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GIGABYTE GA-X99-SOC Force motherboard: review and testing

It is not surprising that after the announcement of the new chipset for enthusiasts (Intel X99), te lineup of GIGABYTE Overclocking motherboards was extended with new model created to work with processors Intel Haswell-E. Novelty is called GIGABYTE GA-X99-SOC Force. At the moment, it is the flagship of the range, offering the user maximum flexibility for overclocking. Thanks to the excellent capabilities it also might be interest for fans of top quality equipment for the building of high-end home PCs with several graphics cards. But first things first, and for a start let's consider the detailed technical specifications of new item.



The specs:




GA-X99-SOC Force (rev 1.0)


Intel X99

CPU socket

Socket LGA2011-v3

CPUs supported

Intel Core i7 Extreme of family Intel Haswell-E

Memory frequency

2133 / 2400* / 2666* / 2800* / 3000* MHz


Memory support

8 x DDR4 DIMM- slots with support of memory up to 64 GB

Expansion slots

4 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 (CPU)


40 lines

28 лlines








3 x PCI Express 2.0 x1

Disk subsystem

Intel X99 chipset supports:

1 х Turbo M.2 (M.2 2242, M.2 2260, M.2 2280)

8 x SATA 6 Gbт/s

1 x SATA Express (compatible with 2 x SATA 6 Gb/s)



1 x Intel WGI218V (10/100/1000 Мb/s)

Sound subsystem

Codec Realtek ALC1150

8-channel sound


Power connectors

1 х 24-pin ATX main power connector

1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power ATX12V


2 x CPU fan connector (4-pin)

3 x system fan connector (4-pin)


Aluminum radiators on the chipset connected with heat pipe with additional radiator

External I/O

1 х PS/2 (mouse or keyboard connection)

1 x LAN (RJ45)

8 x USB 3.0

4 x USB 2.0

5 x audio ports

1 х optical S/PDIF Out

1 x button «Сброс CMOS»

1 x button «BIOS switch»

1 x button «CPU O.C.»

Internal I/O

1 x USB 2.0, each with support of two USB 2.0

2 x USB 3.0 each with support of two USB 3.0 (19-pin)

8 x SATA 6 Gb/s

1 x SATA Express

1 x socket COM

1 x socket OC Panel

1 x connector of audio output to front panel 1 x S/PDIF Out

1 x set of front panel connectors

1 x CMOS reset

1 х S/PDIF Out

1 x button «Clear Battery»

1 x button «Direct to BIOS»

1 x button «Settings Lock»

1 x switch «OC PCIe»

1 x switch «OC Trigger»

1 x button  «OC Tag»

1 x button  «OC Ignition»

1 х switch DualBIOS

1 х button  «Clear CMOS»

1 x button  «OC Gear»

1 x button  «CPU BCLK Down»

1 x button  «CPU BCLK Up»

1 x button  «CPU Ratio Down»

1 x button  «CPU Ratio Up»

1 х button  «Reset»

1 х button  «Power»

1 х indicator of POST-codes

9 x contacts to measure voltage

9 х sockets for multimedia connection

1 х module TB_HEADER

1 х thermal sensors connection sockets



2 х 128 Мb

PnP 1.0а, DMI 2.7, WfM 2.0, SM BIOS 2.7, ACPI 5.0


User’s manual

Warranty description booklet

Disc with driver and utilities  

6 x SATA cables

1 x bridge 2-Way NVIDIA SLI

1 x bridge 2-Way AMD CrossFireX

2 x bridge 3-Way NVIDIA SLI

1 x bridge 4-Way NVIDIA SLI

1 x set of adapters to connect multimeter

1 х fixing plate OC Brace for graphics cards

1 х splitter ATX12V

1 х interface panel plug

Form-factor, dimensions


305 х 264 mm

Producer website

Updated versions of BIOS and drives are available at support page

Package and content 


Motherboard GIGABYTE GA-X99-SOC Force comes in a rather large cardboard box, which is equipped with a handle for easy carrying. The packaging has a hinged lid to the side, under which there is a viewing opening.

