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Mar 6, 2012

CeBIT 2012: Asus Presents High-End P8Z77-I Deluxe Mini-ITX Motherboard

Over the years, we have become accustomed to Asus’ high-performance motherboard designs, but few of them were more outrageous than the P8Z77-I Deluxe mini-ITX LGA 1155 board that the company recently showcased during the CeBIT 2012 fair.

Built around Intel’s Z77 chipset, the most prominent feature of the P8Z77-I Deluxe is its VRM power module.

In order to save precious PCB space, Asus decided that the entire VRM of its creation should be placed on a vertical printed circuit board.

This is the first mini-ITX motherboard that we have seen to date to use such a setup and, according to Asus, the eight power phases included in its design should allow the P8Z77-I Deluxe to overclock just as well as your average full-size Z77 board.

Users who require more graphics power than the on-board GPU included in Intel’s Ivy Bridge processors can deliver should also be glad to know that Asus’ creation comes with a full-size PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot.

The rest of the expansion options available in the P8Z77-I Deluxe include a half-size mini PCI Express slot, populated with a Wi-Fi/Bluetooth add-on card, a pair of full size DIMM sockets and four SATA ports.

Two of these run at SATA 6Gbps speeds, while the remaining two SATA interfaces found in the Intel Z77 PCH are routed to the rear of the motherboard as eSATA connectors.

Also in the back users will find four USB 3.0 and four USB 2.0 ports, DisplayPort, HDMI and DVI connectors, Gigabit Ethernet, and 5.1-channel audio with optical S/PDIF out.

The rear I/O bracket also houses a pair of buttons, but we aren’t sure what these are used for (we suspect one of these is a Clear CMOS switch).

No details regarding the P8Z77-I Deluxe price or availability have been provided by its maker, but VR-Zone expects this to cost as much as some full-size Intel Z77 motherboards.

Sony LT29i Hayabusa Arriving in Korea and Japan in June

Rumor has it that Sony wants to release some of its LTE-enabled smartphones earlier than expected. The latest semi-official document leaked online pointed to a July release for the so-called Sony LT29i Hayabusa.

However, a Sony official hinted at a possible June launch for the Sony LT29i Hayabusa, which is one of the company’s upcoming smartphone that features LTE support.

According to the folks over at Ameblo.jp, citing a Korean blog site, Sony will either officially announce the LT29i Hayabusa in June or will actually release the smartphone on the market.

Although the smartphone will be initially released in Korea and Japan, there’s no telling if it is available outside these two countries as well.

The first Sony LT29i Hayabusa benchmark results leaked several weeks ago, but they point to a mid-range Android smartphone rather than a top-tier device.

Following Sony’s new branding pattern, the Hayabusa will probably be released on the market under a different name containing the Xperia series name followed by a single letter, such as Xperia H or Xperia L. 

Anyway, it appears that Sony LT29i Hayabusa is equipped with 1GHz dual-core processor and it will be powered by Google’s Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system. It’s likely that the smartphone will also run Sony’s Timescape UI on top of the mobile platform as well.

More details on the 1.5 Ghz dual-core processor (no word on model) confirm that it will be complemented by an Adreno 225 graphics processing unit (GPU). 

The only other known spec for the Sony LT29i Hayabusa is the large screen, probably 4.3-inch, which is said to support HD 1196 x 720 pixels resolution. 

Even though Sony LT29i Hayabusa was previously slated for a July release, it won’t come as a surprise if the Japanese company will announce the smartphone one month earlier. Stay tuned for more updates on the matter.

New Sony Xperia Phone (Model MT25iA) Emerges

Following the launch of no less than four new Xperia devices at the beginning of the year, Sony is gearing up for the release of more smartphones, one of which should feature model number MT25iA. 

Nothing has been officially confirmed on this mobile phone, but it has already been spotted on the AnTuTu benchmark, which appears to confirm its existence. 

