Leaked pictures tease Ivy Bridge motherboard

Heard of motherboard maker Wibtek? Yeah, me neither. The Chinese firm has popped up on our radar because pictures of one of its Ivy Bridge motherboards have leaked online. This is the best look we've had at a motherboard designed for Intel's next-gen CPUs.

The Hacker Z77 is purportedly based on Intel's upcoming Z77 chipset, which should stand atop the 7-series lineup being prepared for Ivy Bridge. Pictures of the board published by EXPreview reveal 10 Serial ATA ports (six of which offer 6Gbps connectivity) and eight USB 3.0 ports. The latest rumors point to the Z77 offering six SATA ports (two of which can hack 6Gbps speeds) in addition to four SuperSpeed USB ports, so the other ports are probably being fed by third-party controller silicon. At least that gives mobo makers plenty of opportunity to differentiate their designs.

Speaking of designs, the Hacker features a heatsink cluster patterned after a Desert Eagle handgun. While the theme clearly draws inspiration from Gigabyte's G1 line, the heavily stylized heatsinks don't look that obnoxious. The rest of the board looks like pretty standard fare with one exception: in addition to the usual mix of full-sized PCI and PCI Express slots, there's a Mini PCIe slot designed for a wireless module. It's high time Wi-Fi and Bluetooth were integrated into more motherboards, and the diminutive slot should make it easy to add a notebook-style wireless card without compromising the board's expansion capacity.

While it's unlikely the Hacker Z77 will wash up Stateside, it's interesting to see what a lesser-known motherboard maker is cooking up for Ivy Bridge. I suspect next week's Consumer Electronics Show will give us plenty of opportunities to steal glimpses at Ivy Bridge mobos from some of the bigger players in the industry.

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