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.
Following the 'better late than never' motto, Plextor today announced it will try its hand in the SSD market with a pair of high performance offerings, the PX-64M1S and PX-128M1S.
"We're excited to leverage Plextor's expertise in optical storage and enter the SSD market as it continues to grow," said Esteban Kim, Director of New Business Development at PLDS. "PCMark, SYSmark, and HD Benchmark industry utility tests scored Plextor SSDs high and we're proud to have the new lineup available to our customers."
With the recent spate of SSDs boasting read and write speeds well above 200MB/s, Plextor may be stretching things a bit in classifying these as "high performance." The 64GB PX-64M1S comes rated at up to 110MB/s sequential reads and 65MB/s in sequential writes, while the 128GB PX-128M1S sports 120MBs and 70MB/s read and write speeds, respectively.
Both drives are available now for $225 (64GB) and $400 (128GB).
We saw this one coming before the weekend, and just as we expected, Intel today officially took the wraps off of its new Atom N470 processor.
"This new, faster Atom processor for netbooks has integrated graphics built directly into the CPU to help enable improved performance and smaller, more energy-efficient designs or the popular netbook category," Intel said.
No big surprises here, at least not in terms of technical specs. The new single-core chip runs at 1.83GHz and features 512KB of L2 cache and DDR2-667 support. According to Intel, expect to see all the major OEMs introduces systems built around this new chip in the coming months.
What does come as a surprise, however, is that some netbook makers are already looking beyond the N470. According to Liliputing.com, some netbooks on display at CeBIT this week are equipped with eve newer Atom parts, including the N455 and N475. There aren't a whole lot of details on these higher-numbered chips, but from what we can tell, they look to add features like DDR3 support and Broadcom rather than faster clockspeeds.
Don't even bother trying to follow the memory market until you've taken a dose of Dramamine. The DRAM industry has more ups and downs than a Six Flags amusement park, only without all the thrills. According to A-Data, that doesn't look to change in 2010, and you should brace yourself for a memory shortage in the latter part of the year.
Speaking at a recent company event, A-Data chairman Simon Chen said strong PC replacement demand in both the consumer and business sectors will put the squeeze on memory makers to keep up. Chen expects demand to outpace supply by 1-2 percent in the second quarter, and then remain throughout the second half of the year.
Chen attributes the demand to Windows 7, which he says will spark a ton of replacement PC purchases. As a result, expect DRAM prices to go up, a trend we've already been seeing, especially in the notebook memory market.
You probably recognize Chaintech as a one-time big player in the graphics market before the company merged with Walton Advanced Engineering in 2005. Since then, the company's focus has shifted towards memory products, including the introduction of what Walton Chaintech claims is the world's smallest USB 3.0 drive.
"The Astro Drive Series A101 is miniature in comparison to the 2.5-inch products sold by other competitors. It is more mobile than an iPod, and is currently the smallest USB 3.0 device on the market. This makes this device extremely convenient for consumers on the go. In addition, the dual color exterior design in red and silver conveys high-tech qualities, while also adding a sense of trendiness with its flame-red contours. This makes the A101 more than just a cold, emotionless tech product. Instead, it is an exceptional product that encompasses both elements of fashion and quality," Walton Chaintech said.
The Astro Series A101 thumb drive boasts up to 186MB/s read and up to 130MB/s write speeds, or six times the performance of USB 2.0 drives chugging along at 30MB/s and 20MB/s reads and writes. Walton Chaintech said it will come in a variety of storage capacities, including 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB.
It’s no secret that Intel’s Atom chips are a bit on the slow side. While we certainly like the battery efficiency, a bit more power would be great. It appears Intel is willing to appease us, and the announcement may come on Monday. Intel is expected to introduce the Pine Trail based Atom N470, which will be nearly the same as the N450, but clocked at 1.83GHz instead of 1.66GHz. We also heard a while back that the N470 netbooks would be allowed double the memory of the N450 units. We'll have to wait until Monday to see if that's still the case. It’s not a lot, but with Atom right at the edge of usability, every little bit helps.
Atom chips have been in high demand ever since netbooks took the PC market by storm. Atom offers lower power consumption than the previous low-power solution, the Core 2 ULV, but lags behind in processing power because of it. The N450 was released late last year, and quickly found its way into consumer products. Intel expects an equally speedy adoption of the N470. No word on if you will pay much of a premium for the new Pine Trail chip.
HP touts the $900 ProBook 5310m as being the world's thinnest full-performance notebook, but its slim form factor doesn't mean limited functionality. The 5310m ultra-portable is burly enough to satisfy demanding business users, and it boasts a price tag that won't blow out your IT department's budget.
The 5310m, which is just .93 inches thick, was built specifically for small- to medium-sized businesses, but it breaks the mold of the blandly colored, chunky business notebooks your employees are probably accustomed to. This HP features a beautiful, black, anodized, brushed-aluminum finish with glossy black accents, augmented by a magnesium base for additional protection. It’s outfitted with a spacious, spill-resistant keyboard that remains comfortable even after entended typing sessions. The multi-touch trackpad offered a little too much resistance to our finger swipes and gestures, but this is far from being a a deal breaker.
Asus today launched a pair of Radeon HD 5000 series videocards -- EAH5870 and EAH5850 -- the company claims will accommodate extreme levels of overclocking thanks to an "innovative thermal design."
Both cards come equipped with specially-flattened copper heatpipes Asus says helps dissipate heat up to 20 percent better while playing games, while also offering up to 35 percent quieter operation when idle.
Similar to what was so successful in Cooler Master's Hyper 212 Plus CPU cooler (see review here), Asus looks to have gone with a direct contact solution, squashing the 5.8-ounce heatpipes to at the base. Combined with the company's exclusive "Voltage Tweak" technology, which allows users to ramp up the GPU voltage through the included SmartDoctor application, Asus says users can expect up to a 50 percent performance gain (when overclocking).
For those of you holding out for Nvidia's Fermi architecture, the good news is your wait is almost over. The graphics chip maker said it plans to launch a pair of Fermi-based videocards on March 26, just a month away. The bad news, however, is that these will likely be in short supply and carry a premium price tag (see here).
Ready for some more good news? Comments made by Nvidia's CFO seem to suggest that less expensive (read: affordable) Fermi parts will likely be made available by mid-2010.
"Fermi will show up as the GeForce and Tesla first and it will definitely show up first in the highest-performance configuration. Sometime in the mid-part of the year we will see a lower-cost version of that come out both for Quadro and Tesla," said David White, Nvidia's CFO.
White stopped short of detailing what these parts might be or exactly how much they'll cost, but assuming he's right, we won't have long to wait to find out.
MSI, as you're well aware, markets and sells its own line of branded hardware, everything from motherboards and videocards, to netbooks and notebooks, and a spattering of products in between. But the company also maintains an OEM business, and for the first time, MSI is losing OEM orders, says Henry Lu, vice president of MSI.
According to Lu, MSI shipped less than two million notebooks in 2009, which failed to meet expectations. And of those it did ship, about 70 percent were branded models, which Lu says is indicative of its brand business showing significant improvement.
MSI noted a similar trend in its graphics card business, which saw a big drop in 2009. According to Lu, some clients are concerned about the rise of MSI's brand business, and as a result, he expects shipments of both its notebook and graphics division to continue to drop in 2010.
One solution would be to spin off its brand and OEM businesses, but Lu said this isn't likely to happen, at least not within the next three years. Instead, MSI will put a much greater focus on its branded business in an attempt to offset the losses from its OEM orders.