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GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Motherboard Second Look Review

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Motherboard Deconstructed

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GIGABYTE designed the Z87X-OC Force with two distinct heat pipe cooling solutions to cool the heat critical onboard components. The CPU VRMs are cooled by a heat pipe connecting the heat sinks above and to the right of the CPU socket. The onboard PCIe bridge chip chip and Intel Z87 chipset are cooled by a separate heat pipe solution connecting the bridge chip and Z87 heat sinks. While both heat pipe solutions have integrated 40mm fans, the CPU VRM cooler as doubles as a water cooler with integrated 3/8" barbs.

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The cooling apparatus for the CPU VRMs consists of two large aluminum heat sinks tied together by a nickel-plated copper heat pipe. The cooler has an integrated 40mm, 3-pin fan as well as 3/8 inch water barbs. The barbs are hard attached to the cooler and cannot be switched out for different fittings unfortunately. The cooler comes from the factory with pre-applied thermal tape to act as an interface medium between the VRM chips and the aluminum heat sink surfaces.

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Once the cooling apparatus is removed from the board, the CPU power circuitry is unveiled in all its glory. Above and to the right of the L-shaped choke layout are the 16 chips making up the CPUs 16-phase digital power delivery system.

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The VRM chips used for regulating the CPU and memory power are IR (International Rectifier) PowIRstage™ IR3550M MOSFETs, capable of current output up to 60A and a 95% operational efficiency at a 1.2V output. See the IR specs for the IR3550M MOSFETs here for more information.

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The 2-pin fan header for the VRM cooler is located in the upper right quadrant of the board, to the left of the 4-pin ATX12V power connector and just above the upper row of VRMs.

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The cooler for the PCIe bridge chip chip and Intel Z87 chipset is similar to the CPU VRM cooler with aluminum heat sinks cooling both chips interconnected by a nickel-plated copper heat pipe. A 40mm fan is integrated into the Z87's heat sink. This cooler does not include water barbs, nor is it connected to the CPU VRM cooler.

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The PLX Technologies PEX 8747 chip was selected by GIGABYTE to allow the Z87X-OC Force to support up to quad-card graphics mode. The chip itself is an FCBGA chip covered by an aluminum heat spreader, capable of providing up to 48 PCI-Express 3.0 lanes over five ports (1 input port and 4 output ports). The chip takes 16 incoming PCI-Express x16 3.0 lanes and supports up to four ports with a total of 32 lanes of bandwidth in x16 or x8 lane configurations. More detailed information concerning the PEX 8747 chip can be found here.

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The chipset heat sink covers a large area, considering that its target is the small die area of the Z87 chipset. The heat sink is held to the board via the four holes surrounding the chipset. The cooler's 2-pin fan header is located to the left of the ITE controller chip.

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The Intel Z87 chipset is very similar in design to a naked CPU with a much small die size. The area directly surrounding the chipset is empty of large components to ensure efficient thermal mating between the heat sink and the chipset die surface.

August 14, 2013 | 03:27 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I bet those little fans will go before the board...are they easily sourced ?
I prefer to just have big case fans turning slow as possible.

August 14, 2013 | 03:28 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Does having "ultra durable" being plastered on it actually mean anything ?

August 14, 2013 | 08:54 PM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

Ultra Durable is just the GIGABYTE branding for the power circuitry and PCB design used.  They're current iteration is dubbed Ultra Durable 5....

August 14, 2013 | 03:33 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

For that price it should come with a real audio card...sheesh.

August 16, 2013 | 07:56 PM - Posted by Panta

I think you know im a Huge PcPer Fan.
i used to watch live when i could staying until 5-6AM not to miss when i could, and your reviews are industry FACTS.

I also admit to you, that when ever i reach this part in a review "we would like to thank our friends at XYZ"
it bugs me.

it shouldn't I know, & i know
readers interest is in your mind first & Co-operations last.(as it should)

This days PCper is significant and important enough to the hardware world so you don't have to display this public symbolic bow down in thank to the conglomerate.
(it should be the opposite, as you market what they sell)

i would wish PCper to consider the option to Omit that small yet Symbolic enough line.

i know its really not what is important
but Symbolism has its powers..

your fan
Panta

October 26, 2013 | 03:39 PM - Posted by klepp0906 (not verified)

Not sure how many samples you have tested. However in regard to the disapproval regarding the BIOS assisted overclocks assigned voltages being off, I not only think the opposite (they are literally SPOT ON) but have hard data to back that up.

I have experienced with my own cpu, and read posts time and time again... where people have cited being able to increase voltages by xx and get stable up to 4.6, however anything past 4.6 takes HUGE jumps and some cant get stable past 4.6 no matter what.

I personally use the board you reviewed (which is why I was here) but wish I had waited for the next round of 1150 chips to launch as haswell isn't all it cracked up to be imo.

to get stable at 4.6 It takes me 1.28 (which is considered above average, and not too far off from your 1.20-1.25 however that I would consider FAR above average) and for 4.7 it takes me an additional .15v to get stable. HUGE jump. 1.43v to be exact. Now my temps don't even hit 70c via IBT at that voltage (water) and the bios assigned 1.4v with the 4.7 auto overclock setting that you cited as having too high of a voltage, wouldn't even have me stable.

Before tossing tossing that out there as fact and deter'ing a bunch of people.... see the numbers it takes a few cpu's to make those last few jumps. Depending on cooling it may not even be possible (god forbid the people that wont or cant delid, haswell is complete garbage then. Atleast on an enthusiast level). Or atleast read around, and remember until there is a hard-line agreement on what is "stable" you have the people with a brain that realize most people assume/use Prime95 and that by calling their pc/numbers stable via whatever other benchmark they decide only harms others and the community as a whole.

that is all.

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