06 Apr, 2015   Rakesh Sharma    Reviews . GIGABYTE GA-Z97X Gaming GT Motherboard Review

At COMPUTEX 2014, a new Intel Z97 chipset based gaming series of motherboards was announced by GIGABYTE and today we have the opportunity to review the latest Gaming motherboard, the GIGABYTE GA-Z97X Gaming GT following the previous Gaming series board with extra features like high end integrated audio, preset UEFI BIOS and software overclocking.

Now let’s see what this new Intel Z97 chipset gaming board have for us.

Package

Looking at the front of the box, we see Gigabyte logo with motherboard model no. At the rear of the box, we find that Gigabyte goes into great detail on the specifications of the motherboard. Opening the box gives a glimpse of the actual product.

Inside the box

Looks

Board is a solid build in a black and red colour theme.

Features

  • Supports 4th and 5th Generation Intel® Core™ processors
  • Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi MB3 gaming audio suite
  • AMP-UP Audio technology with exclusive Upgradable OP-AMP
  • Audio Noise Guard with LED path lighting
  • Dual DAC-UP USB ports
  • Gold plated display and audio ports
  • High end Nichicon audio capacitors
  • Realtek ALC1150 115dB SNR HD Audio with Built-in rear audio amplifier
  • Killer™ E2200 gaming networking platform
  • Extreme gaming 4-way graphics support
  • SATA Express support for 10 Gb/s data transfer
  • Long lifespan Durable Black Solid caps
  • APP Center including EasyTune™ and Cloud Station™ utilities
  • GIGABYTE UEFI DualBIOS™

Specifications

Layout

Detailed layout of board.

1. Intel LGA 1150 socket, supporting current 4th generation and 5th generation CPU.

5x (15μ) Gold Plated CPU Socket Design. GIGABYTE 9 Series motherboards come equipped with a gold plated CPU socket, which means that enthusiasts can enjoy absolute reliability and longevity for the CPU socket overtime, without having any concerns about corroded pins and bad contacts.

2. 4 x DIMM slots supporting maximum 32GB of 1600/1333MHz DDR3 or up to 3200(O.C.) DDR3 memory.

3. ATX Power connector (24-pin EATXPWR)

4. ATX CPU Power Connector (8-pin ATX12V).

5. Back Panel Connectors 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port, 1 x D-Sub port, 1 x DVI-D port, 1 x optical S/PDIF, Out connector, 1 x HDMI port, 1 x DisplayPort, 6 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports, 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports, 1 x RJ-45 port, 6 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out, Rear Speaker Out, Side Speaker Out, Line In, Line Out, Mic In)

6. 7. 11. 13. 1 x CPU Fan, 1 x CPU OPT Fan and 5 x System Fan Connectors

8. USB 3 Port.

9.1 x SATA Express connector, 8 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors

10. System Front panel Connector

12. 3x USB 2.0 Connectors

14. Front panel Audio connector and Serial Port

15. Expansion Slots.

2 x PCI Express x16 slots, running at x16 (PCIEX16_1~2) * For optimum performance, if only one PCI Express graphics card is to be installed, be sure to install it in the PCIEX16_1 slot; if you are installing two PCI Express graphics cards, it is recommended that you install them in the PCIEX16_1 and PCIEX16_2 slots. 2 x PCI Express x16 slots, running at x8 (PCIEX8_1~2) * The PCIEX8_1 slot shares bandwidth with the PCIEX16_1 slot and the PCIEX8_2 slot with PCIEX16_2. The PCIEX16_1/PCIEX16_2 slot will operate at up to x8 mode when the PCIEX8_1/PCIEX8_2 is populated. (All PCI Express x16 slots conform to PCI Express 3.0 standard.) 3 x PCI Express x1 slots (The PCI Express x1 slots conform to PCI Express 2.0 standard.)

Removing Heat-sinks

Heatsinks are made up of dense aluminum with big heat pipe. Heatsinks base is having thermal pad installed.

Component Layout

Let’s now see what all components Gigabyte have planned for this board.

1. 2. CPU voltage regulator circuit has high end 10K Durable Black solid capacitors. IR3580 is IR (International Rectifier) 8-phase single output PWM Controller IC, controlling Vishay SiRA12DP MOSFETS (each package limited to 25A . It’s a 4-phase x 2 VRM where IR3598 is being used as a doublers IC.

3. 2-Phase digital memory power supply section. IR 3570A is IR (International Rectifier) Dual output 4+1 and 3+2 phase PWM Controllers.

4. Asmedia ASM 1442K chip managing output display ports.

5. The NXP Semiconductors PTN3360D HDMI / DVI level shifter.

6. Renesas Electronics YET-D720210-0004 Usb 3.0 4-Port Hub Chip.

7. The PLX PEX8747 chip is a PCI-e 3.0 48 lane /5 port PCI-E switch.

8. Intel Z97 Express Chipset.

9. Marvell 88SE9172-NNX2 controllers provide the additional SATA 6 Gb/s connectivity.

10. ITE IT8620e is SuperIO chip monitors temperatures, voltages and other key metrics for normal operation and overclocking.

