There’s good news and bad news for Intel lovers. The bad news is for folks who just bought a motherboard using the LGA1156 socket: Yup, it’s obsolete already. The good news: The LGA1155 motherboards using Intel’s performance P67 chipset are swimming with improvements such as native SATA 6Gb/s support, front-panel USB 3.0 headers, and UEFI. The biggest change, of course, is support for Intel’s new line of Sandy Bridge CPUs. These second-generation Core ix processors are not only fast, they’re cheap and overclock like hell. To find a suitable home for your new Sandy Bridge chip, we gathered up boards from old foes MSI and Asus to see whose next-gen motherboard deserves the honor.
Hit the jump for the reviews and an exclusive video look at all the boards!
It's probably not fair to call ASRock an underdog anymore, if it ever was. Asus gave birth to ASRock back in 2002 with the intent of going toe-to-toe with ECS and other vendors in the entry-level market. Here we are nearly a decade later and ASRock is now the third largest motherboard maker in the world, DigiTimes says.
ASRock shipped 8 million of its own branded motherboards in 2010, leapfrogging both ECS and MSI to take third place, albeit a somewhat distant one.
Ahead of ASRock is Gigabyte, which shipped around 18 million of its own branded boards in 2010. And up in first place is who else but Asus, which missed its goal of shipping 25 million boards last year but retained the top spot by cranking out 21.6 million mobos.
Getting back to ASRock, the company has been able to attract a following by offering big feature-sets for comparatively low prices. The company also isn't afraid to take design risks, as it first did with its 939Dual-SATA board back in the day. This inexpensive board was the first to combine both an AGP and PCI-E port on the same board without introducing a significant performance penalty.
MSI just announced the North American availability of its new GT680R notebook, which is the company's first gaming laptop built around Intel's recently launched Sandy Bridge platform.
This 15.6-inch notebook packs an Intel Core i7 2630QM processor clocked at 2.0GHz, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, 1TB of storage space by way of two 500GB hard drives in a RAID 0 configuration, Nvidia GeForce GTX 460M graphics, DVD writer, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, 7-in-1 memory card reader, Windows Home Premium 64-bit, and a 9-cell battery.
Also present is MSI's Turbo Drive Engine (TDE) technology, which allows for software overclocking of the CPU and GPU, USB 3.0, HDMI, and a built-in webcam.
Nvidia’s engineering teams have been pretty busy lately, reengineering and streamlining the previously inefficient Fermi architecture. We’ve seen the GTX 580 and GTX 570 released in recent months. Now it’s the sweet spot GPU, the GTX 460, getting the chip re-spin love. Dubbed the GeForce GTX 560 Ti, Nvidia is clearly hoping to recapture some of the thunder of the venerable GeForce 4400 Ti GPU from an earlier generation.
As the Maximum PC team noted earlier, the new chip, code-named GF114, now sports a full 384 shader cores, 1GB of GDDR5 and pushes the reference core clock speeds up to 822MHz. During the product briefing, Nvidia noted that the GPU has plenty of headroom for overclocking, and we’re seeing quite a few designs which push the clock speeds.
First up on the review platter is MSI’s N560GTX-Ti Twin Frozr II OC Edition. The OC Edition pushes the core clock speeds to 880MHz and the memory clock to 1050MHz. The twin fan design has been updated from the original Twin Frozr; it’s less bulky and heavy, plus it seems to be quieter than the original. MSI also claims that the board is less prone to warping when mounted in a vertical case and uses “military grade” components in its construction.
We love Sandy Bridge, and we even like some aspects of the P67 chipset. But, we’ll say it again: Intel’s decision to cheap-out on SATA 6Gb/s will create massive port confusion. With the Asus board, we had to RTFM to figure out which port went to which controller and at what speed. The situation is murkier with the P67A-GD65. The board features eight SATA ports and tells you which are SATA 6Gb/s. Unfortunately, it doesn’t tell you which controller they’re running off of.
While we couldn't dig up a press release, Fudzilla claims MSI officially launched its WindPad 100W tablet, revealing new details in the process.
MSI's new 10.1-inch slate boasts a 1024x600 multitouch display, an Intel Menlo Z530 processor clocked at 1.6GHz, 2GB of memory (SODIMM), 32GB SSD, 801.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, SD card reader, mini-HDMI output, USB port, headphone in/out ports, both rear- and front-facing webcams, and Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit.
Powering the device is a 2-cell battery, which interestingly MSI only pegs at 6 hours of runtime. If true, that will come as a downer to those expecting iPad-like performance.
MSI is pricing the WindPad 100W at €599 (around $800), at least in Germany. It remains to be seen how much it will fetch in the U.S. market.
Rounding out our MSI coverage at CES, Senior Editor Gordon Mah Ung takes an early look at MSI's upcoming AM3+ board, which will allow for, that's right, AMD Bulldozer support. The board also features SATA 6Gbs ports on the south bridge, a four x16 PCI-E 2.0 slots, and comes stocked with OC Genie, which can automatically overclock your machine for you.
Senior Editor Gordon Ung got a change to take a look at some of the newest offerings from MSI, focusing here on two brand new mini ITX boards. These boards mark the first time MSI has ever made an ITX board for consumers. The first board may seem familiar to small form factor enthusiasts, though the second board has a surprise in store (hint: XXXX Bridge). Hit the video below to check them both out!
Asus hoped to ship 25 million million motherboards in 2010, but as the year comes to a close, it will fall short by about 3.2 million boards. Gigabyte will also fall short of its goal, having shipped about 18.5 million units when it hoped to reach 20 million.
It's not just them. According to DigiTimes, every Taiwan-based motherboard maker failed to achieve internal shipment goals, including ASRock, ECS, MSI, and Pegatron. The reason? DigiTimes says the bond crisis in Europe played a big role, as did weaker-than-expected demand in China. That second part is important because China is now the largest motherboard market in the world, at least in terms of shipments.
MSI on Tuesday shed light on its CES lineup. The event will see the company run the gamut of portable devices from the “fastest notebook on the planet” to the mandatory tablet. According to the vendor, it will be showcasing a wide range of new additions across its five families of notebooks.
MSI had revealed its plans of unveiling the 15.6-inch GT680 (pictured below), a gaming notebook it claims is the world’s fastest, at the upcoming trade show in a press release earlier this month. The GT680 owes its muscle to an Intel Sandy Bridge quad-core processor, Nvidia GT460 graphics and MSI’s TDE+ (Turbo Drive Engine+) technology. It supports up to 16GB of memory thanks to its four DDR3 slots and features accelerated dual solid state (SSD) RAID 0 architecture.
Of course, MSI’s presence at CES won’t be restricted to the GT680 alone, but there will be several new notebook models across the G, F, C, X-Slim and Wind U families.
As reported by Digitimes a few days ago, the company will also be showcasing a couple of new tablets: the Android-running WindPad 100A and Wintel-powered WindPad 100W. Both the tablets have 10.1-inch multi-touch displays.