After a short stint in the 680i chipset era, ECS hasn't aggressively targeted the motherboard market with its own-branded mobos, and instead has focused more heavily on providing boards for OEM partners. David Chien, VP of ECS' channel business, said that's going to change in 2010 and you can expect to see a lot more ECS-branded boards aimed at both the mid-range and high-end sectors.
ECS-branded motherboard shipments will likely remain flat at 7-8 million units to close out 2009, but next year, Chien said he expects growth of around 20 percent on shipments of anywhere from 8.4 million to 9.6 million units. Most of those will be Intel-based boards, with about 20 percent aimed at the AMD crowd, he said.
You can also expect ECS to promote its use of 15-micron Gold contact technology as it looks to gain some geek cred in the higher-end crowd. According to ECS, the 15-micron gold coating applied to the CPU and memory slot pins helps prevent rusting that, um, occurs from frequently removing the CPU and memory modules. o_0
There's just something about naming a product line "Blood Iron" that gets our attention, even if the latest entry to DFI's lineup is a value oriented board. Such is the case with the just-launched BI P43-T34 motherboard.
As you probably surmised, the new board is built around Intel's P43 chipset. So in other words, this one's strictly for the LGA775 crowd looking to score a deal on a Core 2 Duo or Core 2 Quad chip.
The new board comes with a handful of noteworthy features, including DDR3 support, digital PWM, a generous helping of 12 USB 2.0 ports, 6 SATA II ports, and DFI's ABS II auto-overclocking technology.
While the latest Blood Iron doesn't seem like a bad option for a somewhat performance oriented budget build, we're still waiting on DFI return to old form with cutting edge mobos that push the overclocking boundaries. DFI was once considered the go-to motherboard maker for system tweakers looking for fine grain control over their entire system, but seems to have switched focus on more mainstream solutions.
Lately motherboard manufacturers have been looking to make a splash with their naming schemes, and MSI is no exception. The company's first gaming oriented mobos built around Intel's P55 platform will be dubbed the "Big Bang" series, MSI announced today.
"Unique and innovative, the all-new Big Bang series will deliver the shock and awe of unprecedented experience and expand into its own collection of galaxies," MSI stated in a press release.
Sounds ambitious, and the first galactic board created from the Big Bang series is the Trinergy. Goofy marketing aside, the Trinergy looks promising on paper and comes with 100 percent Hi-c capacitors, a discrete Quantum Wave soundcard, 3-way SLI support, MSI's OC Genie, an external dashboard for on-the-fly overclocking, and some other goodies.
MSI said it plans to follow up the Trinergy with its upcoming Big Bang Fuzion, which will support different GPUs in a single system. Look for Fuzion to land on our home planet sometime before the end of 2009.
Intel may be content to wait until 2011 before jumping on the USB 3.0 bandwagon, but that isn't stopping third-party mobo makers from taking advantage of the SuperSpeed spec right now. Take Asus, for example, who has just launched a pair of motherboards the company claims features "true" USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gb/s performance.
So what exactly is all this talk of 'true?' According to Asus, a special expansion bridge chip outfitted to its P7P55D and P7P55D-E series alleviates bandwidth constrictions for both the USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gb/s controller chips, whereas other solutions might knock the theoretical bandwidth down by as much as 50 percent.
Other features of the new boards include CrossFireX and SLI support, eSATA, up to 10 USB 2.0 ports (and 2 USB 3.0 ports), Firewire, DDR3 2200 support, and full Windows 7 support.
Motherboard makers have had a tough go this past year as consumers cut back spending, but if September is any indication, the worst may be behind them.
Several first-tier mobo makers -- including Asus, Pegatron, MSI, ECS, and Gigabyte -- reported on-month revenue increases for September, which serves as a ray of light in a year where most motherboard companies are down about 20 percent from this same time last year.
The biggest winner appears to be Gigabyte, who saw its month-on-month numbers surge 17 percent and is now only down 2.77 percent from last year. Gigabyte was also one of the most active mobo makers, shipping 5 million units in the third quarter. Only Asus shipped more boards at just under 6 million, but the company also recorded the biggest year-on-year decrease with revenues down 22.3 percent from last year (up 3 percent on the month).