As for the design of the front side, in addition to the familiar from the other models racing car, we can note the name of the manufacturer and model of the device, as well as a series of logos of GIGABYTE Overclocking and brand concept Ultra Durable.



On the reverse side of the flip cover, instead of the expected description of the key advantages, we found the image of the motherboard, according to which one can conclude about the presence of LED-backlight of cooling radiator and PCB area with sound subsystem.


On the reverse side of the box is a picture of GIGABYTE GA-X99-SOC Force, its interface panel, as well as a brief list of its features. Additionally here is a description of the key features and benefits of new product:

  • Extreme 4-Way Graphics support - installation of four graphics cards to the distribution lines as follows: x16 / x16 + x16 / x16 + x16 + x8 / x16 + x8 + x8 + x8 or x16 / x16 + x8 / x16 + x8 + x4 if you install a processor Intel Core i7-5820K, which supports only 28 lines PCI Express 3.0.
  • IR Digital PWM & IR PowIRstage ICs - power subsystem processor and memory is based on digital PWM controller of the fourth generation and third-generation chips manufactured by International Rectifier.
  • Cooper Bussmann Server Level Chokes & POSCAP Solid Capacitors - the motherboard uses capacitors POSCAP, and chokes Cooper Bussmann with the server level of reliability and reduce heat dissipation.
  • Gold Plated CPU Socket - the CPU socket contacts are covered with a 30 micron layer of gold.
  • OC Buttons - dedicated buttons and switches that activate implemented on the motherboard branded hardware overclocking tools and system controls.
  • Realtek ALC1150 115dB SNR HD Audio - preinstalled audio codec Realtek ALC1150, uses a special amplifier TI N5532 with support of studio headphones with an impedance of 600 Ohms, offers eight-channel sound and provides playback of audio with S/N ratio at the level of 115 dB.
  • Audio Noise Guard with Trace Path Lightning - PCB area is shielded with a special metal strip with LED-backlit.
  • OC PEG - the novelty has additional power connector slots PCI Express x16, which will be relevant in the case of installation of several powerful graphic accelerators.
  • OC DualBIOS with switch & indicator – support of technology GIGABYTE DualBIOS, which is supplemented by two switches: one on the interface panel, and a second on the surface of the PCB. They provide a choice between two chips and activate the mode GIGABYTE DualBIOS. There is also a corresponding LED-indicator.
  • SATA Express - implemented by the chipset's SATA Express interface supports data transfer rates up to 10 Gb/s.
  • OC PCIe - motherboard is equipped with the capability of rapid activation/deactivation of PCI Express x16 slots using the appropriate switches.
  • Gold Plated DDR4 & PCIe Slots - contacts of these connectors are covered with a 30 micron layer of gold.
  • Temp Sensor Port - a group of connectors for temperature sensors.
  • Turbo M.2 – product is equipped with interface M.2 with capacity of up to 20 Gb/s.
  • Q-Flash Plus USB Port - one of the USB ports on the interface panel is designed to update the BIOS firmware from the flash drive.



Package of GIGABYTE GA-X99-SOC Force is fully consistent high level motherboard and contains:

  • user's guide;
  • guarantee brochure;
  • CD with drivers and utilities;
  • six SATA cables;
  • bridge 2-Way NVIDIA SLI;
  • two bridges 3-Way NVIDIA SLI;
  • bridge 4-Way NVIDIA SLI;
  • bridge 2-Way AMD CrossFireX;
  • splitter ATX12V;
  • mounting plate OC Brace;
  • a set of adapters to connect the multimeter;
  • interface panel plug.

Design and features of the board


Motherboard is made on black PCB of format E-ATX, which differs from the usual ATX by increased width (305 x 264 mm). In its design organically implemented a combination of black and orange, which adds brightness without unnecessary frills.



A special mention is given to the care of about modding fans. So, plug of the interface panel, radiators of cooling system, as well as the strip that separates the region of the printed circuit board with a sound system have yellow LED-backlit.


