Upcoming Intel Based Motherboards from GIGABYTE, ASUS, MSI and ASRockby Ian Cutress on April 28, 2014 3:30 AM EST
MSI’s New Products
The news from MSI’s range comes by virtue of some initial leaked images that were retracted. In response to the knowledge reaching the zeitgeist of the cutting edge technology followers, MSI offered these images direct from source but with the Intel-specific details missing. We saw a small amount of these upcoming products by virtue of MSI’s presence at CeBIT, where MSI was asking media for their thoughts.
The images provided by MSI cover a large user base from SFF to extreme high end. They all bare the Gaming moniker so far, although MSI does have three distinct ranges including its OC range (MPower, XPower) and channel range which we should see more of at a later date.
First one on the list is a mini-ITX motherboard, the I-Gaming:
For a start the rear IO looks almost backwards. The audio jacks are at the top of the board, and the Clear_CMOS switch is at the bottom. It looks like MSI have moved towards a WiFi card on the rear as well, a change much welcomed. The socket area sits low giving some space for coolers, and at the top is the 24-pin ATX power connector alongside four SATA ports. There is a USB 3.0 header, and we can see an EM shield for the audio codec at the top. The CPU power connector is an odd place near the rear IO, meaning cables will have to reach over the motherboard to get to it.
At the top of the line, MSI has on show the Gaming 9 AC:
The rear IO and audio sections of the PCB are covered in what looks like a shield, either for aesthetics or technical reasons perhaps. The sticking out bit on the rear IO looks like a WiFi module, similar to that on the mini-ITX model. There are some overclocking features, such as OC Genie and voltage read points, but for SATA ports we have at least 8 on the motherboard as well as an M.2 between the PCIe slots. The PCIe slots are separated for close-proximity three-way GPU configurations, whereas normally we see the final PCIe slot another section down the motherboard.
We also get the Gaming 7:
The Gaming 5:
And at the low end, the Gaming 3:
The Gaming 3 looks like a stripped down version of the Gaming 9, with less phases in the power delivery, no shield, fewer SATA ports and PCI slots. Audio Boost is still present, as well as the heatsink design.
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Marlowe - Monday, April 28, 2014 - linkYeah this transfer to PCIe based storage is really exciting. But why don't we see any drives in the shops? The PCIe M.2 SSD's are impossible to find, just the "fake" SATA based ones that offer no performance advantage over mSATA are available. Also where are the 1 GB/s+ fast 2,5" SATA-express drives?
Do you think the x2 M.2 will just be a stopgap solution until we get x4 across the board? ASRock seems to already be on the way. And how fast do you think we'll see x8 and x16 based M.2?
SirKnobsworth - Monday, April 28, 2014 - linkThe M.2 spec only supports x4 at the moment. I don't know if there are enough pins to support more lanes in a future revision. We are starting to see x8 PCIe SSDs though, not that consumer level PCs will have enough lanes to support those for another year or so.
Marlowe - Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - linkThanks for the answer.
Antronman - Monday, April 28, 2014 - linkBecause PCIe storage is (currently) very expensive.
It's the fastest available, but comes at a steep price.
James5mith - Monday, April 28, 2014 - linkI would love to see more coverage of the "industrial" side boards from Asrock. I only recently discovered them, and just like on the consumer side, they give their competitors (for me, Supermicro) a serious run for the money on both cost and feature set.
xeizo - Monday, April 28, 2014 - linkWake me up when Haswell-E is available ...
dj_aris - Monday, April 28, 2014 - linkStorage in 2014 is a mess. We know SATA and mSATA are limited to 6GBps but M.2 and SATA Express come in several flavors (speeds) but without any actual availability (excluding from the SATA M.2 drives which are actually mSATA drives with M.2 adaptors). So, since 9-series boards are actually all about supporting new storage options (Broadwell support is another reason I guess but there is no Broadwell yet), it's way too early to pick a board because you don't actually know which format will take off. So frustrating.
willis936 - Monday, April 28, 2014 - linkPerhaps that's went they're all strutting their usual marketing fluff before even announcing a chipset.
Edkiefer - Monday, April 28, 2014 - linkOn first 2 Gigabyte MB with 4 PCIe slots , why do they have the 16x slot at very top slot . this way your limited on big air coolers like D14/15, NH 14S .unless second pcie can support 16x with single card .
sherlockwing - Monday, April 28, 2014 - linkBecause people with that much money to buy a 4PCIe board are going water most of the time anyway. This have been the trend on all flagship boards(ASUS ROGs the last few generations for example).