Citing industry sources, DigiTimes reports Asus will soon add a motherboard line to what's quickly becoming a very crowded Eee series. Details remain nonexistent at this point, but if it happens, we could find ourselves on the brink of a new fad, specifically the DIY nettop market.
In other Eee news, Asus' upcoming Eee Top (formerly known as the Eee Monitor), an all-in-one PC, is coming in 16-inch and 19-inch versions with the cost of entry starting at $450, according to DigiTimes. If earlier reports hold true, the touchscreen device will come powered with a 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor, 1GB of RAM, 160GB of hard drive space, a webcam, and various ports all riding on Windows XP.
Asus also addressed reports that its Eee Box systems were shipping with a virus. The company said an internal investigation revealed the virus most likely got onto systems through a USB key that's used for testing and inspection, further clarifying that the rogue file is only launched on models intended for the Japan market. The investigation remains open.
Power users have been chomping at the bit in anticipation of Intel's upcoming Core i7 platform, and some sites have already begun cashing in through pre-order sales. But as is often the case, being first means you'll likely pay the most.
Most of the pre-order parts are being found overseas, such as the MSI X58 Platinum motherbaord that was recently listed for over $300, or the MSI Eclipse spotted selling for as much as $413.
And it's not just MSI. As Fudzilla discovered, the Asus P6T Deluxe (the same board spotted with a warning label cautioning against running RAM voltage higher than 1.65V or risk damaging the CPU) was seen selling for $444. That's still cheaper than the Asus P6T Deluxe "OC Palm Edition," which at least one vendor had on pre-order for a staggering $492.
On the processor front, Canadian e-tailer PCVOnline is taking pre-orders on the Core i7 920 (2.66GHz), 940 (2.93GHz) and 965 Extreme Edition (3.2GHz) for $340, $650, and $1100 respectively. These aren't quite as overpriced as the above motherboards, as official bulk pricing is expected to set at $284, $562, and $999 respectively.
Anyone out there willing to pay pre-order pricing for day 1 bragging rights?
There's no denying Nvidia has seen better days, but is the current situation enough to warrant leaving the chipset business? Back in August when the rumor first surfaced, Nvidia vehemently denied the speculation calling it "completely groundless," but apparently not everyone is convinced.
Nvidia saw its shares tumble nearly 14 percent yesterday following a negative report on the company from Pacific Crest analyst Michael McConnell. In the report, McConnell says "our checks confirm that Nvidia has decided to exit the chipset market next year," while also noting that chipsets are expected to account for 21 percent of Nvidia's revenue. McConnell also suggested Nvidia would likely pre-announce negative financial results for the third quarter ended October.
At the other end of the rumor spectrum, Mac-inites insist next generation MacBooks will come assembled with Nvidia silicon. Word on the web is that Nvidia has been showing off prototypes internally of the upcoming MacBook with Nvidia inside.
Intel's upcoming Core i7 platform may throw a curveball to anyone swinging sticks of high performance DDR memory. According to news and rumor site The Inquirer, running memory voltage any higher than a modest 1.65V on an X58-based motherboard outfitted with a Core i7 processor could damage the CPU.
The limitation came to light thanks to an admin on the XFastest forums who posted pictures of the unreleased Asus P6T Deluxe motherboard in retail trim. A closeup of the DIMM slots reveals a warning label which states "According to Intel CPU SPEC, DIMMs with voltage setting over 1.65V may damage the CPU permanently. We recommend you install the DIMMs with the voltage setting below 1.65V.
If true (and The Inq claims Asus has confirmed the limitation), it would mean that several of today's high end DDR3 memory could potentially be rendered useless on the new platform. It's not uncommon for RAM manufacturers to require higher voltages at stock settings, and even many DDR3-1333 kits call for more than 1.65V. Apparently the problem lies with having the CPU and memory voltages on the Core i7 platform run synchronously. That's a major bummer for anyone who may have tried to future-proof their current build, but if you haven't jumped on the DDR3 bandwagon yet, expect to see appropriately spec'd kits start to surface with the Core i7 platform in mind. In the meantime, buyer beware.
Evga, the company best know for its position as a top-tier Nvidia partner, continues to try and build a reputation as the go-to vendor for overclocking enthusiasts. The videocard manufacturer was the first to officially support overclocking its GPUs without invalidating the warranty (only XFX has since followed suit), and Evga's FTW branded motherboards look to live up to the three-letter moniker with all the right marketing bullets.
Adding to the FTW series, and specifically the 790i SLI FTW, Evga has announced the 790i SLI FTW Digital PWM designed for aggressive overclocking. In addition to the usual assortment of high end goodies (1600MHz frontside bus support, DDR3 2000MHz support, SLI certified, PCI-E 2.0), the long-winded FTW Digital PWM edition bumps up the reference design from a 6-phase to an 8-phase design. The board also comes with 100 percent solid state capacitors and ferrite core chokes, both of which purport to offer improved signal-to-noise ratios and ultimately lead to a higher overclocking ceiling.
