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::>Motherboards > 2014 > 09 > GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1

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Republish review

03-09-2014


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GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1 motherboard: review and testing

As we know, integrated controller PCI Express 3.0 for 16 lines cannot provide full opportunity to organize the graphics subsystem of three or four graphics cards. To settle a question the manufacturers use chip-witches, for example PLX PEX8747, which are connected to the processor lines and doubles their number in the output. This greatly expands the range of options for gaming enthusiasts. Such decision is realized in the novelty GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1.

In addition to the large number of lines PCI Express 3.0, it got a better sound subsystem, qualitative circuitry, two network controllers, a good opportunity for the organization of the disk subsystem, additional USB 3.0 ports, as well as a number of other features. But first, let's take a look at its detailed specifications.

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1

The specs:

Producer

GIGABYTE

Model

GA-Z97X-Gaming G1 (rev 1.0)

Chipset

Intel Z97

CPU socket

Socket LGA1150

Supported CPUs

Intel Core i7 / Core i5 / Core i3 / Pentium / Celeron 4th and 5th generation: Intel Haswell, Intel Haswell Refresh, Intel Devil`s Canyon, Intel Broadwell

Memory frequency

1333 / 1600 / 1800* / 1866* / 2000* / 2133* / 2200* / 2400* / 2500* / 2600* / 2666* / 2800* / 2933* / 3000* / 3100* / 3200* MHz

(*OC)

Memory support

4 x DDR3 DIMM-slots with the support up to 32 GB

Expansion slots

4 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 (CPU)

х16

х16+х16

х16+х8+х8

х8+х8+х8+х8

3 x PCI Express 2.0 x1

Disk subsystem

Intel Z97 chipset supports:

4 x SATA 6 Gb/s

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

RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10

Two controllers Marvell 88SE9172 support:

4 x SATA 6 Gb/s

LAN

1 x Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2201 (10/100/1000 Мb/s)

1 x Intel WGI217V (10/100/1000 Мb/s)

Sound subsystem

Codec Creative Sound Core3D

5.1-channel sound

S/PDIF Out

Power connectors

24-pin ATX main power connector

8-pin ATX12V power connector

Socket for additional power PCI Express

Fans

2 x CPU fan connector (4-pin)

5 x system fan connectors (4-pin)

Cooling

Aluminum radiators on the chipset connected by heat pipe with radiator on the chip-switch PLX PEX 8747

Aluminum radiators on the elements of processor power subsystem connected by heat pipe

External I/O

1 x HDMI

1 x DVI-I

1 x DisplayPort
1 х PS/2 (mouse or keyboard connection)

2 x LAN (RJ45)

6 x USB 3.0

2 x USB 2.0

5 xaudio jacks

1 х optical S/PDIF Out

Internal I/O

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

3 x USB 2.0 each with support of two USB 2.0

8 x SATA 6 Gb/s

1 x SATA Express

1 x connector of audio output to front panel

1 х power button

1 х reboot button

1 х CMOS button

1 x diagnostic LED-indicator

1 x set of front panel connectors

1 x CMOS reset

2 х switch BIOS

2 х audio amplifier switch

8 х sockets to measure voltage on the key elements

BIOS

AMI UEFI BIOS

2 x 128 Мb

PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.7, SM BIOS 2.7, ACPI 2.0

Packaging

User’s manual

Warranty description booklet

Driver and utility disc

6 x SATA cables

1 x bridge 2-Way NVIDIA SLI

1 x bridge 3-Way NVIDIA SLI

1 x bridge 4-Way NVIDIA SLI

1 х bridge 2-Way AMD CrossFireX

1 х interface panel plug

Form factor,

Dimensions

ATX

305 х 244 mm

Producer website

GIGABYTE
Updated versions of BIOS and drives are available on support page

Packaging and content

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1

Motherboard GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1 is shipped in a rather large box made of high-quality cardboard. Most of the front side is reserved by the logo of the series GIGABYTE G1.GAMING. The box has a convenient handle for comfort transport and a flip cover with the description of the key benefits:

