The 2010 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) introduced a bunch of new SuperSpeed USB (USB 3.0) peripherals with more to come. With USB 3.0 promising performance as much as ten times faster than USB 2.0, you'll want to add USB 3.0's digital goodness to your system as soon as you can. So, what do you need to know to make it work? Whether you have a desktop or mobile PC, we survey your options and help you zero in on your best choices.
You've heard of the saying about aiming for the moon, so that even if you miss, you'll still be among the stars. For ASRock, that means trying to ship 9 million motherboards this year, or 7 million more than the company shipped in 2009.
Should the company meet its goal, ASRock would become the third largest mobo vendor behind Asus and Gigabyte, stars in their own right. That's an appealing notion to ASRock chairman Ted Hsu, who said his company is currently working on building its brand recognition.
In addition to motherboards, ASRock also plans to expand its branded PC business, mostly in Europe, as well as introduce a smart surveillance system product line. But unlike some of its competitors, ASRock says it has no intention of jumping into the highly competitive graphics card market.
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.
The EVGA W555 made a brief cameo appearance at CES but the guys at bit-tech managed to get some fantastic tidbits of information about the new workstation/server board. Notably, that it was designed with overclocking and enthusiast level performance in mind.
The quick and dirty facts are that it features dual overclockable LGA1366 sockets, each with a dedicated bank of six DDR3 slots. To top it off, it features seven PCI-E 2.0 slots with dynamic lane configurations and will be certified for SLI and CrossFire. Underneath the massive heatsink/fan are reportedly two nForce 200 controllers as well as an Intel 5520 chip. Further, it features eight SATA ports, 6 running on a 3Gb/sec and two running at 6Gb/sec.
Basically, you couldn’t really ask for too much more out of a motherboard of this caliber. Unfortunately, pricing and other model configurations haven’t been released. The board itself is to be released later this year.
Remember MSI's Big Bang Fuzion the company announced a couple of weeks ago during CES? If you've been holding out for this board, the wait is over, because it's now available for purchase. The caveat? Newegg's selling it for about $380 shipped, or about half a tank gas short of four C-notes.
Part of the reason for the high price probably has to do with the Lucid Hydra 200 chip. Unlike the regularly used NF200 bridge chip, this one allows users to mix and match different brands of videocards for a multi-GPU gaming boost, as well as cards from different generations. For example, you could combine a GTX 285 with a GTX 250, or run an ATI HD 4890 with Nvidia's GTX 260+ (both of these scenarios were benchmarked at PCPerspective).
Aside from the multi-GPU goodness, the P55-based Fuzion brings to the table Core i7/i5/i3 support, four DDR3-2133(OC) memory slots for up to 16GB of RAM, three PCI-E x16 slots, 8 USB 2.0 ports, Firewire, a pair of eSATA ports, and the usual assortment of goodies (RAID 0/1/5/10, dual LAN ports, etc).
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.
How is that motherboard makers can cram all kinds of innovative technologies onto a motherboard and serve up marketing bullets that will have buyers thinking they're investing in a little slice of Heaven, yet when it comes to naming their creations, all that creativity goes out the window? To quote Bill Belichick, "It is what it is." In any event, meet the newest member of MSI's P55 motherboard family, the P55-GD85.
Built around Intel's P55 chipset, MSI's newest addition brings official support for Intel's 32nm Core i3/i5/i7 processors. It also comes equipped with support for SATA 6Gb/s and USB 3.0, the latter of which will probably prove more useful during the board's lifespan.
To make sure the board squeezes out every last bit of bandwidth, MSI tossed in a PLX PCI-E bridge chip "to multiply the PCI-E bandwidth as well as most effective distribution when using the functions of SATA 6Gb/s and USB 3.0 functions."
Other features include four DIMM slots supporting up to 16GB of DDR3-2133(OC) memory, a pair of PCI-E x16 ports, two PCI-E x1 ports, an IDE port, seven SATA II ports, two SATA 3 ports, six USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, Firewire, eSATA, and various other odds and ends.
No word yet on price or availability, though if we had to guess, we'd say "soon" and about "$220 street."
Biostar today announced the release of its mainstream TH55B HD motherboard, which the company claims balances competitive pricing with "outstanding" overclocking performance.
The TH55B HD is a mATX board decked out with a black PCB, 5-phase X.D.C. solid state power design, high-end Japanese capacitors, and other manufacturing tidbits that have become buzzwords among enthusiasts.
Probably more meaningful to most is the inclusion of 4 DDR3 memory slots with support for 16GB of memory at up to 2000MHz (OC), a full-speed PCI-E x16 port, PCI-E x1 port, two standard PCI ports, 6 SATA 2.0 ports, and "Power" and "Restart" hotkeys. It also boasts HDMI, DVI, and VGA ports.
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.
MSI has upgraded its product line, offering its second “Big Bang” branded motherboard, the Big Bang-Fuzion. MSI's announcement informs us the Fuzion follows the “great success of the surpassing Big Bang-Trinergy powered by nForce 200 SLI processor.” [sic]
While MSI touts the features of the Fuzion with marketing jargon like “eopchal technology,” “flexible upgradability”, and “near-linear gaming performance”, its announcement is absent any real information--like actual specifications. Luckily, there’s Google. Piecing together bits and pieces from about the Internet, the Fuzion has an LGA1156 socket, capable of supporting Intel’s Core i3/i5/i7 processors, and the Pentium G6950. It uses the Intel P55 chipset, has 3 PCI Express x16 slots, supports SLI and ATI Crossfire and something called Hydra N-, A- and X-modes, a PCI E1 slot with a QuantumWave audio card, and 2 PCI slots. From the looks of it, you’ll only get USB 2.0. It will support 16 GB of 2300+ Mhz DDR3 dual channel memory in four slots.
The unique feature of the Fuzion is the Lucid Hydra chip. The Hydra allows a mixing of graphics cards, which means you don’t have to use twins when cobbling together a dual card system. You can even mix SLI and CrossFire GPUs (or so it's promised).
The Fuzion will only run with Windows Vista and 7--XP is a no go.
MSI says the board will be available mid-January. The Guru of 3D says you can expect a price of about $389.