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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  • Devo2007 - Monday, April 28, 2014 - link

    I know at least one enthusiast site already posted a review of a Z97 board today; a site that, AFAIK has usually adhered to NDAs.
  • Devo2007 - Monday, April 28, 2014 - link

    .. Actually, one of the boards shown here (and with non-blurry photos to boot).

    That said, if the NDA is still in place, kudos to Anandtech for not breaking them. You guys don't need to be "first" to post reviews and such as the quality of content makes any wait worth it.
  • Flunk - Monday, April 28, 2014 - link

    I wholeheartedly agree there, best is much better than first and Anandtech is one of the only top-tier tech sites in my eyes.
  • Antronman - Monday, April 28, 2014 - link

    As per the usual, Asus will leave the competition in the dust and be the only choice for a serious build.
  • jimjamjamie - Monday, April 28, 2014 - link

    Are they really that much better than say Gigabyte? What makes them better? Genuinely interested as I'm using a G1.Sniper just now and I don't think I have any complaints.
  • willis936 - Monday, April 28, 2014 - link

    Their marketing is clearly better. The only reason I went asus on my last build is because the number of fan headers and bios fan voltage control was better than what I found on other boards of the same price. In most cases you'll get what you pay for and just make sure the boxes you want checked are checked (decent audio codec, PCIe requirements, outward facing port requirements, etc.) In the gaming/overclocking market there isn't much variation between products in terms of meaningful stability/overclocking features. The power circuitry has become much less important in recent years because they're all much better than they used to be. The biggest factor is the silicon lottery with your CPU/GPU nowadays.
  • Antronman - Monday, April 28, 2014 - link

    Power circuitry still does matter.

    A couple hundred MHz can mean the difference between a world record or "getting close".
    Higher rated caps and VRMs, means more stable and better power delivery.
    Fuse protections means any sudden jump in voltage or power problem means that your product won't be reduced to a piece of silicon with a bit of metal.
    LN2 mode buttons means more precise OCing for new OCers.
    Super stable BIOS.
    That's not just the boards, but the GPUs as well.

    All that's missing is a good chip.
  • willis936 - Monday, April 28, 2014 - link

    Certainly but people looking to drop a few grand on LN2 aren't people looking to make a stable daily build. If you want more performance on a computer you'll be booting and running daily the chip variation matters a lot more than component quality. I just have a hard time trusting anything I can safely say is more marketing than engineering. A good daily OC will see little difference between a $150 board and a $400 board. What really changes is the storage and peripheral interface features.
  • Antronman - Monday, April 28, 2014 - link

    But it will.
    Less voltage means it is a better OC.
    With RoG, you can consistently use less voltage to OC your chip.
    RoG has a superior interface, and also way more WC support.
    Just about every major watercooling product maker (e.g. EKWB, XSPC, Aquacomputer) has mobo blocks for almost every RoG board.
  • willis936 - Monday, April 28, 2014 - link

    You'll only be using less voltage on better chips.

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