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.
AMD offers a valid alternative to its flagship GPU with the Radeon HD 7950, which is essentially a lower-specced and lower-priced version of the HD 7970. The HD 7950 is set at $419 for the 1536MB version, while the full 3072MB variant is $449. Although it's currently possible to find a 3GB model for $449, you can expect to pay closer to $500.
Gigabyte has redesigned the PCB and included an upgraded cooler on the WindForce 3 that is meant to lower temperatures and improve overclocking. Considering the HD 7970's respectable performance, we expect a solid showing from the HD 7950.
As a follow-up to last week's CES special feature and coverage, here are more of the products we observed and played with, along with photos taken during our journey to the event. As you've surely noticed, mobile tech consumed the event with seemingly every major company unveiling smartphones, tablets or ultrabooks. Nonetheless, we managed to lay hands on plenty of awesome PC hardware from the likes of Samsung, Silverstone, MSI, Razer, Roccat, Toshiba, Gigabyte and more...
Verizon reverses on $2 fee, Apple's Jonathan Ive has been appointed as a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE). EA, Nintendo and Sony quietly withdraw SOPA support. Sonic the Hedgehog to make a comeback in full 2D (you read that right), and LG expected to show off 84-Inch ‘Ultra Definition’ TV at CES.
AMD's integrated graphics received a new lease on life when the company unleashed its 32nm "Llano" desktop processors earlier this year. Sporting an on-die Radeon HD 6550D graphics processor, the AMD A8-3850 APU rendered many low-end discrete graphics cards obsolete and made Intel's HD Graphics 3000 engine look foolish in the process.
AMD is clearly targeting -- and in our opinion, commanding -- the budget market. We check out three of the most attractive AMD A75 boards from Asus, Asrock and Gigabyte.
Answering to the demand of an enthusiast-grade LGA1155 motherboard, Gigabyte has unleashed the G1.Sniper2 based on the Z68 chipset. Like Asus' ROG motherboards, Gigabyte's G1.Killer series targets hardcore users by including additional hardware on-board such as a dedicated sound chip by Creative and a network controller from Bigfoot Networks.
Those niceties make the G1.Sniper2 one of the most expensive Z68 motherboards available, which begs the question: are you getting your money's worth?
With most board partners scared to push the 244w GTX 580 far beyond its reference spec, we were surprised when Gigabyte announced its solution which treads on deeper water than the competition dares to.
The Gigabyte GTX 580 SOC operates at 855MHz or about double the overclock of Asus and Zotac's cards. For what appears to be a justifiable $35 premium over Nvidia's already steep $500 suggested retail price, they are adding a new PCB design and upgraded cooler.
Released last May, the Z68 chipset serves as Intel's enthusiast-level LGA1155 platform. In addition to combining the functionality of its H67 and P67 chipsets, the Z68 offers some impressive new features, including Intel's Smart Response Technology.
We've seen many impressive Z68 boards since launch, but none are more intriguing than what we have today: the Gigabyte Z68XP-UD3-iSSD. Right out of the box, this board features an Intel SSD 311 20GB attached via an mSATA connector to take advantage of SRT.