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Gigabyte GA-X99-UD4 Motherboard Review

Introduction When it comes to Intel’s Extreme or “Enthusiast” series of motherboards and processors, like the X79 and its Ivy-Bridge-E combo, we seem to get a bit more time between updates. Intel initially launched its X79 Chipset with Sandy-Bridge-E, then 18 months later Ivy-Bridge-E hit store shelves without a major Chipset change. Unlike its mainstream Z series Chipset, which has seen updates almost every 12 months or so (give or take a few months), the X79 chipset is roughly 3 years old now. Today we have the new X99 Chipset which promises a large improvement over its predecessor X79. With the rise of DDR4 memory and demand for faster and larger bandwidth capabilities, it was only a matter of time. As we dig a little deeper today, we will talk a little more about this Chipset later. Along with the new Chipset comes a newly released processor refresh. The X99 Chipset has made some other improvements which now allow users to sport the new Intel Haswell-E Processor. This CPU starts with a 6core for the HT 5820K, 6core for the HT 5930K, and lastly an 8core for the HT 5960X with a Socket 2011-3. Of course with these changes, it has pre-empted the design of new motherboards, so we now have the chance to put the Gigabyte X99-UD4 motherboard to the test and see if the improvements are going to be worth the upgrade.   In recent years, Gigabyte has grown to be one of the most recommended brands. The reputation of great performance to value has put them on ...



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ASRock X99 WS Workstation Board – Review

Introduction With the release of Intel’s X99 platform there has been a groundswell of new boards from every manufacturer. Most of the emphasis has been placed on boards modeled for gaming, thereby leaving boards for professionals to the wayside. Workstation boards offer some unique features and additional GPU support that can be used for gaming or GPGPU functions. With X99 there are even more additions to what is usually an already stacked product line. Not to mention the ability to use the absolute best processors available in a desktop form factor. ASRock was ready to rock and roll on X99 launch day by dropping not one or two boards but instead a full lineup of seven X99 gaming and professional boards. Today we will be looking at the X99WS, a workstation board designed for those that require a bit more than any standard gaming board could provide. We are excited to see what ASRock has in mind for professionals and gamers that take their craft to the max.   About ASROCK ASRock Inc. is established in 2002, specialized in the field of motherboards. ASRock strives to build up its own brand. With the 3C design concept, “Creativity, Consideration, Cost-effectiveness”, the company explores the limit of motherboards manufacturing while paying attention on the eco issue at the same time, developing products with the consideration of eco-friendly concept. ASRock has been growing fast and become world third largest motherboard brand with headquarter in Taipei, Taiwan and...



MSI® Z97S SLI Krait Edition – Dare to be different

Dare to be different Get Inspired by the new MSI® Z97S SLI Krait Edition MSI, world leader in motherboard technology, is proud to announce its latest motherboard, the Z97S SLI Krait Edition. Inspired by and developed in cooperation with the world’s elite case modders, the new Z97S SLI Krait Edition is equipped with an arsenal of new features, improvements like NVIDIA® SLI™ certified for enthusiasts looking to pair up multiple graphics cards. On-board M.2 and SATA Express provides the latest storage technology with transfer speeds up to 10 Gb/s, with flexible solutions for using preferred devices. Military Class 4 provide all the stability you need through carefully selected and thoroughly tested components and materials. The Z97S SLI Krait Edition motherboard caters to those looking for a feature rich motherboard with a unique look & feel. Perfect for case modding Looking for that creative, one-off build? The new black & white design instantly adds a touch of class to a sophisticated build. The new MSI Z97S SLI Krait Edition has been purposely designed together with the most elite case modders to meet the demands of community who craved a pure black and white motherboard. Optimized for multiple graphics cards MSI motherboards feature one or more PCI Express 3.0 slots, perfectly aligned and with enough space for an optimal airflow when using multiple graphics cards. This enables continued maximum graphics performance while you are enjoying the best graphics ju...



BIOSTAR’s J1800NH2 – Feature-Filled Intel SOC Solution

BIOSTAR’s J1800NH2 – Feature-Filled Intel SOC Solution September 9th, 2014, Taipei, Taiwan – BIOSTAR has announced the J1800NH2, a mini ITX mainboard with CPU on board, (known as System on a Chip or SoC). These boards are small and efficient using a small form factor with a fan-less embedded CPU, and have low power consumption. It’s a small, quiet solution for all manner of industrial applications. The BIOSTAR J1800NH2 is the latest in all-in-one board that takes advantage of the optimized performance of Intel’s Bay Trail chipset by delivering a new generation of technology with value-added features and easy integration. The J1800NH2 board, being in the mini-ITX form factor, is backwards compatible with ATX and micro-ATX form factors. The ITX form factor allows you to build small and energy efficient solutions. The J1800NH2 is a simple, affordable and internet centric computer design in a compact 17x17cm size. It is the ideal solution for an ultra small form factor system and easily used with various chassis makes. For the Smart Office situation, the J1800NH2 ITX board will give you a budget saving dual core computing based on the Intel J1800 chips. This is a silent, fan-less design featuring low power consumption. It is perfect for office space saving and creating a neat and tidy office area, and ultra speed data transfers are no problem with the USB 3.0 interface. It also features USB Poly-switch which is BIOSTAR’s on board dedicated power fuse to help preven...



