If these new boards are any indication we’re getting closer to seeing the first Ivy Bridge chips, Intel's new platform for 2012.
This MSI board got an outing in January, then this Gigabyte board and now overseas this Biostar board has been announced. All three boards have the new Z77 chipset which will supersede the current Z68 at the high-end of Intel's 1155 socket board lineup.
So should you bother?
The good news is that there's an upgrade path. Bar a couple of chipsets, you'll be able to swap-out your 2nd generation Intel chip for the new Ivy Bridge silicon with a bios upgrade (the new chip is compatible with 1155 socket boards).
Which begs the question, what is there to gain from swapping out your Z68 board too?
The Biostar board, for example, can support four SATA 6bps drives and four USB 3.0 ports natively. The USB 3.0 is a drawcard, but the reality is that motherboards are out there now with a third party USB 3 controller. As we've explained before, PCI-E 3.0 is pretty much irrelevant on Z68 boards up till the arrival of Ivy Bridge. Even then it won't be really useful until we see widespread graphics card compatibility.
As far as the CPU goes, expect Ivy Bridge to outperform Sandy Bridge, but this is more an evolution of last year's Sandy Bridge than a complete overhaul. Onboard graphics will be DirectX11 compatible and will support three monitors. Better performance will come with less power drain - perhaps not as significant for some desktop users as it will be for laptops.
Meanwhile, DigiTimes is reporting that "mass shipments" of Ivy Bridge processors could be later than expected. While the site doesn't name its source, it will be interesting to see what happens to the price of Sandy Bridge chips in the meantime.
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