And using the supplied utility GIGABYTE Ambient LED the user can select the mode of illumination of audio codec and disable lighting of interface panel.

The layout of on-board components is generally quite competent: DIMM-Slots are equipped with latches on one side only, while the SATA ports are arranged parallel to the surface of the board. Other ports and connectors are also easily accessible.



On the reverse side of the PCB you can draw attention to a standard base plate of CPU socket, as well as the fact that the radiators are secured by screws. Do note a small, low profile heatsink, located directly under the elements of the power subsystem for more efficient cooling them, as well as a number of the previously mentioned capacitors POSCAP that did not fit on the front side of the board. 


At the bottom of the board there are the following connectors: front panel audio leading-in socket, S/PDIF out, COM and OC_PAN ports, two of the three connectors for system fans, module of the front panel (with color highlighting for easy connection of the respective wires) and CMOS.

Also here are three leading-in sockets for USB activation: two USB 2.0 and one USB 3.0. Total number of USB 2.0 sockets is eight: four internal and four on the interface panel and two internal USB 3.0. As for the eight external interfaces USB 3.0, they operate through two controllers Renesas D720210. 



The capability of disk subsystem organization is performed by  socket Turbo M.2 with carrying capacity of 20 Gb/s (SSD-drives of format M.2 2242, 2260 и 2280 are supported), eight ports SATA 6 Gb/s, as well as one SATA Express which iscompatible with two SATA 6 Gb/s. Here is the support of SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10. Due to the lack of free chipset lines simultaneous use of SATA Express and Turbo M.2 is impossible.


GIGABYTE GA-X99-SOC Force is equipped with eight DIMM-slots for memory modules of standard DDR4, which for convenience are equipped with latches on one side only. RAM can handle a maximum of four-channel mode. To implement one of the multi-channel mode, the module must be installed according one of the following schemes.


Modules operating at frequencies of 2133 MHz in the nominal mode and up to 3000 MHz overclocking are supported. The maximum amount of memory can be up to 64 GB, which is enough for any tasks.


PCB area with disposed control elements is called «OC Buttons» and includes:

  • Power switches with slots PCI Express x16  implements switching on and off of expansion slots PCI Express x16.
  • The button «OC Ignition» - provides power to the motherboard and internal components, but does not start the operating system. Is used for testing the cooling system or demonstration modding improvements.
  • The button «OC Tag» - allows you to load the system with the settings from the corresponding profile in the BIOS, which is necessary to fill by the user.
  • The button «OC Gear» - switches the step change in frequency of the system bus between two values: 0.1 MHz or 1 MHz.
  • The button «CPU BCLK UP» - increases the frequency of the system bus to the value set by the button «OC Gear».
  • The button «CPU BCLK DOWN» - reduces the frequency of the system bus to the value set by the button «OC Gear».
  • The button «CPU Ratio UP» - increases the CPU multiplier by one.
  • The button «CPU Ratio DOWN» - reduces the CPU multiplier by one.
  • The button «Power» - provides on/off of the system.
  • Diagnostic LED-indicator.
  • Button to clear the CMOS.
  • Switch of function DualBIOS.
  • Switch «OC Trigger» - allows the processor to put into operation with a minimum multiplier and low voltage, it would be useful to fix the performance testing or acceleration, as often when the system operates on the verge of "blue screen", make it problematic.
  • The button «Settings Lock» - remembers the last successful optimization settings even after the application of zeroing BIOS operation.  
  • The button «Direct To BIOS» - lets go to the menu BIOS. If the button was pressed after passing POST-check, then enter BIOS is executed automatically after the first reboot.
  • Reset button.

As for voltage control options on the key components of the system, they are not only the control points, but the connectors which using the complete adapter saves you from having to hold multimeter probes on the points manually.