Closer Look 1

ASUS ROG Maximus VII Formula Motherboard Review

Introduction A few months back we took a look at the ASUS Maximus VII Hero Motherboard (HERE) . The Maximus VII Hero, which is part of ASUS’ mid range Republic of Gamer’s line, took home the Editors Choice award for its great performance and outstanding aesthetics. However, that was only the tip of the iceberg for the ROG line up. Today… we have the chance to take a look at ASUS’ flagship motherboard the ASUS Maximus VII Formula. We are really excited to start putting this motherboard to the test. Its aesthetics alone really stand out, especially its Armor Shield. If you are an water cooling enthusiast, the hybrid CrossChill Cooling VRM block is also a great feature. Can the ASUS ROG Maximus VII Formula live up to its little brother the Hero and earn another Editor’s Choice Award? Let’s dive in and take a look.   But before we do, let’s here a word from ASUS. Origin of the Name “Asus” ASUS comes from the last four letters of Pegasus, the winged horse in Greek mythology that represents the inspiration of art and learning. ASUS embodies the strength, creative spirit and purity symbolized by this regal and agile mythical creature, soaring to new heights of quality and innovation with each product it introduces to the market.



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AMD FX-8370 & FX-8370E Processor Review

  Introduction   We all know the woes AMD and their fans have been dealing with over the last few years so we will not be hashing that topic again. We will instead focus on the updated line for what they are, a place holder. They are designed to hold the interest of fans, budget shoppers and gamers until further notice. There have been no grand design changes that will suddenly put AMD on top of the performance heap. Instead, this is a product to cover those that have yet to make the switch from an older AM3 or AM3+ CPU or even a lesser CPU in the current AM3+ product stack. There is also a shift in how the FX series chips line up to the competition. We will move right into the overview and benchmarks that cover the new FX-8370 and FX-8370E 8 core CPUs.   Press Release   Introducing AMD FX Optimized for Power and Efficiency Multi-core processing is the future. Game engines are being designed to do more at a time; particle effects, physics calculations, light rays, and shadows are growing progressively more complex by the day. Large-scale computing now relies more on the overall throughput of parallelism than the singular speed of CPU cores. Today, AMD FX-Series CPUs return to push the boundaries of value to the high-performance desktop platform – introducing the speed-optimized 125W AMD FX-8370 and power-optimized 95W AMD FX-8370E and AMD FX-8320E processors. Featuring the “Piledriver” x86 core architecture, all of our new FX solutions feature...



DirectX 12

DirectX 12 a Big Deal for AMD CPUs?

Back in 2011, AMD made a bold statement with the release of the FX-8150. Their premise was that single core performance was holding the industry back and that it was time to start trading in single core performance for the more advanced multi-threading performamce. That totally blew up in their face. The end result was a CPU that only out performed the previous gen chip (the Phenom II X6 1100T) in multi-threading benchmarks while suffering a hit in the single-threaded arena. Meanwhile, gaming as well as a vast amount of common applications continued to predominantly use single threads and INTEL garnered the massive lead they have today. But what if AMD was right all along and only jumped the gun a few years too soon? PC & Tech Authority had an interview with Crytek, a major game developer, and the resulting discussion shed some very interesting details on what DirectX 12 could mean for the future of multi-threaded performance. The most interesting statement from Crytek was the fact that Microsoft has been “really keen on listening to developers.” The reason why is that developers are the ones who want to utilize more resources from the CPU by having more multi-threaded support. According to Crytek, the main concern not only to them, but also other developers, is improving throughput from the CPU. They explain that for many years now, the best way to move forward is to go massively parallel. There’s more to the picture than just this one piece, but it ...



