Following suit with the rest of our Black Friday coverage, including Best SSDs and power supplies, we’ve next rounded-up a few honorable mentions in the motherboard department. We're specifically looking at Intel boards today, as deals on AMD boards seemed a bit scarce this year. With the looming obsolescence of the AM3/AM3+ socket, we elected to not include those boards. You’ll notice that, save for sharing a common thread in socket type (all supporting Intel’s latest Skylake processors), these picks vary quite a bit. Be assured though, these boards all have a place. Whether it’s a minimalist, no-frills gaming machine for medium to high settings or a high-end, performance-minded overclocker, there’s a board here for it.
This list comprises the best gaming Intel motherboards for Cyber Monday (and onward), including Z170, B150, H110, and other motherboards.
The Z170 boards in this list are of proven quality, and do come recommended; however, it is worth mentioning that Z170 is not tantamount to "better." A poorly designed Z170 board is not inherently superior than a well-constructed B150 or H1xx, even at a comparable price. There's more to it than the chipset. If you are curious as to what the differences are between Intel's Skylake chipsets, view this H110, H170, & Z170 guide.
Owners of Gigabyte motherboards in the list defined below will now be able to flash BIOS for next-gen Intel CPU support. This includes Kaby Lake processors, which use the same socket type as found on the Z170, H170, H110, and B150 motherboards. Owners or new buyers of these motherboards can make a migration with BIOS updates, as have now been released by a handful of motherboard manufacturers.
Gigabyte and EKWB will be launching limited-time bundles of their new waterblocks and motherboards. The EK-FB GA-Z170X Monoblock will be sold along with the Z170X-GAMING 7-EK motherboard, and the X99-ULTRA GAMING-EK will be bundled with EK-Supremacy EVO X99 monoblock.
The EK-FB GA-Z170X waterblock will provide cooling to CPU and the motherboard’s MOSFETs, all without having to remove the motherboard’s FET heatsinks. Traditional liquid cooling setups do not often cover the FET heatsinks, and the only cooling they get is from tower cooler fans, case fans, or low-hanging vapor chambers.
We're getting close to the June 29 release date of the AMD RX 480 GPU, and we're still tailing the Pascal launch of nVidia's GTX 1080 and GTX 1070. That's planted these last few episodes of Ask GN firmly within graphics territory, with most questions revolving around the pricing and availability of the newest cards.
This episode focuses on the “actual” availability and pricing of the GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 (read: we've been told by AIB partners to expect more supply by mid-late July), pricing, the RX 480 vs. the GTX 970, and more. Some of the topics under the “more” category talk motherboard impact on FPS, UEFI vs. Legacy follow-ups, and PC thermals.
It's gotten a little ridiculous, really. Everyone has some sort of “VR Premium” or “VR Ready” or “VR Certified” badge. Even case manufacturers are finding ways to drop “VR” onto their products. The industry has entered into a frenzy in desperate attempt to capitalize on a new trend, leveraging two letters with mouth-foaming pyrexia to front an appearance of innovation, failing actual innovation.
But it's “VR Ready.”
And so begins the first of the major trends set for 2016 by Computex, tallied in total as: RGB LEDs on everything, VR badges on everything (and unnecessary VR accessories), armor-equipped motherboards, and video cards with needlessly complex power designs.
Day one of our Computex 2016 coverage began and ended with MSI's product lineup. We haven't yet gotten to the VR backpack – that'll come soon enough – but we did go over the new GTX 1080 Twin Frozr VI cards. The MSI HQ also brought to bear its updated X99 motherboards for Broadwell-E. The new BW-E Intel CPUs are compatible with the “old” socket type and chipset from Haswell-E (though firmware will need to be updated on older boards), though most motherboard manufacturers are launching entirely new, refreshed lines to coincide with the BW-E launch.
The new motherboards are branded with the “X99A” prefix/suffix combo. That “A” denotes that the product is part of the new motherboards coinciding with the BW-E launch; it is not an entirely new chipset, just a suffix notation. The boards mentioned in our meetings are of the Titanium (“X99A Titanium”), Gaming (“X99A Gaming Pro Carbon”), and SLI (“X99A SLI Plus”) lines, which cover the high-end enthusiast market, mid-range gaming market, and entry-level X99 market (e.g. 5820K).
MSI today announced its refreshed motherboard lineup for Broadwell-E, featuring a carbon fiber paint-job (not actually carbon fiber, of course) and RGB LED lighting across the board. The motherboard is part of MSI's “Carbon” lineup, identifiable by the Mystic Lights and carbon aesthetic, and is slated for use with Broadwell-E. As with all BW-E motherboards, the X99A Gaming Pro Carbon will host an X99 Extreme Series chipset from Intel.
Gigabyte pleasantly surprised us at PAX East 2016 with a small set of unreleased motherboards. These boards will likely surface about the time that Broadwell-E is released – keep an eye out over the next month – so that means these are all prototypes and that everything here is subject to change. What we were shown appears to be a refresh of the Haswell-E and Skylake boards that are already on the market with the addition of U.2 support.
U.2 is a connector that the Small Form Factor Working Group (SFFWG) decided to rename in 2015. It was formerly called “SFF-8639,” and most of the people that were aware of it worked with servers. Part of the reason it’s making its way to desktop boards is that the form factor provides M.2 PCIe speed combined with the drive mounting flexibility of the old SATA cable. This means that you can have as many U.2 drives as your motherboard has U.2 connectors.
ASRock routinely breaks rules with Intel – like with the SkyOC firmware hack that allows non-K CPU overclocking. In the latest breach, ASRock mentioned Intel's new Core i7-6950X Broadwell-E processor and listed some of its core specs. The CPU will be part of the line replacing Haswell-E (which was the first consumer architecture to host DDR4 memory) and the X99 platform.
Motherboard manufacturer ASRock says that the Intel Core i7-6950X will host 10 physical cores with hyperthreading (total of 20 threads). ASRock indicates that its existing X99 motherboards will be able to leverage a firmware patch to unlock support for Broadwell-E, meaning that HW-E owners may not have to upgrade motherboards if firmware hacks are available. ASRock's will be posted here.
MSI is launching its new Z170A Krait Gaming R6 Siege motherboard, heretofore “mouthful,” in collaboration with Ubisoft. The Krait Gaming R6 Siege is essentially a new version of the existing Z170A Krait Edition. The Krait R6 Siege motherboard will come bundled with Ubisoft’s new Tom Clancy game, Rainbow Six Siege (standard edition), a continuation of the tactical squad shooter series. This promotion starts on December 1st and runs through March 1st, 2016.
We moderate comments on a ~24~48 hour cycle. There will be some delay after submitting a comment.