CES 2011 CoverageBosco - January 7, 2011
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MSI brought many of its new motherboards to be displayed at the convention center this year. As computer hardware such as processors, video cards and memory improve, the limitations become the physical components of the motherboards — mainly, the capacitors. Using low quality capacitors can deliver poor power quality to the important circuitry around the CPU, which can hinder overclocking significantly. What we've began to see in the high-end motherboard world is top-of-the-line, military-class capacitors and other components supporting the major backbone of the motherboard. This can deliver a huge increase in very clean power, allowing for maximum stable overclocks. MSI had some neat setups on display in acrylic cases.
The Military Class II line of motherboards from MSI offer high stability components that can push 30% more power through the important parts of the motherboard, with solid capacitors that boast a ten year lifetime, appearing on the front and rear of the motherboards. The highest-performance offering from MSI this year in the motherboard category is the Big Bang-Marshal for the SandyBridge platform, which has an astounding eight x16 PCI-E slots and is characterized by the "Military Class" theme and high end electronic components. The Marshal has a unique feature in that a user has the ability to control which PCI slots are to be used. For example, if a user is running SLI or CrossFireX and wishes to find maximum overclocks for each card, he or she can turn off the other slots without having to remove the cards. These switches are at the top right of the motherboard.
A very neat feature of these motherboards is the OC Genie function. It instantly alters CPU ratios, base clocks and voltages, along with memory voltages and clock speeds. This is very handy for individuals new to the world of overclocking, as this built-in function does all the work on its own. On some of the boards, the OC Genie button is located next to the integrated power and reset buttons. For others, it is found at the bottom of the board by itself, such as the Marvel, as seen in the first picture below.
Continuing into the home theater PC and other small form factor computing market, MSI was showing off its new line of mini-ITX boards. The high end board shown below is the E350IA-E45, which is packaged with the AMD E-350 dual-core processor. It is a solid choice for gaming, as the onboard chipset has support for DirectX 11 and offers HDMI output. Stability and top quality components can also be expected with these boards as MSI is utilizing solid capacitors and other high quality components in its boards. MSI also has a SandyBridge mini-ITX board, which is one of the first in the industry.
MSI extended its CES material by presenting the new technologies available in its graphic card series. MSI is able to advertise that the GTX400 and HD 5000 generations are #1 in performance for 3DMark Vantage, thanks to the high class electronic components found on the MSI-manufactured cards. The "Power4" architecture offers significant improvement over the standard reference PCBs due to the improved components and phase design that can deliver more power and cleaner power to the crucial areas of the video card. This allows for higher maximum stable overclocks and increased life of the video card.
The latest cooling solutions for many of the high end video cards from MSI were highly promoted at the CES booth this year. These coolers are the Twin Frozr II and the Cyclone models, which are available on many AMD and NVIDIA video card models. An addition to the fans used on these units is a new propeller design, said to increase airflow by a large margin. With the Twin Frozr II and Cyclone heatsinks, users can expect up to a 20° drop in temperatures from the reference cards, at a noise level that's over 15% lower at full speed. On the GTX580 video card, and possibly others in the future, there is a set of six pins (the small white housing in the last picture) that repeat the voltages for the PLL, core and memory. A pigtail can be attached to these pins that allows users to read voltages without having to find the right solder joint. For voltmodders, this is a very impressive feature!