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GIGABYTE X99-SOC Champion Motherboard Review

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Overclocking and Conclusion

Overclocking

To give a feel for the overclocking performance potential of the X99-SOC Champion motherboard, we attempted to push it to known CPU-supported performance parameters with minimal tweaking. We were able to get the board stable at a 125MHz base clock with a 4.5GHz CPU speed and a 3340MHz memory speed, using the Corsair Domination Platinum DDR4-3400 kit. The board would not stabilize with CPU set to anything over 3GHz clock speeds when running the memory at the rated 3400MHz speeds (requiring a 127.5MHz base clock). The one wrinkle with running the memory this fast was the need for a System Agent voltage setting of +0.45V (within specs according to both GIGABYTE and Corsair engineers). System stability was tested running the AIDA64 stability test in conjunction with EVGA's OC Scanner X graphical benchmark running at 1280x1024 resolution and 8x MSAA in stress test mode. Note that 16GB (4 x 8GB) of Corsair Dominator Platinum DDR4-3400 memory modules were used for the overclocking tests.

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Note that this is is meant only as a quick preview of the board's performance potential. With more time to tweak the settings to a greater extent, pushing to a higher base clock and ring bus speed may have been achievable, in addition to an overnight stability run without issue.

Performance

The GIGABYTE X99-SOC Champion board performed well within expectations at stock and overclock speed settings. The engineering and design effort that GIGABYTE poured into this board shine through, making this board one of the fastest we've had the privilege of testing.

Pricing

As of April 02, the GIGABYTE X99-SOC Champion motherboard was available at Amazon.com for $299.99 with Prime shipping. The board was also available from Newegg.com for $274.99.

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Conclusion

If there's one word I can use to describe the GIGABYTE X99-SOC Champion board, its "Fast". GIGABYTE used their design and engineering prowess, coming up with a board design meant to surpass anything currently on the marker. Corsair was so impressed with the board that they worked with GIGABYTE in developing a Dominator Platinum DDR4-2400 kit specially optimized for use with the X99-SOC Champion in overclocking endeavors. That is not to say that GIGABYTE sacrificed board features or stability for the sake of raw speed. The board maintains the stability expectations we've come to expect from GIGABYTE, but definitely has a cut down feature set (in comparison to other higher priced offerings). The mantra that seems to apply is it has everything you need to run, but nothing you don't. In keeping the feature set to the minimal side, GIGABYTE was able to introduce optimizations into the board's design enabling it to run faster yet maintain stability. This includes their inclusion of only four total DDR4 DIMM slots on the board, placed closer in proximity to the CPU socket. Additionally, GIGABYTE used optimized memory trace paths to further ensure memory performance and stability under the most grueling conditions. As far as aesthetics, the board is a nice looking product (even though orange is not my thing). They even included a nice customizable lighting feature for the audio PCB separator line for that extra level of bling.

The one challenge with this board is in the overclocking. Not that it is hard to overclock by any means, but the sheer amount of integrate board settings and specialized BIOS options can throw you for a loop. This board was most definitely meant for the more advanced enthusiasts, especially when paired with the specialized Corsair Dominator Platinum DDR4-3400 memory kit.

Strengths

  • Stock performance
  • Overclocking performance
  • Board aesthetics
  • Audio PCB lighting customization
  • Board cooling and heat pipe design / layout
  • CPU socket layout and spacing
  • UEFI BIOS design and usability
  • CMOS battery placement
  • Performance of Intel GigE NICs

Weaknesses

  • Complexities inherent in dialing in extreme overclocking, especially with memory speeds over 3200MHz

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April 10, 2015 | 11:09 PM - Posted by Buyers

Can anyone explain why modern motherboards STILL come with PS/2 ports? Does some common non-KB/Mouse hardware peripheral that i'm completely unaware of use them? I can't imagine someone forking out cash for a new X99 system and thinking "alright, done. Now to plug in this old PS/2 mouse and keyboard"

April 11, 2015 | 12:21 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Exactly you fucking jackass.