The handset is expected to arrive on shelves with a 1GHz application processor inside, complemented by 341MB of RAM. 

At the moment, the mobile phone is running under Android 2.3.4, but there is the possibility that Sony would load the newer Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich on it as well.

However, the one thing that seems to be certain right now is that this will be an entry-level most probably cheaper than the MT27i ‘Pepper,’ the guys over at Xperia.net note.

CeBIT 2012: MSI Presents R7970 Lightning Graphics Card

MSI’s high-performance Lightning series of graphics cards will soon get a new addition in the form of the R7970 Lightning, a highly-customized Radeon HD 7970 solution targeting enthusiasts and overclockers alike.

The graphics card was showcased by MSI at the company’s CeBIT 2012 booth where it was spotted by the guys from Lab501.

Pictured above, the card uses the latest iteration of MSI’s TwinFrozr cooling system, which has five copper heatpipes to draw the heat away from the GPU into a massive aluminum heatsink topped by two 90mm fans.

The PCB was also heavily modified from AMD’s reference design and it now features a 16-phase PWM, independent memory power, and Military Class III components (Hi-c CAP, SFC, Solid CAPs).

Since we are dealing with a Lightning-series graphics card, MSI has added a wide variety of overclocking features to the card, including a series DIP switches for disabling the card’s over current protection or to unlock the GPU and MEM voltages.

Furthermore, the top edge of the PCB also houses a series of headers that were specially designed to allow enthusiasts to connect a multimeter, which can be used for monitoring the GPU, VMEM and other card voltages while running.

Sadly, MSI hasn’t mentioned anything about the operating frequencies of the R7970 Lightning, but the graphics card will definitely come overclocked from the factory.

AMD’s Radeon HD 7970 is based on the Tahiti XT core, which includes 32 Compute Units for a total of 2048 stream processors that are joined by 128 texture units, 32 ROP units and a 384-bit wide memory bus.
This is linked to 3GB of DDR5 video memory and the GPU is manufactured using TSMC’s advanced 28nm node, which enables it to be one of the coolest and most energy efficient high-end graphics card around.

Asus ROG Maximus V Formula Intel Z77 Motherboard Detailed

Besides the Maximus V Gene that we presented a little bit earlier today, Asus’ Intel Z77 ROG motherboard series also includes the ATX-sized Maximus V Formula that was recently detailed during a preview event held by the company.

The introduction of the Maximus V Formula marks the return of water cooling to the ROG platform, a feature which has been absent from this series for quite some time now.

With its new Formula motherboard however, the VRMs are now fitted with a special heatsink that can be added to the liquid cooling loop used for the CPU and video card(s).

Moving to the board’s expansion options, these consist of three PCI Express x16 slots (two of these are PCIe Gen 3.0 and SLI/CrossFire compliant), an open-ended x4 PCI Express slot and no less than three x1 PCI Express slots.

Storage wise, the four SATA 3Gbps and two SATA 6Gbps ports provided by Intel’s Z77 chipset are seconded by another two 6Gbps ports and an eSATA 3Gbps connector.

The latter is placed on the rear I/O header together with four USB 2.0 and four USB 3.0 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet jack, as well as with DisplayPort and HDMI video outputs.

Asus’ Maximus V Formula motherboard also features 7.1-channel audio with an optical S/PDIF output which is driven by a C-Media chipset.

If you look closely at the motherboard images provided by VR-Zone, you'll notice a ROG logo on a matte square in the lower left hand side corner of the PCB, which is apparently a secret feature that Asus hasn’t detailed yet.

Another new feature is the inclusion of a ThunderFX USB sound card and amplifier, which can be used with a PC headset or a 

PS3/Xbox 360 console thanks to a pair of RCA audio jacks at the rear. 

When used with a PC, the external sound card also offers active noise cancelling as it sports a built-in microphone that records and tries to cancel out background noise.

