This Gigabyte motherboard is a total prodigy. The tip of the spear is the new G1 Line for “gamers”. In fact, I can directly point out the only issue, not defect, that I encountered, which is the lack of an M.2 integrated onto the board itself. From this point on, we are ready to analyze the rest of it wide variety of features.
It does not stop being a Z97 board, but Gigabyte has combined a great motherboard, a new BIOS design, good component organization, and with no doubt an elevated potential to build a system with high specification, either for gaming itself, overclocking or both.
We have mentioned that this board continues to be a Z97 chipset. This indicates that it is built for this generations Core Intel Processors, including yesterday’s latest update, but it will also be compatible with future Core Processors, Fifth Generation, that will come from a very important reduction in the manufacturing process. Intel prepares factories top build these new CPUs to 14nm and these boards which support the Z97 and H97, will be compatible with these 2015 processors.
Four memory banks offer the high capacity supported by these processors with up to 32GB of DDR3 memory that Gigabyte has expanded to overcome the 3200MHz. As we mentioned the MSI Z97 Gaming 7 simplicity of this model represent the total opposite. This is an ATX motherboard that gives you great support for graphic cards. Gigabyte has introduced a dedicated PCI Express 3.0 bridge to support connections of up to four simultaneous 8x cards. It also has four PEG slots, where one has 16x and the rest have 8x, with double spacing for mounting up to four dual-slot cards by either AMD Crossfire technology or Nvidia SLI.
Three PCI Express 1x cover the remaining gaps between the connections for graphics cards. One of them will be used by the added AC Wifi + Bluetooth 4.0 module which this card includes. If we mount four graphics cards, logically, we will have to do without this wireless card.
The storage of this motherboard is almost perfect, but not exactly perfect. I say this with real shame because it lacked that “little extras” to be one of the best motherboards you can buy with the new chipsets. The board has 10 SATA 6Gbps ports, two of which are part of an Express SATA connector with 10Gbps bandwidth. It only includes this connector, and no other, so even we cannot mount a RAID system for high performance drives over 800MB/s, we won’t even find M.2 connectors with PCI Express connectivity, or connected to SATA either.
Gigabyte has had to handle many PCI Express lines, and it seems to have limited them to a single Express SATA connector in this model.
The connectivity ports contain remarkable quality. It is fair to emphasize its USB 2.0 ports, dedicated charge or connection of external DACs, with dedicated power supply and controlled voltage to avoid spikes or lack of power, or 8 USB 3.0 ports split between the rear and front locations. The plate has three digital video connections (DVI, HDMI 1.4 and Displayport 1.2), that we can use to take advantage of the integrated graphics processor. Two Ethernet ports, one of them a Killer E2200 and an Intel 218 so that each user can choose the high-performance Gigabyte solution preferred. The downside is that by using different "vendors" we cannot access features such as teaming, balancing or redundancy that we can achieve with two Ethernet chips of the same brand.
The board also has some legacy connectors, like PS2 port, for gamers who prefer this type peripherals. The wireless card goes to an expansion slot so it will not occupy space in the rear area. To the front zone of the PC case, we’ve already mentioned the two USB 3.0 ports, but we will also find HD Audio and multiple USB 2.0 ports.
Design & Appearance
Gigabyte’s design is much more ambitious in many ways than other models that we have seen in this generation, basically models of other manufacturers. It is the most elaborate model of Gigabytes "gaming" line, and is well noted. From system-to-liquid cooling dissipation system, in fact we can perfectly see connections for fitting (1/4 inch), to the heatpipe connection between the chipsets heatsink and other dissipation features on processor power and memory. The power feed system is very elaborate, with high quality components and even a 12v auxiliary connection to maximize the power across the whole motherboard.
The element organization is good, I love how the four PEG ports give free rein to our imagination, but it has some major flaws for me. For example the lcation of the connections for the main GPU ventilation system are under the socket, meaning that, if we use liquid cooling, we will have more cables throughout the motherboard. The rest of the work is flawless as expected in a motherboard of over 300 dollars
Red is in style within the gaming world, and these are also the main colors in the Gigabyte line. Even the weight of the board is very good, and it is very clear that Gigabyte continues to build one of the greatest motherboards in the market.
For the overclocking fans, and the testing tables, Gigabyte has included a large combination of switches, buttons, PSOT displays, and other elements such as the voltage meters that are directly in the line. Most are located on the top right of the boards, although in some cases they can be found in the boards lower zone, close to the line of front connectors. This board is also very colorful, almost like the MSI, with illumination in the PCB sections which separate the integrated sound card, which we will detail now.
The illumination in the PCB sections on this board give it a spectacular coloring style.
Gigabyte has been the pioneer of onboard sound with more elaboration. Process which marked its climax in the last generation with the ability to change their analog integrated amplifiers on headphone connections. They were also the first to create the isolation in PCB which is now seen on many motherboards via led in most lines. Gigabyte integrated one of the best sound systems into this motherboard that we’ve seen mounted on any other.
The new G1 sound system is the audio solution for audiophiles mounted on a board. This can certainly raise doubts, even to me, but at least the specifications and my personal experience with the card speak for it as the best audio solution that can be found integrated on a motherboard. The included DSP Creative Core3D has enough processing power to ensure quality and performance in the audio processing system. It also integrates Japanese solid capacitors, specially designed for high fidelity sound systems. They maintained the Interchangeable DACs design which includes remarkable quality DAC such as Texas Instruments Burr Brown OPA2134. It has also two built in electronic amplifiers in a row that can be manually adjusted between 2.5 and 6 times more power. This mode guarantees a smooth operation with speakers and high impedance headphones.
The Creative sound card also gives you access to all the branded codec software including its most advanced version: SBX ProStudio. Analogue connectors are gold plated for superior conductivity and wider durability. It also protected the Creative DSP with a gold plated shield to eliminate electromagnetic interference.
The dual network card on this motherboard is a good way to satisfy all types of users. Some rely on solutions from Intel, with low CPU consumption and others prefer the advanced packet prioritization of the Qualcomm Killer chips. Whichever the choice, both solutions are present and each user can make more convenient use according to his preferences.
The wireless card is an Intel 7260AC. It has the ability to access 2.4 and 5GHz networks and AC modes up to 867mbps. The Bluetooth 4.0 type. The multiple antenna system ensures chip reliability with speeds above 40 MB/s sustained transfer with connectivity cable latencies.
The G1 Gaming Z97X Black Edition Bios is a new evolution in the Gigabyte UEFI Bios that were by far the most basic of the area. I’m not saying they were the worst in options, but its graphical interface was pretty basic and left a lot to desire. This on the other hand is good because users handled it easier, especially if they already had experience in the bios for this manufacturer.
Now a new interface is introduced, but the truth is that brings no interesting improvement on the main panel options of the previous gaming models. In any case, it is best to judge for yourselves.
Analysis and Conclusion
Gigabyte has a motherboard in its catalog for those who do not think of two graphics, but three or four units. They are capable of moving the highest processors of this generation, at least up to four cores, and with enough future ahead, as it will also support the next generation.
I prefer its sublime sound system, the best you can get on a motherboard and without doubt, their graphics processing is incredible. Gigabyte is clear on knowing what users search for, and even offer two different network cards to cover all user spectrums. A fine job in manufacturing, which as I said before, is only missing the M.2 interface.