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GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Motherboard Review

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

BIOS Features

GIGABYTE includes the latest version of their UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) DualBIOS with the the Z87X-OC Force motherboard. The UEFI BIOS offers full keyboard and mouse support while using the BIOS pages with enhanced mouse navigation supported by right clicking the mouse - goes back to previous view if inside a settings pop-up or on a sub-menu page. Note that this right click functionality behaves this way in Classic Mode only. Right clicking in Windows Mode displays the shortcuts menu. GIGABYTE also includes a screencap utility, which generates a 1024x768 BMP image in normal resolution mode and a 1920x1080 BMP image in HD resolution mode on an attached USB drive upon clicking the F12 function key.

GIGABYTE's BIOS implementation continues to impress me with my experience using the Z87X-OC Force's UEFI BIOS much cleaner than with the Z87-UD3H. However, there are still a few bugs to be worked out of the system especially with the mouse handling. In most cases, the mouse is detected correctly and works as expected. Sometime though, the mouse works in an unaccelerated fashion, requiring excessive movement to get the pointer to the desired location. Normally, a simple reboot and reentry into the BIOS corrects this mouse behavior. The only other complaint was the inability to access the BIOS in high resolution mode using a standalone video card.  I tried with an NVIDIA 570 GTX through VGA, HDMI, and DVI to no avail.  The only way HD resolution mode worked was by attaching an HDMI cable directly to the onboard port and removing the video card from the system. However, this remains an extremely new BIOS implementation and can only get better over time. All the issues encountered are easily remedied with future BIOS releases.

BIOS Notable Features

GIGABYTE's UEFI BIOS is by far the most innovative UEFI implementation I've seen on a Z87-based board. The most obvious change is the revamping of their 3D BIOS to the new DualBIOS branding. GIGABYTE offers two different use modes in the BIOS - Windows Mode and Classic Mode. You can switch between the two using the shortcut menu or by pressing the F2 function key. The Windows Mode BIOS pages offer a modern-style interface with entry fields and horizontal sliders for every field. The fields are grouped by sectional pages similar to the Classic Mode grouping. Windows Mode also offers a high definition operational mode that uses the additional resolution space to show board specs along the outside of the configuration screens. You can click on the Resolution Toggle setting from the shortcut menu or hit the F6 function key to switch from standard to HD resolution. Additionally, a Home section housing customizable tabs has be added to house your favorite features and a Favorites frame containing a Shortcuts section for fast access to menus and submenus.

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Windows Mode, Home section

The Home section offers the use a series of six customizable tabs for housing any settings within the BIOS. The first two tabs, named Performance and Standard, are pre-populated with settings appropriate to the tab name. Each tab contains a Setup button allowing for configuration of the settings shown with the tab. For settings with numeric configuration, like CPU ratio or voltage settings, have an entry field, a horizontal slider, as well as an on-off button to the right of the slider. You have the option of manually entering values or using the slider for selection. The On-Off button is the most intriguing though, allowing the user to enable real-time adjustment and enactment of the setting changes made.

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Windows Mode, Home section, HD resolution mode

In HD resolution mode, the BIOS screen resolution increases to fully 1080p mode (1920x1080 resolution).  In high definition mode, the normal Windows Mode pages and tabs are centered in the window with various fan speed, temperature, and voltage status, and board and CPU information around the outer edges of the screen. This is one of the most innovative features of GIGABYTE's DualBIOS, but it is also one of the more flaky. In order to get the BIOS to render in HD resolution, I had to connect via the onboard HDMI port with the video card removed from the system. Otherwise, HD resolution mode would not work.

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Windows Mode main screen, Home section, Setup User Options popup

When the Setup button is clicked, the Setup User Options menu displays. The user has the ability to select any setting from the BIOS for display as well as customizing the tab name. The options can be reorder from within this menu as well.

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Windows Mode main screen, Home section, Select a Shortcut popup

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Windows Mode main screen, Home section, Shortcut popup

When the Select Shortcut link is clicked under the Shortcuts heading in the Favorites frame, the Select a Shortcut menu displays. Through this menu, the user has the ability to added quick links to commonly used pages. This shortcut menu displays in the Favorites frame while in the Home tab or when the mouse is right clicked while in the Windows Mode BIOS interface. Note that only menus and submenus can be added to this shortcut list, options cannot be directly added to the list.

BIOS Walkthrough - Overlocking Setting, Classic Mode

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M.I.T. tab

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M.I.T. tab, M.I.T. Current Status page

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M.I.T. tab, Advanced Frequency Settings page

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M.I.T. tab, Advanced Frequency Settings page, Advanced CPU Core Settings page

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M.I.T. tab, Advanced Memory Settings page

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M.I.T. tab, Advanced Memory Settings page, DRAM Channel Timing Settings page

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M.I.T. tab, Advanced Memory Settings page, DRAM Channel Timing Settings page, Misc Timing Control settings

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M.I.T. tab, Advanced Memory Settings page, DRAM Channel Timing Settings page, Misc Timing Control settings continued

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M.I.T. tab, Advanced Voltage Settings page

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M.I.T. tab, Advanced Voltage Settings page, Advanced Power Control page

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M.I.T. tab, Advanced Voltage Settings page, CPU Core Voltage Control page

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M.I.T. tab, Advanced Voltage Settings page, Chipset Voltage Control page

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M.I.T. tab, Advanced Voltage Settings page, DRAM Voltage Control page

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M.I.T. tab, PC Health Status page

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M.I.T. tab, PC Health Status page, Fan and Temperature Threshold settings