According to Asus, the Maximus V Formula should be released sometime in May, but no details regarding its pricing have been disclosed.

Gigabyte U2442N and U2442V Ultrabooks Inbound

Gigabyte finally has two ultrabooks to its name, the U2442N and U2442V, whose time of arrival and prices are completely unknown even now. 

The company introduced them just a short time ago in Hannover, Germany, having secured a spot at this year's CeBIT show (2012). 

Like all ultrabooks, they are very thin mobile personal computers whose performance is higher than that of netbooks but lower than or equal to that of actual notebooks. 

The U2442N is what one might call the stronger of the two, putting more emphasis on performance that energy conservation. 

As such, it uses standard voltage central processing units from the Intel Core i5 and Core i7 lines. 

Storage space is provided by either a solid state drive (SSD) or an HDD (hard disk drive), depending on what customers value more between speed and capacity. Either way, the maximum number of gigabytes is 750. 

Furthermore, Gigabyte tossed in USB 3.0 support, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi and an optional Thunderbolt port, plus a backlit keyboard. 

The U2442V, as the less performance-focused, makes do with ULV (ultra-low voltage) CPUs from the Core i5 and Core i7 lines. The rest of the specs are practically the same. 

Gigabyte chose to make its ultrabooks slightly larger than competing devices: the screens have a diagonal of 14 inches instead of 13.3. 

The native resolution is of 1,600 x 900 pixels, not exactly Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) but better than HD (1,366 x 768 pixels). 

Unfortunately, Gigabyte did not say how long the U2442N and U2442V are supposed to last on a single battery charge. 

As such, we can't tell if the battery lifespan advantage of the U2442V is worth the performance sacrifices. Pricing hasn't been finalized either, so we'll have to wait for sales to start, something that will happen in Q2, 2012 (April-June).

CyanogenMod 9 Brings ICS with LTE to Motorola DROID 4

Owners of a Motorola DROID 4 device can now download and install Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich on their mobile phones, courtesy of a CyanogenMod 9 ROM. 

The ROM was announced on the XDA-Developers forum by member Hashcode, and packs not only the latest flavor of Google’s mobile operating system but also support for Verizon’s LTE network, it seems. 

According to its maker, the ROM is quite stable and has a lot to offer to those who will choose to download and install it on their devices. 

However, there are some issues that need attention, including problems with the phone’s camera, which will work with errors. 

Additionally, the ROM’s developer notes that HW Video Codecs are still work in progress, and that Bluetooth cannot connect, even if it is on. 

At the same time, users should note that an issue related to the phone’s data connection might also appear, though it can be resolved easily, straight from the device. 

After reboots, the phone might not show available data connections. To change that, users will need to head over to Settings -> Wireless & networks -> More -> Mobile networks, and switch to GSM-only, wait a few seconds, than change back to LTE / CDMA. 

Additionally, some of those who installed this CyanogenMod 9 ROM on their Motorola DROID 4 devices reported issues with the WiFi connectivity. 

Apparently, the CM9 built-in Wifi Tether app does not work. Instead, users will have to open the WiFi Tether app that was bundled into the ROM. There they will have to go to Settings and change Device-Profile to "Motorola Droid RAZR (CDMA/LTE)."

As you can see, there still are various caveats with the software, which means that it would be a great idea to wait a bit before downloading and installing it on your devices. 

You should also keep in mind that this is an unofficial ROM for your device, and that installing it will void the phone’s warranty. You will be the only one held responsible in case anything goes wrong during the installation process.

HP Z-Series Workstations Pack up to 512GB of RAM and Intel Xeon E5 CPUs

HP has just announced that it has refreshed its line of Z-Series workstations to include Intel’s latest Xeon E5 processors based on the Sandy Bridge-EP architecture as well as a maximum of 512GB of RAM system memory.

The massive amount of memory is only available in the flagship Z820 workstation by populating the 16 DIMM sockets with high-capacity 32GB ECC DDR3 modules.