  • Extreme Gaming 4-Way Graphics Support - thanks to a chip-switch PLX PEX8747 there is a support of up to four graphics cards with line distribution according the following schemes: х16 / х16+х16 / х16+х8+х8 / х8+х8+х8+х8.
  • Long Lifespan Solid Capacitors - all power circuits of motherboard uses exclusively black solid capacitors of series Nippon Chemi-Con Durable Black with extended life.
  • Precise Digital CPU Power Design - the novelty has precise digital processor power subsystem.
  • Gold Plated CPU Socket - the socket contacts are covered with a 15-micron layer of gold.
  • Creative Sound Core 3D - model is equipped with a high-quality quad audio processor manufactured by Creative, as well as a set of proprietary.
  • Swapable OP-AMP with Gain Boost – preset operation amplifier of audio TI Burr Brown OPA2134 can be easily replaced by any other, which will increasingly meet the musical tastes of the user.
  • Audio Noise Guard with Trace Path Lightning - the area of the PCB with soldered sound system is shielded with a special metal strip with LED-backlit of red color.
  • Nichicon High-End Audio Capacitors - the audio subsystem uses special audio capacitors of high-end manufacturing company Nichicon.
  • Gold Plated Audio Ports - the motherboard has high-quality gold-plated audio jacks resistant to interference signal.
  • Dual DAC-UP USB Ports - the interface panel has two special USB 2.0 ports, gold-plated connectors, which are used to connect external sound card or amplifier. They are powered not by the USB 2.0 controller integrated into the chipset, but through a special converter directly from power lines. Therefore they provide a more stable and less noisy output voltage.
  • Killer E2200 Gaming Platform / Intel GbE LAN - the motherboard has two network controllers: one from the company Intel, as the second from Qualcomm. The last has the ability automatically allocate a game traffic and raise its priority with respect to the low-level system traffic, providing low latency in online games.

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1

On the reverse side there is a schematic diagram of the motherboard, its interface panel, and the description of the key benefits of new product:

  • Quick Buttons & Debug Display - PCB has  “power ”, “reboot” and "Reset CMOS» buttons, as well as diagnostic LED-indicator for quick and efficient identification of faults.
  • All New Heat Sink Design - construction and design of cooling system radiators was improved to ensure a spectacular appearance and efficient operation.
  • OC PEG - the novelty has a connector for additional power supply of PCI Express x16 slots, which will be relevant in the case of installing multiple high-end graphics accelerators.  
  • OC DualBIOS with switch & indicator – support of the technology GIGABYTE DualBIOS, which is supplemented by two switches (the choice between the two chips, and on/off the function GIGABYTE DualBIOS) and LED-indicator.
  • SATA Express - SATA Express interface supports data transfer rates up to 10 Gbit/s.

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1

Set of delivery includes the following items:

  • user's Guide
  • warranty brochure;
  • CD with drivers and utilities;
  • six SATA cables;
  • bridge 2-Way NVIDIA SLI;
  • bridge 3-Way NVIDIA SLI;
  • bridge 4-Way NVIDIA SLI;
  • bridge 2-Way AMD CrossFireX;
  • interface board plug.

Design and features  

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1

Black ATX printed circuit board very favorably harmonizes with the red inserts in the design of the cooling system radiators.

As for the on-board elements layout, this point is made on the highest level: DIMM-slots are fitted with clamps only on one side, and SATA ports are arranged parallel to the PCB surface.

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1

The reverse side of the PCB can boast of the presence of base plate of CPU socket and mounting screws of cooling system radiators.

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1

At the bottom of the board there are the following connectors: front panel audio leading-in socket, four sockets for system fans, front panel leading-in socket (with color separation), switch between two chips with BIOS firmware, as well as switch responsible for enabling/disabling DualBIOS mode. Additionally there are three modules to activate USB 2.0 ports.  Total number of USB 2.0 sockets is eight: six are internal and two on the interface panel.

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1

The possibilities of organize a disk subsystem are presented by eight SATA 6 GB/s ports and one SSTA Express which is compatible with two SATA 5 Gb/s. There is a support for SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10.

Almost all these sockets are realized by chipset. The only exception is four ports SATA 6 GB/s based on controller Marvell 88SE9172.