Cooling system of the product consists of three aluminum radiators divided by heat pipe. Each pair is connected by heat pipe. One of them is installed directly on the chipset Intel X99. The second cooler covers the power supply subsystem elements. And the third is a auxiliary and increase the efficiency of the whole system. In the process of testing the following temperature indices were fixed:

  • radiator for chipset cooling – 34.9°C;
  • top radiator for cooling the elements of power subsystem – 37.1°C;
  • bottom radiator for cooling the elements of power subsystem – 33.6°C;

The results can be described as good, which gives hope for higher overclocking potential.



Processor power supply is performed via 8-phase scheme for computational cores and additional joints. Converter is based on a digital PWM controller IR 3580. All power components of CPU have high reliability level: solid capacitors POSCAP and solid capacitors Durable Black, chips of company International Rectifier with design Single Package, as well as reliable and energy efficient chokes. Basic 24-pin and additional 8-pin connectors are use for power feeding.

Also there is an additional power connector PCI Express, which will be useful when organizing a powerful graphics subsystem of two or more graphics cards. Special attention is given the previously mentioned complete splitter ATX12V, which connects to the 8-pin power connector and allows power the three additional 8-pin power cables ATX12V. According to official recommendations, it is desirable to use to ensure sufficient power for extreme overclocking.


To extend motherboard functionality the user has seven slots:

  1. PCI Express 3.0 x16 (in mode х16 or х8);
  2. PCI Express 2.0 x1;
  3. PCI Express 3.0 x16 (in mode х8);
  4. PCI Express 2.0 x1;
  5. PCI Express 3.0 x16 (in mode х16);
  6. PCI Express 2.0 x1;
  7. PCI Express 3.0 x16 (in mode х8).

As we can see, the new product offers excellent opportunities for the organization of the graphics subsystem, as you can install up to four graphics cards in a mode AMD CrossFireX or NVIDIA SLI. At the same time the lines will be distributed according one of the schemes: x16 / x16 + x16 / x16 + x16 + x8 / x16 + x8 + x8 + x8. If you installed a processor Intel Core i7-5820K, the number of lines PCI Express 3.0 is limited to 28, and they are distributed as follows: x16 / x16 + x8 / x16 + x8 + x4.

Separately we note that the arrangement of the expansion slots allow you to easily install four dual-slot graphics cards or two three-slot. At the same time in this second case at your disposal will be another free slot PCI Express 2.0 x1.


Operation of eight USB 3.0 ports on the interface panel is provided with two hubs Renesas D720210.


Branded feature GIGABYTE Q-Flash Plus, which allows you to update the BIOS firmware from the flash drive, operates through the controller ITE IT8951E.


Multi I/O capabilities are based on ITE IT8620E chip which controls the operation of the system fans ports COM abd PS/2, as well as provides the monitors. 


To support network connections there is a GB LAN-controllers Intel WGI218V. And for optimal distribution network resources, you can use the utility cFosSpeed, which is available in the package.


Sound subsystem is based on HAD codec of 8-channel sound Realtek ALC1150 that provides the ratio signal/noise (SNR) at a level 115 dB and operates together with amplifier TI N5532 to support the operation of headphones with impedance up to 600 Ohm. Additionally, we recall that the entire audio path is shielded from interference of other components of the motherboard with a protective strip with LED-backlit. Moreover, right and left audio channels are carried on separate layers of the PCB, which also contributes to improve the overall sound quality.


Interface panel of model contains the following ports: 

  • 1 х PS/2 (for mouse or keyboard connection);
  • 1 x LAN (RJ45);
  • 8 x USB 3.0;
  • 4 x USB 2.0;
  • 5 x audio jacks
  • 1 x olptic S/PDIF Out;
  • 1 x button «CMOS reset»;
  • 1 x button «BIOS switch»;
  • 1 x button «CPU O.C.».

Interface panel of the novelty has twelve USB ports and a convenient connecting of multichannel speakers. We also note the firmware update BIOS from a USB flash drive, and a number of controls.


The capabilities of organizing the cooling system inside the body of GIGABYTE GA-X99-SOC Force are presented by five 4-pin sockets for connection of fans, two of which are used for the CPU cooling system, while three are designed for for system fans.

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