CES 2012 CoverageBosco -
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Walking into MSI's suite, we were greeted by a group of Z77 motherboards from MSI for the next-generation Socket 1155 processors, along with its flagship Big Bang X-Power II model for extreme overclocking and extreme gaming on the Z79 chipset for Socket 2011. The two Panther Point Z77 Ivy Bridge models are more of a mainstream variety and are the Z77A-GD80 and the Z77A-GD65. These two motherboards are said to support DDR3-2667 memory (hinting at a great memory controller) and are expected to have Intel Thunderbolt support, though that will raise the overall cost of the board slightly.
On the other side of the table, we saw a demo for MSI's Voice Genie and the MultiConnect Panel hardware and software. Voice Genie is an add-on card that allows for an analog microphone to be used to control power functions, such as booting up and shutting down, restarting, and other things such as overclocking, opening and commanding the browser, and even customizable commands. Currently, all Z79 boards support the Voice Genie, but only a few Z68 and P67 boards have support. The MultiConnect panel is a small module that features built-in Bluetooth 3.0, an OC Genie button, Wi-Fi, and two USB 2.0 ports in a 5.25" device bay. The built-in Bluetooth connection allows easy pairing of a smartphone or tablet, which can allow total control of the system by using the right applications on the device. The USB 2.0 ports are also "Super Charger" compatible, which allows for super fast charging of smart phones and tablets.
As expected, we also got a glimpse at two video cards from MSI. The HD 7970 is still on the reference cooler, but we should expect to see something from MSI soon in the aftermarket cooling department, as we've already seen some from other manufacturers. The other card on display is MSI's N580GTX Lightning Xtreme Edition, which uses the Twin Frozr III cooler. Both cards use overvoltage from MSI's Afterburner software as a pretty good selling point; right now there aren't really any other programs available to overvolt either video card as easily as Afterburner allows.
Something really cool that's in the works for MSI is an external video card housing that will allow laptops or any other Lightning Bolt enabled device to use a higher end, aftermarket video card than what they may have in their laptop at the time. On display was the concept version of MSI's GUS II external video card housing. At this time, cards up to 150W are acceptable, though the other limitation of it is the physical size. Inside of the housing was said to be an HD 5770, which by standards of most laptop video cards isn't bad. The GUS II enclosure is said to have a release price between $100 and $150.