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1

The system board has four DIMM-slots for memory modules of DDR3 standard. RAM can operate in dual channel mode. To implement the plates must be installed either in the first and third or second and fourth slots. Modules operating at frequencies from 800 to 1600 MHz in the nominal mode and up to 3200 MHz in overclocking mode are supported. Maximum memory capacity can reach 32 GB, which is sufficient for almost all tasks.

As you can see, here is PWM controller of RAM, which is represented by a high-quality chip IR 3570a. It not only supplies the necessary power, but also ensures the effective control of the involved phases, has the support of a number of protection technologies (OVP, UVP, OCP, OTP, CFP), and also implements two special modes: «Overclocking» and «Gaming».

Leading-in socket on a remote panel with USB 3.0 ports is also located on the right side of the PCB. Total number of USB 3.0 ports is eight: two internal and six on the interface panel. Half of them operated due to set of system logic while the rest is realized by hub Renesas D720210.

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1

Upper right corner of the PCB is used for a number of very interesting elements which will be useful in case of usage the product as open bench for overclocking procedure. Here are: the power, reboot and CMOS buttons, diagnostic LED-indicator,  as well as points for voltage measuring on the key elements by multimeter.

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1

Cooling system of the product includes four radiators. Two of them connected by heat pipe with radiator on the chips-switch PLX PEX8747 are responsible for cooling of power elements, while the fourth radiator cools the chipset. In the process of testing the following temperature indices were fixed:

  • radiator for chipset cooling – 48,2°C;
  • radiator for cooling of processor elements power – 37,5°C.

Taking into account the excellent results of radiators on the power subsystem, as well as the fact that the temperature of the heatsink chipset depends on the circuit-switch, the results can be described as good.

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1

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. The circuitry is made by high quality components such as: black solid capacitors Durable Black, field-effect transistors with decreased resistance on open channel (Low RDS(on)) and chokes with ferrite core. Basic 24-pin and additional 8-pin connectors are use for power feeding. Also here you can find additional PCI Express socket next to 24-pin power socket. It will be useful for building of strong graphics subsystem made of several graphics cards.

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1

To extend the functionality of GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1 user has seven slots:

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

As you can see, the new product offers excellent opportunities for the organization of the graphics subsystem. Due to the support of chip-switch PLX PEX8747 (converts 16 processor lines PCI Express 3.0 into 32), you can install up to 4 graphics cards in mode AMD CrossFireX and NVIDIA SLI. In this case, the line will be distributed by one of the schemes: х16 / х16 + х16 / х16 + х8 + х8 / х8 + х8 + х8 + х8.

Separately note that the layout of the connectors will allow you to easily install 4 double-slot or 2 three-slot graphics adapters. In the second case your will have another free slot PCI Express 2.0 x1.

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1

If you decided to take advantage of the integrated graphics core, then you have three video outputs: HDMI, DVI-I и DisplayPort. The switching between them is realized by chips ASMedia ASM1442K and PTN3360DBS.

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1

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

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1

The problem with the lack of free chipset lines PCI Express 2.0 is solved by IC-Switch PLX PEX8605.

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1

Additional sixteen lines PCI Express 3.0 are implemented using chip-switch PLX PEX8747.

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1

Operation of four USB 3.0 ports on the interface panel is provided Hub Renesas D720210.

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1

To support network connections there are two GB LAN-controllers: Intel WGI217V и Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2201. The last has the set of hardware and software advantages to speed up the processing of gaming network traffic.

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1

Operation of four additional SATA 6 Gb/s ports is carried out by two controllers Marvell 88SE9172.

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1

The audio subsystem is based on the HDA-codec 5.1-channel sound Creative Sound Core3D. It is necessary to give the GIGABYTE engineers their due, because in this case we are not talking about "preset codec", but about thoughtful design of the entire sound subsystem, each element of which is focused on achieving maximum efficiency. It includes special audio capacitors Bi-Polarized from the company Nichicon and preset amplifier Texas Instruments OPA2134. According to the manufacturers' specifications, it has a neutral sound and is suitable for all genres of music. Also there is the possibility of easy replacement to another one which has a more narrow focus on a particular genre of music. Additionally note the presence of the protective gold-plated housing for shielding the audio codec, using gold-plated audio connectors on the interface panel and the ability to control sound power with two on-board switches (gain 2.5 and 6 times).  

