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Mar 31, 2014

MSI B85I and B85M Gaming, Mini-ITX/Micro-ATX Military Class 4 Motherboards

Micro-Star International's Gaming line of hardware has just welcomed a new pair of motherboards, one of which isn't exactly as large as one would expect, but should enable some decent PC specs regardless.

Even now, gaming hardware and computers come in large, solid, sophisticated packages, but there has been a steady rise in the number of small products as well. Most notably, mini PCs have begun to provide specs on par with those of the high-end desktops of half a decade ago. And since DirectX 11 support is pretty much always included in the spec sheet, that basically means that it's possible to play even the latest game on a mini personal computer now. It all boils down to the power supply unit, the cooling, how big the case is (on the inside, since video cards can be pretty big) and, lastly, how good the motherboard happens to be. Micro-Star International has just released a pair of the better new models, which can power a good LAN party system.

The B85I micro-ATX is one. Such motherboards don't really stand out anymore, with their two memory slots, one/two PCI Express x16 slots and standard I/O support and storage interfaces. There is a mini-ITX B85 motherboard as well though, also bearing the Gaming logo. MSI's new creations have Military Class 4 components though: Hi-C CAPs, Solid CAPs, Dark CAPs, SFC and Dark Chokes. They allow the platforms to stay stable even at high load, and to survive for a long time. EMI protection and ESD protection is present as well. Another asset is the USB Audio Power technology, which prevents sound quality from suffering (on external DACs and such) when the other USB ports are populated as well (with chargers, flash drives, peripherals, etc.).

The USB Audio Power design powers each port individually, instead of splitting energy between all of them, hence the clearer sound and less noise. A third asset is the onboard software: OC Genie 4 (for overclocking of the CPU, memory and video), Click BIOS 4 and the Command Center (combines monitoring, tuning and hardware control in a single interface). Finally, the MSI B85 microATX and Mini-ITX Gaming motherboards both benefit from Killer LAN, special networking tech that prioritizes games over torrent programs and everything else web-connected when you're playing something online. Especially when said title comes with in-game chat of some sort (for MMOs or co-op play).

MSI B85I Gaming
Image credits to MSI

ASUS ROG G56JR with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760M Sells for €999 / $1,373

The Republic of Gamers line of notebook has a new member addition. ASUS quietly introduced the ASUS G56JR, an elegant new laptop with a more classic look than what we're used to seeing with this line.

The notebook boasts a 15.6-inch screen and comes with a brushed metal surface, but compared to other ROG models looks like it’s targeted at the average consumer. However, the red trim around the notebook’s edges and the red ASUS logo plus the blacklit keyboard help maintain the overall ROG feel. In the specifications department, we have a decent configuration, although ASUS doesn't go as far as it did with the brand new ASUS G750. The idea is that the laptop has been designed in such a way as to attract a larger number of customers, gamers or not. ASUS still offers the option of choosing the specific configuration, so users can go for either an Intel Core i5-4200H or the more powerful i7-4700HQ processors under the hood. In both cases, the lappy can be fitted with up to 16GB of RAM. Unlike the G750, the G56JR will not come with the latest NVIDIA GPU, but will take advantage of the previous generation, in the form of GeForce GTX 760M. Like those familiar with the ROG line-up might know, ASUS offers a wide range of storage solutions, starting from the traditional hard drives of 500, 750GB or 1TB 5400 RPM (or 500, 700 GB 7200 RPM) and as far as hybrid model with 750GB and 5400 RPM with 8GB cache.

As previously mentioned, the G56JR has a 15.6-inch HD display and users can add even an optical DVD, Blu-ray combo drive. Furthermore, ASUS has added four USB 3.0 ports, VGA, HDMI video outputs, audio jacks for headphones and microphone, memory card 3-in-1 (SD/MS/MS Pro/MMC), Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, HD webcam and sound system SonicMaster with Digital Amplifier Bang & Olufsen ICEpower. The G56JR is currently available for purchase in select markets across Europe (including Poland, France, Spain) and Singapore, South Africa. The laptop sells in Europe for €999 / $1,373 a pop. In other news, we should probably remind you that the ASUS ROG GT70JZ line-up is available for pre-orders. For those craving to have a notebook bundled with the latest NVIDIA GPU, these laptops come equipped with either the high-end GTX 880M with 4GB of video memory or the GTX 870M / 860M. Pricing for the base model with the 860M graphics card starts at $1,399 / €1,007.

ASUS quietly introduces ROG G56JR
Image credits to ASUS

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