In addition to the impressive memory amount, the Z820 can also be fitted with two Xeon E5 CPUs in order to deliver a total of 16 physical computing cores (32 virtual via Hyper-Threading), 14TB of high-speed storage and up to dual Nvidia Quadro 6000 graphics cards. 

Just like its more beefier counterpart, the Z620 can also be fitted with dual Xeon E5 processors for up to 16 physical computing cores, but this time the maximum amount of ECC memory that can be installed has been limited to 96GB.

The rest of the system can be configured to include up to 11 TB of storage, as well as an Nvidia Quadro 6000 graphics card or dual Nvidia Quadro 5000 GPUs.

Finally, the less powerful of the three workstations announced by HP today, the Z420, supports Intel Xeon processors from the E5-1600 and E5-2600 series, up to 64 GB of ECC memory, a maximum of 11TB of storage space and a single Nvidia Quadro 5000 graphics card or dual Quadro 2000 cards.

All of HP’s Z Series workstations include 90% efficient power supplies and are ENERGY STAR qualified. 

"As the workstation industry leader, HP continues to invest in technology that allows our customers to push the limits of innovation," said Jim Zafarana, vice president and general manager, commercial solutions business unit, HP.

"Our investments in R&D and technology have led to workstations that meet and exceed the needs of the world's most demanding customers," concluded the company’s rep.

The HP Z420, Z620 and Z820 Workstations are expected to be available worldwide beginning in April. Estimated US pricing starts at $1,169 for the HP Z420, $1,649 for the HP Z620 and $2,299 for the HP Z820.

Gigabyte Brings P2542G Gaming Laptop to CeBIT 2012

It turns out that ultrabooks aren't the only things that Gigabyte brought along to its CeBIT 2012 booth in Hannover, Germany.

Though the U2442N and U2442V are drawing their fair share of admirers, the P2542G notebook is revealed to be experiencing a momentary bout of fame as well, even if it is still un-priced and un-dated.

Then again, the item is, in the end, a notebook unlike most of the ones roaming shops nowadays, both within and outside the Internet.

The P2542G is a machine powered by an Intel quad-core Core i7 Ivy Bridge central processing unit.

Said CPU is accompanied by up to 16 GB of DDR3 RAM (random access memory) and supplemented by the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M discrete graphics (2GB memory).

Many laptops of our time make do with the integrated GPU in the CPU, but gaming machines still need something better.

Speaking of video quality, the LCD (liquid crystal display) measures 15.6 inches and uses LED backlighting. 

The native resolution is 1,920 x 1,080, Full HD as it is more commonly known. Hardly surprising really.

The rest of the specifications are on the same level as the others, especially where storage is concerned.

Not only is there a hard disk drive unit (rotary speed of 7,200 RPM) or an SSD available, but even a Blu-ray drive is part of the spec list.

Furthermore, buyers will find an HDMI output and two USB 3.0 ports, in addition to the regular VGA output, the webcam, microphone and everything else.

Finally, Gigabyte chose to divide the air ducting for the CPU and GPU, which means that there are two air vents and two heatsinks. 

Presumably, this should keep the bottom of the notebook at a reasonable temperature during any game. We can't imagine that laptop stand makers will be pleased with this, but such is the way of the world.

VIA Reintroduces Two Boards, Now Supporting QuadCore CPUs

It looks like VIA are up to setting new trends when it comes to the world of small-format computers/ motherboards.

Two 2011-based motherboards come back with a new blast, supporting quad-core processors and promising a new level of computing performance: EPIA-M900 and M910.

This motherboard can host either the QuadCore E-Series processor, or the 1.6 GHz dual-core VIA Nano X2 E-Series CPU. Users can take advantage of the VX900 Media System Processor (also known as MSP), loaded with the ChromotionHD 2.0 video chip, allowing better performance for the high-definition multimedia.