Overclockers comfortable mucking around with advanced voltage controls will have the ability to disable Vdroop in the "enhanced" BIOS and avoid sagging voltage at higher overclocks. And for those that are more apprehensive when it comes to advanced level tweaks, Evga's BIOS will include several pre-validated voltage settings.
Asus has to be feeling on top of the world, assuming sources at the company aren't blowing hot air. As DigiTimes reports it, those sources are claiming that Asus feasts on the lion's share of P45-based motherboard sales, with the company accounting for a whopping 80 percent of worldwide shipments.
Third quarter motherboard shipments are estimated at 6.12 million units, representing a growth rate of 20 percent and surpassing the company's original estimation of 15 percent. The numbers bode well for what's to come, as demand for Intel's X58 chipset based boards is also expected to run high.
Yet another leaked slide has made its way to the web, this time showcasing a triumvirate of motherboards slated for a late 2008 release by top tier vendor MSI. The company has labeled its enthusiast offering as the Eclipse, and its performance board will carry the familiar Platinum nomenclature as the X58 Platinum. The third board, which doesn't yet have a name (X58 Diamond?), will target the "Über Overclocker" according to the slide.
The mystery board carries the most intrigue, and not because of its lack of name. While all three motherboards bring support for Nvidia's SLI and ATI's CrossFireX, the board without an identity shows support for quad-SLI or tri-SLI with PhysX support in full speed x16 PCI-E v2 slots (insert your own Crysis reference).
Has there ever been a better time than right now to be a PC enthusiast? Due to oversupply, RAM remains dirt cheap, and pricing wars between Nvidia and ATI in the graphics sector, and Intel and AMD on the processor front have made it so you can build a killer rig on a manageable budget. Could motherboards be next?
If there is to be a price war among motherboard vendors, you can count Gigabyte out of the battle. Richard Ma, VP of Gigabyte, says his company has no plans to cut motherboard pricing in response Asus' recent adjustments, fearing that such a move would force Asus' hand to lower prices even more. Instead, Ma says his company's strategy will be to focus on improving quality, an area he claims is of primary concern to those who purchase mid-range and high-end motherboards.
Motherboard shipments, while still meeting Gigabyte's goal of 20 million units, haven't met the company's expectations the past two months, in part because of the new price competition. However, September sales have been kinder to Gigabyte, and Ma expects October and November to be even better with Core i7 CPUs and the X58 chipset on the horizon.
Is Gigabyte making a mistake by not dropping prices? Hit the jump and let us know.
Integrated graphics are typically of little interest to power users, but as onboard GPUs continue to develop, such solutions quickly become tempting for a secondary rig, kids' PC, or any other setup that has no aspirations for playing Crysis. If you fall into one of those latter categories, you may want to hold off for a couple of weeks before shelling out for a motherboard.
According to DigiTimes, Nvidia will launch its MCP7A IGP chipset by the end of the month, which will bring an integrated GeForce 9-series graphics core to the table. Two versions are being planned, with the MCP7A-U featuring a GeForce 9400 GPU and the MCP7A-S coming equipped with a GeForce 9300 GPU. Both GPUs will be identical in architecture, except the 9400 will come with a core clockspeed of 580MHz and shader frequency of 1,500MHz, whereas the 9300's core and shader will come clocked at 450MHz and 1200MHz respectively.
On the chipset front, the MCP7A chipset brings support for a 1333MHz frontside bus, up to 6 SATA ports, up to 12 USB ports, and RAID 0/1/0+1 and 5. Some motherboards will also support Nvidia's Hybrid technology when paired with a third party videocard.
Has the time come to say goodbye to Abit? According to Hexus.net, the Taiwanese technology company and one-time enthusiast favorite will exit the motherboard market at the end of 2008.
"HEXUS.channel has confirmed this as fact from sources close to South East Asian distributors," the news and review site writes. "all of which will be notified by their Abit sales contacts from today onwards."
This isn't the first time Abit has been rumored to shut down or leave motherboards behind. Faced with bankruptcy, Abit was acquired by Taiwanese manufacturer Universal Scientific International (USI) back in May of 2006, and rumors this past year of Abit's demise swirled so strongly that the company issued a public denial.
Old school enthusiasts might recall Abit as one of the premier motherboard makers geared towards overclockers, a reputation which arguably took a hit when the company inked a deal to sell Fatal1ty branded products just months before the acquisition. For fans both old and new, Hexus reports Abill will honor RMAs and warranties for three years subsequently.