Release roundup: Mobos, software, and fan controllers

After a brief hiatus, our weekly release roundup is back, this time with news from Biostar, FinalWire, Gigabyte, and NZXT. Let's see what those companies have in store...

  • BIOSTAR announces new Z68 motherboard. We recently reviewed Z68 boards from Asus, Gigabyte, and MSI, but those aren't the only companies to have adopted Intel's latest chipset. Biostar has also hopped on the bandwagon with its TZ68A+, which features a full-sized ATX form factor, dual PCI Express x16 slots with CrossFire support, two SATA 6Gbps ports, two USB 3.0 ports, and a choice of HDMI, DVI, and VGA display outputs. Considering the manufacturer, I'd expect this offering to carry a lower price tag than the competition.

  • FinalWire Releases AIDA64 v1.70 . Just in case you didn't get the memo, FinalWire bills AIDA64 as the successor to Lavalys Everest (which was itself a successor to AIDA32), fulfilling the same system information, diagnostics, and monitoring needs. The latest version brings support for B3-stepping Intel 6-series chipsets, AMD Bulldozer and Llano processors, some of the latest SSDs (from Intel, OCZ, and Samsung), new mobile Radeon HD 6700M-series GPUs, and new desktop GeForce 500-series cards. You can download it here.

  • Gigabyte preps Z68 motherboards with onboard mSATA . As we noted in our review earlier this week, Intel's Z68 chipset introduces a new Smart Response Technology feature that can use a low-capacity solid-state drive as an intelligent cache between the operating system and a traditional mechanical hard drive. In addition to its existing Z68 mobos, Gigabyte says it's cooking up four offerings—the Z68XP-UD3, Z68XP-D3, Z68AP-D3, and Z68P-DS3—that will feature an onboard mSATA connector compatible with the mSATA version of Intel's 20GB 311 solid-state drive. In other words, you'll be able to enjoy the cache without taking up a precious storage bay in your system.

  • NZXT debuts Sentry Mesh fan controller. Designed to fit in a 5.25" external drive bay, NZXT's new fan controller lets you hook up as many as five fans using three-pin connectors. The individual sliders can reduce fan voltage to as little as 40% of full capacity, and according to the spec sheet, a maximum power draw of 30W is allowed.

If the price is right, I might be swayed by that NZXT fan controller. The fairly low-key design is a plus, since aftermarket fan controllers are often a little too flashy-looking. Of course, we wouldn't need fan controllers so much to begin with if more motherboards implemented sensible BIOS fan controls.

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