UPDATE: B550 stocks have landed in NZ and are available now at PB Tech!
UPDATE: New B550 motherboard options are now available in the Ryzen Custom PC building tool.
With the new AMD B550 range of motherboards are set to release on the 16th of June (Early morning on the 17th here in New Zealand) it’s a great time to start planning out some new builds with these awesome new options!
The B550 is particularly cool for those building the best value Gaming PC possible, especially if you’re using a 3rd Gen Ryzen CPU (like the just-released AMD Ryzen 3 3100 or 3300X) as some of the new B550 motherboards options will support PCIe 4.0 storage just like the way more some expensive X570 motherboards do right now (but with less slots/options) so the X570 motherboards series still has a place for those building with the highest-end Ryzen CPU and multiple storage devices.
For those using X570 already there is also a new BIOS to enjoy. Users can update the latest BIOS to motherboards through multiple ways such as GIGABYTE Q-Flash. With Q-Flash Plus on the X570 and B550 series motherboards, you can easily update BIOS without even installing a processor, memory, graphics cards, making it all super easy and ready to take full advantage of the new Ryzen XT processors, which are set for release in NZ soon (July TBC).
Graphics card wise although the new slots support PCIe 4.0 also, we expect we won’t see an increase in performance here, as version 3 already had enough bandwidth, but for those that love AMD Crossfire for dual graphics card builds – it’s coming back with the B550 motherboard series!
The B550 motherboard series also brings in more compatibility with new cases thanks to options including the much-requested USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C internal header, this will allow us to use the latest case options like the NZXT H510i which needs that specific header for its front IO. Not all B550 motherboards will have this of course, and there is the NZXT H511 for those building with the much more common USB 3.0 headers.
All that technical stuff is certainly looking good, and there has never been a better time to jump aboard the AMD hype train. Check out the video below from Asus about their new ROG Strix B550-F, which sort of sounds like it was voiced by Seth Rogan 🙂
With the brand new Asus 400 series of motherboards now happily making their way towards New Zealand, just in time for the Intel 10th Gen release date (which is set as May 21st in this part of the world), it’s the perfect time to start designing some custom gaming rigs for these awesome new options!
While the new Asus Z490 range includes many options, the two favourites are the glorious PRIME Z490-AandROG STRIX Z490-F, which is perfect for us because they both look so different, with contrasting black VS white colour themes.
Both also have the internal header required for use with Type-C front IO found on the latest chassis – so we can build pretty much anything we want 🙂
Firing up the GGPC custom PC design tool and loading in the new options gives us some really cool looking configs, using the NZXT H510 series of cases chosen for that oh so good Type-C front IO, and they’re also available in black and white to match our motherboards, along with Elite options for those that want more glass, and even CRFT special edition for that unique WoW factor.
Combining these with all the Asus graphics cards options from AMD and Nvidia, along with the latest SSD & RAM options from Crucial, Samsung, G.Skill & Kingston, and more vibrant custom cooling from Cooler Master & NZXT for adding even more colour to the mix we’ve been able to create some wonderful looking builds.
Clicking the custom PC images shown above will take you to our building tool, we’ve kept our options fairly monochrome to start things off so the colour themes really come through nicely.
Have a play around with the parts and see which configuration you like the most, we’ll be doing the same while photographing and adding new components to the builder along the way!
For those new to custom PC gaming builds there’s a lot more to Asus than just really really good looking… I mean… some of it’s is just so utterly gorgeous that I… lost my chain of thought… Asus are real good engineers too!
For many people out there it has been a while since they’ve done a new build for themselves, considering just how good things like the i7-7700 were a few years back you can completely understand why too! It has been able to keep up with all but the newest graphics cards which is nice, but with the new Intel 10th Gen i7-10700 showing such significant gains in comparison, along with the motherboard enhancements radically increasing the speed of our storage though all-new options, and connectivity like WiFi 6, for many it’s going to be enough motivation to pick up that screwdriver 😛
Which brings us to more reasons why Asus are pretty great for PC builders.
Asus Q-CODE & Q-LED will help to identify problems with a PC even if it can’t boot into windows or box. Four little LEDs light up to indicate power status, and any problem with the CPU, graphics card, RAM or boot drive for a quick diagnosis. Going one step further the Q diagnostic codes provide a reference point for fast and easy codes that describe common installation and component problems, and also when it’s (A)ll(O)k!
ROG Bios Flashback is the simplest (and safest) BIOS update method and it’s soo good that updates can even be done with no CPU or RAM installed – crazy right?! Simply download and pop that BIOS file onto a USB stick, plug it into the special USB BIOS Flashback port and press the button to begin the automatic process. You’ll still need to have the motherboard connected to your power supply of course, but no RAM and no CPU is a massive win, it allows us to make sure a build is running the latest software even before its fully assembled, minimising the issues that arrive a little later on when even newer hardware gets released.
