Inateck KT9001 USB 3.0 and AC Wi-Fi Expansion Card Review

Introduction


You might be short of some extra USB ports in your system, or maybe you just want another host controller to keep up the transfer speeds on multiple devices at once. Maybe your system doesn’t have a wireless network connection or you just want to upgrade your old 2.4GHz n or lower card to something better.

Inateck’s latest add-on expansion card does all of this in one, and it only takes up a single PCI-Express x1 slot. I’m talking about the Inateck KT9001 USB 3.0 & Wireless LAN card and it is one of the newest products to come from Inateck.

The add-on expansion card provides you with an additional 3 USB 3.0 ports controlled by a Fresco Logic FL1100-1Q0 Host Controller while the dual-band wireless is powered by a Realtek 8812AU Wireless LAN 802.11ac USB controller.

The cards allows your desktop computer to connect to high-speed wireless networks, or create one itself. It uses two antennas for increased wireless performance and stability and can reach great speed on both the 2.4GHz and 5.0 GHz bands. The range is specified to 150m which is what most network equipment is and it supports the 802.11 AC protocol for 300Mbps and 867Mbps connections.

The base chip controlling the entire card is the FL1100EX which is a 4-port USB 3.0 host controller. One of the ports is used to connect the Wireless Signal while the last three are available for the usage of your choice, may it be for your storage drives, peripherals, and other random USB devices.

The controller fully supports UASP for increased bandwidth and doesn’t need any drivers in Windows 8 or newer operating systems. UASP especially helps at multitasking as it can handle more commands at the same time compared to BOT connections and also increases the overall throughput.

On the rear IO, you’ll find two LEDs to give you an insight into the WiFi cards actions, a power and an act LED. The two antennas are detachable and the connections are can be covered with the included plastic caps when not used.

The black IO shield is a nice touch as the majority of users will have black PC cases and this card will match that perfectly. The white print is bright and easy to read even in the darkness that reigns behind a PC.

Inateck always includes a little more in the package that you need. This time it contains two screws in case you should have lost one from your chassis or it comes without. A simple thing, but one that is great to have when needed. Else you’ll find a driver disk for Windows 7 users, a manual, two antennas, and the expansion card itself.

Realtek DRAGON LAN Chip Spotted

The onboard Local Area Network (LAN) is a massively overlooked part of your system; most users tend to buy on the impulse of shiny heatsinks, colour scheme or maybe because it has so many USB 3.1 ports. Despite the lack of consumer interest, companies manufacturer ultra high-speed LAN chips which offer consumers the best in wired internet connections.

Realtek is one of the oldest in the business, along with Intel and Killer (Qualcomm), the three dominate the LAN option market. Up until recent, Killer has held the top spot for gamers with some of the best connections available, regularly hitting within 90% of the listed speeds. Well, now Realtek has produced a new chip, dubbed “Dragon”.

The current RTL8111 chip is aging and lagging behind the competitors, Dragon is based on the new RTL8118AS design. Realtek states is has made numerous improvements over the previous generations, set to offer better performance for traffic with small UDP packets; which incidentally is how most online multiplayer games send information.

Along with the new name comes a new branding logo, which manufacturers will be able to print directly onto the PCB instead of the entire company name. The new chip is set to launch on the upcoming LGA1151 motherboards from ECS.

Are you using onboard LAN networking? What brand is it? Let us know in the comments

Thank you to Anandtech via TechPowerUp for providing us with this information.

Gigabyte BRIX GB-BXi5H-5200 Review

Introduction


Today we are taking a look at Gigabyte’s Intel i5 5200U powered BRIX. Gigabyte has an impressive array of BRIX models that come in at all different performance levels with many CPU options and even options with discrete GPUs. The small form factor computer business has been exploding the last few years due in part with parts shrinking and their abilities skyrocketing. Many people have been buying small form factor units deciding to use them as business or daily workstations due to the low power consumption, helping to lower costs. Others love these small boxes for use as home theater PCs (HTPCs) since they can be tucked out of the way and will generally not be heard over ambient sound in the home theater. The specs for this BRIX look promising for use in both situations so let’s take a closer look and see just how well it would perform in these tasks.

