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CPU & Motherboards
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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 ...



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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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Exciting Speculation, Awesome Teaser, Huge Disappointment

A couple weeks ago, I started speculating that something new was going to happen with the AM3+ socket. When I saw the tweet with a picture of an FX series box, my excitement went through the roof because I felt AMD actually was doing something new. When I found out they were relaunching the FX-9590, my excitement plummeted. While a relaunch isn’t a terrible idea, there are two main problems with this that makes it a failure for hardware enthusiasts in my eyes. The first problem with this relaunch is the choice of cooler. The massive 220w thermal rating is one of the largest in the CPU market, but AMD chose to use a 120mm AIO (presumably one of the Cooler Master Seidons) instead of a more suited 240mm AIO. Don’t get me wrong, the Cooler Master Seidons are decent units, but if AMD wanted to be serious about low temperatures and ANY overclocking possibility at all, the 240mm system would be a bare minimum and I would have preferred to see the Cooler Master Glacer thrown in at a slightly higher price. The other problem on choosing Cooler Master is that while their units have shown good cooling performance, they leave a bit to be desired in the noise department. If this release was designed to excite enthusiasts, most of them will see the noise and heat thresh holds as too much of a gamble to go for this unit. Maybe I’m just being paranoid about the 120mm AIO, but the second thing that bugged me the most was the teaser. I want to say something to EVERY company...



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Gigabyte Z97X-SLI Motherboard Review

Gigabyte as a motherboard manufacturer has been very successful over the last decade, and the last few years have only served to solidify that. In fact, Gigabyte has taken things a step further with their more recent motherboard releases. Their design team has revamped the styling and improved the lineup with feature-rich variations. Giagbyte's popular UDX series motherboards are frequently one of the first considered motherboards on the market since the Z77 release. With Gigabyte's Haswell refresh, the Z97 chipset, they aim to continue that tradition. Today we are going to be looking at the Z97X-SLI motherboard. By the name, it appears Gigabyte has geared this motherboard towards SLI as its defining feature. However, there is more than meets the eye. At a glance, this board looks a little more simplified when compared to the UDX series board. Will it pack the same punch? We are going to put the Z97X-SLI to the test to see how it stacks up to Gigabyte's reputation.



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AMD FX CPUs Plus a New 990FX Board Equals Exciting Speculation

AMD continuously makes the future look better. Their GPU architecture is taking a turn towards power efficiency, their APUs keep pulling out impressive performance for modern games, and HSA still looks like it has a ton of potential for the future of computing. The problem is when the future becomes today, the excitement can turn to disappointment. I’m at a point of no return with the expectations I have for AMD. So far, with the release of new FX series mobile APUs and an interesting new 990FX motherboard, I’m hoping for the possible release of a new AM3+ CPU. At this point, if AMD doesn’t deliver some high end by 2016, there is going to be disappointment. On the other hand, I think some good things are going to happen very soon. First, let’s look at the new release of an FX series APU. AMD hasn’t released these for full review yet, but quite few people got their hands on a few hour preview. Considering that these were being compared to mobile i7s, in most cases the results were impressive. These APUs aren’t blowing away any performance numbers, but let’s take in all considerations. First off, the FX-7600P is only a 35w chip, but the single thread performance is almost to the level of the the previous A10-5800k. That may not sound all that impressive, but the A10 is a massive 100w chip, and has a 4.2Ghz turbo compared to the measly 3.6Ghz turbo of the FX chip! Also, the graphics performance is the best yet with this APU being able...



