Intel has recently been awash with news about upcoming processors. In March, Intel released information on an upcoming unlocked Haswell Pentium processor, an upcoming Haswell-K processor with overclocking enhancements, an unlocked Iris Pro processor coming to Broadwell, and some details regarding an 8-core Haswell-E processor due later this year. This is a bit of an odd article – various motherboard manufacturers have posted new product images online for an upcoming platform, with all the juicy bits redacted. Here is our analysis of some of those products.

So What Are We Looking At?

The motherboards we are detailing today come from multiple sources.  In the case of GIGABYTE and MSI, both of these companies released edited images on their social media pages and gave copies to the press. In the case of ASUS, a leak from an ASUS APAC event provided small blurry images. ASRock provided some media with its image deck, only to have them leaked – we subsequently got the go ahead to publish them today. We should see a full range of images and motherboard specifications at launch.

The motherboards all use the 1150 pin socket designation, which suggests they are for Haswell processors. However the images have the chipset blurred out, but ‘Z_7’ is clearly visible giving us an overclocking chipset. On several of the motherboards we have M.2 slots as well as SATA Express, although without looking closer it is hard to see how these are configured (either via the chipset or a controller). Kristian looked at SATA Express earlier this year with a beta motherboard supplied by ASUS. mSATA seems to have disappeared almost entirely.

A lot of the motherboards adorn their name with some form of WiFi or AC, with text on the PCB all pointing towards 802.11ac 2T2R solutions. Given our past experiences, these are either Broadcom or Intel modules, with the Intel side of the equation being more expensive. Audio seems to get a revision change from Z87 across most of the manufacturers as well.

Technically the launch date of these products is under NDA. The NDA is such that we can't even mention the chipset by name, even if it is visible on some of the images we are sharing today. MSRP is still being decided on most fronts. Haswell processors were launched in June 2013, and all expectations for Broadwell are putting it at the end of the year, perhaps Q4 or later. Thus it should be straightforward to expect that this is a refresh, updating the mainstream platform to newer technology like M.2 and SATA Express. It also gives the motherboard manufacturers and system integrators a chance to upgrade their lines and offer the potential for new sales. Given that Intel has already announced an upcoming Haswell-K processor for ‘mid 2014’ and prices for Haswell refresh processors have already been leaked, it is not hard to put two and two together.

GIGABYTE’s New Products
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  • Antronman - Monday, April 28, 2014 - link


    With the same chip, on a Gigabyte, MSI, ASRock, and RoG mobo, the chip will always be able to pull off lower voltage on the same OC on an RoG.
  • willis936 - Monday, April 28, 2014 - link

    You're going to have to cite some threads with some actual numbers and caps or else you're just blowing smoke.
  • Achaios - Monday, April 28, 2014 - link

    Looks like someone is -shamelessly- copying ASUS ROG. I am a member at OVERCLOCK.NET, and almost every member who has got his rig published there owns an ASUS Maximus VI Hero ROG board, myself included. We don't need to see sales figures to understand how well the Gigabyte Z87 series of boards with those pathetic colour schemes, emphasis on useless sound chips, and contempt for overclockers and enthusiasts has sold even with prices as much as 30% cheaper than ASUS.
  • nevertell - Monday, April 28, 2014 - link

    Don't call the sound codecs useless. Although, if one were serious about their audio quality, they'd have a discrete DAC, but nevermind.
  • Creig - Monday, April 28, 2014 - link

    Looks like someone is -really- taking their ASUS purchase too seriously. I've used Gigabyte motherboards in the past and found them to overclock decently, to be rock-solid in every day usage and they weren't overly expensive considering all the features they offered. I would have no problems purchasing either an ASUS or Gigabyte motherboard for my next upgrade.
  • The_Assimilator - Monday, April 28, 2014 - link

    Looks like MSI is betting that SATA Express will fall flat, at least this generation. If that means their boards are cheaper than the competition's, could be a big win for them.

    It's disappointing that you still have to go for high-end expensive motherboards to get 2x USB 3 internal headers. Hopefully Intel will give out more USB 3 ports (minimum 10, please) in the Skylake chipset.
  • Hrafn - Thursday, May 1, 2014 - link

    I must admit I'm having a hard time seeing SATA Express's niche. Given the availability of multiple SATA3 ports on most MBs SATA-backward compatibility would not seem to be a major selling point. M2 seems ideal for small-but-fast system drives and full PCIE cards for those requiring maximum size and speed (which generally go together on SSDs). Is there really a potential market for PCIE 2.5" drives, particularly given SATA Express's complex cabling?
  • rjlew88 - Monday, April 28, 2014 - link

    Love the Z_7 boards! The only one clearly indicated as "Z97" is the pic for IMG_1656.JPG. I hope you continue to bring us the comps between Z67, Z77, and Z87 with the new Z97 for reference. Thanks. Long live Sandy and Ivy!!
  • cm2187 - Monday, April 28, 2014 - link

    What about that 32GB RAM limit? Will intel increase it?
  • peterfares - Monday, April 28, 2014 - link

    Probably not soon, they want you to buy server hardware if you want more than 32GB. And what do you really need more than 32GB for?

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