We'll assume you're up to speed on the whole Sandy Bridge situation that's been covered at length here and elsewhere on the Web, but when new boards do start rolling off the assembly line, how can you be sure you're getting the newest revision? With regards to MSI, the company plans to slap a B3 revision sticker on updated P67 and H67 motherboards. There's another way you can ensure you don't get stuck with old inventory.
News and rumor site Fudzilla is reporting that Intel will begin shipping the B3 stepping for its 6-series chipset part by Monday, February 14th. For those of you who live in a cave under a rock on another planet, the original 6-series chipset contained a "design flaw" that affected several SATA ports. Only SATA ports 0/1 were unaffected, as well as those that might have been provided by a third-party (like Marvell, for instance). The B3 stepping is supposed to address this.
Intel yesterday announced it discovered a design issue in its 6-Series chipsets intended for Sandy Bridge processors and opted to halt shipments of new boards. News of the flaw spread almost immediately across the Internet, though it took some time for popular vendors to pull potentially affected motherboards from their virtual store shelves. Today is a different story.
A quick glance online shows that Sandy Bridge boards are increasingly difficult to come by. While you can easily find and purchase Sandy Bridge processors, which Intel ensures are in tip-top shape, we couldn't find a single socket 1155 motherboard at Micro Center, MWave, Newegg, TigerDirect, or ZipZoomFly.
While the issue puts Sandy Bridge builders in limbo, the financial impact to Intel is estimated at $700 million, which is the total cost to repair and replace busted boards and systems.
To keep abreast of this ongoing situation, be sure to bookmark our continually updated FAQ, in which we post more questions and answers as additional info surfaces.
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.
Talk about awful timing. With the recent launch of Intel's much anticipated Sandy Bridge platform, we imagine a good number of DIY system builders have already begun mapping out their next system overhaul. That's fine and dandy, but be sure to set aside a little extra for the motherboard.
Chewei Lin, general manager of Asus' motherboard division, says that his company made the decision to raise quotes for mobos, according to DigiTimes. The decision wasn't made out of greed or to cash in on Intel's new platform, but to cope with the labor shortage in China, the falling NT dollar, and higher material costs, particularly copper, Lin said.
How this all shakes out in the retail market remains to be seen, and Lin claims this won't affect the consumer side too much, but as far as contract quotes go, industry sources expect motherboard prices to jump 5-10 percent on average, and up to 15 percent in some cases.
At this year's CES, Max PC senior editor Gordon Ung got a chance to take a look at the first mini-ITX board to support Sandy Bridge's H67 socket. The board, from Zotac has nearly all the features of a full-size board (minus some PCI-e slots, of course) and will be available at the end of the month. Check out the video for more details.
Senior Editor Gordon Ung stopped by Gigabyte's booth at CES to check out the company's new G1 line of gaming motherboards. In the video, we take a look at the G1 Assassin, which sports top-notch audio and networkings hardware, as well as a rather unique FPS-inspired aesthetic. Check it out!
Gigabyte today introduced its first AMD fusion board -- the GA-350N-USB3 -- which also happens to be the mobo maker's first ever mini-ITX board for the AMD platform.
"We’re excited about the GA-E350N-USB3 motherboard because it’s the first all-in-one Mini-ITX board with DX11 capabilities, and we expect it to go a long way towards bridging the gap between discrete and integrated graphics performance," commented Tim Handley, Deputy Director of Motherboard Marketing at Gigabyte Technology Co. Ltd. "With its specially designed low profile fansink and multitude of hi-def, high-speed connectors, we expect this little power house to be popular amongst HTPC system integrators, DIY enthusiasts and case modders."
Gigabyte's mini-ITX board sports some big features, such as USB 3.0, SATA 6Gbps, HDMI, dual-BIOS chips, and triple the amount of USB power to enable quick charging of Apple handheld devices (iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch).
The board comes with an AMD E-350 dual-core chip and AMD Radeon HD 6310 graphics, a combo Gigabyte says is sufficient to playback Blu-ray content.
We like Gigabyte's boards, we're just not real keen on the pastel color scheme that has dominated the company's product lineup in recent memory. That's about to change.
In anticipation of the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Gigabyte offered up a sneak peak of its new G1-Killer gaming boards, at least one of which will be built around Intel's LGA1366 platform. Gone are all those pastel colors, replaced by an aggressive aesthetic capped off with a heatsink that looks like an ammo clip.
It's a little gimmicky, but depending on how the rest of the board looks, this could add some much needed flair to Gigabyte's enthusiast lineup.
Look for the G1-Killer series to ship in early 2011 starting at $300.
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.