Last month Intel made it known that it was to be discontinuing and retiring a whole stack of Ivy Bridge CPUs. The following CPUs are to have their shipments stopped after June 5th 2015, with the last order date being December 24th 2014: the Core i5-3330, i5-3330S, i5-3340, i5-3340S, i5-3470, i5-3475S, i5-3470S, i5-3470T, i5-3550, i5-3570, i5-3570S, i5-3570T, i5-3570K, i7-3770, i7-3770K, i7-3770S and i7-3770T. Now to go alongside that retirement of many Ivy Bridge CPUs Intel will also be discontinuing the bulk of its 7 Series chipsets that support Ivy Bridge CPUs. Z77, H77, Z75 and Q75 chipsets will continue to ship until July 10th 2015 while the last orders will be taken on January 23rd 2015. That means H71 is the only remaining 7 Series chipset to survive after this latest batch of retirements. Intel also announced that it would be retiring a range of mobile Ivy Bridge processors with the same schedule as the aforementioned chipsets. The Celeron 1020M, 1005M, 1000M, 1037U, 1017U, 1007U and 1019Y are all facing the chop.
Today we are examining our second memory kit from GeIL after looking at their lovely EVO POTENZA kit. The DRAGON RAM series is where the kit we’re looking at today comes from and from the above picture it is quite easy to see how the DRAGON theme is working. This is the first time I’ve seen RAM without a heatspreader come with a patterned design, as you can see the pattern is sprayed onto the PCB and the memory chips are secured on top. The DRAGON RAM series offers more moderate speeds compared to the EVO POTENZA and is a bit more budget orientated but still comes with some good looks. The other standout feature is the addition of red LEDs on the module which we will show you on the next page. Looks aside this is a fairly basic CL11 1600MHz kit formed of two 4GB DIMMs, the product is backed by a lifetime warranty so you know you’re getting good quality too.
Packaging and Accessories
The packaging flaunts the DRAGON theme which isn’t surprising as I know the DRAGON theme has been popular on a lot of hardware, one of the main reasons MSI have stuck to it so adamantly on their motherboards.
As you might expect the packaging is fairly simple, the RAM comes in a clear plastic container with a caution notice that warns you to correctly configure the SPD and voltage settings of your RAM before you use it. As it supports XMP it is recommended you just enabled your XMP profile from within the motherboard BIOS if your motherboard supports this.
A Closer Look
The modules themselves are a tad strange. We have a full matte-black PCB but all the memory chips and the main pattern is only present on one side of the module. Let’s see how they look in some motherboards next.
GeIL, or Golden Emperor International Limited, are certainly not a new player in the technology industry even if many people in the “West” have not heard of them. GeIL Memory are veterans of the DRAM industry having made memory products since 1993. GeIL as a broader company also make power supplies under the Thortech Power brand and they make peripherals under the EpicGear brand. Today we are looking at GeIL’s EVO POTENZA memory kit described as a product for “hardcore gamers”. More specifically we have the 16GB 2400MHz kit from GeIL which boasts a lifetime warranty, a beautiful white and black design and full native Intel Z77/Z87/Z97 support with XMP profiles. You can of course use the RAM with other platforms but with such a high frequency those platforms are recommended most.
Packaging and Accessories
The packaging is fairly simple and it can afford to be since this is just memory. The rugged design of the product is the main method of targeting this at gamers.
Included is merely the memory kit with a read me notice on how to configure the SPD and Voltage options. Most people should just enable XMP once you enter the BIOS.
A Closer Look
The modules themselves are fantastic looking pieces. They come with matte black PCBs and slightly raised up white heat spreaders. The black and white contrast is a fantastic look. The heat spreader is made from a textured metal finish, the overall height of the product is 48mm/4.8cm.
G. Skill are at it again releasing another series of RAM with stupidly high speeds. G.Skill have released, or should that be re-released, their Trident X series for Intel’s new Z87 platform. They are offering 2666MHz to 3000MHz kits with 8GB or 4GB DIMMs in sets of two or four.
The top kit runs at 3000MHz with timings of 12-14-14-35 (all other kits share the same timings) and it features four 8GB modules running at 1.65v to maintain stability at such high frequencies. In addition G.Skill tell us that all these kits come with XMP profiles for Z87 and other Intel XMP ready platforms that support these high speeds, aka Z77 Ivy Bridge.
As with all G.Skill memory products they are offering a lifetime warranty and comprehensive customer support. In addition G.Skill puts each of these kits through a rigorous Memtest Pro burn-in test to ensure stability for the end user.
