The first batch of Intel 7-series motherboards, designed for use with Intel's yet-to-be-released Ivy Bridge processors, have been announced by numerous manufacturers.
Based around Intel's Z77 and H77 chipsets, the boards are being made available in advance of the processors for serial upgraders. Offering backwards compatibility with existing second-generation Sandy Bridge chips, it makes sense to consider a 7-series board if you're planning a future upgrade.
'We are pleased that these new boards support Intel's responsiveness technologies, including Intel Rapid Start, Intel Smart Connect and Intel Smart Response,
' boasted Intel's Zane Ball, general manager of desktop platforms, of the launch. 'Users will enjoy snappier performance and quicker access to their most important applications.
Board maker Gigabyte is one of the first to announce its own take on the 7-series, boasting that it's the first to include a dual UEFI BIOS with a 3D user interface - switchable, you'll be pleased to hear, to a more traditional 2D 'advanced mode' for those who don't want to be distracted with bling while overclocking.
ASRock has also announced its boards, and both companies have something in common beyond the use of Intel chipsets: the presence of Lucid's VirtuMVP technology, claimed to boost frame-rates significantly by eliminating redundant rendering tasks. As with Lucid's other products, it also provides the ability to switch between the on-board graphics built into selected Intel Core processors and a dedicated graphics card depending on application requirements.
Both companies have announced a wide range of 7-series products, from the enthusiast-oriented ASRock Z77 Extreme9 and Gigabyte G1.Sniper 3 to the ultra-compact ASRock Z77E-ITX.
Additional common features across the manufacturers' product lines include mSATA support for small-format SSDs - coincidentally, a product line Intel itself has recently started offering - support for the latest Intel technologies, and boards with integrated Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Details of ASRock's offerings can be found at the official website
, as can Gigabyte's equivalents
. Other manufacturers are, naturally, to follow suit in due course.
UK pricing and availability for the boards has yet to be confirmed.