Specifications
  • Name: Gigabyte BRIX GB-BXi5H-5200
  • CPU: Intel i5 5200U (2C/4T, 2.2 GHz w/ 2.7 GHz Max Turbo, 14nm, 15W)
  • 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 5500
  • LAN: Realtek RTL8111G 10/100/1000/Gigabit Base T
  • WLAN: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Built-in Bluetooth V4.0
  • I/O: 4x USB3.0, 1x HDMI, 1x Mini isplayPort, Headphone-out, Microphone in, RJ-45/GbE LAN
  • OS: Supplied Barebones, Windows 10 preview used in this review
  • Warranty: 1 Year
  • Price: $364.99

Retail Packaging

Printed materials and hardware that the BRIX comes with. You will get a power adapter and power cord to hook up the BRIX as well as all the screws that you will need to mount your SSD or HDD and use the VESA mount if you wish. The DVD and printed materials are toss away materials in my opinion since the most up to date drivers and materials can be downloaded from the support website.

CPU-Z

GPU-Z

Club3D Multi Streaming Transport Hub and Docking Station Review

Introduction


There is no doubt that playing games and working is filled with a lot more joy and pleasure when you have more than one monitor connected. You need to use ALT+TAB a lot less to view everything, can have source code on one screen and the result on another, or just keep an eye on your instant messages and emails while you’re gaming. It’s all possible and once you got used to it, then you’ll miss it immensely when you don’t have it.

It can however end up costing you even more that you need a graphics card with just the right amount of outputs and connectors to match your monitor and this is where Club 3D comes to your rescue with two devices in the Sense Vision series. The MST-HUB is a multi-stream transport hub that morphs your one DisplayPort into three and the Y-cabled Docking station that takes one mDP and one USB 3.0 port and turns it into two mDP ports, three USB 3.0 ports, and one Gigabit Ethernet port.

The number of supported displays depends on the bandwidth available. The MST hub is using the ST Micro STDP 4320 which supports DisplayPort 1.2a specifications with support for up to 21.6Gbps of bandwidth. How much you have depends on your output device. With this kind of bandwidth at your disposal, you can easily run four full HD monitors at 60Hz and 32-bit colour depth and still have extra bandwidth to spare, and that from a single onboard connector.

The Club 3D MST hub can help with more, for example if you got a 4K monitor of the cheaper kind that only can do 30Hz. You can use the MST hub and resolve this by combining two screen resolutions of 1920×2160 at 60Hz to obtain a native 3840×2160 60Hz resolution by using two DisplayPort cables. This is particular useful of you only have one display port out to begin with and no way to attach two DisplayPort cables to your system, doesn’t help if the monitor has it.

Even if you don’t have a DisplayPort capable monitor the MST hub can help you, but you will need adapters to connect them. The Club3D MSTY Hub is a DP++ device which means that it can actively convert the DisplayPort signal to other types of display interfaces. An active adapter isn’t required, a passive is enough with this hub. Just keep in mind that passive adapters have a resolution limitation of 1920×1200.

AMD created Eyefinity with up to 6 displays, but Club 3d takes it to the next level as you only need a graphics card with two DisplayPort connectors and two of these MST hubs to achieve just that, being able to connect 6 monitors for the ultimate multi-screen setup.

Ultrabooks and notebooks also become more powerful with each generation, but the often only come with one display port. With the MST hub, you can easily connect multiple monitors to those and best of all, you only need to unplug one cable when you take your system with you on the go.

Features

  • Standards compliance/support:displayport v1.2a, displayport v1.1a,VESA DDM
  • Standard,HDCP V2.0,DisplayId,and EDID V1.4
  • Supports main link rates of 5.4 bps(HBR2),2.7 bps(HBR)and 1.62 bps(RBR) from source
  • Supports 1/2/4 lanes of main link for RX side
  • Supports three DP++ output port, or two dual-link DVI ports, or the combination of ports
  • For DP 1.2a source,supports DP1.2a MST multi video/audio steams
  • Supports 1.1 source, supports ViewXpand
  • Supports DP-DP Bypass mode
  • Supports AUX-CH enables SBM and I2C mapping over AUX between the source/sink and device
  • Dedicated I2C slave for main processor to access the device
  • Supported output resolution: up to 2560X1600@60Hz each monitor in DP1.2 MST and up to FHD/1080p in DP1.1 or DP 1.2 SST. With DP resolutions up to FHD (4K x 2K) @60Hz, 24bpp, but limited by DP bandwidth).
  • Input pixel data depth 6/8/10/12 bits and supports output pixel format RGB444
  • Advance WideEye SerDes technology
  • Adaptive Sync technology

ASRock Announced a mITX-board With LGA2011v3 and Quad-Channel Memory

A powerful server doesn’t necessarily need to be a huge monster of a beast and ASRock proves that once again by cramming not just an Intel LGA2011 v3 socket and a C612 chipset onto a tiny mini ITX motherboard, they also managed to cram in support for quad-channel DDR4 memory.

