Don't you hate it when leaked pictures of future products pop up on the web, but they turn out all blurry like a kid with a $10 Kodak snapped the photos? Yeah, we do too, but luckily that isn't what we have here. Mysteriously manifesting out of the deepest corners of cyberspace are several closeups of MSI's upcoming Bulldozer board, the 990FX-GD6A.
Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS) is doing its best to shed its old reputation as strictly a budget board maker by focusing on higher end chipsets. That includes AMD's upcoming 990FX chipset, the one built for Bulldozer sporting a new AM3+ socket. This is the chipset enthusiasts will reach for when popping in new four-, six-, and even eight-core processors.
And off we go! Now that Intel has officially outed its Z68 Express chipset, the announcements from hardware vendors pitching new products are rolling in. One of those is from MSI who just unveiled a couple of Z68 motherboards (socket 1155), one of which features support for both CrossFireX and SLI.
On the surface, it’s easy to shrug your shoulders and say “meh” at Intel’s new Z68 chipset.
It doesn’t, for example, add any more than the two SATA 6GB/s ports that the P67 had nor does it add native USB 3.0. The single x16 PCI-E 2.0 isn’t improved either (nor can it be because those are within the CPU). But that’s doesn't mean the Z68 isn't an important step forward.
In fact, the improvements it brings to the table are actually uniquely compelling. Read on for our analysis of Intel's latest chipset.
You've heard that big things come in small packages, and after peering over the spec sheet for Zotac's new Fusion ITX Wi-Fi A-series motherboard, we have no reason to doubt the wisdom in that statement. This also happens to be Zotac's first Fusion motherboard, so perhaps the company was looking to make a statement. Mission accomplished.
Sandy Bridge is sitting pretty in the eyes of system builders now that the design flaw that affected initial shipments of early 6-series chipsets is a thing of the past. Looking ahead, things are about to get even better. Intel's Z68 Express chipset aimed at power users will bring some performance-oriented features to the table, and according to the latest rumor mill chatter, the chipset's launch is less than three weeks away.
Whenever AMD or Intel introduce a new processor, there's the question of whether or not it will work in your existing motherboard, and if not, which one(s) will it work with? The answer isn't always as obvious as a pin count, especially with the current generation of AMD parts. To help alleviate any confusion over AMD's next generation CPUs for current AMD 800/700 series chipset motherboards, Gigabyte announced it's the first to market with AM3+ "Black Socket" motherboards, giving users at-a-glance confirmation that everything's kosher.
The stars are aligned to build your next homebrewed rig, or to simply upgrade your existing platform. Assuming you didn't procrastinate, you should have received your tax refund by now, the Sandy Bridge situation is largely a thing of the past, and this might be as low as motherboard prices are going to get for awhile.
Remember when you could buy a high-end AMD motherboard for around a C-note? You have to think all the way back to the Barton glory days, when the Asus A7N8X Deluxe and Abit NF7-S v2 dominated any talk of bang-for-buck ratios. But that was a long time ago, and if you want a top-of-the-line motherboard today, you're looking at spending north of $200, particularly if you're invested with Intel. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like mobo prices are coming down anytime soon, and in fact they may be on the rise.
So maybe we're exaggerating a little when we say Asus stole our idea for a cardboard case, but for the record, former Maximum PC Associate Editor and current Contributing Writer, David Murphy, beat Asus to the punch by three and a half years. Printed in our October 2007 issue and viewable online here, The Murph went up against Senior Editor Gordon Mah Ung in our $500 PC Build Off challenge, and in an attempt to save a few pennies to apply to other upgrades, Murphy stuck his parts inside a cardboard box and called the abomination a system. If you thought his idea was brilliant, you'll love Asus' motherboard box/case concept.