VIA EPIA-M900 can accommodate up to 8 GB DDR3 and sports a hefty array of connectors, at least for its diminutive 17 cm x 17 cm size: LAN, HDMI, VGA, no less than 4 USB 2.0 ports, a COM connector and 3 audio jacks.

As VIA declares, the EPIA-M900 comes with "an onboard PCIe x16 slot (with effective speed up to PCIe x8) and one PCI slot is accompanied with pin headers providing one dual channel 24-bit LVDS support (including backlight control), an additional three COM ports, a further four USB 2.0 ports and one USB device port, LPC support, 2 Digital I/O, SPDIF out and an SMBus header."

Apple Foregoes iPad 3 Dubbing in Favor of "iPad HD" - Reports

Reports are coming from all over the place that Apple has somehow decided to ditch the rather predictable iPad 3 moniker in favor of a new dubbing - iPad HD.

Sources talking to VentureBeat said “Apple’s next-generation iPad will be called the iPad HD, not the iPad 3.” This person is actually described as a “reliable” source that has proven track record. Moreover, the same person allegedly told the site that Apple is sourcing “7.1-inch screen components in preparation for a smaller iPad release later this year.”

CNet corroborates the first half of the story, saying that they’ve also heard that “the next iPad uses the HD moniker instead of […] ‘iPad 3’”. This information reportedly came from “a developer who’s previously provided reliable information with respect to things Apple.”

There’s a good chance Apple is, indeed, using the HD moniker this time around, the main reason being the "Retina" display which regular consumers would much rather understand as HD-capable.

In fact, Cult of Mac’s Alex Heath provides the perfect example using a real-life scenario. Sitting at a dinner table, Heath was surrounded by “average consumers who like technology that works and makes their lives better.”

“After reading reactions this afternoon from bloggers and Apple fans I follow on Twitter about the possibility of an iPad HD, I decided to ask the people at the table what they thought about the name. When asked whether ‘iPad 3’ or ‘iPad HD’ made more sense in light of the high-quality Retina display, every single one of them said they preferred iPad HD.”

The reason is simple, Heath concluded. “Because it just makes sense.” The average consumer couldn’t care less about the pixel density on that iPad’s screen. All they want is a great experience.

Of course, there's a pretty good chance Tim Cook will debunk these rumors at tomorrow's event in San Francisco, California. In other words, don't used to that iPad HD dubbing just yet.

Fujitsu's Stylistic M532 Business Tablet

For all of you out there wondering what Fujitsu is doing about all its business customers, the company has prepared a new product based on NVIDIA's Tegra 3 platform. 

The Stylistic M532 is not another one of those media tablets that everyone has grown accustomed to hearing and reading about. 

Instead, though it has a set of hardware components that don't stand out overmuch, it is sold with software precisely aimed at business users. 

Among the applications that buyers get to use are Norton Tablet Security (protects against malicious Android apps) and Absolute CompuTrace (tracks the tablet in case of theft and encrypts the stored files). 

Additionally, Fujitsu implemented Citrix, VMWare and Microsoft Virtual Desktop support out of the box, plus NitroDesk TouchDown (corporate Exchange e-mail and calendar management) and a suite of Office apps (not specified). 

All these are just bonuses, though. In the end, the physical components and the operating system will determine how many people flock towards the Stylistic M532. 

That said, the Tegra 3 4-PLUS-1 ARM-based SoC (system-on-chip) handles things, aided by 1 GB of RAM (random access memory). 

As people know, this version of Tegra (Kal-El) is a quad-core (or really five core) chip with a clock speed of 1.4 GHz. 

Moving on, Fujitsu tossed in 32 GB of NAND Flash storage, plus a pair of webcams: one of them is at the front (2 megapixels) and the other at the back (8 megapixels). 

Finally, the 10.1-inch WXGA display (1280 x 768 pixels resolution) is covered by a Gorilla Glass panel, for damage resistance. 