April 11, 2015 | 06:34 AM - Posted by Pholostan

Yes PS/2 keyboards are very much in use by builders/overclockers/tweakers. The support is better, the pitfall fewer. Some gamers think they get better performance with PS/2, but I dunno. I just know it is much less of a pain to deal with an overclocked and unstable system with a PS/2 keyboard. USB needs to init correctly, PS/2 usually hasn't that problem.

Of course an extreme overclockers board has at least a keyboard PS/2 port. It would sell a lot less if it lacked it.

April 11, 2015 | 03:38 PM - Posted by Buyers

I've overclocked my last three personal 24/7 systems and cant say i've ever run into an issue with my usb kb/mouse setup, but i'm not an extreme overclocker either. I admit, i don't follow that scene closely. So perhaps it's just an issue i've never run into. I have a stack of old PS/2 keyboards and mice that i haven't touched in years. The idea of using one, to me, is on the same level as adding in an old 3.5" floppy drive. I'll have to read up on the pros/cons of PS/2 peripherals since i haven't looked at one in so long.

April 12, 2015 | 04:21 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Yes, you should read up on this. PS/2 has some important advantages over USB that should not be ignored or glossed over.

PS/2 has a much lower CPU overhead, especially when running mouse polling above 100Hz. If you want low latency input with low CPU overhead and you also want high polling rates then you must use PS/2. USB simply cannot do all three of those things at the same time.

For me, the inclusion of two PS/2 ports on a motherboard is a must have, even now in 2015. Motherboards with only one, or no PS/2 ports don't even make it on to my short list.

April 11, 2015 | 06:36 AM - Posted by Pholostan

Somehow I got a double post.

April 11, 2015 | 06:05 PM - Posted by Sonic4Spuds

It has less input latency and overhead, supports key rollover better, and is supported by many UEFIs and BIOSes better than USB. I enjoy it because it will give you a much faster boot than anything else if you have your keyboard plugged into that and disable USB init in the UEFI.

April 10, 2015 | 11:37 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

In the pricing section you talk about the gaming G1 instead of the SOC?????

April 11, 2015 | 01:21 AM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

Thanks for the heads up, it has been corrected...

April 11, 2015 | 06:05 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

it is good to have at least one PS/2 keyboard & mouse if overclocking/IT "desktop" computer repair. USB keyboard & mouse require drivers but PS/2 one doesnt. overclocking require more time testing & not in windows OS boot with drivers. meaning sometimes usb keyboard & mouse are plug in & dont work because drivers hasnt been loaded yet & try PS/2 one instead. PnP stand for Plug and Play today but early it was Plug & Pray it work.

i work at a small computer store & build over 40+ new computers in 2014 from simple "Low End", "high End" & even something close to the "Dream System" (tinyurl.com/m4zpl8k). using USB keyboard & mouse is fine. but get desktop repair with DDR1 or DDR2 with windows xp even IDE hard drives with AGP/PCI cards. so good to have spare parts around.

this is the same thing with serious & parallel ports. i dont use it personally since 1990s but get about a few requests for it from businesses for old LEGACY machines.

April 11, 2015 | 03:45 PM - Posted by Buyers

Right, i understand having them around if you're in the business of repairing and maintaining old systems. That's the exact reason i have a few around. But an X99 board isn't an old system with AGP ports and Windows XP.

Anyway, there's a good reply up above about it that i responded to as well.

April 12, 2015 | 10:14 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I dont know about anyone else. but I have a Z97 UD5H with same bios. and I find it incredibly annoying, and very contradictory

April 14, 2015 | 10:56 PM - Posted by Bob39 (not verified)

So Gigabyte copies Asus' OC Socket plus violates patents in order to enable the higher clock speeds on both the CPU and memory side and nothing is mentioned about it? This is not Gigabyte engineering prowess, it is their ability to once again copy whatever Asus does on their boards.

Also, Gigabyte no longer advertises their copied socket as being Intel Certified like on their other X99 boards. Does this mean if I use this board and the cpu dies that Intel will not provide a warranty? Will Gigabyte warranty the CPU?

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