Asus SafeSlot is something you’ll likely not to even notice is there, but back in the day (2008) it was really difficult to ship a pre-built gaming PC with the graphics card fitted because in transit if it took a solid knock the weight of the massive GPU could literally rip the PCIe socket apart with the graphics card still in it! Asus solved this by making sure every part was tightly secured in thermoplastic, an insert moulded SafeSlot prevents part loosening, misalignment, improper terminations, and other structural issues. The thermoplastic resin also provides improved resistance to shock and vibration.
Those are all sweet features, but the likelihood of something going wrong with an Asus motherboard is slim at best, so let’s turn our gaze to the totally unnecessary features that make us smile, things like RGB and top-quality audio goodness.
AURA is what Asus have named their RGB software suite, but it’s important to note that it’s not only for Asus gear – more than 50 other brands such as Cooler Master, Hyper X, Crucial, G.Skill, Phanteks, AMD, EKWB, Lian Li and more have products that work with the Asus AURA software suite, so you can control and sync your RGB LED light show with just the one software setup. It’s awesome and goes beyond the usual PC parts to offer controls for everything from gaming monitors to mice. Just look out for the AURA badge when you’re choosing your various components and gaming gears and you’ll be all set.
The component we generally try our hardest to match with the motherboard is the graphics card, and Asus graphics cards which also feature Aura are the best ones too, you can even connect more RGB stuff directly to some models now, as if the 2xRGB and 2x ARGB headers weren’t already enough!
Sonic Studio does a bunch of neat things if you’re into sharing your awesome gameplay by live-streaming it with X-Split or OBS, and if you look at this Z490-F specifically it’s packing as Asus exclusive S1220A chip for SupremeFX technology that provides a flat frequency response for a neutral, detailed sound signature, so if you’re using a gaming headset, the front-panel output is driven by two op-amps to preserve audio quality.
Having all this sweet audio tech allows for other things too, but opinions are mixed on features like Sonic Rader III which will allow you to graphically see where sounds (like footsteps) are coming from in-game, and that latest version does a good job of indicating how far that sound is too, so if you’re waiting in a room you can shoot the bad guy through the door BEFORE he opens it – yep, that sounds like cheating to me BUT then you realise the other benefits that it brings, allowing you to game without the sound turned on, in the living room for example with others being loud, or maybe just so you can enjoy a good audiobook while you play. With sonic radar on because you’ll still have those audio ques, even if you can’t hear what’s going on.
Combine all this with world record-smashing overclocks and an ecosystem of products that cover everything on our desks it’s easy to see why Asus is a global leader in technology – and with the Z490-A + Z490-F it’s just about to get a whole lot better!
Those fine folks at ASUS have just announced an awesome new promotion with a top tier ASUS ROG MATRIX 2080 Ti Graphics Card as the main prize!
The first 50 entries also instantly win a Limited Edition ROG gift too, it’s a random treat but among the prizes is a great looking figurine (fingers crossed).
To be in to win you must purchase selected ASUS products, then take a photo of your purchase in a creative way, finally fill in the entry form on the Asus WIN a Matrix 2080 Ti Competition Registration Page. Asus also want you to share your brilliant image via Facebook or Instagram, so be sure to tag in @AUSROG (facebook) or #ASUSAU (instagram) so the team can check it out!
This promotion is valid on purchases from June 3rd – 30th 2019, and only on the following Asus products available now in New Zealand. All entries must be in before the 14th July.
Now with more motherboard options! Promotion is valid on purchases from April 1st – June 30th (or while code stocks last) Completed registrations will still be accepted by GIGABYTE until July 15th, 2018.
For a limited time and while stocks last, get yourself a Gigabyte Aorus Motherboard from the range below and you can register to redeem a Far Cry 5 Game Code bonus!
STEP #3: Now that you have registered you’ll swiftly receive your game code from the Gigabyte team via email, once you’ve received it head to www.farcry5-redeem.ubi.com/en-US/login, login to your Uplay account (or create one) and enter your code!
STEP #5: Once in the Uplay launcher you can activate the game code as shown below, once that’s done you’ll have the game added to your library available for download.
STEP #6: GAME ON!
Now you’re in for a treat! Far Cry 5 is a multiplayer masterpiece, you take on the role of the local Sheriff for the Montana town named Hope County, and while you could just spend your time hunting and fishing (with grenades) there is an ominous doomsday cult rising up and causing some problems around town… better get onto that! With most of the game world being accessible to players after completing the game’s introductory missions, once complete you’re going to be pretty much free to rush through the world causing chaos as you see fit.
Asus has a sweet register to redeem Steam Gift Voucher bonus on selected motherboards! There are two tiers of credit available depending on which motherboard you buy and this offer is valid on purchases from 01/05/2018 through to 30/06/2018! Entries must be submitted BEFORE 10th July.
Those fine folks at Asus have a sweet bonus for those looking to build with Ryzen in their new system, a BONUS ROG Pugio RGB Gaming Mouse with selected Asus AM4 and TR Motherboards!
This is a register to redeem promotion so once you’ve got your awesome new hardware simply head to the Asus Redemption Site and follow the steps along to get your awesome new mouse, you’ll have to provide the receipt for your motherboard in this promotion so if you’re having a system builder assemble your new PC be sure to get the full parts list included on the invoice.