The thickness of the product is 8.6 mm and the price is of 549 Euro. US customers won't get to buy it, but Europeans and people from India, Africa and the Middle East will. Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is the operating system.

ASUS TUF Sabertooth Z77 Motherboard Has Thermal Armor

Some photos of a new ASUS motherboard have made their way to the Internet, alongside most relevant information on it, except pricing and availability, alas. 

The mainboard in question, according to the report on VR-Zone, is called Sabertooh Z77 and is part of the TUF line. 

The overall design is not that strange in terms of layout, with two PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots (working in dual x18 mode) and a single PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot (in x4 mode). 

There are three PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots as well, plus the now standard number of SATA ports. 

Specifically, there are four SATA 6.0 Gbps connectors (two of which are linked to the Intel chipset), and four SATA 3.0 Gbps connectors. 

This makes sure there is always the possibility to install arguably more storage space in a system than anyone could ever need. 

The rear I/O panel of the Sabertooth Z77 offers four USB 3.0 ports, the same number of USB 2.0 connectors, Gigabit Ethernet, a pair of eSATA ports and the expected video outputs (DisplauPort and HDMI). 

Customers will also find 7.1 channel audio with optical S/PDIF and a CMOS reset button. 

The one feature that makes this product stand apart from other mainboards is the Thermal armor, a plastic shield that encases the whole board. 

Two 50mm fans are present as well, one below the CPU socket and one as part of the rear I/O, for air intake. 

Unfortunately, while this cools the MOSFETs, it prevents any extra rear ports from being added, which makes those USB headers and everything else on the card a bit tricky to use. 

At least there are dust protection covers for all the PCI Express slots and two of the four memory slots, plus over the pin headers. Unfortunately, all of this may lead to a higher price than most people are willing or able to spend.

Nokia World 2012 Confirmed for September 25-26 in Helsinki

Nokia World 2012 has just been announced and the Finnish company confirmed that for the first time the event would be held in Finland.

Helsinki, Nokia’s own home turf, will be the city that will host Nokia World event this year, which is set on September 25-26.

The event will be held in the Helsinki Exhibition & Convention Centre and is not open for public, so expect more details from Nokia in the following weeks.

Apparently, the timing of Nokia World could not be better, as Helsinki has been designated as the World Design Capital for 2012, for which Nokia is one of the partners.

According to the Finnish company, “speakers are crème de la crème of the mobile world: Nokia’s leaders, experts, partners and other stakeholders.” 

For more details on Nokia World 2012 head over to the event website.

CeBIT 2012: Fujitsu Presents Ivy Bridge Equipped UH572 Ultrabook

During a press event held at this year’s CeBIT fair, Japanese notebook maker Fujitsu has announced the introduction of the 13.3-inch Lifebook UH572 Ultrabook based on Intel’s upcoming Ivy Bridge processors.

The Lifebook UH572 is the company’s second Ultrabook after last year’s SH76/E which was based on Intel’s current Sandy Bridge processors.

Like all other Ultrabooks announced so far, the UH572 is also characterized by its thin-and-light chassis, which Notebook Italia found out weighs a mere 1.6kg. 

Despite its light weight, both the lid and the bottom of Fujitsu’s latest creation use a sliver metal cover that adds a touch of style to the UH572 Ultrabook.

Moving past the looks of the Lifebook UH572, we get to see that Fujitsu’s ultra-thin is powered by a dual-core 1.7GHz (2.2GHz max Turbo Boost speed) processor that apparently is based on the 22nm Intel Ivy Bridge architecture.

In the model present at the company’s CeBIT booth, the Intel CPU was paired with 4GB of system memory.

The rest of the system configuration includes an SSD or a hybrid drive, USB 3.0 support, as well as an HDMI port for connecting the Fujitsu Ultrabook to an external display or HDTV.

Sadly, no details regarding the price or the availability of the Fujitsu Ultrabook have been provided by its maker.

