GIGABYTE X99 SLI Review, Excellence On A Budget!
GIGABYTE has released an entire pack of motherboards based on the Intel X99 chipset: Champion, Gaming, and Super Overclock. And now GIGABYTE has released the X99-SLI board. From the first glance, the board looks to be chock full of enthusiast-level hardware, with lots to offer most end users. To field the board with all that high-end hardware at $250 (NewEgg) , they had to make a few compromises, but based on price/performance, there’s a good bang for the buck factor on the GIGABYTE GA-X99-SLI. Reality being what it is, we are seeing a lot of high-end motherboard features on a $250 board, but there might be a few after-purchase costs. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth aren’t included on the board, but a special M.2. slot for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are provided for by a W2-Wi-Fi slot. The combo cards we’ve seen are in the 35-40 dollar range, so if you want internal Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, that may set you back a few bucks.
We don’t consider not including some of the fancier options as bad, as it does place a lot of enthusiast level hardware in a price bracket that is less painful for a lot of consumers. Looking at what you do get, there’s ALC 1150 audio with fine gold capacitors, Intel LAN and up to Quad SLI (with the right CPU), and 8 RAM slots supporting OCs up to 3333 MHz via Intel XMP support.
Important to us, GIGABYTE squeezed in their Genuine All Digital Power Design with IR Digital PWM & IR PowIRstage ICs which is the MOSFET setup you see on competitor’s high-end, high-priced boards. The Digital PWM & PowlRstage MOSFETs, given adequate cooling, have proven to be excellent overclocking hardware and can be found on boards ranging from $300 to $600. It’s a first for us to see that “geek candy” on a $250 board, so job well done Gigabyte.
The Realtek ALC1150 115dB SNR HD audio, with built-in Rear Audio Amplifier, independent right and left audio channel PCB layers that prevent crosstalk, and high-end Nichicon audio capacitors are about as good as it gets when it comes to audio.
GIGABYTE even stuffed their Long Lifespan Durable Black solid capacitors, with an expected life of 10k hours, on this feature-packed board. What else could you want for your $250? Well, how about a gold-plated CPU socket, DIMM sockets and PCI-E sockets to ensure that corrosion doesn’t cut into your high-end computing enjoyment.
Now don’t get us wrong, this is a great board with a lot of high-end features packed on it, but like with most affordable boards, certain compromises have to be made to field the board at the wallet-comfortable price of $250. Most of the cost cutting measures are extras like built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and on-board On/Off and reset buttons. No double-digit debugger, so what we are looking at is a budget-friendly board with enthusiast-level hardware, minus all the frills that seldom get used anyway. With all the high-end goodies packed on the board, we aren’t going to miss the on-board buttons much, and in a strange way, it takes us back to days when we kept the on switch screw driver or razor blade on our test bench. Those of us with a little “ghetto mod” in our blood used old chassis connectors and just shorted the wires for On, Off and Reset prior to casing the boards. Computing caught up to the bench needs, and for around $19, you can get professionally wired switches for bench testing, so the absence of on-board buttons is easily bypassed for us bench warriors.
|GIGABYTE X99-SLI Specifications|
Chipset + Renesas®uPD720210 USB 3.0 Hub:
|Back Panel Connectors|
One thing that jumps out at us is the extended XMP, which goes up to an amazing 3333 MHz. You just don’t find features like that on budget boards.