The new ASRock motherboard is named the EPC612D4I and supports Intel’s Xeon E5 V3 series processors. Being what it is, the board takes SO-DIMM DDR4 memory modules and that might be the biggest problem right now. There aren’t really any SO-DIMM DDR4 modules released yet, but that is surely going to change soon as the new memory standard takes off and enters the mainstream to replace the current DDR3 models.

The board features an onboard graphics solution powered by the ASpeed chip and it provides analog display output with a resolution up to 2048 x 1536 next to a dedicated IPMI RJ45 port powered by a Realtek RTL8211E chip. It also comes with onboard dual Intel Gigabit Ethernet network, four SATA 3 ports, and a PCIe 3.0 x16 expansion slot. It has both a USB 3.0 header as well as an onboard plug for building a flash module right into your system.

Specification Highlights

  • Mini ITX 6.7″ x 6.7″
  • Socket LGA 2011 R3 Intel Xeon processor E5-1600/2600 v3 series
  • Supports Quad channel DDR4 2133/1866 ECC DIMM, 4 x SO-DIMM slots
  • Support 4 SATA3 by C612
  • Supports 1 x PCIe 3.0 x16
  • Integrated IPMI 2.0 with KVM and Dedicated LAN (RTL8211E)
  • Supports Intel® Dual GLAN ( Intel® i210 + Intel® i217 )

Thecus N5810 Pro Zero-Crash 5-Bay High-Performance NAS Review

Introduction


Thecus have created a new NAS that is something just a little bit special, if not a lot of special. It looks pretty normal on the surface, but it comes packed full of great features, plenty of storage abilities, and with connectivity options as they’re rarely seen.

The new Thecus Zero-Crash N5810 Pro isn’t your everyday NAS, it is one that comes with superior performance, unmatched security, and with built-in mini-UPS. The N5810 Pro is a 5-bay unit and this is an NAS form-factor that is increasing in popularity due to the option for an extra hot-spare, or just the extra capacity.

Let us dive right into the hardware specification, because they are worth highlighting. At the core of the unit we find an Intel Celeron J1900 quad-core SoC processor with 2GHz and the N5810 Pro comes equipped with 4GB DDR3 RAM right out the box. You don’t need to worry about having to upgrade your NAS right away with that kind of RAM, it is easily enough to run all the apps and service you want at the same time.

Where other NAS devices come with two and sometimes four LAN ports, Thecus added one extra and equipped this unit with a total of five Gigabit Ethernet ports. There is full support for all types of Link Aggregation and Fail-over, leaving the setup completely up to you. Maximum performance, redundancy, or you could even use it as an access point if you wanted to.

It has three USB 3.0 ports where one of them is located on the front for quick and easy backups. The last two are on the rear side with the rest of the connections such as two USB 2.0 ports, one HDMI port, and a Line-Out 3.5mm audio jack.

Thecus equipped the N5810 Pro with an internal 130W power supply. I really like the use of internal power supplies over the external power bricks, although the bricks are easier to replace if they should fail. Thecus also thought about that and made the PSU removable from the rear of the unit. It isn’t as easy as getting a new universal AC/DC adapter, but it’s close.

Another really awesome feature in this high-end NAS is the built-in mini-UPS with a removable battery. Again you save yourself having to get another piece of hardware and find room to place it near the NAS. You also save yourself the connecting and setting it up as everything is built-in. If the NAS should lose power, it will safely shut down without loss or corruption of your data. You can define the settings whether it should stay off or resume where it left off once the power is back.

The N5810 Pro NAS is placed on four large rubber feet that prevent any vibration from the mechanical hard drives to move onto whatever piece of furniture the NAS is placed on. They lift the unit far enough off the ground that it also has some extra air vents on the bottom that help to draw in more fresh and cold air for the system. The stickers with serial and product numbers are hidden away on the bottom if you should need those.