G.Skill didn’t detail pricing but most of these kits are already available on Newegg as they were already available on the Ivy Bridge platform. You’ve certainly got to be loaded, and maybe slightly bonkers, to want to buy one of these kits as the 4 X 8 GB 2933MHz kit costs an eye watering $1699.99.
What are your thoughts on these Trident X kits for Haswell?
A week ago we showed you a CPU-Z validation of an Intel Core i7 4770K at 7GHz with a ridiculously high core voltage of 2.56 volts. This time we have another Intel processor cracking the 7GHz marker but it is a current generation Core i7 3770K. A recent validation showed that the i7 3770K was taken to 7.2GHz with 1.908 volts – in itself still a brutally high core voltage for any CPU.
A base clock of 114.42MHz and a 63 multiplier were used to reach this frequency of 7.2GHz. The motherboard that powered the whole thing was a Gigabyte Z77X-UP7 and a single 4GB DDR3 DIMM at 1200MHz was used to help not stress in the Integrated Memory Controller (IMC).
Mad222 and John222 from HKEPC found this cherry picked Core i7 3770K CPU that helped break the new frequency world record for this CPU model. Interestingly all four cores are still enabled, something we don’t often see with ultra-high overclocks, but hyper-threading was disabled for the purposes of the test.
Another day, another record. What are your thoughts on the i7 3770K reaching 7.2GHz?
Haswell and the Z87 chipset may be on the horizon, but the drive to have motherboards at all price points in the market for Z77 is as fierce as ever. A large number of users are seeking the budget options, both on the grounds of backwards compatibility and also their rich set of features for their competitively low price point. Not too long ago I took a look at two of Asus’ entry level boards – the P8Z77-V and the P8Z77V- LK – both of which impressed me with their performance for a mainstream board and at a really affordable price. This doesn’t stop Asus from making things even more affordable though. Whilst the more expensive -V model had a very rich set of features that covered all grounds for someone that was upgrading their motherboard, both on compatibility and future proofing, the slightly lower spec board does (as expected) drop a few features – including HDMI.
The drop of HDMI is something that one would expect on an entry level board, but with the number of user looking for budget options rising and also the number of monitors that support HDMI rising at all levels, its a wonder why its not a standard feature these days. Fear not though as Asus have thought exactly the same and so this leads us towards the new board that we are looking at today. The Z77-A is an ~£80 board that not only offers up HDMI support out of the box, it also offers gamers features that they would expect on higher level boards with support for two way CrossFireX and SLI.
What may appear to be quite a bland set of accessories is bland for one particular reason. On the entry level end of the spectrum, bundling in tons of accessories does one thing to the price – increase it. On this end of the scale, the likely need for a CrossFire or SLI bridge is comparatively low as well as the need for four or more SATA cables – as a result Asus include the bare essentials which, in turn, helps to keep the price point down.
Whilst at CeBIT earlier in the year, I swung by the MSI booth to see what products they had to show off to the world. Now for most people that attended the show, being able to look around MSI’s booth was not going to be possible as they were situated in an area that was out of bounds to the general public, meaning that only those associated with the industry, like us at eTeknix, could have a look. Whilst on their stand, there was something that caught the eye and in some respect looked a little odd. Typically when we see MSI motherboards from a glance we expect to see the blue or yellow highlighting that appears on their boards, however one cabinet housed something different and in some respects a little bit special.
This change that caught the eye is MSI’s new line of gaming orientated motherboards. The obvious question is why do they stand out so much? Well until now, MSI have stuck with blue or yellow schemes on their boards, but the gaming line use red – which to some is an automatic association with gaming. So why the new line? Well a number of other key players in the market have their own lines of gaming orientated boards, ASRock have the Fatal1ty association, Asus have Republic of Gamers (ROG), Gigabyte have G.1 and now MSI have Gaming. Essentially these new boards from MSI are tweaked and tuned variants of the standard Z77 range so at their heart they have a very similar product spec, but they feature some components that will benefit gamers during their online battles. The most notable of these is a NIC from BigFoot networks – the Killer E2200- which reduces in game latency by prioritising game traffic over other network communications.
MSI’s box, features a bold dragon on the front and everything is pointing towards the gaming aspect. A new MSI gaming logo sits to the right above the product name and on the flap to open the box the tag ‘Just Game!’ is printed. Inside there is a decent accessory set with four SATA cables, an SLI bridge, driver CD (although we recommend going to MSI’s website to get the latest drivers), quick connect headers, voltage check cables, a bold case badge, red and black coloured IO shield and various manuals with a door card for warning others in the house that you’re too busy gaming to pay any other attention.
