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Apr 25, 2014

Cheap Nexus 6 Model to Pack a 64-Bit Processor

Recently, Mountain View-based Internet giant Google has been rumored to plan the release of a cheaper version of the Nexus 6 handset, which is reportedly set to land on shelves sometime towards the end of this year.

Up until now, Google and its hardware partners have released Nexus devices with high-end hardware packed inside, though with appealing price tags attached to them. However, it seems that this might change when Nexus 6 arrives this fall. Apparently, the company has decided to release a cheap Nexus model that would target the entry-level market, though it seems that it will still pack it with appealing hardware inside. Rumor has it that the phone will hit shelves at less than $100, and that it will sport a MediaTek processor inside, which should provide it with the possibility to deliver decent performance capabilities, despite its low cost. A new report coming from Economic Daily News claims that the MediaTek processor that will be included inside the mobile phone might be the 64-bit 1.5GHz quad-core MT6732 chip.

Moreover, the news site notes that, provided that this CPU does not make it inside the phone, the 2.0GHz octa-core MT6752 chipset will. Both of these processors come with Mali-T760 GPUs and with support for LTE connectivity, which should indeed deliver great performance capabilities to all users. Moreover, both of these are 64-bit chipsets, using the new ARMv8 instruction set, as PhoneArena notes. The inclusion of one of these processors in the upcoming cheaper Nexus 6 variant will ensure that even users on a budget will still be able to deliver the performance capabilities that high-end phones can provide at the moment. Despite the fact that MediaTek-powered handsets are considered to be inferior due to the fact that they sport much lower price tags, they are still capable of more than decent performance levels.

Should Google indeed plan the release of a $100 Nexus 6 handset with a 64-bit processor inside, it will certainly manage to attract a lot of users to the Android OS at the entry-level market, posing some issues to rivals such as Windows Phone, which are highly popular in this segment at the moment. However, no official confirmation on Google’s plans on this has been provided as of now, and it would not come too much as a surprise if the new rumor does not pan out. Hopefully, additional details on the matter will be provided sooner rather than later, so stay tuned for more on this.

Nexus 5
Image credits to Google

ASRock Z97 Extreme 4 Is a Surprisingly Powerful Mid-Range Motherboard

ASRock may have unleashed five different Z97-based motherboards, but one of them is likely to outsell all the others, because mid-range products always sell the best. There's a reason they're called “mainstream” after all.

The motherboard in question is called ASRock Z97 Extreme 4, which means that it still has some pretty nifty assets but manages not to cost an arm and a leg. Presumably, anyway. Since ASRock hasn't exactly shared the prices with us, we can't really do anything other than guess at this point in time. Anyway, the newcomer has a similar black and blue color theme as the ASRock Z97 Extreme 6, sharing many of the visual elements with it really. Still, it does only have 8 SATA 6.0 Gbps ports instead of 10, and a single Gigabit Ethernet port instead of a pair. The rest of the spec sheet seems to be pretty similar though, from the 12-phase VRM (voltage regulation module) to the four DDR3 DIMM memory slots (which allow for up to 32 GB memory at any given time).

Moving on, there are three PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots, leading to the possibility of triple-SLI and CrossFireX multi-GPU configurations. Add to that three PCI Express x1 slots and you have expansion slots for pretty much everything, from video to audio and I/o adapters of all kinds. You can even install an audio card if you think the on-board solution is not good enough. Do keep in mind, though, that Purity Sound technology with 7.1 channel surround sound is actually pretty good. ASRock may have designed the Z97 Extreme 4 as a mid-range board, but only in comparison to the others in the 9-Series. In the big picture, it's still pretty powerful. If the company manages to keep prices on the level, it might steal customers from Gigabyte's own Z97 Enthusiast motherboards that came out a couple of days back.

That said, other than the parts we have already enumerated, the ASRock Z97 Extreme 4 boasts VRM heatsinks, a separate PCI Express power connector (for extra stability), M.2 slots (for add-in mini PCI Express cards and SSDs) and eSATA, DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort outputs. A VGA port, two USB 2.0 connectors, 6 USB 3.0 ports and PS/2 exist as well. Make sure to read the name of the product carefully when you start browsing online. The ASRock Z97 Extreme 4 and Z97 Extreme 6 don't just sound but also look a lot alike.

ASRock Z97 Extreme 4
Image credits to ASRock

ASRock Z97 Extreme 6 Motherboard Released with 7.1 Channel Purity Audio

The Z97 OC Formula may be ASRock's latest and greatest motherboard, not counting anything larger than the ATX form factor anyhow, but it's not the only one that the company released. In fact, it's just one of five.

Still, of the four that we haven't checked out, the Z97 Extreme 6, at least, deserves to be looked at independently, so here we go. You can tell that the Z97 Extreme 6 isn't meant for the same ludicrous overclocking opportunities as the OC just from looking at the power distribution. The CPU only gets one 8-pin ATX power connector instead of two, even if the VRM (voltage regulation module) still has 12 phases. Even without overclocking, though, any PC powered by the Haswell refresh CPU from Intel will perform well. And since Devil's Canyon CPUs are also supported, that means that high-grade, powerful computers are just as easy to set up too, even if they won't score any OC records. In case you were wondering, Devil's Canyon is the codename that Intel is currently using to refer to the unlocked Haswell refresh CPUs, the ones that are not coming out until the second half of the year.

On that note, future-generation Broadwell central processing units will work on the new ASRock motherboards as well, since they, too, will boast the LGA 1150 socket. But we digress. The ASRock Z97 Extreme 6 boasts three PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots, two PCI Express 3.0 x1 slots, Ultra M.2 and M.2 slots (for add-in mini PCI Express cards and SSDs), a separate PCI-e power connector at the bottom (for more stability) and 10 SATA 6.0 Gbps ports. You'll have a hard time filling your desktop computer with enough SSDs, HDDs, HHDs and/or SSHDs to get something out of all those connectors, that's for sure. Furthermore, ASRock provided four DDR3 DIMM memory slots, plus OC and LED for Diagnostics. Because even if this is not a mainboard intended for a lot of overclocking, that doesn't mean it can't be done. It's called “Extreme” for a reason after all.

Finally, the ASRock Z97 Extreme 6 features Gigabit LAN (dual ports actually), eSATA, HDMI, DisplayPort, six USB 3.0 connectors, Purity Sound 2 technology (powers 7.1 channel audio jacks) and PS/2 (for normal peripherals). Unfortunately, ASRock didn't say what prices it will slap to the motherboard when it starts shipping them in a week or two. Look for the model with blue heatsinks if you're specifically interested in this one instead of any random ASRock Z97 mainboard.

ASRock Z97 Extreme 6
Image credits to ASRock

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