Security is an ever-growing issue and Thecus has this side of things handled with both their choice hardware, software and the physical build. Thecus has partnered with McAfee and bundled their Antivirus with the unit to keep the NAS save from itself. Those who prefer the private connections don’t need to worry either as the NAS fully supports VPN connections with the built-in server module.

Keeping the files safe means more than just to protect them from viruses and malware, and Thecus also has all the other sides of the story covered. The N5810 Pro supports scheduled Rsync backups and also comes bundled with Acronis True Image software for advanced one-click protection. Snapshot backup is equally supported with BTRFS support for subvolumes and easy rollback or restoration.

Those who wish to store their backup in the cloud are covered with support for DropBox, Amazon S3, and ElephantDrive. If that still isn’t enough, Thecus also supports data burn directly to CD, DVD, and Blu-ray disks with Data Burn. You can also choose to just ‘burn’ ISO files as another way of backing up your files. You can even clone entire disks with the NAS.

The five drive caddies can all be locked individually and Thecus included a total of four keys with this unit. Enough for even the most clumsy people that forget or lose them. The caddie’s base is built from steel and covered with a plastic encasing that holds the locking system and two LEDs. Thecus places padding inside the caddies to prevent damage to your drives and possible short-outs from the PCB touching the caddy. They support both 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch drives, so you’re covered no matter what drive you want to use, whether it’s small or big hard disks or even solid state drivers.

Thecus also built in a LCM display with four buttons on the front: enter, escape, up, and down. This not only allows you to view the current configuration, but also change settings. Not to worry, you’ll have to enter a password via the buttons in order to access that part.

Mobile connectivity is also supported with the T-OnTheGo and T-Dashboard apps. When I read those names I always think of Telecom first, but the T stands for Thecus in this case. You can connect from your iOS or Android device for up and downloading files, streaming media, or just to keep an eye on the device itself.

You can even turn the N5810 Pro into a direct multimedia hub for your living toom with the built-in HDMI. Connect it directly to your TV for device management, web browsing with Flash support, and also the most important function, HD video playback. No need to watch your movies on the PC monitor or have an extra HTPC running, just use your NAS. It also features a line-out connection to get the sound out to other devices if your monitor doesn’t have built-in speakers.

Gigabyte Rolls out the 990XA-UD3 R5 Socket AM3+ Motherboard

Gigabyte has announced that it has recently added a new socket AM3+ motherboard to its lineup. The motherboard is set to support all AMD AM3+ FX processors and AM3 Athlon/Phenom II CPUs, while also supporting 2-way SLI or Crossfire.

The company has based the motherboard on the AMD 990X chipset, featuring a SB950 southbridge chip. Realtek takes the center stage in High Definition Audio Codecs for the 990XA-UD3 R5, coming with a Realtek ALC1150 codec chip, which is said to deliver exceptional audio listening experience with up to 115dB SNR. Also, Realtek has added an isolated audio circuit to its chip in order to provide the best possible audio quality.

The 990XA-UD3 R5 is said to provide 2x Copper PCBs in order to deliver enough power trace paths between components to handle higher than normal power loads and remove heat from critical CPU power delivery area. The motherboard also comes with two PCI-Express 2.0 x16 slots (8x / 8x), one PCIe 2.0 x16 (x4 and towed to the southbridge), one PCIe 2.0 x1 slot and two legacy PCI slots.

Gigabyte is said to have made the motherboard available at a recommended price of $125.

Thank you Guru3D for providing us with this information

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.

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 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).

MSI Announces The H81M-E35 V2 Motherboard

MSI has released the H81M-E35 V2 motherboard, an M-ATX board featuring a LGA 1150 socket and support for Intel’s Haswell processors. The main feature of this motherboard is its Military Class 4 components, having Humidity Protectionm ESD Protection EMI Protection and High Temperature Protection.

Looking at the motherboard’s technical specs, we can see it has support for the latest 4th generation Intel core (i3, i5, i7), including Pentium and Celeron processors. However, the motherboard has entry-level features due to its two DIMM RAM sockets and the presence of only one PCIe socket. The DDR3 RAM modules can work in dual channel with up to 1600 MHz frequency. Also take into account that its PCIe is 2.0, not 3.0.

