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.
Intel is preparing to strike back by bolstering their 2nd generation Core processors even further. Today marks the arrival of Sandy Bridge-E and three new processors which include the Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition, Core i7-3930K and Core i7-3820.
The flagship Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition is powered by the new X79/LGA2011 platform supporting quad channel memory and up to 40 lanes of PCIe 2.0 bandwidth.
Built around Intel's H61 chipset, the DH61AG may not seem all that exciting on the surface. However, if you gaze a little deeper, you'll see this is no ordinary Mini-ITX motherboard, as it supports the low profile variant known as Thin Mini-ITX.
The board utilizes Sandy Bridge's integrated graphics engine with support for HDMI and DVI-I, which is complemented by flexible eDP or LVDS flat panel display support. The combination of low height components, premium features and an external power supply make this the perfect solution for affordable all-in-one desktops or tiny HTPC systems.
Today we're looking at a new breed of Mini-ITX motherboards from Asrock called the Z68M-ITX/HT and A75M-ITX. The former is an Intel Z68 board that supports Intel's second-generation Core processors, while the latter utilizes AMD A75's chipset to support Socket FM1 processors, namely the new Fusion A-series desktop APUs.
To spice things up we've selected Intel and AMD's $140 CPU offerings. In other words, this review will also serve as a comparison for the Core i3-2120 and AMD A8-3850.
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?
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.
Along with combining the functionality of previous chipsets, Intel has infused the Z68 with some impressive new features that should make it more appealing to a broader demographic, namely Smart Response Technology (SRT) and LucidLogix Virtu GPU virtualization.
By cramming more features into the Z68, the company has effectively created a new enthusiast-grade chipset, while the P67 has been demoted to somewhat of a mid-range offering.
For those building a new high-end rig from the ground up, the LGA1155 platform looks like the way to go and there are already quite a few exciting new P67 motherboards to choose from. We've put together a roundup featuring many of the very best P67 motherboards currently available. Read on as we check out the Asrock P67 Extreme6, Asus P8P67 Deluxe, ECS P67H2-A2, Gigabyte P67A-UD7 and MSI P67A-GD55.