Let me start my article with this picture ?. Yeah I know, you saw this already on my FB page! But still, I want to kick off with this because I am really really happy with this board in my possession. I could hear the famous lines “My precious...“ in my mind over and over again. Ha Ha!
Ok let's get started! The box from gigabyte, as usual, was eye-catching! It is a pretty boy if you ask me. The front of the box highlights one of the board's key features - the heatsink in the VRM module wherein one can either use the built-in fan or the optional water cooling feature. At the back of the box, one can see almost all the details on what the board has to over. Bottom line, by simply looking at the box, one gets a snapshot of what level of hardware one is getting.
The Unboxing and features Opening the box, you will be greeted with the black and green combo which is the concept of the G1 sniper board. I can still recall my G1 sniper on my 1366, as well as my G1 sniper M3, which also had the same color combo. Hmmmmm... It makes me realize how great this would look if I build this with the Corsair c70 military green color chassis with green water cooling tubes and green dye. ( Green stuff for a green minded guy? Ha ha ) !!!
More on the board, there are some switches available on the board. This includes the power, reset, cmos and interestingly, 2 switches for BIOS.
Some ports for checking the voltages on your setup are also present. Unlike the Z87X-OC board that comes with a better voltage checking connector, this board comes with bare check points for you to put the tip of your voltmeter. Honestly speaking, I am not a fan of this because if one is a bit careless, one can easily short the positive and negative probes, the results of which may be an auto power down or worse, a dead board. I don't have enough curiosity nor courage to test the outcome, so let's leave it at that.
The board comes with a couple of 7 segment displays. This will guide you during POST. This board is not just for gamers and I am willing to bet that I can get decent overclocking results on this setup. Those 7 segment display will definitely aid me in cases where POST issues due to some conflict in my BIOS setup are encountered.
On top of the 8 pin power connector you will see a 20mm fan (just solely based on the visuals, I maybe incorrect) that will actively cool your VRMs. This will ensure that cooler VRMs along with the PCH as there is a heatpipe that runs from the VRM to the PCH. Another key feature of this board is the ability to have your VRMs water cooled. There are 2 fittings where in you can just plug your watercooling hose to include the VRMs in your water cooling loop. Hmmm... Seems like an enhancement of the older product from Gigabyte I used to own, the ex58 extreme motherboard for the 1366 platform which also has a watercooling attachment (although it was previously designed only to cool the tylesburg chip).
The board comes with 4 PCIe x16 slot. This means that you can do multiple graphics card setup. You can do x16 + x16 on dual graphics, x16 + x8 +x8 on 3 card setup and all x8 if it will be running at quad card setup. There are also some X1 slots available for you to add some x1 cards ( like the x1 card included in the box )
The board supports dual channel RAM
The CPU area is pretty clean. Maybe I can try some extreme cooling with this board . The layout is pretty good and even my Koolance pot for extreme cooling will fit perfectly on this!
There are 10 SATA ports available for use. The six black connectors are coming from the intel SATA controller while the 4 gray connections will be from a Marvel SATA controller
This is Gigabyte so expect dual BIOS as always. There are 2 chips for the main and back-up BIOS. The board comes with 2 additional USB 2.0 headers and 2 x USB 3.0 headers. The back of the board will also come out with 6 USB 3.0 and 2 additional USB 2.0 slots as well. The back of the board also comes with dual HDMI and display ports. One more thing to note - the audio connectors are actually gold plated. This will ensure good contact with your audio jack and definitely better audio output.
The next 2 key features we will go through are the ones I really really like! The board comes with a Killer LAN. You know what this means - NO LAG! As long as you provider can give you the internet speed, or even if you are just doing offline network with your friends, you can ensure that the network connection will not be a problem. I have seen and experienced this in my G1 sniper 1. That killer LAN really works!
The next thing is the audio portion. This I believe is the feature that sets this board apart from the other brands. This board comes in with a “true” creative sound card chip. That alone is a big plus for me. But wait, there's more! On top of the creative sound card, Gigabyte is giving their users a chance to select which OP-AMP they want to use. The board comes with a replaceable OP-AMP, and the additional option is included as an extra OP-AMP with your board purchase.
Even with 2 Gigabit LAN, a dual band wifi and Bluetooth 4.0 x1 card is included.
Some cables, 3.5bay USB3 connecotr, manuals and driver disc for the board
Testing and Overclocking This section has been covered in my previous article which is the corsair experience so here’s the link for you to be able to see the results Experiencing Corsair's Dominator Platinum 2666Mhz Instead of putting my overclocking results again, I decided to show you the BIOS of the board and the softwares included. BIOS Gigabyte’s UEFI BIOS Note that this is not 100% complete. I am ecncountering a system locoup when I am trying to capture the BIOS features, Peripherals and Power Management tab. I will ask about this and this will be updated soon.
Pressing F2 while you are on the new bios GUI will bring you back to the older BIOS GUI. Well honestly I love this one as I already know the in’s and outs of this layout.
I am assuming that the new and old BIOS have the same settings, with that the next 3 pictures that you will see are the options
After loading windows, I launch the Utilities included and this is what I got. A gigabyte APP Center that contains all the necessary software.
Pressing the setting ( the gear like button at the upper right corner ) will give you these options
The @BIOS – this is Gigabyte’s windows based BIOS flashing utility
The EasyTune software which is your windows based software to tweak your hardware
The Creative Core Core 3d’s software
Other Pictures of the board
- Gigabyte has done it again! A good motherboard for the haswell processor. The design of the board is pretty good.
- The real creative sound core 3d is a big plus. This is the “real deal “ and not just a software emulated thing!
- The flexibility of replacing the OP-AMP to suite the listeners need is another good thing. And the fact that they included the additional OP-AMP in the box for you to try out, makes it a winner.
- The RAM support of the board is pretty amazing. Both my trident X and Corsair Dominator function as advertised without any issues. Overclocking the RAM is also as easy as 1-2-3!
- Overclockability of the board will never be in question. Inspite the fact that this is supposedly a gaming motherboard, I was still able to get some decent overclocking results.
- The spacing for the PCIe is awesome. Multiple cards will never be a problem.
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
- I really don’t like the idea of the bare voltage check points. Using similar voltage check points as in their OC boards would have been way better.
- A bit pricey for a motherboard. But I if the features I noted are the ones you are specifically looking for, I would say it is worth it.