Other features consist of two PCIe x1 and one PCI slot for additional components such as NICs, wireless adapters, and so on. In terms of SATA connectors, it has two SATA-III and two SATA-II ports which the user can use to easily install a RAID HDD and SSD configuration using the SATA-III and other peripheral devices such as optical drives with the help of the SATA-II ports.

The back of the motherboard reveals two PS/2 for keyboard and mouse peripherals, although very few keyboards and mice use the PS/2 technology nowadays. The USB configuration is made out of four USB 3.0 ports (with additional support for two more in the front) and two USB 2.0 ports, having the possibility of adding an extra four on the front.

The motherboards NIC is 10/100/1000 Mbps compatible and is controlled by a Realtek RTL8111G chip, while we can also find a Realtek ALC887 chip capable of 7.1 channel support on the motherboard as well. And with an Intel HD graphics processor, the H81M-E35 V2 also provides one HDMI, one DVI and one VGA port having support for 4K UHD display.

MSI is providing the OC Genie 4 for a quick 1 second overclock feature, along with its Command Center tool and Click Bios 4 for easy PC customization and Fast Boot for a quick startup process.

All in all, the MSI H81M-E35 V2 is a handy motherboard, though it is not suited for gaming or overclocking purposes. The price has yet to be announced, though we are expecting it to hit the shelves at a price tag of less than $100.

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

ASRock Z87M Extreme4 (LGA 1150) Motherboard Review

Introduction


Intel’s Z87 chipset may be aimed at high end consumers and power users but the reality is the majority of people who use the Z87 chipset don’t need as much connectivity as is offered by most of the really high end motherboards. In fact a substantial portion of Z87 users will only have a single graphics card, a couple of storage devices and maybe 4-5 USB devices at the most. That’s where today’s product steps in – the ASRock Z87M Extreme4 motherboard. This motherboard comes in the micro-ATX form factor with a more basic, but still sufficient, array of connectivity. SATA and USB connectivity has been dropped to the bare minimum provided by the Z87 chipset and the PCIe connectivity is optimised for consumers with only a few PCIe devices. Of course it has a competitive price to match this reduction in connectivity and for most consumers the Z87M Extreme4 will still have more than enough connectivity to meet all their needs. High speed memory support, high quality audio, an 8 phase CPU VRM and a UEFI BIOS give this entry-level Z87 motherboard all the high end features most consumers want. Below you can see those specifications more in-depth:

ASRock is offering consumers a broader range of functionality than you’d get from your bog-standard motherboard. ASRock’s new “Home Cloud” feature makes use of the advanced Intel Gigabit LAN to offer you remote desktop support from anywhere with internet access. With ASRock’s Home Cloud you can access all your files, emails, documents or just keep an eye on your PC if someone else is using it.

ASRock are also flaunting their advanced sound implementation of Realtek’s ALC1150 codec which includes 7.1 channel HD audio, a 115 dB SNR DAC with differential amplifier, a Texas Instruments 5532 premium headset amplifier, an EMI shield and PCB isolation shielding.

As with most motherboard vendors ASRock offer (and market) many more features than I could possibly cover in this review so if you want to check out the full range then be sure to do so right here.

GIGABYTE Launches the Z87X-SLI, A Low-Cost Gamer Oriented Motherboard

GIGABYTE has announced a new motherboard supporting the LGA1150 socket for Haswell CPUs, the Z87X-SLI. What makes this motherboard different from all the other gaming-oriented motherboards is that GIGABYTE is targeting gamers who just want to play games and not overclock their gear. The Z87X-SLI comes with all the basic necessities with the addition of SLI support, stripping all the extras and making the motherboard more affordable than the rest.

GIGABYTE has only equipped the Z87X-SLI with six SATA III ports, six USB 3.0 ports along with HDMI (with support of 4K resolution @ 24 Hz), DVI and VGA for display output. To keep the cost down, GIGABYTE has attached the Realtek ALC892 audio codec and Realtek gigabit Ethernet LAN. In terms of expansion slots, it comes with one PCIe 3.0 x16 slot, one PCIe 3.0 x8 slot, three PCIe x1 slots and two legacy PCI slots. In case of SLI, both the PCIe slots will shift to x8/x8 mode.

