Setting a new bar for small form factor PCs, ECS launched the Liva earlier this year, making comparable machines look oversized and overpriced. Since its debut, ECS has updated the Liva with a 64GB option and though that's double the storage, we have only seen a mild price increase to $185. Paired with a super efficient fanless design that promises smooth 1080p playback it certainly grabbed our attention.
Although Intel's die shrink of Sandy Bridge isn't due until next week (Monday, rumors say), the company has long shipped Ivy Bridge's accompanying chipsets. It might seem odd to jump the gun on "next-gen" motherboards, but 7-series platforms are backwards compatible with Sandy Bridge processors, so users have actually been able to buy a Z77 motherboard and use it for a few weeks without Ivy Bridge.
After surveying Panther Point's spec sheet, we're itching to get a little more hands-on. Fortunately, we have four new Z77 motherboards in the shop and begging for attention, including the Asrock Z77 Extreme6, ECS Z77H2-AX, Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H-WB and Intel DZ77GA-70K.
Those wanting to build the ultimate performance system will naturally turn to Intel’s new LGA2011 platform which recently made its debut with the Sandy Bridge-E processors. Further, the platform is expected to support enthusiast-level Ivy Bridge processors that are slated for release by the end of 2012, adding to the platform's longevity.
More than ever we expect motherboard manufacturers deliver the goods with their X79 offerings as the platform will only be attractive to the most demanding of PC enthusiasts and gamers building heavily packed machines -- you know, those who will be paying ~$300 for a motherboard on top of a very expensive processor.