Asus and Gigabyte lay out expectations for motherboard shipments next year.
The do-it-yourself (DIY) market isn't dying by any means, though there are signs it may be shrinking slightly, whether it's because of the economy or the current fascination with tablets and other mobile form factors. Either way, top tier motherboard vendor Asus says it expects motherboard shipments to dip 2.3 percent to 21.5 million units in 2013, after already dropping 5.2 percent in 2012.
The overclocking community is wasting no time putting AMD's new 8-core "Vishera" FX-8350 processor to work chasing world records for CPU frequency. To wit, MSI yesterday sent out a press release bragging that it's 990FXA-GD80 motherboard was used by an overclocker to set a world record of 8.37GHz, and it's already been leapfrogged...twice! The new record, at least for today, stands at 8.67GHz, giving Asus a bit of momentary bragging rights.
Not all midrange motherboards are created the same. Sure, these Z77motherboards all have a black-and-blue color scheme, and they all carry similar street prices, but differences emerge when it comes to features, specs, and performance. Which one should you pair with your new 22nm Ivy Bridge CPU? Glad you asked.
ASRock, once a subsidiary of Asus and now owned by Pegatron (at least until when/if Asus buys the brand back), ended the work week by unveiling its Z77 Extreme6/TB4 motherboard with dual Thunderbolt ports. Using the Daisy Chain feature, the Z77 Extreme6/TB4 supports up to twelve Thunderbolt devices, six in each port, ASRock points out. Thunderbolt isn't the only thing the board has going for it.
Midrange boards typically have to sacrifice features to get under $200 and MSI’s Z77A-GD65 shows evidence of this philosophy. It’s the only board here without a discrete USB 3.0 controller, instead relying on the native Intel chipset for all USB 3.0. It’s also the only board without DisplayPort.
MSI shaved costs by jettisoning extra USB 3.0 ports on the Z77A-GD65.
Of all the boards here, we’re most intimately familiar with Gigabyte’s GA-Z77X-UD5H. It’s the board we used for the bulk of our Core i7-3770K testing, and one thing we can say, it’s stable. We’ve literally run more than 50 hours of benchmarks on this board without any issue.
We hit our highest auto-overclock with the Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD5H.
Whether you're a fan of the stealth design or not, you have to hand it to ECS for thinking outside the box on this one. The company posted on Facebook a picture of its X79R-AX Stealth, currently a concept motherboard unique in the fact that the majority of the printed circuit board (PCB) is hidden beneath a shroud that protects all the digital bits from damage, dust, and everything else.
Watch out, Atom CPUs and AMD APUs, there's a new contender vying for the attention of small box HTPC enthusiasts: Nvidia's quad-core Tegra 3 processor. Wait, what? Isn't that a mobile processor? Theoretically, but that hasn't stopped Kontron from creating the world's first mini-ITX Tegra 3 processor, complete with an itty bitty footprint and an equally itty bitty 7W power requirement.