Dec 04 2015

News - ASUS Announces B150 Pro Gaming/Aura

When I go motherboard shopping, there is one thing that makes it first on the list of must-haves - Intel NIC. So it was awesome to see that the ASUS B150 Pro Gaming/Aura for Intel Skylake CPUs includes the I219-V. The price is right @ $129 and there's lots of good stuff like M.2, USB Type-C and DDR4 support, but there are two potential drawbacks depending on use: no DisplayPort, and it lights up.

Jun 09 2014

News - MSI Introduces "Eco" Motherboards

It looks like MSI is bringing out a line of "green" motherboards which allow you to disable features/components that aren't being used to save power. Frankly, I think this is an amazing idea as long as it can be done without compromising the stability of the system. My only complaint is that it appears that only mATX boards will be offered, although perhaps that's because there isn't as much to disable on an ITX system Smile.

Hopefully, we can get one in and find out what the actual savings are.


As part of their display at Computex, MSI was showing a new element to their range based on low power systems.  The ECO range, in a white and green, is aimed at low power scenarios, and MSI seem to focus on micro-ATX sizes for H81 and B85 chipsets. 

One of the main elements to this is the MSI software, allowing users to disable unused PCIe and USB ports, or disabling fan headers.  We saw the early versions of this software on the Z97 MPower Max AC, but the ECO software is more extensive in terms of options.


Jan 13 2014

News - Gigabyte @ CES 2014

Gigabyte was focused mainly at the PC high-end, but there were a few tidbits for HTPC enthusiasts as well. The BRIX was probably the most interesting thing in the bunch though with several different options either just out, or coming soon.

Jan 23 2013

News - Intel Leaving Retail Motherboard Market

Before I bought my first Intel branded motherboard, a DG45ID, I never understood why anyone would want to pay more for one of their (at that time) homely BIOS'd systems. After owning it, and a slew of subsequent boards, going back to a top-tier Taiwanese brand will be more than a little depressing when Intel stops making consumer motherboards after Haswell (coming in June). That's not to say that there's anything inherently wrong with those boards, it's just that they don't offer the unique mix of stability and HTPC-centric features (i.e. CIR, HTPC_HEADER & configurable LED behavior in S3) alongside one the most often overlooked must-haves on any system - an Intel NIC. Hopefully one of them will step up and fill the hole in my HTPC's heart.

Today Intel made a sobering, but not entirely unexpected announcement: over the next 3 years Intel will be ramping down its own desktop motherboard business. Intel will continue to supply desktop chipsets for use by 3rd party motherboard manufacturers like ASUS, ASRock and Gigabyte, but after 2013 it will no longer produce and sell its own desktop mITX/mATX/ATX designs in the channel. We will see Haswell motherboards from the group, but that will be the last official hurrah. Intel will stop developing desktop motherboards once the Haswell launch is completed. All Intel boards, including upcoming Haswell motherboards, will carry a full warranty and will be supported by Intel during that period.


Sep 03 2012

News - ASRock Z77E-ITX Mini-ITX Motherboard Reviewed

The Mini-ITX hits just keep on coming. With the diminutive platform becoming increasingly popular with the DIY crowd,  we are seeing more manufacturers offering a greater variety of motherboards and more sites running reviews of those offerings. In this case, the ASRock Z77E-ITX is on the review table. As the name implies, the Z77E-ITX is a Mini-ITX board based on the Intel Z77 chipset, which means it comes packing a PCI Express 3.0 slot, onboard USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gbps ports, and support for not only Ivy Bridge, but also support for K-series unlocked processors. ASRock also throws in extra USB 3.0 ports on the rear panel, full-size DIMM slots, and a WLAN card in the mini-PCI Express slot with antenna connectors on the rear panel. The Z77 chipset is aimed at the enthusiast segment of the market and most HTPC builders are probably fine settling for a board based on the H77, but it is still refreshing to see so many manufacturers opting to use the Z77 given the chilly reception that the Z67 chipset received for Mini-ITX. 


Small form factor PC's seem to be growing in popularity since you can run all of the latest gear. Today we are going to look at our first Intel Z77 mini-ITX motherboard to come across my bench. The ASRock Z77E-ITX is, as the name suggests an Intel Z77 motherboard which supports the latest Intel 22nm 'Ivy Bridge' processors in the LGA1155 package. The key feature to the ASRock Z77E-ITX is clearly the mini-ITX small form factor. 

Legit Reviews

Aug 29 2012

News - MSI and Gigabyte Unveil New Mini-ITX Motherboards

We are currently about halfway through the release cycle of the most recent Intel processor family. Ivy Bridge has now been with us for several months and we are still several months from the release of Haswell, Ivy Bridge's successor. For processor afficionados, these might be the doldrums, but for anyone looking to go Mini-ITX for a new HTPC or home server build, MSI and Gigabyte might have what you need to spark a bit of excitement. MSI has announced the Z77IA-E53, a new high-end Mini-ITX board based on the Intel Z77 chipset. The Z77IA-E53 is overclocking-friendly for those so inclined and packs the usual accoutrements such as a PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slot and 4 SATA ports, but it also comes with a mini-PCI-Express slot and a Wi-Fi/Bluetooth dongle.

The rest of the features include single PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slot, one mini PCI-Express slot, two DDR3 DIMM slots with support for up to 16GB of DDR3-1600 (2600 OC) memory, two SATA 6Gbps and two SATA 3Gbps ports, eSATA port, four USB 3.0 ports (two via header), six USB 2.0 ports, integrated 7.1-channel audio, HDMI and D-Sub outputs, Gigabit Ethernet, integrated (via dongle) 802.11bgn WiFi and Bluetooth 3.0.


