MSI


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The big news at MSI was its demonstration of a high end motherboard featuring a Sound Blaster Audigy2 instead of a Live! chip. Our tests have all shown that the nForce4 motherboards that use the SB Live! processor perform much better than motherboards based on the Realtek ALC850, since less processing is offloaded from the DSP to the CPU. MSI and ASUS representatives hinted that a lower cost, smaller footprint Audigy chip for onboard audio is in the works, but there is no word yet on adoption. Below, you can see the new ultra high end AMD board from MSI – the dual X16 K8N Diamond Plus – complete with a C51D bridge and heat pipe.


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MSI was also very proud to show off working X1800XL cards. We are still waiting for retail shipments of a lot of these cards, but manufacturers claim that ATI is still in allocation.


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MSI also has an X850 Crossfire card, and what better way to run that X850 Crossfire card than with an MSI Crossfire motherboard. Expect to see MSI’s RD480 board any day now.


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Like virtually all other manufacturers (other than DFI), the RD480 Neo2 features a ULi south bridge.

Gigabyte

The board that immediately caught our eye at Gigabyte was their new 975X board with a radically new cooling design. Rather than rely on the chassis to generate enough airflow over the Northbridge and mosfets, Gigabyte decided to condense and remove some of the legacy devices from the I/O backports and use that space for small, powerful fans instead. These fans draw air over the core logic and mosfets via a plastic tunnel system, and then exhaust where we are typically accustomed to seeing PS/2 or other legacy device outputs. Such a design is good for cooling, but your ears may not approve.


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MSI isn’t the only motherboard manufacturer sporting the new onboard Audigy chips. Gigabyte’s newest touts the same Audigy2 featured on MSI’s high end motherboards. When we asked if there were plans in the future for other Creative based chips, most product managers agreed that interference across the motherboard PCB is beginning to be a problem. The expansion audio cards already produce less interference over onboard chips, and higher quality sound may require the use of a sound module to avoid interference.

Gigabyte is already working on 945GM/GT and will likely become the first to the retail channel with motherboards. Intel’s Mobile on Desktop (MOD) doesn’t seem to have much support from other manufacturers, although everyone likes to talk about it. Gigabyte, on the other hand, is clearly putting its money where its mouth is. While AOpen and DFI are traditionally the only vendors to bring MOD products to market, Gigabyte seems ready to embrace MOD as well.

Gigabyte’s Quad graphics motherboard stirred up a lot of attention over the last few weeks. In fact, once Gigabyte heard that Matrox has plans for a triple-headed PCIe graphics card, the thought of twelve displays on a single motherboard made even the most senior engineer drool.


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Gigabyte also has several new DDR2 based video cards and new cooling technologies. As we’ve mentioned a few times before, DDR2 is actually cheaper than DDR1 on the spot market, so low clock video cards that use DDR1 will start using DDR2 all across the board, not just at Gigabyte. More details on this soon!

Index ECS and Biostar
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  • unclebud - Monday, December 05, 2005 - link

    wondering what's the requirement to go on a tour or at least get an asus pin Reply
  • Zoomer - Friday, November 04, 2005 - link

    quote:

    a $200 price tag, the DFI LanParty UT RDX200 is almost double the price of the original ATI Crossfire motherboard roadmap predictions. MSI and Gigabyte also have Crossfire boards slated for immediate release, so perhaps we will see more price adjustments here.

    Does that mean that we'll soon be seeing sub $100 ATi boards?

    Wow! I'm definately buying one if that's the case.

    Btw, dual x16 slots are overrated. Will it be possible to use a x1 or x4 card in a x16 slot?
    Reply
  • KristopherKubicki - Saturday, November 05, 2005 - link

    quote:

    Btw, dual x16 slots are overrated. Will it be possible to use a x1 or x4 card in a x16 slot?


    Yes and Yes.

    Kristopher
    Reply
  • vailr - Friday, November 04, 2005 - link

    Just curious: has Apple made a determination yet, which company will be making their new Intel CPU based motherboards? Has the chipset been pre-determined as being "Intel only", or could NVIDIA, ULi, ATI or VIA chipsets still be a possibility for Apple's new x86 CPU based architecture?
    That is: the official Apple products, to be released in 2006.
    Reply
  • BigLan - Thursday, November 03, 2005 - link

    Does this comment mean that nvidia have stopped working on intel boards? If so, when did this happen?

    "When NVIDIA was still on board with Intel, 975X Yonah would have meant an SLI Pentium M desktop, but now it looks like we’ll just have to settle for a Crossfire MOD board instead."
    Reply
  • KristopherKubicki - Thursday, November 03, 2005 - link

    No. NVIDIA is actually going to get more agressive with Intel boards. It just means there won't be any Yonah based SLI motherboards except the one ECS is working on -- that we know of anyway....

    Kristopher
    Reply
  • stmok - Thursday, November 03, 2005 - link

    ASRock had a few other unique products on display, including those wonderful ULi based boards. The yellow riser on this motherboard is actually for a Socket 754 expansion card. ASRock also had M2 socket kits available, but since M2 will require DDR2, we weren’t exactly sure how that riser would work.

    How it works is: the Northbridge, CPU and DDR2 memory slots will be on the CPU upgrade
    card. The jumpers will tell the mobo to use the stuff on the CPU upgrade card.
    Think of the jumpers as a junction thingie on train tracks, a flick on a switch will
    shift you to the next line over.

    So all you do is...

    (1) Buy an ASRock mobo now (on with the CPU upgrade slot...The yellow slot)
    (2) When Socket M2 arrives, buy the Socket M2 CPU upgrade card, your prefered
    Scoket M2 CPU...It doesn't matter what it is : Sempron, A64, A64 X2, Opteron 1xx
    series AND some DDR2 RAM.
    (3) Set the jumpers on the mobo according to manual, point it to use CPU upgrade
    card.
    (4) Install CPU, HSF and DDR2 RAM on upgrade card.
    (5) Install upgrade onto mobo.
    (6) Turn on and fingers crossed... It should work. :)
    Reply
  • yacoub - Thursday, November 03, 2005 - link

    What's the ETA on that silently-cooled 7800GT?? That is EXACTLY what I want for my next build! I bet it doesn't come out until next year! :( :( :( Reply
  • yacoub - Thursday, November 03, 2005 - link

    Actually while we're at it, what's the ETA to the A8N32-SLI Deluxe hitting store shelves as well?

    I'd love a passively cooled motherboard and GPU since those two items tend to have the smallest, noisiest fans. I can barely imagine the joy of cutting out those two noise sources and just having a CPU fan and the PSU fan. mmmmmm!
    Reply
  • KristopherKubicki - Thursday, November 03, 2005 - link

    http://labs.anandtech.com/search.php?q=A8N32-SLI+D...">http://labs.anandtech.com/search.php?q=A8N32-SLI+D...

    Soon soon :(

    Kristopher
    Reply

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