We're all about a hardcore naming scheme that eschews the now overused 'Extreme' nomenclature, so we applaud Asus for its new TUF (The Ultimate Force) series, at least in title.
Kicking off the TUF series is the Sabertooth 55i. Based on Intel's P55 chipset and built around Asus' own 'Marine Cool' concept unveiled at CeBIT earlier this year, the Sabertooh comes equipped with the new CeraMIX heatsink. Through the use of ceramics and a microfin surface texture, the CeraMIX heatsink purports to dissipate heat more rapidly than traditional anti-oxidant compounds, Asus says.
Other TUF attributes include direct memory cooling by way of a CoolMem fan frame that encloses most standard 40mm or 50mm computer fans and fits directly below the memory slots, military-certified capacitors and MOSFETs, E.S.P. (Effcient Switching Power. Drat! We were hoping for a board with a sixth sense), a 12+2 power phase design, and other goodies.
More proof that Intel's P55 platform packs enough punch to satisfy power users and mainstream users alike, MSI's P55-GD80 motherboard helped Taiwan overclocker Coolater set a new Core i7 overclocking record. Using the aforementioned board, Coolater was able ramp up his 2.8GHz Core i7 860 CPU all the way to 5.39GHz.
"The MSI P55-GD80 owes much of its outstanding overclocking ability to its equipped MSI-exclusive technologies, such as the one second auto-overclocking feature OC Genie, the SuperPipe cooling system that effectively drops the operating temperature by 50C, and 1>4 phase total DrMOS power supply design," MSI said in a related statement.
According to the validated CPU-Z screenie, Coolater ran a 245.39MHz bus speed with a 3926.2MHz frontside bus and a 1.672 vCore. And of course at nearly 5.4GHz, LN2 was involved in keeping the proc cool.
In the small form factor graphics market, Nvidia’s Ion has been stealing the headlines lately, but it turns out VIA might be gearing up to give them a run for their money. Built on a new standard known as “Pico-ITXe”, the company has released their EPIA-P710, which claims to be capable of full 1080p video playback using nothing more than passive cooling. Of course we were skeptical at first, but they have finally backed up their claims by posting a short clip on YouTube showing the board in action.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this new part is how full featured it is given the size. It sports 3 USB 2.0 ports, has both SATA and IDE, as well as Gigabit Ethernet support. As you might expect, the current build is pared up with a VIA C7 1.0 GHz processor, but apparently this is still more than enough to handle anything the VX855 Media System Processor can’t handle video wise.
Mainboard maker DFI has a rather interesting product on the way. The upcoming Hybrid P45-ION-T2A2 motherboard is capable of running two computers on a single board. It supports both a high performanceP45/LGA775 based systems, and a low power Atom/Ion based system.
They include a small external button assembly that can be used to switch on the fly between platforms. The two platforms can both be run at the same time, or you can shut down the one you aren’t using. The back panel is a bit confusing. There are some shared ports as well as dedicated ports. It has a block of four shared USB ports that are available to both systems. The audio and DVI ports are also shared. Each system has a dedicated set of USB ports and an Ethernet jack as well. The Ion chipset on the Atom side has its own dedicated HDMI port for some low-wattage HD video action.
Overall, this is a terribly impressive feat of engineering. Watch the video at the link to get the full effect. The possibilities for true multitasking are a bit staggering. Imagine encoding video on the LGA775 platform while outputting HD video with the Ion from the same box. There’s no firm release date or price as of yet. Would you consider getting one?
Some sources are saying that, at least internally, Intel is talking about shipping one million Lynnfield processors for desktops by the end of 2009. Should Intel meet its goal, it would put the pressure on motherboard makers to keep up.
Asus and Gigabyte are each on pace to ship 400,000 P55-based mobos by the end of the year, leaving 200,000 units for other manufacturers to pick up the slack. MSI, ECS, and ASRock are expected to ship around that many mobos, but all it takes is for one manufacturer to miss its goal for there to be more CPUs than there are mobos.
Asus looks to be the most active for the rest of the year. According to company VP Joe Hsieh, Asus' expects to ship between 5.5 to 6 million motherboards in the third quarter, 6 million in the fourth, and 22 million total. Going forward, Asus says P55-based boards will account for 10 percent of all shipments.