Special attention is given to software Sound Blaster SBX Pro Studio to set sound quality to the desired level.

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1

Modding fans will appreciate the presence of the shielding area of the PCB with the audio subsystem using the metal strip with LED-backlit.

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1

Interface panel of the model contains the following ports:

  • 1 x HDMI;
  • 1 x DVI-I;
  • 1 x DisplayPort;
  • 2 x LAN (RJ45);
  • 6 x USB 3.0;
  • 2 x USB 2.0;
  • 1 x PS/2 (mouse or keyboard);
  • 1 x Optical S/PDIF out;
  • 5 x audio jacks.

This arrangement can be considered as very successful as it has three modern video outputs, convenient connection of multi-channel speakers, a large number of USB 3.0 ports, as well as two network connectors. Additionally, we distinguish two special USB 2.0 ports, which are used to connect external sound card due to the implementation of technology USB DAC-UP. 

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1

The possibility of organizing the cooling system inside the case of GABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1 is very good. There are seven 4-pin fan connectors, two of which are used for the cooling system of CPU, while the other five are for system fans.

UEFI BIOS

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1

The motherboard is equipped with modern UEFI firmware based on microcode AMI with the ability to operate in four modes: Smart Tweak HD (resolution 1280), Smart Tweak (resolution 1024 without the display of CPU state, memory and system sensors), Classic mode (classical BIOS) and StartUp mode (mode of initial settings of BIOS).

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1

As you may have noticed, during operation in the mode “Smart Tweak HD” there is no a separate section responsible for the monitoring of voltages and temperatures on the main components, as all the required data is displayed directly on the side panels. Here you can monitor the temperature of the processor and the fan speed; monitor the voltage on the modules of RAM, processor and on the lines of +12 V, +5 V and +3.3 V, as well as a number of other important parameters. Also note that not all items available in the mode “Classic” mode are in “Smart Tweak HD”.

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1

All settings related to key elements of the system are grouped in the respective tabs.

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1

Using “Frequency” tab you can choose one of six types of automatic optimization of system parameters.

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1

Frequency multiplier allows to set module connection speed within 800-2933MHz. Memory frequency more than 2933 MHz can be run only with the appropriate memory profile.

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming G1

If necessary, the section “Voltage” can provide the access the voltage on all the key components of the system.

Adjustments required to optimize the system:

Menu name

Range

Pitch

CPU Clock Ratio

8 – MAX

 

CPU Base Clock

80,00 – 266,66

0,01

Processor Base Clock

1,00 – 2,50

 

System Memory Multiplier

800 – 2933

 

CPU Vcore

0,500 – 1,800

0,001

Performance Upgrade

Auto, 20%, 40%, 60%, 80%, 100%

 

CPU Upgrade

Auto; 4,3; 4,4; 4,5; 4,6; 4,7 GHz

DRAM Voltage

1,160 – 2,100

0,020

PCH Core

0,650 – 1,300

 

0,005

Processor Graphics Clock

400 – 4000

50

Turbo Power Limit

1 – 4096

1

Core Current Limit

10 – 1000

1

CPU VRIN Protection

150,0 – 400,0

50

DDR CH(A/B) Voltage Pro

150,0 -300,0

50

CPU VRIN PWM Switch

300,0 – 300,0

50

DDR CH(A/B) PWM Switch

200,0 - 300,0

50

CPU VRIN External Override

1,000 – 2,400

0,010

CPU Graphics Voltage

0,500 – 1,800

0,001

CPU RING Voltage

0,800 – 1,800

0,001

CPU System Agent Voltage

-0,300 - +0,400

0,001

CPU I/O Analog Voltage

-0,300 – +0,400

0,001

CPU I/O Digital Voltage

-0,300 – +0,400

0,001

PCH I/O

1,050 – 1,900

0,005

Intel Processor Graphics Memory

32, 64, 96, 128, 192, 224, 256, 320, 384, 448, 512, 1024

 

Timing Control

CAS, tRCD, tRP, tRAS, tRRD, tWTR, tWR, tWTP, tWL, tRFC, tRTP, tFAW

 


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