Looking at the Haswell LGA1150 socket, we see that GIGABYTE has gold-plated it to add better conductibility between the motherboard and CPU (and it also looks good either way). In terms of RAM, the Z87X-SLI provides 4 sockets and a 32 GB of maximum DDR3 RAM support with speeds of up to 3000 MHz O.C. GIGABYTE included a Hardware Monitoring feature as well, having support for System voltage detection, CPU/System temperature detection, fan speed detection, overheating warning, fan fail warning and fan speed control.

The GIGABYTE Z87X-SLI will soon be available in stores for £95 (inc VAT) or $130 in US. Though GIGABYTE is targeting the mid-low budget market, there are quite a lot of motherboards in this price range which are equivalent or more performance-oriented than the Z87X-SLI.

Thank you Chip Loco and GIGABYTE for providing us with this information
Images courtesy of GIGABYTE

ASRock Z87 Extreme6 (LGA 1150) ATX Motherboard Review

Introduction


Despite Z87 being present on the market now since June it is still Intel’s newest consumer desktop platform and offers consumers a lot of cutting edge functionality. Today we have a rather fine looking motherboard that adds to the extensive array of Z87 motherboards available on the market. ASRock’s Z87 Extreme 6 is shooting to be a high end motherboard but at the same time offers a competitive pricing that is more typical of a mid-range Z87 motherboard. ASRock’s Z87 Extreme 6 sits in the ASRock mid-to-high end Z87 segment and offers up a load of high end features like a 12 phase CPU VRM, support for 2 Way SLI or 3 Way CFX, ten SATA III ports, Realtek ALC1150 audio and dual Intel LAN with teaming support. Below you can see a more in depth assessment of the Z87 Extreme 6’s core specifications:

ASRock isn’t just shooting for the enthusiast segment as it offers broader functionality like ASRock’s new “Home Cloud” feature that makes use of the advanced Intel LAN to offer you remote desktop support from anywhere with internet access. With ASRock’s Home Cloud you can access all your files, emails, documents or just keep an eye on your PC if someone else is using it. 

ASRock are also pushing their advanced sound implementation of Realtek’s ALC1150 codec which includes 7.1 channel HD audio, a 115 dB SNR DAC with differential amplifier, a Texas Instruments 5532 premium headset amplifier, an EMI shield and PCB isolation shielding.

A final thing I feel is worth a mention is ASRock’s HDMI-in port, yes in not out (they do also have a HDMI out next to it). This allows you to connect other devices to your monitor or even record/capture the HDMI output of other devices.

 

 

If you want to check out the full range of features then be sure to check the ASRock product page here.

Overclockers UK ‘Ultima 460i Scimitar’ Watercooled Gaming System Review

Introduction


Our look at pre-built systems continues today as we take a step up and look at a fully water-cooled system from the guys over at Overclockers UK. We’ve had a look at a range of systems so far that use off the shelf components that most users would buy and fit themselves, however there is always the scope for more and when it comes to getting more out of your system, custom water cooling loops are the next step. Water cooling for the most part is an uncharted area for a large number of people due to the seemingly complex process that is involved and more so the worry of the system leaking and damaging other components in the build.

Overclockers UK are one of the UK’s biggest hardware retailers, both in their shop at their warehouse in Stoke-On-Trent and more so through their website at www.overclockers.co.uk where this system and much, much more can be found – sadly not including giraffes! Overclockers UK pride themselves in having a large knowledge in overclocking their shop built systems, as their name would suggest and this they pass on to their huge consumer base with their pre-built systems.

The Ultima 460i Scimitar is one of OcUK’s more recent system creations with a hearty amount of power from the latest generation of Intel processors and one of the most powerful graphics cards on the market courtesy of AMD. To top all this off, the system has been overclocked and fully water-cooled with a custom loop, which itself is made up of parts from the biggest names in the water cooling market.