ASUS Republic of Gamers Launches Wide Array of Products at Computex 2014

ASUS Republic of Gamers Launches Wide Array of Products at Computex 2014 – Gaming focused products include the new G20 desktop, GR8 console PC, GX500 notebook, Maximus VII Formula, Impact and Crossblade Ranger motherboards, plus the Ares III graphics card and SWIFT PG278Q Display – Fremont, CA (June 3, 2014) – ASUS Republic of Gamers (ROG) today displayed at Computex 2014 its new line-up of products for gamers in pursuit of portability, class leading design and extreme performance. These exciting products include the powerhouse G20 small-form-factor desktop, the GR8 that delivers PC gaming power in a console design and the ultra-thin, ultra-cool GX500 gaming notebook. To tantalize gaming and performance enthusiasts, ROG also showcased the flagship Z97-based Maximus VII Formula, Maximus VII Impact mini-ITX powerhouse, Crossblade Ranger — ROG’s first AMD FM2+ gaming motherboard — and the limited-edition Ares III, the world’s fastest graphics card powered by dual Radeon™ Hawaii XT GPUs and cooled by a custom-designed EK water block. Commenting on ROG’s Computex 2014 presentation, ASUS Chairman Jonney Shih said, “Performance is what we live and breathe for at ROG. Our design aesthetics are about creating a sense of pride and belonging, way beyond the use of lines or colors. We take it upon ourselves to transform your desires and imagination into a myriad of products that are both beautiful and powerful — to deliver an epic gaming experience. T...



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Intel does Something Amazing!

The reality is, being on top can get pretty boring. Nothing proves this more than Intel’s CPU market. Lately, all we’ve seen from them is minor improvements using existing architecture trying to give consumers a reason to spend money that hardly anybody has. Instead, people are pretty much buying the Intel latest if they were planning a major upgrade anyway or they have pretty deep pockets. Unfortunately, much of what I was hearing about the Haswell refresh, the Haswell-E, was much of the same, but then I saw one release that absolutely blew my mind. Many of you would be surprised to hear me say say that the eight core i7-5960X chip isn’t all that exciting but before you hack my IP and fry my computer, hear me out. While it’s true this is Intel’s first 8-core consumer chip, the specs are a little bit of a give and take. Eight cores and an L3 cache boost force the sacrifice of a pretty significant amount of frequency. This means we can expect some significant multi-threaded performance, but the single core performance probably won’t be blowing away the charts. At what looks to be around a $1000 price tag, this doesn’t seem to be a worthy investment for the average user/gamer in consumer computing. (Then again, when is it ever at $1000!) The next chip, the i7-5930K, is more of a minor factory boost from the i7-4930K. Since both CPUs have six cores, the trade off is getting a slightly higher frequency and L3 cache, but I wouldn’...



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ASUS Z97 Maximus VII Hero Motherboard Review

ROG is the popular abbreviation for Asus' Republic of Gamers line of PC enthusiast products. The ROG series motherboards started out as the flagship line of the ASUS series motherboards as far back as the X58 chipset. Since then, it has featured the signature red and black aesthetic theme, which has carried on over the last few years, and has continued due to its popularity and success. Since that time, Asus has made several variations of their ROG line for multiple price points. Today, we are going to be looking at the ASUS Z97 Maximus VII Hero. This motherboard is the evolution of the previous Maximus Hero line, which was originally developed for the more budget conscious consumer during the Z87 chipset launch. With on-going success, ASUS continues to bring the Maximus Hero line, which is now feature packed and is available for any board within its price point. Let's put the ASUS Z97 Maximus VII Hero to the test to see if it can meet the great performance that ASUS is known for.



