win8logoredesignedIt looks like we might have done our Windows 8 coverage the wrong way around as we are now seeing a host of articles that are showing off the new look of the desktop, the Metro UI News, Sports and Weather apps and more. This is very odd as we have been talking about much this since the Build Conference. Still it is very possible that some of these sites are now listing these items in a new PR push for Microsoft. After all the most recent one we saw on the new Desktop Look had a direct quote from them on Aero and the “vista” look.

300px-GraphenIntel is looking to the future even as their newest CPU, the 22nm Ivy Bridge, is taking something of a beating in the media. According to a few slides that have hit daylight Intel is already working on moving some of its FABs to 14nm in preparation for their next generation of CPUs. Of course this is not that big of a deal really, Intel has moved from one process to the next like clockwork (insert “Tick-Tock” joke here).

img_03Ivy Bridge has not been the best launch for Intel in terms of enthusiasts. Since the release of the Core microarchitecture many overclocker’s, gamers and plain PC nuts have loved the performance and overclockability of Intel’s CPUs. However, with Ivy Bridge despite the performance improvements there are some that are not happy. We have seen countless articles talking about the difficulty of overclocking Ivy Bridge even in our labs our best non-stable OC has been to 5GHz (CPUz only) we have not hit anything above 4.8GHz with any type of stability.

board04As we continue our coverage of both Ivy Bridge and the Z77 Express chipset we now head over to Gigabyte. Gigabyte is a company that has worked very hard for the position they have in the market. They were originally a manufacturer who concentrated on compatibility and stability rather than working on pushing the envelope in terms of speed and performance. However that was a long time ago. Now they are definitely working to get the most out of each product. We have watch them develop their line up since the P55 days and know that they are more than capable of putting out a motherboard (and other products) that can satisfy your performance needs. So with that in mind let’s take a look at what Gigabyte has built into the GA-Z77X-UD3H in terms of design choices and features.

introWe all know that both Ivy Bridge and the Z77 PCH run hotter than the P67 and Sandy Bridge. The reasons for this are not completely understood (yet) but there are some explanations out there. One of these appears to be due to the process. At 22nm there is going to be an increase in power density and also a decrease in the surface area that allows for cooling of the CPU core. The other opinion is that Ivy Bridge is hotter due to the use of Thermal Interface Material (TIM) rather than fluxless solder.

AMD_FX_CPU_LogoThere will be some rejoicing as AMD managed to grab a tiny amount of the x86 market share from Intel last quarter. According to Mercury research AMD’s combined x86 market share rose from 18.2 percent to 19.1. This .9 percent rise was attributed to AMD’s strong offering in the mobile market although some reports seemed to suggest otherwise.

board04At almost the opposite end of the spectrum from the Asus Maximus V Gene (in terms of target market) we find the Asus P8Z77-M Pro motherboard. The P8Z77-M Pro is also a micro ATX board and despite being aimed at the lower end of the consumer market it shares some of the same features that the Gene has. You still get Asus’ Digi+ power controls and FanXpert+ along with Asus’ commitment to solid design and component selection. We have talked about most of these items in Part I of our review. Now we are going to focus on the performance you can expect when you pick up the P8Z77-M Pro along with Intel’s new Ivy Bridge CPU.

board06After seeing what new features Asus is bringing to the table with the Maximus V Gene (and there are a ton of them) we now get to dive into the performance side of things and see what we have. As the gateway product to the ROG lineup the Maximus V Gene has a lot to live up to, but with everything that Asus has thrown into it we are sure it can handle the pressure. So let’s dive into the Asus Republic of Gamers Maximus V Gene and see how it performs.

introAlthough the Intel Z77 Express chipset has been available for a while now we chose to wait until the official launch of Ivy Bridge to begin our reviews. After all the Z77 with Panther Point was designed to get the best performance when tied with Ivy Bridge so why not show that off first. To kick off our coverage of the Z77 we deiced to try out Intel’s reference design in the DZ77GA-70K. This performance desktop board from Intel is a great starting point and will give us the feel of how Intel meant things to work. So let’s get to it shall we?

introIt is no secret that Intel pretty much owns the desktop market. This is not only in terms of performance per watt but in most cases performance Vs. Cost. Their chief rival AMD has had setback after setback which has hobbled their ability to compete. In fact is has gotten so bad that AMD has officially stated that they will no longer compete head to head with Intel in the desktop market (they will continue to make desktop CPUs but are moving more toward mobile CPUs). This is a shame and normally could mean that new products from Intel will slow down along with innovation (nothing makes you invent like real competition). However this has not stopped Intel from pushing out a new line up of Desktop CPUs that fall under the title of Ivy Bridge. Ivy Bridge is the Tick part of Intel’s Tick-Tock strategy where Sandy Bridge was the introduction of the microarchitecture and Ivy Bridge is the official die shrink from 32nm to 22nm. So let’s see what Ivy Bridge brings to the table in the form of the 3rd Generation Core i7 3770k.