  • Name: Ultima 460i Scimitar 
  • Case: Cooler Master Cosmos II
  • MB: Gigabyte Z87X-OC
  • CPU: Intel Core i7 4770k @ 4.5GHz
  • RAM: 16GB Team Group Vulcan Orange 2133MHz (2x8GB)
  • SSD: 120GB Samsung 840
  • HDD: Seagate Barracuda 2TB
  • GPU: Sapphire Radeon HD 7990 6GB
  • PSU: Corsair TX850W V2
  • ODD: OcUK DVD-RW / Blu Ray Combo
  • Radiators: XSPC EX120 120mm, XSPC EX360 120mm, Hardware Labs Black Ice SR-1 240 120mm
  • CPU Block: XSPC Raystorm
  • GPU Block: EK Water Block EK-FC7990 SE – Acetal
  • Pump: XSPC D5 Vario
  • Reservoir: EK Res X3 250
  • Fittings: XSPC Black Chrome Rotary & Compression
  • Fluid: Mayhems Pastel Orange
  • Fans: 6x Noiseblocker Black Silent Pro PLPS 120mm
  • OS: Optional Windows 7 or 8
  • Warranty: Minimum 24 month Collect and return (36 month optional)
  • Price: £2,764.00 inc VAT

As system specifications go, this is by far the longest and most impressive list that I’ve seen to date, however that is not all, it is also the biggest and heaviest system that I’ve had to haul around the office.

After muscling this hefty system up the stairs (which I will add was inside another box with loads of protective foam and heavy-duty straps around the outside), we find that the original boxes for the motherboard and GPU are included along with all of the manuals and extras for all the system components.

Gigabyte Z87-D3HP (LGA 1150) Motherboard Review

Introduction


Gigabyte’s range of Z87 motherboards have already been a big hit with system builders. In particular two motherboards from that series that we checked out – Z87X-UD3H and Z87X-UD4H which we reviewed here and here – have been very popular. Gigabyte’s series of Z87 motherboards have struck a real chord with those who care about aesthetics but Gigabyte’s motherboards have also impressed with their drive towards higher audio quality and very aggressive pricing.

Today we have a motherboard from Gigabyte that falls slightly below the Z87X-UD3H but still retains that same styling and a relatively high-end feature set for a Z87 motherboard. The raw specifications of this Gigabyte Z87X-D3HP motherboard we have here aren’t that dissimilar from the MSI Z87-G43 motherboard we reviewed recently except this motherboard has a much stronger focus on aesthetics and better connectivity. For a mid-range Z87 motherboard the Z87-D3HP has everything a single GPU system builder could need thanks to Gigabyte’s decision to add abundant connectivity – PCI, extra USB 3.0, Intel (not Realtek) Gigabit Ethernet and 8 channel audio. As with all Z87 motherboards you get the natively provided six SATA III ports and PCIe 3.0 X16 link. Other PCIe connectivity is provided via the Z87 chipset such as a PCIe 2.0 X16 (x4 electrical) slot and a pair of PCIe 1X slots. Below you can see a detailed specification summary:

Computex: Gigabyte Display Z87 OC and OC Force Overclocking Z87 Motherboards

For Z87 Gigabyte has a couple of high end motherboard series in addition to the usual UD3/UD4/UD5 and UD7 models. We have already taken a look at the Z87 G1.Sniper motherboards Gigabyte have on show at Computex 2013 here. Now it is time to take a look at that other high-end motherboard series the aptly named “OC” series. First up we have the GA-Z87X-OC Force motherboard which is designed to be the best of the best of Z87 and LGA 1150 overclocking. This motherboard boasts four way GPU support, Ultra Durable 5 components, an all IR digital power design, dual UEFI BIOS and an extreme heatsink design that features a fan over each. Additionally, the VRM heatsink can be water cooled for even better overclocking cooling.

Gigabyte have really gone to town on the OC Force in terms of overclocking features offering OC Touch, OC Ignition and OC Brace features. Furthermore the DDR3 and PCI Express slots are all gold plated for better conductivity. Despite being an overclocking oriented motherboard Gigabyte have still included other general features such as improved USB charging, dual Intel LAN, Realtek ALC898 audio, a Bluetooth 4.0 and WiFi card and nine system fan headers.

The Gigabyte GA-Z87X-OC is a more “toned down” version of the OC Force. It utilises broadly the same feature set yet this one is more designed to be “less extreme” or more useable as a normal motherboard. As you can ssee the design is a lot more clean and features a lot less heatsink cooling. Yet this motherboard will still overclock very well and you can see just like the OC Force it is decked out with OC buttons, voltage check points and additional power connectors allover the motherboard. This model features only single Intel LAN but has more USb 3.0 ports. It features one less system fan header with 8 and loses the heatsink cooling fans.

Stay tuned to eTeknix for more Computex coverage in our Computex section.

Images courtesy of eTeknix at Computex 2013.