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Inside the ECS Press Event

LIVE & LIVA ECS (EliteGroup Computer Systems) recently held what they titled the “LIVE, LIVA, LEAD, L337″ press event in San Jose to unveil some new products and to discuss the future of ECS. PureOverclock was one of the lucky few to be invited to attend this event. One of the main products ECS seemed to be most proud of and focused a large amount of their attention to was the LIVA mini PC Kit. LIVA is one of the smallest fully functional PCs capable of running Windows 8.1 I have seen. There are a few models available based on color (Black or White) and Drive space size(32GB or 64GB). The plan is to install the OS and a few other apps on the internal non upgradeable drive and use an external drive for storage, either a USB flash drive or an external Hard drive. I/O options starting from the left are a micro USB for power, Realtek RTL8111G 10/100/1000LAN, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, HDMI and VGA. The tiny passively cooled pc is powered by the 64bit Intel Bay Trail-M N2807 1.58GHz Celeron processor with 2GB DDR3L memory. LIVA is fully capable of pushing dual displays as well. Within the kit is a M.2 WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n + Bluetooth 4.0 card that needs to be installed during assembly. Hey look it is everyone’s favorite song! Let’s sing along! Just kidding please don’t! ECS setup the LIVA to support Karaoke with dual microphones and HD video playback. I will be experimenting with my own LIVA over the coming days to see what I can really do with it. Window...



AMD Fx

AMD Heading In the Right Direction, FX-8370E and Radeon R9 285

AMD doesn’t know how to do teasers right. They make a huge campaign to get people hyped up about an APU that isn’t even a flagship part, but when they release a new flagship FX CPU as well as new GPU architecture, they simply announce a straightforward live event. That’s alright because on the bright side, it looks like AMD is heading in the right direction when competing with Blue and Green. It’s time to get hyped up with the upcoming releases of the FX-8370E and the Radeon R9 285 featuring better power efficiency with better performance. Many of us have been biting our nails in anticipation for AMD to get back in the game with high end FX CPUs. Whether you’re an AMD fan, or just wanting Intel to be challenged to do greater things, the announcement of the FX-8370E is great news. While it’s possible the entire FX line will be getting refreshes over the next year or two, the 8 core chips are the only ones getting the attention for now. The FX-8300 and 8370 are pretty straightforward. There’s some adjustments to frequencies but both are rated at the usual 125w TDP. What is interesting is the new FX “E” chips. The FX-8320E will have the same 3.5 GHz base with a 4.0 GHz turbo, the FX-8370E will slightly boost clock speeds to 4.1 GHz with a 4.3 GHz turbo, but what’s impressive is that they managed to do this at a 95W TDP for both SKUs! Not to mention, the L2/L3 Caches stayed the same while using Piledriver architecture...



BIOSTAR Preparing To Launch New “Hi-Fi Mainboard”

BIOSTAR Preparing To Launch New “Hi-Fi Mainboard” August 11th, Taipei, Taiwan – BIOSTAR is getting ready for the launch of a new Hi-Fi series motherboard, with a brand new outlook design, cutting-edge features and innovative durability enhancements. The board, based on the Intel Z97 chipset will come with key features and BIOSTAR’s exclusive Hi-Fi Audio technology. BIOSTAR’s in-house technology will be evident with features such as Hi-Fi technology, Golden Plated Audio Connectors, 8 Phase Power Design and Super Conductive Heat sinks. In addition, the board will feature new BIOSTAR innovations that improve durability and stability such as Super Rapid Debug3, Super Durable Box Headers, Super Durable Solid Capacitors and Super Durable Ferrite Chokes. About BIOSTAR BIOSTAR, a manufacturer dedicates in motherboards, graphics cards and industrial computing systems. Since its establishment in 1986, the BIOSTAR GROUP has become a major motherboard supplier in the PC industry. In order to pursue continuous growth, BIOSTAR has invested heavily in acquiring the physical and human resources to excel at research and development. With a constant emphasis on quality, BIOSTAR always seeks to offer products with the highest price-performance ratio.  



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Biostar HiFi Z97WE Motherboard Review

Introduction The Z97 chipset motherboards have now gone into full swing, and with the Haswell refresh we saw a lot of new flavor in motherboard choices this time around. Today, we are going to be looking at the Biostar HiFi Z97WE Motherboard. At first glance, we have to be honest here… we didn’t really like the color combination Biostar used with the HiFi Z97WE Motherboard. The gold heatsinks with its yellow and black accents really don’t go well together aesthetically speaking. However, putting the aesthetics aside we are going to put the Biostar HiFi Z97WE to the test in terms of performance and see how well it stacks up with other Z97 Motherboards we have already tested. So before we dive in for a closer look, let’s talk about who Biostar is: In 1980,the IT industry was growing at a phenomenal rate. With wide experience in buying and selling electronic parts as well as researching on future demands for mainboards and add-on cards , the founder of BIOSTAR GROUP,established BIOSTAR MICROTECH INTERNATIONAL CORP in 1986. In the early years, BIOSTAR concentrated on the manufacture of mainboards built for XT form factor. To maintain steady business growth, BIOSTAR managed to keep a large portion of its capital and manpower invested on the design and development of new products, which at the same time has enabled it to stay competitive in the rapid evolution of the computer industry. BIOSTAR has enriched its competence in the design and manufacture of p...



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Wait for it… A NEW FX CPU!!!