Following my recent look at one of Asus’ mainstream boards, the P8Z77-V which saw me highly impressed with its feature pack and relatively competitive levels of performance that give some of the higher end board a run for their money, its time to see what else is available in Asus’ mainstream motherboard line-up.
When it comes to needing a new motherboard, not every user needs a top end board and for any manufacturer, targeting the mainstream market with a top end board is a worthless exercise. This is the whole reason why there are product ranges that stem from the rock bottom basic board right up to the top end ROG boards (in Asus’ case) that give every bell and whistle possible to cover every eventuality. Sticking more with the mainstream market though, like we have seen recently with the launch of the 7790, there are a few gaps the are still to be filled in, either of feature sets or price point and in the case of the Asus mainstream line up, this is between the P8Z77-V LX and P8Z77-V.
The P8Z77-V LK offers up the best of both worlds between the entry level and mid range boards and this is both in terms of price and performance. Over the entry level board, we see mre USB3.0 connectivity on the rear I/O along with a DisplayPort output, 7.1ch audio, three PCIe 16x lanes giving the option for up to three way graphics configurations should the need arise and cooling to some of the power phases around the CPU amongst more subtle features. Obviously this is not a high up the ladder as the P8Z77-V so items such as on-board WiFi is not present, but this is the whole point of a board that with in the middle, it offers up the best of both worlds for a certain price point.
Still being effectively a entry to mid level board, there is not the biggest range of accessories included but there are all the basics to get you going including a driver CD, SATA cables, I/O shield and even a SLI bridge as well.
Out of all the different types of hardware that I look at, motherboards – along with graphics cards – tend to be one of those that I look at most often from a wide range of manufacturers. And whilst this is all well and good for the high end enthusiasts and power users out there, for those people that are on a mainstream platform and are not really after all the high end styling and features that go with a top end board [especially the price], there are not that many boards that I have looked at in the grand scheme of things.
In a change to the top end boards that I have been mainly seeing, its time to have a look at something that is geared more towards the mainstream user, both on price and also features. Asus as you may or may not know have seen many boards come through my door and on to the test benches and as it also happens we use their top end boards on all our test benches as they’re regarded as some of the best around. But its not all top end gear that they manufacture, in fact they sell more products for the mainstream user and OEM market than ROG for example.
The P8 series of boards are Asus answer to the mainstream users needs, but whilst these budget boards host some legacy features such as a pair of PCI slots, they still give features that you would expect to see on higher class boards such as Fan Xpert 2 , USB 3.0, over clocking support, SLI and CrossFire support and on-board WiFi.
The large line of features is not the only bundle with this board and inside the box, there is a quite an extensive line-up of accessories for a mainstream board. Alongside the manuals and related bits of paperwork, driver CD and I/O shield, Asus’ include a case badge, easy connect headers, SLI bridge, four SATA cables and a WiFi Go! module which connects to the board in the rear I/O with its external antenna.
EK blocks are well known for making very specialised and niche water cooling products, their latest water block is no exception. EK is introducing a full motherboard water block for ASRock’s premium Z77 motherboard the Extreme 11. The EK-FB ASR Z77 Extreme 11 water block is a complete cooling solution for the entire motherboard which includes the:
Z77 SouthBridge PCH
PLX PEX 8474 PCIe lane splitter
LSI SAS2308 control hub
Power Regulation (VRM and MOSFETs)
As with all EK products, they have opted for a high flow design that allows you to use lower powered or weak pumps. EK has again used high quality materials, the base is made of nickel plated electrolytic copper and the top is made of POM acetal material. Rubber gaskets are used to seal the water block nickel plated brass screw-in standoffs are already preinstalled and allow for easy and trouble-free installation.
While the attention to detail and high quality is excellent, don’t expect it to come at a low price. EK is selling the “EK-FB ASR Z77 Extreme11” to come with an MSRP of €120.95 including VAT, which isn’t terrible given how niche this product is, but it is still definitely a product aimed at the high end user who is really willing to pay the premium for performance and silence.
The item will start shipping on Tuesday, April 16th 2013 and will be available for pre-order through EK Webshop and Partner Reseller Network.
What do you think of EK’s new Water block? Do you have an ASRock Z77 Extreme 11? If so, does this interest you?
MSI has today announced the latest and quite exciting addition to its range of motherboards. The new gaming series of motherboards from MSI covers Intel’s LGA 1155 socket with three motherboards for Z77 and one for B75. This new series of motherboards from MSI will be available well into 2014 despite the release of Haswell being just around the corner, touted for June.