This ROG STRIX PUGIO mouse is pretty special too, it first appeared in New Zealand around the time of TechXpo 2017 and was a hit at the show, an ambidextrous gaming mouse it’s got some sweet configurable magnetic side buttons that let decide on your own side button layout, with exclusive push-fit switch sockets offer variable click resistance. The PUGIO also features some truly stunning aesthetics to match its performance – including angular ASUS Aura RGB light channels that can be controlled with Aura Sync!
The arrival of the new Kaby Lake CPU brought with it some new Z270 motherboards for some beautiful high end Gaming PC builds and although these latest generation motherboards only have a couple of new techy features depending on the model (good for supporting more high speed storage devices) they’ve all had a solid update to the lighting kits and some even have some pretty sweet liquid cooling loadouts ready to roll 🙂
Starting things off with a favourite from the bunch we take a closer look at the new lineup from Gigabyte, specifically the Aorus Z270X Gaming 5 \o/
With this new lineup Aorus motherboards we get a major cooling controller upgrade. The Aorus Gaming 5 (and all other Aorus mobo as well :P) includes what Gigabyte is calling “hybrid fan headers” which allow us to adjust the voltage to each connected device so we can tweak our builds cooling, pumps and most importantly – make things oh so quiet. It’s not just one or two of the headers that are special like this either, all (5) on our Gaming 5 mobo work in this way 🙂 The mobo also packs a bunch of thermal sensors so if you want your machine to rev up additional cooling automatically it’s ready to roll and to top things off if you’re wanting to add additional RGB lighting strips you’ll find a handy RGB 12v header just under the bottom PCIe slot and connecting to this will allow you to sync the lighting throughout the build via Fusion \o/
One of the main reasons we like the Aorus lineup so much is because of the pure black and white colour scheme Gigabyte have gone with, and this makes using the new multi-zone RGB LED lighting system that Aorus comes equipped with all the more awesome – you can light up around the ram slots, graphics card slots and there has also been a really cool update to the trace lighting path on the side of the motherboard thanks the addition of a patterned transparent plate that really captures the LED and the glow isincredible, these plates are easily interchangeable as well so messing around with patterns for custom builds is going to be blast! They’ve got some slick new software to make the most of this which also has the fancy name “RGB Fusion” and it will allow you to quickly customise the various zones to get the perfect look.
Combine all this with some really nice features like re-enforced PCIe slots, X-Fi audio (great if you want to hear those footsteps), gold plated connections and dual M.2 slots for some very rapid storage and you’ve got one killer motherboard that looks good and can hold together a top tier system – fun times ahead!
But that’s not all!
Asus have revealed their new lineup also and among these is what looks to be an updated version for the Z170-AR we use in our own Paladin GTX 1070 Gaming PC which Asus are calling the Z270-A Prime (looks like this one is the Z270-AR in NZ)
Much like the Gigabyte motherboard above this new version has had the previous blue accent removed and is now sports a clean black and white colour scheme we like. It sports those nifty fan headers as well and although it’s shy on the lighting zones (a small bit of RGB path lighting) Asus have continued to make the new lineup a little more mod friendly by offering a range of unique customisation options for those with access to a 3D Printer \o/ Dedicated mounting points on the motherboard make fitting 3D printed parts possible by using the same screws as M.2 drives (hard to find but four 2mm x 3mm screws included with the kingston ssd bracket if you get stuck) so we’ll be able fit nameplates, ninja cable covers and more as we experiment with things – With Asus backing 3D Printer modding in this way along with Cooler Master and ThermalTake we’re sure to see more and more cool models emerge for these and not just for those lucky few with a fancy new motherboard – 3D models for 120mm fan covers, 2-way SLi bridges and even cable combs!
Taking inspiration from the iconic CM Storm Stryker chassis this latest addition to the new MasterCase lineup is sporting a very tough handle on the top that will make transport very easy but blends into the form of the chassis looking good even if you never use it 🙂 The tempered glass sides on this new case have been done in a new way that opens a like a reverse gull wing and have a key lock to open and close the panels which is pretty cool. Another really good thing about this chassis is the internal graphics card support bar is ready for two graphics cards making it absolutely amazing for a killer SLi Gaming PC 🙂
Just in time and perfect for the Red/Black theme we’re going for with this new build, Cooler Master Seidon 120V3 Plus water cooling kits have arrived in New Zealand! These have actually been available in the UK for a while now but here in NZ we’ve only had the blue options so this is absolutely perfect 🙂
We’ve had a good go with a bunch of Z270 series motherboards now and for our Red/Black theme there is one that really does look perfecto!
The Z270MX-Gaming 5 from Gigabyte boasts the most advanced LED system in the market today. With more customisability than ever and a convenient, intuitive UI thanks to the RGB Fusion App we’re going to have a blast making a build with this one! The bright and vibrant LEDs can even be configured to display the PC’s temperature or load… hmmm tempting 😛