GIGABYTE X99 SLI Review, Excellence On A Budget!

GIGABYTE Special Features

The following features are courtesy of GIGABYTE via the GA-X99-SLI page.

Support for DDR4 XMP up to 3333MHz

DDR4 memory modules are available at a stock frequency of 2133MHz, but memory vendors encode XMP profiles which can automatically modify the frequency and timings of the supported memory modules to work in par with your CPU. With the X99 Champion Series, GIGABYTE is offering a tested and proven platform that ensures proper compatibility with profiles up to 3333MHz.

What is XMP?

The synchronization of the memory modules with the CPU is crucial for good performance of your system. DDR4 memory modules are available at a stock frequency of 2133MHz, but as frequency tweaking requires a considerable amount of effort and knowledge, memory vendors encode XMP profiles which can automatically modify the timings of the supported memory modules to work with your CPU and to achieve increased performance.

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Genuine All Digital Power Design

GIGABYTE X99 series motherboards use an all digital CPU power design from International Rectifier® which includes both 4th Generation digital PWM Controllers and industry-leading 3rd Generation PowIRstage® controllers. These 100% digital controllers offer incredible precision in delivering power to the motherboard’s most power-hungry and energy-sensitive components, allowing enthusiasts to get the absolute maximum performance from their new Intel® Core™ i7 Extreme Edition CPUs.

IR Digital PWM & IR PowIRstage® ICs

This new generation of IR® digital power controllers and PowIRstage® ICs feature Isense technology, which provide more precise current sensing accuracy. This helps evenly distribute the thermal loading between the PowerIRstage® ICs, preventing the overheating of each individual PowerIRstage®, resulting in longer lifespan and better reliability.

Server Level Chokes

GIGABYTE X99 series motherboards feature Server Level Chokes.
• Server level reliability
• High current capacity
• New design reduces heat created by power loss and provides efficient power delivery to CPU VRM area.

Long Lifespan Durable Black™ Solid Caps

GIGABYTE X99 series motherboards integrate the absolute best quality solid state capacitors that are rated to perform at maximum efficiency for extended periods, even in extreme performance configurations. This provides peace of mind for end users who want to push their system hard, yet demand absolute reliability and stability, with ultra-low ESR no matter how high the CPU loading. These exclusive capacitors also come in customized jet black, exclusively on GIGABYTE X99 series motherboards.

Single Package Design

IR® has leveraged it’s world class packaging technology developed for the DirectFET®, improving the thermal capability and layout of the PowIRstage®significantly over that of other MCM packages.

Single Package Design* VS. Multi-Chip Design

Other MOSFET layout implementations use a multi-chip, side-by-side arrangement of the high and low side MOSFETs and driver ICs, taking up significant board real estate and creating more electrical leakage.

All New Heatsink Design

GIGABYTE X99 series motherboards feature new heat sink designs that offer uncompromisingly efficient cooling on key areas of the motherboard including the PWM area and chipset (PCH). GIGABYTE X99 Series motherboards offer cooling support of the crucial PWM area so even the most aggressive and extreme configurations will be kept well within optimal thermal parameters.

We wanted to illustrate how the heat design functions so we borrowed a graphic from GIGABYTE.

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3-Way / 4-Way Graphics with Premium PCIe x16 Lane Up to 320Gb/s Bandwidth

GIGABYTE X99 motherboards feature a unique PCI Express design that utilizes 100% of all 40 lanes from the CPU when in a 4-Way or 3-Way graphics configuration. Standard designs limit all 4 main PCIe lanes to x8 (64Gb/s) bandwidth, but thanks to the onboard external clock generator combined with the direct connection of one of the x16 lanes to the CPU (switchless design), GIGABYTE X99 motherboards can unlock the full bandwidth available and provide the best graphics bandwidth possible to the user.

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Of course full 4 way SLI is only feasible with the $579.99  5930k or the $1049.99 5960x as they provide a full 40 PCI-E lanes while the more affordable 5820K ($389.99) only provides 24 PCi-E lanes. Due to the cost of the CPU’s this round we keep a 5930K and a 5820K CPU on the bench, Generally we test new equipment on the 5820K first and if no magic blue smoke emanates from the chassis we can safely move to the more expensive 5930K. For single GPU operation any of the 3 CPU’s will work but for SLI you really need the 5930k for the additional 16 PCI-E lanes.

Dual M.2 Technology for SSD Drive and WIFI CardFast Data Transfer and Advanced WIFI Networking

GIGABYTE X99-SLI motherboard featuring Dual M.2 technology provides users PCI-Express connectivity for SSD devices and for 11AC WIFI + Bluetooth 4.0 card. Delivering up to 10 Gb/s data transfer speeds, M.2 offers considerably faster storage performance than current mSATA and even SATA Revision 3 (6Gb/s) storage devices. GIGABYTE’s stacked design optimizes the PCB real-estate usage, allowing more components to be efficiently added without compromising any space.

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We find ourselves a little perplexed with the M.2 Wi-Fi socket, with PCI-E lanes the going currency for high-speed devices and Intel all but blackmailing for cash for extra PCI-E lanes we don’t see many end users snuggling up to a Wi-Fi / BlueTooth card that is both going to eat up PCI-E lanes and cost more than a Wi-Fi adapter and BlueTooth combined. Perhaps there’s something in the works for Wi-Fi that needs PCI-E speed that we don’t know about but we just prefer built-in Wi-Fi and the existing Wi-Fi cards for computers run under $10 so it’s Wi-Fi dongle city for us.

