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.

Some PC parts -- CPUs and GPUs -- have tangible benefits: x FPS gained, double-precision performance increased, loading times halved, or similar. Other parts, like PSUs and motherboards, may not have as obvious of advantages. These components are necessary and important parts of a PC, and choosing well enables everything else in the system. For those confused or simply wanting a guide, we occasionally create lists of components – like motherboards – for different needs.

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday fast approaching, we thought it might be helpful to come up with a gaming motherboard buyer’s guide for overclocking and non-overclocking boards. Anyone curious about the specific differences between the Skylake chipsets, check out our coverage here.

This is the Intel-only version of our guide. Another motherboards guide will look separately at AMD's FM2+ motherboards.

Not every machine needs a Z170 motherboard. This fact is often overlooked by builders concerned with potentially limiting themselves in expansion options or framerate – a valid concern – but in instances where overclocking and multi-GPU arrays are not intended, B- and H- chipsets work perfectly. The chipset structure provides a hierarchy of prices for different target markets, with H170, B150, and H110 offering particularly compelling solutions for mainstream gaming PC builds.

Our previous motherboard review looked at Biostar's H170-Z3 board, which uses the H170 chipset and hosts both DDR3L and DDR4 memory slots. Today's review looks at the MSI B150A Gaming Pro motherboard, a business chispet-equipped board targeting the gaming market. MSI's B150A Gaming Pro hits the market at around $120 MSRP, justifying some of its price hike over competing boards by way of RGB LEDs.

This review looks at the power consumption of the B150A Gaming Pro, boot times, board layout, and UEFI power afforded to the user.

Skylake's launch caused some initial curiosity because of its split RAM compatibility. The Skylake memory controller is capable of running both DDR4 and DDR3L memory – but not both simultaneously – and is compatible with platforms hosting both memory slot types. Importantly, DDR3 is not the same as DDR3L (low voltage), so just re-using Z97 platform DDR3 sticks won't necessarily (but could) work with Skylake boards.

Biostar's Hi-Fi H170-Z3 motherboard is among the first options to support both DDR3L and DDR4. With four DIMM slots and two per memory type, you're limited to a single DIMM per channel (dual-channel supported) with a maximum of 2 sticks per configuration. Using DDR4, a maximum memory configuration of 32GB (16GB per slot) is supported, with just 16GB (8GB per slot) on DDR3L.

Today we're reviewing the Hi-Fi H170-Z3. We've gone through the board design, UEFI, and some basic objective tests. Being that the board uses the H170 chipset, overclocking was not possible and not tested.

ASUS is reasonably well-known for their motherboards and graphics cards at budget and high-end price ranges. Today’s topic is the latest ROG motherboard – so it fits into the high-end category – and graphics card. ASUS showed off their Z170 ROG Maximus VIII Extreme/Assembly alongside their Matrix GTX 980 Ti Platinum at IFA in Germany.

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