Summer's supposed to be all fun and games, but it's been anything but for the world's largest motherboard manufacturers. Asus, for example, saw July revenues climb 11.83 percent sequentially ($727 million), which is less than the company was expecting. Hey, at least it was a move in the right direction.
The same can't be said for ECS and MSI, both of which posted revenue drops for the month. The only company that didn't have a rough time in July is Gigabyte, which noted a healthy 44.4 percent sequential growth, largely the result of strong demand in China.
Getting back to Asus, the first-tier mobo maker initially had hopes of shipping 25 million units in 2010, but isn't on pace to reach that goal after having shipped only 10.4 million motherboards in the first half.
Gigabyte’s original GA-P55-UD6 (reviewed December 2009) held the distinction of not only being the first board we tested with Intel’s LGA1156 socket, but also our preferred go-to board for months on end. It was only after Asus’s beautiful Maximus III Formula showed up in our March issue that the GA-P55-UD6 was dethroned.
It didn’t take Gigabyte long to fire a shot back, though, with its GA-P55A-UD6 board. At first glance, you’d think there was no difference between it and its predecessor. But up close, you can see slight changes to the board that make room for USB 3.0 and SATA 6 chips, as well as a slight repositioning of the PCB-mounted reset button. The most obvious physical change is the reduction in the number of inboard SATA ports. The GA-P55-UD6 had 10 ports whereas the GA-P55A-UD6 has eight. Both boards have two eSATA ports, compliments of a JMicron JMB362 part.
Who says you have to sacrifice functionality when putting together a micro-ATX build? Not MSI, who just unveiled its 890GXM-G65 motherboard.
MSI's latest board includes a bevy of higher-end and forward-thinking features, including SATA 3.0 support. Perhaps more usable in the short-term, the 890GXM-G65 also boasts native support for USB 3.0.
You'll also find a few goodies of interest to overclockers that aren't often found on mATX boards. MSI touts "military-grade" electronics components, all solid caps, solid state choke to reduce noise, a heatpipe design MSI claims can result in average operating temps of 52C, and the company's latest OC Genie Lite overclocking technology.
Other features include HDMI and DVI outputs, integrated ATI Radeon HD 4290 graphics, and lossless 24-bit/192kHz HD audio.
I’m planning my next build, and I’m having a hard time deciding between a motherboard with the X58 chipset or one with P55. Is triple-channel RAM worth paying extra for? I plan to keep this PC for three years (until the motherboard warranty expires) and I’m worried that in three years there’ll be 9x-channel RAM or something crazy like that. I’m a heavy gamer but I don’t do anything else that requires a ton of memory—I don’t use AutoDesk or Maya.
I have an Asus P5L-MX motherboard and have wanted to upgrade the CPU for some time. Right now, I have a single-core Intel Celeron D with a Prescott core. I’ve pretty much maxed out the overclocking possibilities (I’ve gone from a stock 2.66GHz clock to 3.47GHz) and now I want to replace it with something better.
I want to keep the motherboard, however, which slightly complicates matters. As I recall, multicore processors were just catching on around the time my mobo was made. The documentation says it can support dual-core CPUs, and it has an LGA775 socket. I’d like to know whether it can take a quad-core or higher CPU, and if so, which ones (or if not, which dual-core CPU)?
See the Doctor's answer for Andrew after the jump.
It’s no secret that we haven’t exactly had great love for Intel’s motherboards of late. Heck, we once openly wondered why the hell Intel even bothered to make enthusiast boards anymore.
Intel’s LGA1156 DP55KG, aka Kingsberg, board doesn’t erase all of our misgivings, but it does make us think that Intel is at least trying rather than phoning it in.
Take the SATA-port placement. Most enthusiast boards use forward-facing SATA ports to get around today’s honking-big graphics cards. But Intel’s X48 and X58 boards had all SATA ports pointing straight up. It was as though Intel was in denial over the size and importance of today’s GPUs. The DP55KG finally remedies that flaw by aiming all eight SATA ports forward. Want more proof that Intel is learning? The DP55KG even includes an Intel-branded SLI bridge—something we thought we’d never see.
