GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Motherboard Review
GIGABYTE did a great job in designing the Z87X-OC Force, as evident in its strong feature set and very competitive stock performance. Further, the board remained rock-solid stable throughout the entire test run.
As of July 09, the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force was available at Newegg.com for $409.99. The board was also available from other retailers such as Amazon.com for $409.99 with Prime shipping and TigerDirect.com for $422.24.
Before continuing with our final thoughts on this board, we would like to take this opportunity to give our friends at GIGABYTE a hearty “Thank You” for giving us the opportunity and pleasure of reviewing the Z87X-OC Force motherboard. GIGABYTE took their award-winning Z77X-UP7 design and improved upon it. The board keeps the orange and black theme from the last generation flagship line, but adds a fully integrated heat pipe cooling all hot areas on the board. The heat pipe includes integrated fans as well as 3/8 inch integrated water barbs for the water cooling enthusiasts. Due to its E-ATX form factor, the Z87X-OC Force has more than enough room for all its add-on features without sacrificing on space in the critical areas around the CPU or PCI-Express slots. The board's performance is top-notch with no stability issues encountered at all in testing. The CMOS battery placement is interesting directly below the chipset heat sink and should remain accessible unless running in dual or more card mode with full length video cards.
The board did have a few issues to take note of, the most obvious being the mouse related performance issues encountered in the BIOS. At times, the mouse acceleration in the BIOS appeared to be disabled, making mouse use difficult at best. However, rebooting the system and reentry into the BIOS normally correctly the issue. The other issue was more of a design oddity. For a high-end board designed for both LN2 and water cooling enthusiasts, it was an odd choice to go with integrated barbs on the VRMs sinks. Users are locked in to using 3/8 inch inner diameter tubing with the integrated barbs, small for most enthusiast custom water-based builds. A more flexible solution would have been to allow the user to choose their barb size by integrating G1/4 ports instead of fixed barbs.
- Stock performance
- CMOS battery placement - accessible under most conditions
- Board layout and design
- Accessible PCI-Express x1 slot with board used with single or dual video cards
- UEFI BIOS design
- Active and Water-based cooling options on board heat pipe cooler
- 16 digital power phases just for the CPU
- Dual Intel GigE NICs
- BIOS HD resolution mode
- Non-removable water barbs
- Use of 3/8" water barbs
- BIOS mouse-related issues in Windows Mode
- Lack of detail in manual on esoteric features