN and all the new ASUS Z97 (Channel) software features we looked at a while back including the new AI Suite III package with the ASUS Turbo App. Let’s start by taking a closer look at the specifications of the ASUS Z97-A:

Packaging and Accessories

A new motherboard chipset brings a new channel style to the ASUS packaging. We can see yet another major colour scheme and style change a shift from the gold/yellow of the last generation to a more subtle silver/gold. We have also risen up from the 4 Way optimisation on the Z87 series to 5 way optimisation provided by the new Turbo App built into AI Suite III.

The back details some of the new ASUS Z97 Channel features which we covered in a lot more detail here, you can also find them explained further on the ASUS Z97-A product page.

Included is a user guide, feature booklet and driver/utility DVD with Intel case badge.

Accessories include three SATA III cables, of which one is right angled, a plain metal rear I/O, ASUS Q connectors for your front panel connectors and a SLI bridge.

MSI Z97 Gaming 7 (LGA 1150) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


This beautiful looking creation from MSI is our second Z97 motherboard review for this launch day, in addition to the ASUS Z97-A we recently checked out. In contrast to the entry level ASUS Z97-A, the MSI Z97 Gaming 7 jumps straight to the other end of the spectrum and this is a really high end creation aimed specifically at meeting the needs of modern gamers. The MSI Z97 Gaming 7 has all the trademark styling of the MSI Gaming Series as well as the trademark features of a gaming motherboard: a dedicated high performance Gigabit NIC, a custom audio implementation and adequate room for plenty of GPUs to maximise those frame rates. The MSI Z97 Gaming 7 motherboard has a boatload of features: a 12 phase VRM, 8 SATA III ports, support for up to 3 way CrossFire, advanced ALC 1150 Realtek audio and a Killer E2205 Gigabit NIC. Those features mean this motherboard is sure to appeal to a large audience in the same way MSI’s Gaming Series graphics cards have done. With all that said you might expect the MSI Z97 Gaming 7 to be a pricey option, but at just $190 or £140 this is probably the cheapest flagship gaming motherboard I’ve ever seen…so let’s see what it has to offer!

 

Packaging and Accessories

As expected the packaging continues to the MSI Gaming Series theme, the two standout features are of course the Killer E2200 NIC and the up-market audio implementation.

The back of the box gives us a closer look at the features of this motherboard but we invite you to check out the product page if you’re interested in reading more.

The bundle is fairly dense with a user manual, software and application guide, overclocking guide, driver and utility DVD, cable labels and a door hanger.

Furthermore, we get some MSI MConnectors for hooking up your front panel connectors, a padded and styled rear I/O shield, an MSI case badge/sticker, four SATA III cables, an SLI bridge, a power adapter (to convert molex into the audio power input) and voltage checkpoint cables.

ASUS Z97 Motherboard Launch Coverage

Introduction


The official Intel Z97 chipset launch day is finally here but it’s hardly been a surprising arrival. There have been leaks left, right and centre so most of today’s revelations probably won’t come as a surprise to most of our readers. However, this article (as the title suggests) is about the ASUS Z97 launch. ASUS went to great lengths in April to communicate with the global media about what is actually new with their Z97 motherboards. Making people aware of the “new” is important because as some of you may know, the new Haswell Refresh CPUs are not yet ready, we don’t have DDR4 support and the Z97 chipset doesn’t really bring anything new. In fact the Z97 chipset still has 16 PCIe 3.0 lanes, six SATA III and six USB 3.0 ports just like Z87. Don’t let that fool you though, Z97 does bring some new features to the table even if many of these features will be vendor specific. A couple of the more important features that Z97 is pushing are storage related – SATA Express support and PCIe M.2 support. Most vendors will vigorously taking advantage of these and ASUS are certainly no exception.

Today we will be taking an in-depth look at all the Z97 motherboards ASUS are launching today across their three main areas: the Channel Series, the TUF Series and the ROG Series. In this article we will be going through the new features specific to each series before taking a look at each of the motherboards individually. ASUS have certainly pulled out all the stops with Z97 and we can tell that a lot has been learnt from the Z87 generation. Without any further ado let’s proceed to take a look through the ASUS Z97 lineup! Please do skip past any motherboard ranges that are not of interest to you, by the end of it we hope to have given you a good idea of why you might want to upgrade to a (ASUS) Z97 based motherboard.

ASUS B85-Pro Gamer Motherboard Revealed

ASUS have just announced their new B85 gaming motherboard, a stripped out edition of their higher end gaming boards such as the ROG series. You still get all the features you’ll need for a good gaming system, it just won’t be as over the top or expensive. That means those looking for a more cost effective solution should be very excited about this board. More great news is that this board will be dropping the black and gold theme that Asus have been using, their new z87 and B85 range of boards will be utilizing the black and red that has become rather popular recently.

The B85 ATX isn’t exactly lacking in features and features an 8-phase VRM for its LGA 1150 socket. There are four DDR3 DIMM slots, 1 x PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slot, PCI-Express 2.0 x4, three legacy PCI, and two PCI-Express 2.0 x1. There are four SATA 6Gb/s and two SATA 3 Gb/s ports, as well as the usual DVI, D-Sub and HDMI. Like we said, nothing crazy and over the top, but more than enough for a solid mid-high spec gaming system.

Interestingly the board also features the Intel I217V GbE controller, SupremeFX Audio  that sports a 115 dBA SNR CODEC, electrolytic capacitors, a TI-made 300Ω headphones amp, and ground-layer isolation, which are very impressive features to have on any motherboard, especially on one that’s supposed to be more wallet friendly.

Finally you can expect Gamer’s Guardian, ESD dampening circuits, DRAM over-current protection, black solid-state capacitors, Ai-Suite 3 and a whole other host of goodies. Final pricing is unknown, but you can bet it’ll be right along side (or lower) than the MSI B85 Gaming and the ASRock B85 Fatal1ty Killer.

Thank you TechPowerUp for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of TechPowerUp.