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M.I.T. tab, Miscellaneous Settings page

Windows Mode screens

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Performance tab, Frequency page

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Performance tab, Memory page

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Performance tab, Voltage page

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Performance tab, Voltage page, Advanced Power Settings page

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Performance tab, Voltage page. CPU Core Voltage Control page

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Performance tab, Voltage page, Chipset Voltage Control page

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Performance tab, Voltage page, DRAM Voltage Control page

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Performance tab, Miscellaneous page

July 19, 2013 | 03:38 PM - Posted by Captain Homey (not verified)

My current build is a Gigabyte GA800GA board with AMD Rhenom 6 core processor and 4 x 4gb g-skil DDR5 rip jaw memory and 2GB Radeon graphics card. Theres 10 x 2TB Caviar Green as well as
8 External HDD's making a total of 38 Terabytes.
This runs through built in Ceiling speakers fed from a Technics Class AA Amplifier..... a 42 inch Panachronic Monitor as well as 2x Hanns-G HH251 25 inch monitors (really BAD monitors compared to the smaller 21" Acer's they replaced as the ancient non HD Acer are FAR superior in every way but screen size even after ten years of use).

I intend to get a huge case.. probably the Caselabs MAGNUM M8 Case as my space is height critical and the Lian Li monster is just too tall

what I'm trying to find out is the absolute BEST motherboards for huge archives of Audio Visual and Photoshop creations etc... Best CPU and Mem and so on

I know this will cost in excess of £2000 as the build above I managed all for £1500 (bar the big Panasonic screen)

I intend to max out the case with something between 15 and 20 4TB Caviar Blacks

I have no interest...or ever will in high end gaming....
my limit is the old space invaders and table top games you used to see in pubs lol

Nor have I any intention of elaborate looking dust trap chassis... hence the clean lined monster mentioned above

any ideas or further input will be gratefully received as I really am a total novice and it was more LUCK on first build attempt

This build absolutely MUST not cut corners on tech in so much as I wont be updating software for some YEARS after this kind of outlay (if all that makes sense)

I'm lost with all tech pointing to high gaming etc.... unless someone can confirm or deny for MY purposes I should be looking for the same spec despite main use as mass entertainment archive heavy webby use and photoshop work

July 19, 2013 | 03:39 PM - Posted by Captain Homey (not verified)

I meant GA-880 motherboard not 800

July 19, 2013 | 04:47 PM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

If you're looking for high-end performance, you *might* want to consider an X79 based board.  However, that would require the use of an LGA2011-based CPU which are a bit more expensive than their 1150 or 1155 counterparts.  X79 does have the benefit of quad-channel DRAM support though, which may be useful if you are doing intensive photo and graphics manipulation jobs and rendering.

Don't get me wrong, the LGA1150 adn LGA1155 systems are good, but they are memory limited to a maximum of 32MB and support dual-channel mode.

July 19, 2013 | 08:01 PM - Posted by Captain Homey (not verified)

Thanks Morry

To be clear once again.... I'm not limiting the costings
for example if the BEST x79 is vastly superior to the AMD Phenom six core (maxed with 4x4gb 16gb memory) I'm currently running then they are the prices I simply MUST start from

I'm definately intending on a "double sized" case like those mentioned... clean lines and will FILL itwith 4TB drives
(But only when the manufacturers reverse their rip off price controlling... might be a long wait lol) most likely in the region of 20 x 4TB drives perhaps even the 5TB that are due for end of year release... if I'm lucky they may bring on the 6tb at the same time rather than delay them for another year.

From my novices position I KNOW I need maximum sata ports on the board (minimum of ten as opposed to the normal 8)
As with my current build boards to beadded to increase the number...
Graphics cards perhaps two so the pci slots need to be spaced and again best suited to utilise all I need so I can FIT the card adapter to give the extra sata's
I'll use a minimum of 1000/1200 PSU

But I'm after as much advice as poss from you skilled peeps in the know!

July 26, 2013 | 12:11 PM - Posted by meganerd

I am not sure exactly what you mean by "best". With OpenCL support in a lot of the more recent content creation apps the line between a "gaming" rig and a media production rig is blurring.

Based on your description, either a LGA2011 or LGA 1150/1155 will smoke your AMD 6 core. If you need more than 32 GiB of RAM (or 2 CPU sockets), then LGA 2011 is the answer.

I would not worry too much about the number of SATA ports on a given mother board when you can buy cards like these: http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816118127

I would also separate out the storage of media from the production computer. Personally I would use a higher end Synology for the storage, and then build a high end PC to do the actual work on.

My current setup is 19 hard drives stuffed into my "old" Core i7 920 as a storage server, with the media creation/manipulation (mostly multi-track audio, some blender for 3d) on a high end LGA1155 based PC. I will be replacing the i7 920 with a synology within the next year.

Hth,

July 26, 2013 | 07:56 PM - Posted by Captain Homey (not verified)

Awesome info Hth

I'm not doing editing (perhaps one day tho)

imagine a 24/7 media usage plus web and photoshop on the smaller 27-32" screens

My current set up likes to hang occasionally when I'm viewing a movie and shifting from archive to archive (as I'm constantly having to rearrange to keep some sort of order with my 32 Terrible bitties of audio and video files etc.

so from THAT info I don't want to throw money on boards that will offer 100 abilities that I'd simply NEVER use
But on the other hand I DO want to erradicate (as much as possible) the occasional hang up when multitasking.

Thanks once again for the positive feedback ...

it's going a LONG WAY toward enlightening me as to what I actually need and what I don't

as well as what da hell I'm doing lol

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