Asus and Gigabyte dominated the motherboard market in 2014, with Asus coming out slightly ahead of its rival for bragging rights. However, there's more at stake than bragging rights for second tier players. ASRock, Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS), and Micro-Star International (MSI) all have new strategies for 2015 to help better compete with the big boys, though not all may survive.
Boutique system builder Xotic PC has teamed up with MSI to build a custom gaming PC called the Elysium. However, we can't talk about this build without also mentioning In Win, which has been coming up with some downright funky case designs lately, such as the open air D-Frame and, as is the case here, the S-Frame. It's also an open air chassis, though unique in style for different reasons than the D-Frame.
Over the course of the last couple of years, MSI has been taking the gaming laptop category by storm, and we've seen a lot of interesting offerings from the company. However, it's MSI's new GT80 Titan SLI-009 that has us intrigued. The company brought its latest system (along with several other goodies) to the Consumer Electronics Show, so we sent Online Managing Editor and resident gaming whiz Jimmy Thang to check things out.
Call us keyboard snobs if you will, but once you've experienced the pleasure of typing on a mechanical keyboard, it's difficult to go back to those squishy membrane planks. Peripheral makers have stepped up to the plate with plenty of mechanical models in the past few years, though MSI gets a virtual high-five for being the first to plop a mechanical keyboard on a gaming laptop.
MSI has gone and upgraded its 27-inch all-in-one gaming PCs with Nvidia's recently announced Maxwell-based mobile GPUs, the GeForce GTX 970M and 980M. These are supposedly the first AIO systems to feature Maxwell in mobile form, though the story doesn't end there -- they also feature a 4th generation Intel Core i7 4860HQ quad-core processor clocked at 2.4GHz (up to 3.6GHz via Turbo) and up to 16GB of DDR3L-1600 RAM.
MSI may release a slower and less expensive version of the GeForce GTX 970
Nvidia has a winning architecture on its hands with Maxwell, and as we've seen in benchmarks, both the GeForce GTX 970 and GTX 980 are fine graphics cards. As is typically the case, Nvidia's third-party partners have taken to customizing the reference designs with their own cooling solutions and factory overclocks, though interestingly MSI appears to be preparing a Lite Edition of the GeForce GTX 970.
We've seen our share of colorful motherboards with loud designs that scream, "Hey, look at me!" They're typically aimed at gamers, overclockers, and enthusiasts in general, and so is MSI's Z97S SLI Krait Edition motherboard, though it's an attention-getter for a different reason. Rather than draw eyeballs with flashing LEDs and a range of colors, MSI opted for a classy black and white scheme.
It's the year 2500 and, despite several near misses with asteroids and potentially apocalyptic plagues, mankind has survived. So have PCs, though analysts are still predicting their demise. In a museum situated downtown, a group of kids stare in wonder at 2000-era electronics. They giggle at how big everything is, particularly mini ITX motherboards, which they're told used to power what previous generations considered small form factor machines. Now travel back in time to 2014 and thumb your nose at the little brats who laughed at today's technology. The joke is on them, because we lied about near misses -- life on Earth ends after an asteroid the size of Texas barrels into our planet in the year 2317, you can mark your calendars. But we digress. That mini ITX board on display had it not been for that asteroid? It's the topic of today's top deal -- a Gigabyte GA-H97N-WIFI Motherboard for $106 with free shipping (normally $118 - use coupon code: [EMCPAPE44]; additional $20 mail-in-rebate). It's built around Intel's H97 chipset, has built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi support, boasts half a dozen SATA 6Gbps ports, and measures a mere 6.7 inches by 6.7 inches.
For other deals that include a Dell 27-inch IPS monitor and more, click the "Read More" button!
When you're finished building your PC, you can raise your screwdriver and proclaim, "By the power of Grayskull, I have the power!" It will feel good, but if you forgot to purchase a power supply, it doesn't matter what you shout, your system isn't turning on. Hey, it could be worse -- you could have purchased a generic PSU and found out the hard way why it's a good idea to invest in a quality, name-brand PSU with a good reputation. Speaking of which, check out today's top deal for a Corsair HX Series HX850 850W Power Supply for $120 with free shipping (normally $150 - use coupon code: [EMCPAPF37]; additional $20 mail-in-rebate). This is an 80 Plus Gold certified PSU with modular cables and plenty of amperage (70A) available through the single +12V rail.
For other deals that include an AMD A4-6300 Richland APU and more, click the "Read More" button!
Gold seems to be the 'in' thing among mobile devices these days, so why not extend the color option over to laptops? That must have been what MSI was thinking when it conceived limited edition versions of its GS60 Ghost Pro 3K and GS60 Ghost gaming notebooks. Each one packs high end hardware inside a "luxurious golden chassis" measuring 15.35 inches by 10.47 inches by 0.78 inches and weighing 4.36 pounds.