Gigabyte H77N-WiFi

Gigabyte is also showing the Z77 chipset some Mini-ITX love with the Z77N-WiFi. Gigabyte's take of the Z77 looks to be fairly similr to MSI's, except that rather than provide Wi-Fi and Bluetooth via dongle, Gigabyte has chose to provider an adapter that fits into the board's mini-PCI Express slot with antenna outs on the back panel. HTPC builders will probably be drawn more to the H77N-WiFi, with should provide just about all of the same functionality with its H77 chipset as the Z77N-WiFi, but at lower price and with an S/PDIF output to boot.

With the exception of the name silk-screened on the board, the H77N-WiFi looks all but identical to the Z77N. Although the platform hub hiding under the heatsink is different, you don't lose much with the H77. The lack of support for dual-x8 multi-GPU configurations is moot given the board's single PCIe x16 slot. The H77 offers only limited multiplier control for overclockers, but the cramped nature of Mini-ITX enclosures is far from ideal for pushing clock speeds.


Feb 18 2012

News - J&W Announces New Cedar Trail Motherboards, Barebones

J&W's MINIX line of mini-ITX motherboards have consistently targeted the higher end of the market with unique features and a focus on quality components. My first experience with their boards was the fantastic MINIX 780G-SP128MB, a mini-ITX gem that made its way into several HTPC and home server builds I assisted with. J&W looks set to continue the trend of quality craftsmanship with the release of the MINIX D2700-DC and MINIX D2500-DC. Both Cedar Trail-based boards will be passively cooled, include USB 3.0, and feature all-solid capacitor designs. J&W is also prepping a barebones kit based on the new boards. No word on pricing or specific release dates just yet, but evidently the D2700-DC is expected out first. Atom processors may not be as popular for HTPC builds as they once were, but J&W's new boards may be worth a look for those interested in going low-powered and silent.


Luckily, J&W spared no expense and both boards feature an all-solid capacitor design, with two USB 3.0 ports courtesy of a Renesas controllers and HDMI. They also feature 5.1 audio, VGA, Broadcom dual-gigabit LAN, one PCIe x1 slot and two DDR3 SO-DIMM sockets for up to 8GB of DDR3 1066, although Intel only recommends 4GB.


Feb 17 2012

News - AMD FM1 Socket Mini-ITX Motherboard Roundup

ASUS F1A75-I Deluxe

Intel may have been hogging the CPU limelight over the last few years, but AMD has been toiling away on its own processors and taking full advantage of their purchase of ATI several years ago to pump out competitive processors with superior graphics capabilities. Indeed, for a small form factor HTPC that will be completely dependent on its integrated graphics unit, AMD's recent Llano processors are particularly compelling. At the same time, AMD has been more aggressive in adding new technologies and features to their motherboard chipsets, allowing manufacturers to pack a ton of attractive features into even the smallest boards as the motherboards in this roundup demonstrate. It may be hard to tap into the full performance opportunities of SATA 6.0 in an HTPC, but I still find it rather interesting to see an entire collection of motherboards sporting nothing but SATA 6.0 for hard drive connections.

Hybrid AMD processors from A8, A6, A4 or E2 families suit perfectly for Mini-ITX computer systems. Let’s see what platforms are currently available from the leading mainboard makers in this field. Today we are going to check out ASRock A75M-ITX, ASUS F1A75-I Deluxe, Gigabyte A75N-USB3 and Zotac A75-ITX WiFi.

X-bit Labs

Dec 31 2011

News - ASRock A75M-ITX Motherboard Reviewed


ASRock has been a solid supporter of AMD CPUs over the last couple of years as evidenced by their high-end Fatality-branded motherboards. ASRock has also been a solid supporter of the Mini-ITX format. The A75M-ITX brings AMD and Mini-ITX together in one compact package. The lack of overclocking support shouldn't be much of an issue for anyone looking for an HTPC kit, and AMD has arguably done a better job of supporting newer technologies such as USB 3.0 and SATA3 than Intel. I like the inclusion of MKV playback testing. Given the growing popularity of the format, I hope we will see more reviews including MKV playback results, particularly for integrated graphics.

Today we are going to look at the ASRock A75M-ITX motherboard which is aimed at the small-form-factor market. As its name suggests, the motherboard is Mini-ITX which makes it ideal to use within a compact HTPC.

We can also deduce from the product name that this particular motherboard features AMD’s A75 Fusion Controller Hub, meaning it supports the latest USB3.0 and SATA-600 interfaces.


Dec 24 2011

News - Zotac Z68ITX-B-E WiFi Supreme Motherboard Reviewed

Zotac X68ITX-B-EZotac makes a number of mini-ITX motherboards and has established a reputation for stacking a lot features on their little boards. They make two different Z68 Mini-ITX boards, the Z68ITX-A-E, for which we saw a review a while back, and the Z68ITX-B-E. The Z68ITX-B-E adds a couple of different features, in particular the built-in discrete Nvidia Geforce GT430 GPU. Intel has made great strides with their integrated graphics performance, but the GT430 is still a nice step up for those looking for some extra graphics horsepower. It's also a nice option to have for those looking to utilize LAV CUVID as their decoder.

Today we are going to take a look at a motherboard that is perfect for a small form factor or media center application.  The board is the Zotac Z68-ITX WiFi Supreme and it features support for second generation Intel Core processors, discrete NvidiaGeForce GT 430 graphics processor, support for DDR3 memory, USB 3.0, SATA 6GB/s support and of course built-in WiFi. 


Syndicate content
Website design by Yammm Software
Powered by Drupal