Next Generation SATA Express Connector

GIGABYTE X99 series motherboards feature an onboard SATA Express connector which provides performance far superior to that of current SATA technologies. SATA Express features data transfer rates of up to 10Gb/s, considerably higher than SATA Revision 3 (6Gb/s), which won’t bottleneck faster NAND flash technologies in cutting edge SSDs. SATA Express combines the benefits of PCI-Express and SATA to provide much higher bandwidth, allowing SATA Express based drives to perform at similar speeds as PCI-Express based drives.

As far as Sata Express goes with the slow adoption from vendors and the appearance of PCI-E drives we are well into the “wondering if Sata Express” is vaporware” stage by now. We’ve seen one early prototype that’s basically two drives in one chassis and it never made it beyond prototype.

Realtek ALC1150 115dB SNR HD Audio with Built-in Rear Audio Amplifier

The Realtek ALC1150 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.

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Independent Right and Left Audio Channel PCB Layers

Locating the right and left audio channels on separate PCB layers, GIGABYTE X99 series motherboards are able to eliminate channel crosstalk and maintain the best audio quality.


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Intel Gigabit LAN

Intel® Gigabit LAN networking, a popular choice with gamers that features several performance-enhancing features such as advanced interrupt handling to help reduce CPU overhead and Jumbo Frame support for extra large data packets.

CFOS

Additional GIGABYTE X99 series motherboards feature cFos Speed, a network traffic management application which helps to improve network latency, maintaining low ping times to deliver better responsiveness in a crowded LAN environment. cFos Speed works in a similar way to an OS driver, monitoring network traffic packets at the application layer, allowing optimization and improved network performance for specific applications.

Server Level Chokes

GIGABYTE X99 series motherboards feature Server Level Chokes.
• Server level reliability.
• High current capacity.
• New design reduces heat created by power loss and provides efficient power delivery to CPU VRM area.

Long Lifespan Durable Black™ Solid Caps

GIGABYTE X99 series motherboards integrate the absolute best quality solid state capacitors that are rated to perform at maximum efficiency for extended periods, even in extreme performance configurations. This provides peace of mind for end users who want to push their system hard, yet demand absolute reliability and stability. With ultra-low ESR no matter how high the CPU loading, these exclusive capacitors also come in customized jet black, exclusively on GIGABYTE X99 series motherboards.

On a side note, the GIGABYTE website says these durable Black Solid caps are good for a 10K hour lifecycle.

Gold Plated CPU Socket
GIGABYTE X99 motherboards come equipped with gold plating for the CPU socket, 4 PCIe slots and over the 8 DIMM slots, which means that enthusiasts can enjoy better connectivity, absolute reliability and longevity for the diverse connectors overtime, without having any concerns about corroded pins and bad contacts.

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The addition of gold plating on the CPU, PCI-E and Ram sockets is much appreciated as we’ve seen what time can do to a non-Gold plated socket.

2x Copper PCB Design(2 oz Copper PCB)

GIGABYTE’s exclusive 2X Copper PCBs design provides sufficient power trace paths between components to handle greater than normal power loads and to remove heat from the critical CPU power delivery area. This is essential to ensure the motherboard is able to handle the increased power loading that is necessary when overclocking.

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GIGABYTE Patented DualBIOS™ Design

GIGABYTE DualBIOS™ means that you motherboard has both a ‘Main BIOS’ and a ‘Backup BIOS’, making users protected from BIOS failure due to virus attack, hardware malfunction, improper OC settings or power failure during the update process.

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Safer Design Around Screw Mounting Holes

Don’t worry anymore about accidental damage while mounting your motherboard to you chassis. GIGABYTE X99 motherboards all feature a wider copper ground pad and onboard components free area around the PCB screw mounting holes. This exclusive design reduces the chances of damaging any surrounding onboard components during the PC assembly process. Bigger copper ground pads also provide the added benefit of lower EMI disturbance for reduced noise interference across your system.

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Q-Flash Plus

GIGABYTE Q-Flash Plus allows users to update to the latest BIOS using a thumb drive without the CPU or memory needing to be installed.
Do you have the latest CPU supported by your GIGABYTE motherboard but do not have the latest BIOS installed yet? This is no longer a problem with the new Q-Flash Plus feature. By simply downloading the latest BIOS and renaming it on a USB thumb drive, and plugging it into the dedicated port, you can now flash the BIOS automatically without the need to press any buttons or even the need of onboard memory or CPU. Utilizing the ITE EC 8951E controller, GIGABYTE X99 motherboard BIOS can be updated even if your system is unable to boot. An LED next to the EC controller will notify you once the procedure is complete and you are ready to boot your system normally.

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All New Heat Sink Design

GIGABYTE X99 series motherboards feature new heat sink designs that offer uncompromisingly efficient cooling on key areas of the motherboard including the PWM area and chipset (PCH). GIGABYTE X99 Series motherboards offer cooling support of the crucial PWM area so even the most aggressive and extreme configurations will be kept well within optimal thermal parameters.

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Thunderbolt™ Ready

GIGABYTE X99 brings the expandability needed to make your system the ultimate one with an onboard pin header to accommodate the addition of a GIGABYTE Thunderbolt™ add-in card. The Thunderbolt™ controller can provide bandwidth of up to 20 Gbp/s, compared to a max of 10 Gbp/s on previous generation designs. This allows for incredible data transfer speeds when using high performance storage devices, while also supporting daisy-chaining of up to 12 devices and triple digital display support.

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4 Channel DDR4

The next generation of DRAM is here with DDR4. Featuring stock frequencies starting at 2133 MHz, DDR4 delivers up to 20% less energy consumption and twice as much density as the previous generation DDR3. DDR4 can help GIGABYTE X99 users to load their programs faster, increase responsiveness of their system and help them to handle heavy data tasks in a flash. GIGABYTE X99 motherboards provide 4 Channel DDR4 memory support across the entire range, bringing exceptionally fast memory access.

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