BIOSTAR to Showcase Hi-Fi Z97WE Mainboard at Computex 2014

  BIOSTAR to Showcase Hi-Fi Z97WE Mainboard at Computex 2014 May 21st 2014, Taipei, Taiwan – Computex, 2014, Asia’s largest high-tech event, will run from June 3rd to the 7th this year in Taipei, Taiwan and BIOSTAR will showcase three product families featuring the latest Embedded, PC Mainboard and Graphics Card solutions including Intel’s recent released “Haswell Refresh” processors and 9 Series chipsets in the Nangang Exhibition Hall at Booth L0128. One specific mainboard that BIOSTAR will be showing is the Hi-Fi Z97WE, based on the Intel Z97 chipset with key features such as PCIe M.2 support, Dual GbE LAN and BIOSTAR exclusive Hi-Fi audio technology. The Hi-Fi Z97WE comes with many BIOSTAR in-house features like Hi-Fi audio technology. It is an ATX form factor board that features Intel socket 1150 support. It has 4 memory slots for up to 32GB of RAM. The on-board LAN controller also supports 10/100/1000/2000 with “Teaming” mode. The on-board HDMI supports 4K and 2K resolutions. It includes the usual high-end motherboard features like USB 3.0, HDMI and PCI-E slots, including the newest PCIe development, the M.2 form factor. The M.2 standard is the newest and smallest form factor implementation of the SATA Express interface (which provides support for PCI Express 3.0 and Serial ATA 3.0), with the addition of an internal USB 3.0 interface. It supports multiple functions for add-in cards, including the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, satellite navigation, near fiel...



AMD Embeds Intelligent, Interactive and Immersive Experiences with 2nd Generation AMD Embedded R-Series APUs and CPUs

AMD Embeds Intelligent, Interactive and Immersive Experiences with 2nd Generation AMD Embedded R-Series APUs and CPUs New “Bald Eagle” platform delivers unmatched compute and graphics performance targeting gaming machines, medical imaging, digital signage and other embedded applications Macao, China — G2E 5/20/2014 ​​AMD (NYSE: AMD) today announced the 2nd generation AMD Embedded R-series accelerated processing unit (APU) and CPU family (previously codenamed “Bald Eagle”) for embedded applications. The new solutions are targeted at gaming machines, medical imaging, digital signage, industrial control and automation (IC&A), communications and networking infrastructure that require industry-leading compute and graphics processing technology. “When it comes to compute performance, graphics performance and performance-per-watt, the 2nd generation AMD Embedded R-series family is unique in the embedded market,” said Scott Aylor, corporate vice president and general manager, AMD Embedded Solutions. “The addition of HSA, GCN and power management features enables our customers to create a new world of intelligent, interactive and immersive embedded devices.” The 2nd generation AMD R-series APU and CPU solutions are designed for mid- to high-end visual and parallel compute-intensive embedded applications with support for Linux, RTOS and Windows operating systems. The new solutions range from 2.2–3.6 GHz CPU frequency with max boost, based on AMD’s lates...



BIOSTAR’s A88MQ, A Micro ATX Board That Includes The “6+ Experience” Features

BIOSTAR’s A88MQ, A Micro ATX Board That Includes The “6+ Experience” Features May 19th, 2014, Taipei, Taiwan – BIOSTAR has released the A88MQ motherboard based on the new AMD FM2+ socket design that supports AMD Multi-Core (x4, x2) socket FM2+/FM2 processors AMD A-series/ E2-series processors all in a micro ATX form factor. Using the AMD A88X Chipset, the A88MQ, gives users the options for small build using the MicroATX form factor. It gives 4 DIMM slots supporting DDR3 RAM up to 64GB. It uses the newest SATA3 6Gb/s bus which is twice the speed of previous SATA2. There is also support for AMD Dual Graphics Technology. The A88MQ will give users the 6+ Experience. The first, Audio+ includes audio features from BIOSTAR which are extensive with True Blu-Ray Audio and SPDIF out. The Video+ features support for full HDMI 3D 1080p and a Dual-Link DVI port for resolutions up to 2560×1600. The Speed+ features include support for SmartSpeedLAN which is a free software application that monitors and manages your PC’s network behavior. There is also Charger Booster, the fastest and most efficient charger solution for Apple devices such as iPads and iPhones. Protection+ gives high quality ESD (Electro-Static Discharge) protection for I/O panels. There is also USB Polyswitch which is an on board dedicated power fuse to prevent USB port failures. It prevents USB Port from producing overcurrent and safe guards your system and device lifespan. Durability+ gives you 100% solid...