Intel however isn’t expected to release its Ivy Bridge processors until the second part of April, which means that the Lifebook UH572 will make its appearance at the earliest in Q2 of 2012, although a Q3 release is just as probable.

In addition to the Lifebook UH572, Fujitsu’s 2012 Ultrabook lineup will also include a premium model weighing a mere 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs), but no details regarding the specifications of this thin-and-light notebook have been made official so far.

Asus ROG Maximus V Gene Intel Z77 Micro-ATX Motherboard Pictured

Asus prepares to add another motherboard to its Republic of Gamers (ROG) product line for hardcore gamers, the Maximus V Gene LGA 1155 board that is based on Intel’s upcoming Z77 Express chipset designed for the chip maker’s Ivy Bridge processors.

Just as it is the case with all the other Republic of Gamers series motherboards, the Maximus V Gene will include an important number of advanced features like AMD CrossFireX and Nvidia SLI support, ROG Connect support and an on-board Supreme X-Fi sound chip.

In addition to the two PCI Express x16 slots that are required for dual-GPU setups, Asus has also included an open-ended PCI-E x4 slot.

Right next to it, users will find the on-board Power and Reset buttons as well as a BIOS debug LCD (placed further right), as you can clearly see in the pictures provided by maxishine.com.au.

Storage is provided by six SATA ports, four of the 6Gbps variety, and Asus has also included a USB 3.0 header which allows for two such ports to be routed to the front of the case.

Another four USB 3.0 ports can be found on the rear I/O panel along with an impressive number of USB 2.0 ports, an eSATA 3Gbps connector, 7.1-channel audio with a digital S/PDIF output and a Gigabit Ethernet port driven by an Intel NIC.

Since the Intel Z77 Express chipset used for the Maximus V Gene includes support for a Flexible Display Interface (FDI), Asus has also added HDMI and DisplayPort outputs to its creation.

Another interesting feature is the presence of the so called “MPCIe Combo” board, which allows the Maximus V Gene to be fitted with an mSATA SSD or/and a mini-PCIe add-on card.

Sadly, we don’t know when Asus plans to release the Maximus V Gene, or for just how much the motherboard will retail, but we expect more details to become available during CeBIT 2012.

MSI Showcases Intel Thunderbolt Equipped Z77A-GD80 Motherboard

At this year’s CeBIT 2012 fair, motherboard makers have presented a wide range of LGA 1155 solutions based on the upcoming Z77 Express chipset, but few of these are more feature rich than MSI’s Z77A-GD80 which comes with support for Intel’s Thunderbolt interconnect.

The layout of the board presented by MSI today greatly resembles the prototype showcased at CES 2012, but in the meantime it has also received the addition of some black and blue heatsinks.

These cover the motherboard’s 22-phase VRM as well as the Intel Z77 chipset, and feature a low-profile design, so they won’t interfere with long graphics cards or third-party CPU coolers.

Moving to the expansion options available in the Z77A-GD80, MSI has installed the usual three PCI Express x16 slots (two of these are PCIe Gen 3.0 and SLI/CrossFireX complaint) as well as four PCIe x1 slots.

Four DIMM sockets, which support up to 32GB of DDR3 memory working at 2666MHz data rate, are also present while on the bottom edge MSI has placed eight SATA ports, four of these coming with support for 6Gbps drives.

Other features include a total of four USB 3.0 ports (two via an on-board header), DisplayPort, HDMI and D-Sub video outputs, THX TruStudio Pro audio, and Military Class III components.

As is the case with all of MSI’s high-end motherboard, the Z77A-GD80 also includes V-Check Probes, OC Genie II auto overclocking, on-board Power and Reset buttons, multi BIOS support and a rear Clear CMOS switch.

No details regarding the pricing or the release date of the MSI Z77A-GD80 are available at this time, but the presence of a Thunderbolt controller should add between $20 and $30 on average to the final price of the motherboard.

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