We haven't seen many boards shipping with pre-installed, soldered CPUs lately. AMD's old E350 series comes to mind as drawing some attention, but that's several years back. That's not to say that the option has vanished from market – it's just been a corner that we don't pay much attention to from the gaming side of the industry.
Over the course of our recent GTX 980 Ti review, we encountered a curious issue with our primary PCI Express port. When connecting graphics cards to the first PCI-e slot, the card wouldn't detect and resolution would be stunted to lower values. Using one of the other slots bypassed this issue, but was unacceptable for multi-GPU configurations – something we eventually tested.
This short posting comes following a reader question pertaining to motherboard selection. Some recent Intel-based motherboards now offer support for USB3.1, which operates at an impressive 10Gbps (equivalent to Thunderbolt 1.0) and uses an insertion-agnostic header. The speed boost is easily utilized when driving external SSDs, which will throttle on the 4.8Gbps cap of USB3.0 – especially after overhead.
MSI was the first to introduce USB3.1 on motherboards earlier this year, demoing the Krait white/black boards at CES 2015. Other manufacturers have moved to offer firmware updates on existing platforms for “unlocking” USB3.1. ASUS is among these, shipping its X99-S motherboards with a natively-supported USB3.1 add-on card.
Motherboard manufacturer Biostar today announced its latest addition to the Hi-Fi family, the B85Z5 motherboard operating on Intel's B85 chipset. The board is usable for 4th-Gen Intel CPUs using the 1150 socket. As with all B85 boards, Biostar's new unit will have somewhat locked overclocking functionality, making it a better partner to non-K SKU CPUs and business users.
During our visit to the MSI Suite at this year’s CES, we were pleased to find two things that we’ve been waiting on for a long time: USB 3.1 and the USB 3.1 type-C interface. The latter appeared on a soon-to-be available Z97A Gaming 6 motherboard. The receptacle is small and close in size to a micro USB connector. Its contacts are inside, mounted on a central piece of molded plastic. The difference between these contacts and those of a micro USB receptacle is that they appear on both sides of the central piece of plastic. This means that when you connect the cable to the receptacle, it works the first time, every time.
Motherboard selection is mercifully less intimidating than picking a laptop for gaming. With boards, we can establish a set of criteria and narrow down the selection immediately to something more manageable; lower prices than other components also make selection somewhat easier to mentally justify. Our criteria for motherboard selection typically includes consideration of socket type, form factor, ability to overclock, and chipset
We've previously published chipset guides for both AMD's latest chipsets and Intel's Haswell chipsets, each of which shows the differentiating features between various inter-platform options. This buyer's guide looks at the best gaming motherboards for Intel's Haswell and Devil's Canyon processors, then AMD's FM2+ platform. AM3+ is not considered in this guide, given its age and our decision to abandon the platform in PC build guides. We've also opted to exclude X99 motherboards from this guide, given the added complexity and entirely different architecture.
We'll start with tables, then cover the things to look for in a motherboard, and then move on to our selections for this season.
Welcome to another edition of our weekend hardware sales roundup. This weekend, we decided to get back to our low budget-minded roots. With the ongoing Great GM204 shortage of 2014 in full swing, I decided to focus on the best deals on low-budget video cards. We found three NVIDIA GPUs and one AMD GPU, as well as a great deal on an Intel upgrade bundle.
Welcome to another addition of our Weekly Hardware Sales round-up. This weekend, we found some sales on a trio of video cards (GTX 770, 750 Ti, and R9 270), a hard drive, and a motherboard.
The first of our more major X99 motherboard coverage comes bearing MSI’s dragon-engraved badge. Intel’s new platform and CPU officially launched on day one of PAX (where we got some video), bringing a new era of $1000 Extreme Series CPUs for professional development and enthusiast rigs. We saw ASUS’ X99 Deluxe board on day one, but didn’t get much of a chance to go in depth.
MSI, EVGA, and Gigabyte also have a presence at PAX Prime 2014, making for a firm hardware showcase at a typically gaming-oriented event. MSI’s booth hosted the X99S XPower AC board, the X99S Gaming 7, and the X99S SLI Plus. We took an extended look at the company’s X99S XPower AC motherboard, home to 5xPCI-e slots, the X99 chipset, M.2 SATA, SATA-e, and one of the biggest VRMs we’ve seen recently.
The show floor presence was much more vibrant for Intel at this year’s PAX Prime. When we visited the company at East, presentation was largely devoted to a few 700-series SSDs, some (very large) gaming notebooks, and that was about it. This event’s booth came equipped with Intel-branded lamp shades over the ceiling lights – a clear indication of the company’s technological progress.
Impressive light diffusion aside, Intel did have fairly exciting lineup of hardware to look at: The i7-5960X had its embargo officially lifted at 9AM PST and made an appearance at the show, ASUS has its new X99-Deluxe boards powering the booth, Alienware, Falcon Northwest, Maingear, and other shops have systems present, and there’s a clear push toward the DIY PC consumer. A huge step in the direction we all want to move.
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