Just before the holiday weekend in November, MSI posted to its Facebook account a teaser shot showing off a pair of mini ITX gaming products. One was a graphics card and the other a motherboard, but beyond what you could make out in the picture, mum was the word from MSI at the time. Well, MSI is now ready to reveal the full monty. Those of you who guessed the graphics card was a mini ITXGeForce GTX 760, you're awarded 760 geek cred points.
MSI is using Facebook correctly. While Facebook feeds have a tendency to be cluttered with pictures of food and political rants, MSI posted a photo of two unreleased mini ITX gaming products. One is a mini ITX motherboard and the other is a pint-sized graphics card. Both sport a red and black color scheme along with MSI's familiar dragon logo, plus some clues to the feature-sets.
So here it is, black sheep, your shot at going against the grain and becoming a modern day miner while the rest of your family pursues careers in the field of medicine, law, science, or whatever else they're doing. ASRock has your back with a pair of motherboards designed specifically with Bitcoin mining in mind. Each board supports half a dozen graphics cards, allowing you to mine for virtual currency like a madman, if that's your thing.
Fancy yourself a digital packrat? If oodles of storage options float your boat, you're going to love what ASRock has done with its new Z87 Extreme11/ac motherboard. This slice of silicon is, according to ASRock, "the most high-end Z87 motherboard on the face of the earth!" It's certainly one of the most storage friendly with 22 SATA3 ports, including 6 SATA3 ports by way of Intel's Z87 chipset, and another 16 SAS-3 12.0GB/s ports from the added LSI SAS 3008 controller plus 3X24R Expander.
Buy a board or system today, add Thunderbolt support later
Intel is obviously geeked about its Thunderbolt interface, the question is, are you? Thunderbolt has made some strides since it was first introduced -- it's present on all Apple Mac systems, there are over 100 Thunderbolt devices available, and the first Thunderbolt 2 systems were unveiled last month -- but it's not as widely available as, say, USB. To further promote the interface, Intel came up with the idea of enabling PC makers to offer Thunderbolt upgradeable motherboards within desktops and workstation systems.
Heading into the weekend, Gigabyte announced the launch of its latest gaming motherboard, the G1.Sniper Z87. Gigabyte made the announcement at Blizzcon 2013, one of the biggest U.S. gaming events of the year. It's a fitting place to unveil the G1.Sniper Z87, which combines aggressive looks with high-end hardware like an AMP-UP audio feature and Killer E2200 networking.
Looking to build a bad ass system around Intel's Ivy Bridge-E architecture? You may want to consider the Rampage IV Black Edition motherboard from Asus. The Rampage IV Black Edition is based on Intel's X79 Express chipset and comes loaded with features aimed at gamers and overclockers alike, and from the pictures we've seen, it looks pretty sweet to boot. It's also a pricey piece of silicon at $500, though Asus softens the blow somewhat by including a free copy of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag.
The doctor tackles Proprietary Connectors, Gremlins, PCIe Lanes, and more
Hey Doc, I currently have an Asus M5A99X Evo R2.0 running dual XFX Radeon 7970 Black Editions in CrossFireX. That's dual–PCIe 2.0 x8 mode. Would the new Asus Sabertooth 990FX/Gen3 R2.0 give me any advantage in gaming? I mostly play first-person shooters like Far Cry 3, Tomb Raider, Assassin's Creed 3, and the like. I searched the web and it’s a toss-up for little to no gain. Also, will the Sabertooth actually run dual-x16 in the PCIe 3.0 slots? I've read conflicting reports on the net. AMD fanboys want to know the truth!
Note: This feature was originally featured in the July 2013 issue of the magazine.
Combined mobo shipments from Asus and Gigabyte likely to top 43 million units in 2013
Two top tier motherboard makers, Asus and Gigabyte, are fighting for the shipment crown, and while it looks like Asus will emerge the winner, it's become a fairly narrow race at the top. Gigabyte helped close the gap by shipping six million motherboards in the third quarter of this year and is expected to ship at least five million more mobos in the fourth quarter, bringing its total to 21 million units in 2013 (or more).
Flagship board also features dual Thunderbolt ports
At times an unsung hero in the motherboard market, ASRock has picked up its game in the past year or so and has begun kicking out some high-end silicon at tempting price points. Clearly ASRock is interested in the enthusiast sector these days, and if you need proof of that, just spy a glance at its new Z87 Extreme 11 /TB20 motherboard that it's showing off at IDF 2013 in San Francisco.