ECS Launches New Intel® 9-Series, L337 Gaming Motherboard

ECS Launches New Intel® 9-Series, L337 Gaming Motherboard Unbeatable Gaming Headset Performance for Hardcore PC Gamers 11 May 2014, Taipei, Taiwan – The all-new ECS L337 Gaming Z97-MACHINE brings together numerous features and advantages demanded by hardcore PC gamers. It uses the new Intel® Z97 Express Chipset, enabling support for some of the fastest processors available, including Intel® 4th and 5th Generation Core i7, i5, i3 Processors. Z97-MACHINE also ships with Pro Gaming Performance Features, thanks to Extreme Audio combo with ESS SABRE Premier DAC and Sound Blaster Cinema 2, Hybrid Power Module Design, Dual Graphic and Native 4K support, the latest M.2 Expansion for SSD, Intel® Ethernet Gigabit LAN optimization for gaming, and a high quality, extreme tested all components platform and design that is unmatched`1 in the industry. Gaming Focus As a member of the L337 Gaming motherboard family, the Z97-MACHINE benefits from a legacy of ECS’s gamer-friendly design. From start to finish, this motherboard aims to enable better, more enjoyable gaming on a PC at a great starting price for players looking for excellent performance at an even better value. Premium Hardware Design: Hybrid Power L337 Exclusive Hybrid Power yields a fantastic overclocking experience for enthusiasts. Featuring Dual Advanced MOSFETs provides up to 90% power efficiency, which allows for extreme heat dissipation with the optimal combination of fast switching, highly efficient power conversi...



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MSI Z97 Gaming 5 Motherboard Review

With the new Intel Processors on the horizon, motherboard manufacturers have gone into full force with the new updated chipsets. Today we are going to be looking at the MSI Z97 Gaming 5 Motherboard. MSI really took the market strong since its release of the Z77 Gaming addition motherboards and has since grown its gamer series design into multiple platforms. With the Z87 chipset, MSI really made some great improvements not only in their design and aesthetics, but they also really stepped it up with an intuitive software system and improved GUI interface across the board. Today, we are going to put their newly developed MSI Z97 Gaming 5 motherboard to the test. While the Gaming 5 is not the flagship motherboard, we are still very excited to see what updates this will bring to the future. Let's dive right in!



BIOSTAR has introduced Hi-Fi Z97WE, the Intel’s next generation Haswell based motherboard

  BIOSTAR Brings Out Hi-Fi Z97WE Mainboard, With Intel Smart Technologies May 9th, 2014, Taipei, Taiwan – BIOSTAR, maker of embedded/IPC solutions, graphics cards, and motherboards has introduced Intel’s next generation Haswell based motherboard, the Hi-Fi Z97WE. It comes with many BIOSTAR in-house features such as “Hi-Fi” audio technology. The Hi-Fi Z97WE is an ATX form factor board that features Intel socket 1150 support. It has 4 memory slots for up to 32GB of RAM. The on-board LAN controller also supports 10/100/1000/2000 with “Teaming” mode. The on-board HDMI supports 4K and 2K resolutions. It includes the usual high-end motherboard features like USB 3.0, HDMI and PCI-E slots, as well as the newest PCIe development, the “M.2” form factor. The M.2 standard is the newest and smallest form factor implementation of the SATA Express interface (which provides support for PCI Express 3.0 and Serial ATA 3.0), with the addition of an internal USB 3.0 interface. It supports multiple functions for add-in cards, including the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, satellite navigation, near field communication (NFC), digital radio, Wireless Gigabit Alliance (WiGig), wireless WAN (WWAN), and solid-state drives (SSDs). But being a BIOSTAR board, there is a premium set of features including the company’s unique “Hi-Fi” technology. All the BIOSTAR Hi-Fi series motherboards are equipped with isolate circuit design and high quality components to ensure the best possible audio qua...






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