11. Fan control and monitoring is performed via ITE IT8790E the system controller.

12. The ICS 9DB633 is a PCI-E 3.0 six output differential buffer, clock generator.

13. ASMedia ASM1480 are PCI-E 3.0 switcher which switch 2 lanes a piece and can provide 8x PCI-E 3.0 to the second 16x(8x real) slot.

14. Gigabyte uses two SPI chip labeled MXIC MX 2SL12873F a capacity of 128 Mb for storing UEFI BIOS.

15. 16. Gigabyte AMP-UP Audio is powered by Realtek ALC1150 (under the EMI shield) is a high-performance multi-channel High Definition Audio Codec that delivers an exceptional audio listening experience with up to 115dB SNR, ensuring users get the best possible audio quality from their PC.

The ALC1150 provides ten DAC channels that simultaneously support 7.1-channel sound playback, plus 2 channels of independent stereo sound output (multiple streaming) through the front panel stereo outputs. Two stereo ADCs are integrated and can support a microphone array with Acoustic Echo Cancellation (AEC), Beam Forming (BF), and Noise Suppression (NS) technologies. The ALC1150 incorporates Realtek proprietary converter technology to achieve Front differential output 115dB Signal-to-Noise ratio (SNR) playback (DAC) quality and 104dB SNR recording (ADC) quality.

A semi-transparent line on motherboard separates the whole audio section from the rest of the board in order to minimize interference. Audio section is having premium Nichicon Gold Capacitors 100uf/6.3v for audio filtration. In addition Gigabyte used one OPA2134 Op-amp for rear audio amplification. So listening under Stereo mode produces high audio quality with excellent dynamic range.

GIGABYTE G1™ Gaming motherboards also include Sound Blaster X-Fi MB3 software suite. Sound Blaster X-Fi MB3 software suite is a powerful audio platform offering premium audio quality, effects and features for gamers. It features SBX Pro Studio™ suite of technologies, which is designed to give you the fullest audio experience.

GIGABYTE G1™ Gaming motherboards also features dual USB 2.0 ports, GIGABYTE USB DAC-UP provides clean, noise-free power delivery to your Digital-to-Analog Converter. DACs can be sensitive to fluctuations in power from the other USB ports, which is why GIGABYTE USB DAC-UP takes advantage of an isolated power source that minimizes potential fluctuations and ensures the best audio experience possible.

RightMark Audio Analyzer (RMAA) suite is used for testing Gigabyte AMP-UP High Definition audio against Asus Xonar DX Sound card. You can see clearly the difference between Noise level, dynamic rang and Total harmonic distortion percentage produced by AMP-UP Audio.

RMAA Asus Xonar DX

RMAA AMP-UP Audio

17. Qualcomm Killer E2201 is a more integrated E2200 NPU. Providing the NPU, the PHY and all the other components in one 40-pin IC, a high-performance, adaptive gigabit Ethernet controller that offers better online gaming and online media performance compared to standard solutions.

18. Gigabyte Z97X-GAMING GT has some measurement points in an easily reachable location, with all critical lines available via a multi-meter. RESET, POWER, and Clear CMOS buttons with a dual-digit POST display for overclocking functionality.

Testing

Test system configuration - Intel i7-4790K, Kingston blue 2x2GB 1333 DDR3 RAM, Corsair H100i cooler, Samsung 830 SSD 256GB, Corsair RM1000 PSU, Asus HD-7750, Asus Xonar DX Sond Card, WD 1TB Green, HP DVD RW Drive.

BIOS

Bundled Softwares

Overclocking

Overclocking on Gigabyte Z97X-GAMING GT was very easy. Auto tuning feature of Gigabyte’s EasyTune application took Intel i7-4790K from stock 4GHz to 4.6GHz easy. Further under advanced CPU OC feature we were able to overclock up to 4.9GHz.

Benchmarks

Power Consumption

Wattage reading as per displayed by APC Pro 1000VA (Model no. BR1000G-IN) UPS.

Pros

  • Good and easy OC with Easy Tune
  • Swappable OP-amp
  • Gold plated back I/O connectors
  • Support for up to 4-Way SLI or CrossfireX

Cons

  • Nil

Conclusion

The Gigabyte Z97X-GAMING GT is impressive board, specially we love the black and red colour scheme. PCIe slot configuration is best suitable for 4-Way SLI or CrossfireX gaming experience. All of the best features like dual bios, solid cap, great audio and gold plated connector and socket are available in this board satisfying both Gamers and Overclockers .

So overall the Gigabyte Z97X-GAMING GT is a well-designed, feature packed high quality motherboard offering pretty much everything one would need from a gaming build and pairs nicely with the high performance CPU and up to 4-Way SLI or CrossfireX graphics card configuration.

Manufacturers Info

Site Link

Thanks.

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