Last week I told you not to get your hopes up about the AMD teasers floating around. This week, I’m glad I said as much because news has come out about what AMD is supposed to be releasing. Actually, there are several somethings announced with an FX processor only being a tidbit of the new CPUs coming in Q3 of this year. Am I saying I’m glad because we were all going to be disappointed? On the contrary, I’m actually saying that I’m much happier today because it seems like AMD is finally living up to the teasers rather than building hype. Let’s look at the chips for the FM2+ socket. On the APU side, AMD is releasing the A10-7800, the A8-7600 and the A6-7400K. It’s pretty safe to say that these variants will most likely add more selection to the 7k series APU line up and not much else. The Athlon CPUs, on the other hand, might be offering some improvements. The Athlons feature the X4 860K, X4 840 and the X2 450. While info is limited, the flagship chip here will clock in at 3.7 GHz with a possible boost of 4.0 GHz and will also have a 2MB L2 cache at 95W TDP. What will be interesting to find out is if AMD “evolved” the architecture here. If you remember, the teaser talked about a hero evolving and regardless of the details, the new naming scheme would indicate that these chips have at least been optimized to increase performance. However, when I think of hero chips, budget CPUs aren’t the first thing to come to mind. Find...



Closer Look 2

MSI Z97 Gaming 9 AC Motherboard Review

A few months ago we had the honor of reviewing the new MSI Z97 Gaming 5 motherboards during the launch of the Z97 chipset. Today, we are here again to look at another MSI motherboard. We have MSI's flagship Gaming Motherboard the MSI Z97 Gaming 9 AC. At first glance the MSI Z97 Gaming 9 AC motherboard looks rather close aesthetically to the Gaming 5 we reviewed. While the looks are similiar, the Gaming 9 has some additional features and aesthetic improvements that make it stand out on its own. The first obvious improvement on the Gaming 9 motherboard is the shield that covers the rear I/O port section and the isolated PCB for its sound card. During the Z97 chipset many manufacturers started to switch over to using higher quality Japanese capacitors and while the caps were much better in quality they looked rather ugly on many of the new boards. It was nice to see that MSI designed the Gaming 9 series motherboard with the shield to cover up that section making the motherboard look much sexier. Let's dive in and put the MSI Z97 Gaming 9 AC Motherboard to the test and see how it performed against its little brother the Gaming 5. But before we do that, let's talk a little about who MSI is.



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Another AMD Tease but Don’t Get Your Hopes Up

AMD teases are starting to become a bit of a joke. The last exciting release from them (for CPU enthusiasts) was the FX-8350. The chip made some good improvements on the previous Zambezi architecture, but after that things went downhill. Of course the FX-9590 was nothing more than a factory overclocked 8350. AMD announced they were done with the FX lineup. They refused to adopt Steamroller to the FX series. They announced FX but then said it wouldn’t come out til 2016 and finally, they teased an FX chip that was just a 9590 with a new liquid cooler even though they knew that AMD fans are wanting a new FX chip. So when AMD releases a video that says “Core is Back,” you can probably understand why we need to be slightly skeptical. With absolutely no official info, all we know is that there is an A series logo and a possible promotion image that shows 12 cores. At this point, the A series logo seems to negate the possibility of an FX refresh. If that’s the case, then it seems pretty confusing to put this much hype into an APU. While APUs can fill a very appropriate computing niche, they usually don’t make up the kind of material that deserves major hype build up. Enthusiasts would want to see something big so that should leave two options here. Either this is going to be a type of high end APU aimed more at the enthusiasts market, or this is a marketing gimmick to try and pick up sales for something that may not deserve it. This brings us to the ...



Main

ASRock FaTal1ty Z97 Killer Series Motherboard Review

Introduction Over the last few years we have seen ASRock gain movement in the motherboard arena. They have developed and revamped some rock solid motherboards at a very affordable price. In the past, we have seen many flagship motherboards from ASRock that have been top performers when it comes to overclocking and stability. Not only has ASRock performed well in the past, they have great aesthetic appeal too. Today, we have a chance to look at their newest variation from their already popular Fatal1ty series. This is the ASRock Fatal1ty Z97 Killer Series Motherboard. With Haswell’s refresh chipset in full swing, we have tested a number of great performing motherboards. But today, the ASRock Fatal1ty Z97 Killer Series has another advantage in this arena due to its aggressive pricing. So let’s move forward and put this motherboard to the test and see what it can do with our Intel 4770K Haswell Processor.       Just in case you are unfamiliar with ASRock, let’s take a look at who they are first: ASRock Inc. is established in 2002, specialized in the field of motherboards. ASRock strives to build up its own brand. With the 3C design concept, “Creativity, Consideration, Cost-effectiveness”, the company explores the limit of motherboards manufacturing while paying attention on the eco issue at the same time, developing products with the consideration of eco-friendly concept. ASRock has been growing fast and become world third largest motherboard ...






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