Other nice enthusiast touches include a surface-mounted power-on switch and a decorative skull backlit by blue LEDs. Even cooler, the skull’s eyes are lit by red LEDs that indicate drive access. We also like the PCI-E slots Intel selected. The slot size corresponds to the signaling, so you can easily figure out that the x4 slot is x4, and the x8 is x8. Those same slots, however, also accept a full-length physical x16 card. Most boards use full-length x16 physical slots with x4 or x8 electrical plumbing, which leaves you guessing about which is which.
Worried that Asus might start to turn a blind eye to the motherboard market as it shifts focus to netbooks, e-books, and other Eee-devices? Don't fret, the company has no intention of abandoning mobos, not anytime soon, anyway.
On the contrary, Chewei Lin, VP of Asus' open platform business, says he expects his company to ship 25 million motherboards in 2010. That's a lot of boards, 20 percent more than the 21 million units Asus shipped in 2009.
Asus expects to ship 5 million motherboards in the first quarter alone, driven largely by recovering demand from Europe and the Lunar New Year demand from China. In the second quarter, Asus expects to do a little better and ship 6 million boards, giving the company a total of 11 million units for the first half of the year, leaving 14 million to be shipped in the second half.
Relatively few of these will be equipped with USB 3.0, however. The reason? High costs, Lin says.
Motherboard makers are wasting no time pumping out products built around Intel's new H57 and H55 Express chipsets, and that includes EVGA, who just announced three new boards built around the new platform.
Both the H55 (123-CD-E635-KR) and H57 (123-CD-E637-KR) are full sized ATX mobos and both come with four DDR3 slots supporting up to 16GB of memory running at 1333MHz+. So what exactly separates the two? The H57 comes with a whopping 14 USB ports and two PCI-E x1 slots, while the H55 boasts a still impressive 12 USB 2.0 ports and one PCI-E x16 slot.
Finally, there's the H55-V (111-CD-E630-TR) mATX board. This one also comes with four DDR3 slots and features 12 USB ports. No Firewire or IDE connector, though.
Both the H55 and H55-V are available now for $170 and $100, respectively. No word yet on price or availability for the H57.
Coinciding with the launch of Intel's next-gen 32nm Clarkdale processors and H55 chipset, Biostar this week announced three new boards built around the freshly minted platform, including the TH55 XE, TH55 HD, and TH55B HD.
The TH55 XE stands out as a mATX mobo designed with a "stylish black PCB" in a segment typically neglected in the aesthetics department. Biostar says it serves up support for Clarkdale Core i5/i3/Pentium 45/32nm series chips. It also comes with all solid caps, a 7-phase CPU power supply, and a Japan made PSE capacitor for better heat dissipation.
Other features include four memory slots with support for dual-channel DDR3-2000, a single PCI-E x16 slot, PCI-E x1, two PCI slots, 8-channel audio, and HDMI.
The TH55 HD also shares the same mATX form factor and black PCB design, though memory support tops out at DDR3-1800. Same deal with the TH55B HD, except it also drops down to a 5-phase power design.
Having been finalized for awhile now, the USB 3.0 spec has lost some of the glitz and glamor that accompany new technology announcements, but it's not all old news just yet. On the contrary, Gigabyte has taken to thumping its chest over its GA-P55A-UD3 becoming "the world's first motherboard to pass USB-IF (Universal Serial Bus-Implementers Forum) certification," paving the way for the company to plaster the SuperSpeed USB logo on its product.
Gigabyte claims its GA-P55A-UD3 "underwent strict compliance and product quality testing from the USB-IF" before receiving its certification. The mobo maker also said several other models with onboard USB 3.0 are currently being tested and are expected to pass certification within the next couple of weeks.
In addition to onboard USB 3.0, the GA-P55A-UD3 also boasts SATA 6Gb/s support, a 2-ounce copper PCB leading to lower temps and better power efficiency, DDR3-2000+ support, CrossFireX support, and several other features.