MSI adds Intel Optane motherboard bundles for better performance

msi bundling 16gb intel optane with opt boost motherboards z270 tomahawk 2 header
One of the more interesting recent developments in PC components is Intel’s Optane storage system, which is built using advanced 3D XPoint memory technology that Intel co-developed with memory maker Micron. Not only does Optane make for some outrageously fast solid-state drives (SSDs) but it also helps speed up slower spinning hard- disk drives (HDDs).

The version of Optane that helps HDDs perform more like speedier SSDs has arrived by way of 16GB and 32GB add-on products that plug into supported motherboards. It is an effective way to add speed while saving some money, and motherboard maker MSI is offering new motherboard bundles that throw in the 16GB Optane module for free.

msi bundling 16gb intel optane with opt boost motherboards z270 tomahawk 1

According to our own tests, Optane can provide some noticeable performance improvements for reasonable prices. The 16GB version has a retail price of $44 and the 32GB version costs $77. While buyers can purchase Optane and plug it into a supported motherboard themselves, MSI is making the process easier — and less expensive — by simply including Optane out of the box.

Obviously, the motherboard bundles include MSI’s most recent options that provide the required Intel Z270 and B250 chipset support along with the M.2 connections that the Optane modules utilize. MSI is offering up three motherboard options, including the Z270 Tomahawk Opt Boost, the B250M Bazooka Opt Boost, and the Pro Series B250M Pro Opt Boost.

Each of these motherboards offers the kind of performance high-end users are looking for, including USB 3.1 Gen2 support, Turbo M.2 to squeeze out full performance from the PCI-E Gen3 x4 architecture, and support for the latest seventh-generation Intel Core processors known as Kaby Lake. Note that Intel Optane also requires Kaby Lake CPUs.

In addition, all of MSI’s 200 Series motherboards can support Optane via the latest BIOS updates. Go grab the latest BIOS update for supported MSI motherboards before you plug in that Intel Optane module.

MSI has not yet provided pricing or availability information for any of the Optane-equipped Opt Boost motherboards. However, rest assured that whichever model you choose, you will be getting the extra benefit of faster HDD performance without additional expense or hassle.

Product Review

The Asus ZenBook 14 is a tiny notebook that gets lost in the crowd

The ZenBook 14 aims to be the smallest 14-inch notebook around, and it succeeds thanks to some tiny bezels. Performance and battery life are good, but the notebook lacks a standout feature other than size.
Computing

Amazon takes $300 off Intel Core i7 Surface Pro 6 in latest sale

If you're looking for savings on the Surface Pro 6, Amazon is the place to shop. It currently is discounting the Intel Core i7 variant of Microsoft's latest 2-in-1 by $300, though no Type Cover is included.
Computing

Supermicro investigation: no spy chips found on our motherboards

Supermicro announced the results of an investigation into the controversy surrounding its motherboards. The investigation was launched in response to reports that alleged the motherboards were compromised with malicious hardware.
Computing

Snatch Apple’s 2017 15-inch MacBook Pro for up to $1,200 off at B&H

The latest deal at B&H is offering up 2017 15-inch Apple MacBook Pros, in space gray and silver, with Intel Core i7 quad-core CPUs, 16GB of RAM, and AMD Radeon Pro 560 GPUs with up to 2TB of SSD storage.
Computing

You can now get a Surface Laptop 2 for $800 at the Microsoft Store

Along with deals on other variants, starting configurations of Microsoft's Surface Laptop 2 are now going for $800 online at its retail store, cutting $200 from its usual $1,000 starting price. 
Computing

Need a monitor for professional photo-editing? These are the very best

Looking for the best monitor for photo editing? You'll need to factor in brightness, color accuracy, color gamut support and more. Fortunately, we've rounded up the best ones for you, to help you make an educated purchase.
Computing

Canada’s winters inspired a startup to warm homes with cryptomining heat waste

Cryptomining may be the key to untold riches and the future of currency, but it’s also an environmental nightmare. Heatmine, thinks it has the answer, but it could mean bolting a mining rig onto every home and business in the country.
Computing

HDR monitors are beginning to have an impact. Here are the best you can buy

HDR isn't the most common of PC monitor features and is often charged at a premium, but the list of available options is growing. These are the best HDR monitors you can buy right now.
Computing

You’ll soon be able to scribble all over PDFs on your Chromebook

Chrome OS users may soon be able to doodle all over their PDF documents with the possible addition of a new feature in Chrome OS' PDF viewer. The annotation feature is expected to allow users to hand draw or write over their documents.
Virtual Reality

Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive: Prices drop, but our favorite stays the same

The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are the two big names in the virtual reality arena, but most people can only afford one. Our comparison tells you which is best when you pit the Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive.
Computing

Microsoft’s Windows 95 throwback was just an ugly sweater giveaway

Microsoft's "softwear" announcement wasn't what we had hoped for. Thursday's announcement was not the new line of wearable tech or SkiFree monster sweater we wished for. But it did deliver the 90s nostalgia we wanted.
Home Theater

Confused about LED vs. LCD TVs? Here's everything you need to know

Our LED vs. LCD TV buying guide explains why these two common types of displays are fundamentally connected, how they differ, what to look for in buying an LED TV, and what's on the horizon for TVs.
Deals

The best MacBook deals for December 2018

If you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop, let us make your work a little easier: We hunted down the best up-to-date MacBook deals available online right now from various retailers.
Computing

How to connect AirPods to your MacBook

If you have new AirPods, you may be looking forward to pairing them with your MacBook. Our guide will show you exactly how to connect AirPods to MacBook, what to do if they are already paired with a device, and more.