ASUS and SplitmedaLabs have announced a new partnership where they will be bundling the popular streaming software XSplit Gamecaster V2 along with most of their graphics cards. However, not all types of cards will get an equal amount of free time with the software that requires yearly subscriptions.
Pretty much anyone with a AMD Radeon R7, R9 or Fury based graphics card as well as GeForce GTX 600, 700, 900, and Titan series will get the basic 14-days trial with premium features while those with the best of the best cards get even more. After all, those are the likely ones to be streaming. If you got an NVIDIA GeForce 900 or Titan series, or an AMD based R9 or Fury series, then you can sign up for the full year of free premium features.
XSplit Gamecaster V2 is a live streaming and recording application created by SplitmediaLabs that also features a special ASUS GPU Tweak integration. It allows users that are running the ASUS GPU Tweak utility to be able to set custom profiles and view GPU statistics all from within the XSplit Gamecaster overlay. XSplit Gamecaster uses a discreet and unobtrusive in-game overlay, and allows users to add a webcam, activate a green screen transparency effect and share their broadcast to Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ all without leaving the game.
Both ASUS and SplitmediaLabs have their own dedicated mini-page for this, where you can read more on the terms or get started with your free XSplit Gamecaster V2 streaming.
Computex 2015 – Gigabyte might be mostly known for their great motherboards and graphics cards, but they also build systems from SSF to laptops and we stopped by to check out what they brought along to Computex.
Among the displayed systems were some pretty amazing ones powered by Intel Core i7 processors, Nvidia GTX 980 graphics cards with up to 8GB VRAM, fast storage with RAID options as well as stunning high-density displays. With systems like these, you hardly need a stationary system anymore.
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 motherboardfor 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.
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.
Just over a month ago MSI made it known they would be bundling a 6 month premium license to the XSplit game-streaming service with their upcoming Z97 Gaming Series motherboards. Now MSI are opting to extend that offer to their Gaming Series graphics card products on both the Nvidia and AMD branches. Anyone who purchases, or has purchased, an MSI Gaming graphics card between April 15th and May 31st 2014 will be eligible for a key to a 6 month premium XSplit Gamecaster license. The eligible GPUs can be found in the below table and what’s nice to see is that even though MSI are only officially unveiled this offer today, April 24th, they are letting people who bought MSI Gaming series graphics cards up to 2 weeks ago redeem the offer. Of course two weeks is hardly amazing but most complimentary promotions run forward from the day they are announced, not retrospectively.
For those of you who are unaware of what XSplit Gamecaster is, you can find more information in the below video. The shortened explanation of XSplit Gamecaster is that it is a program that allows you to live-stream your gameplay to services such as Twitch, YouTube and USTREAM. It has other features such as allowing you to add a webcam stream onto the game stream, annotate in-game footage and record gameplay as you stream it.
For more information on the MSI promotion you can see this MSI mini-site about it. MSI’s XSplit Gamecaster promotion also extends to their Gaming Series notebooks (Nvidia GeForce 800 based) and, as we’ve already mentioned, the same offer will also be featured on upcoming MSI Z97 Gaming series motherboards.
ASRock just unveiled the mew Killer Series motherboards, having exactly as the name states, killer design and performance. The series is made up of the Z87, B85, 990FX and FM2A88X+, all Killer!
Apart from the ludicrously fast Killer LAN that speeds up networking performances up to 5 times faster, this time ASRock has also added more surprising elements into the game, 990FX Killer is the world’s first motherboard to have a PCIe Gen2 x2/SATA M.2 socket.
The onboard M.2 socket is a new interface for connecting Next Generation Form Factor (NGFF) solid state drives or other devices. ASRock’s 990FX Killer supports M.2 SATA3 6.0Gb/s modules and M.2 PCI Express modules up to Gen2 x2 10Gb/s , which is 2X faster compared to other M.2 Gen2 x1 solutions that are limited to 5 Gb/s. It increases the NGFF SSDs performance while reducing the load time and boosting overall performance.
Other features that are included in the Killer gaming motherboard series include Premium Gold Capacitors, Digi Power, Purity Sound 115dB SNR, Gaming Armor, Key Master, F-Stream and XSplit 3 month premium license which is worth $24.95.
Motherboard full specs:
1 – ASRock Fatal1ty Z87 Killer!
A-Style : Purity Sound, HDMI-In
» CPU Power – Hi-Density Power Connector
» VGA Card – 15μ Gold Finger, SLI/CrossFireX Power Connector
» Internet – Qualcomm Atheros Killer LAN
» Audio – Purity Sound
Supports 4th Gen Intel® Core i7 / i5 / i3 / Xeon® / Pentium® / Celeron® in LGA1150 Package
Premium Gold Capacitor Design, Digi Power, 8 Power Phase Design