The motherboards have been designed with only one thing in mind, and as the name would suggest that is gaming. MSI have optimised input connections for reduced latency, introduced Sound Blaster audio for better sound in-game and added Killer E2200 networking for reduced gaming lag.
The new gaming series is available in four different motherboards. The best motherboard will be the Z77A-GD65 Gaming which has triple GPU support, followed by the Z77A-G45, then the Z77A-G43 and then the B75-G43. All these motherboards come with MSI Military Class III components and the OC Genie II although it should be noted that the B75 chipset doesn’t allow for overclocking.
So all in all these look like some pretty nice motherboards. The design is played very safe with a mainly black colour scheme that has hints of red while the red dragon on the motherboard heatsink is reasonably understated given some designs we have seen in the past.
What surprises me though is that there is a B75 addition. This seems almost pointless seeing as the B75 chipset doesn’t support CPU overclocking, is aimed at small to medium sized businesses and comes with the Intel Small Business Advantage software and firmware package. Maybe MSI should have opted for a mATX variant instead of a B75 variant.
If you want more specifications, details and images then please check the motherboard series product pages here.
What do you think of these new motherboards from MSI? Is the new design nice? Is the B75 model a good idea?
Every manufacturer of computer components has a particular line of products that stand out above the rest for one reason or another. On the consumer level this is either because of their feature enriched boards that are designed to meet the demands of the everyday user, but more commonly we find boards that are geared towards the high end user such as the power hungry gamer or the overclockers. Overclockers as we know don’t care about how many USB ports a board has or how many different accessories come with the board. What they care about is how well the board clocks and what the manufacturer has done to make it stand out for this reason alone.
MSI have had a number of overclocking boards featured in the past and the Z77 MPower is one of the latest to come off the end of the production line. In essence it is dubbed to be the little brother of the XPower-II line of boards and because of this we see a few traits trickle down to also indicate that its being suited to be paired with their Lightning line of graphics cards.
Like a large number of other MSI products, there are a number of features that we find on the board that descend from other lines such as Military Class III components, OC Genie II and Click BIOS II which is becoming more familiar to us here at eTeknix. One notable point that we do note on the box this time round is the OC certification and this is important for MSI as they have claimed rights to having the world’s first OC certified motherboard. All is looking good for the MPower so far so let’s have a quick look at the box and what we get with the board, then have a closer look on what’s on offer.
Along with the usual array of manuals, product guides and driver discs, we get four SATA cables, a two-way SLI bridge, multimeter connectors for the voltage check points, and a pair of quick connectors for the front panel headers.
The other main item that we find in the box is an antenna for the motherboards on-board WiFi and an extender for those times when a better positioning of the aerial is required.
CeBIT 2013: Its been a busy day here at CeBIT in Hanover, Germany and one of our first meetings has been with MSI. Alongside their huge display comprising of laptops, systems and all-in-ones, they have a range of their motherboards and graphics cards on show. What has caught our eyes is a new colour coded board to their display. Those who follow MSI will know that traditionally they use blue and yellow highlighting for their mainstream and high end boards, but this new set of board that we can see come with red highlights for their gaming range.
This new range is set to lie as a mid point between their mainstream and high end boards and offers up a balance between performance and cost. Thankfully we don’t see any guns, magazines or bullets appearing on the boards, but instead we see a dragon on the chipset cooler with the red highlighting on the black PCB’s
Whilst talking to MSI we also got a sneak preview on something which is up and coming in the tech world – Haswell.
Gigabyte’s top level motherboards have always stood out from the rest of their motherboard offerings, not just on paper with the best specifications that they have to offer, but they also physically stand out with striking designs and colour schemes to suit. To accompany the new UP7, dubbed as “A New Legend Is Born”, we find Intel’s ever popular Z77 chipset, and this combination is set to make this one of Gigabyte’s most powerful consumer boards on the market.
On top of the highly extensive overclocking features within the BIOS, the UP7 offers a large array of physical overclocking benefits including an industry leading 32+3+2 power phase design and high capacity ferrite chokes. But this is not all that we find, to steer the board in the right direction of the modern environment we find other included features such as WiFi and Bluetooth showing the board is right up to date and Gigabyte are giving the customer exactly what they want.
We already know that this is a world record holding board with records repeatedly being smashed by the professionals on a number of grounds, one of which is a whopping 7.102GHz on a 3770k CPU. Furthermore we are expecting this to be one of Gigabyte’s best ever boards with a very high level of performance.