GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1-WIFI-BK Black Edition Motherboard Review
Features and Motherboard Layout
Courtesy of GIGABYTE
- LGA1150 socket for the 4th Generation and the New 4th Generation Intel® Core™ processors
- GIGABYTE Ultra Durable™ 5 Plus Technology
- All IR digital power design
- GIGABYTE UEFI DualBIOS™
- GIGABYTE AMP-UP Audio technology
- Exclusive Upgradable OP-AMP
- Onboard Creative Sound Core3D™ quad-core audio processor
- Built-in Front Audio Headphone Amplifier
- Audio Noise Guard with LED path lighting
- 15µ gold plated CPU socket
- 4-way Graphics Support
- Durable black solid capacitors
- Dual LAN with high ESD Protection
- GIGABYTE Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi Card
The GIGABYTE Z97X-Gaming G1-WIFI-BK motherboard features a matte black PCB with dark red coloration on the VRM and chipset heat sinks for that added pop. With the exception of the audio chipset and caps, all on-board components are colored to blend with the board's black and red theme. Even though its a feature-packed solution, GIGABYTE designed the Z97X-Gaming G1-WIFI-BK with more than sufficient room to work around all components.
The board's back has a minimal amount of circuitry and components scattered throughout. However, there are no circuits or chips within close proximity to the area behind the CPU socket.
GIGABYTE integrated the following ports into the Z97X-Gaming G1-WIFI-BK's rear panel: a keyboard / mouse PS/2 port, 2 USB 2.0 ports, 2 USB 3.0 ports controlled by the Intel Z97 chipset (located above the HDMI port), 4 USB 3.0 ports controlled by the Intel Z97 chipset controller via a Renesas hub (located below the GigE NIC ports), an Intel GigE NIC port (inside RJ-45 port), a Qualcomm Atheros Killer NIC port (outside RJ-45 port), an HDMI video port, a DisplayPort video port, a DVI-I video port, an optical audio port, and 5 analogue audio ports.
The Z97X-Gaming G1-WIFI-BK motherboard has a total of seven PCI-Express device ports - four PCI-Express x16 slots and three PCI-Express x1 slots. For the PCI-Express x16 slots, the board supports full x16 bandwidth with a single card, x16 bandwidth with cards in the primary and secondary slots with two cards populated, and x8 in all PCI-Express x16 slots with three or four cards populated. There is sufficient space in between all PCI-Express x16 slots to accommodate up to dual slot coolers.
In between the upper right of the primary PCI-Express x16 slot and the VRM cooler is one 4-pin system fan header.
GIGABYTE designed the audio subsystem on a separate PCB to ensure audio clarity and fidelity. The PCB separator line glows red along its length with the board powered, making for a nice effect with the board's color scheme. The quad-code SoundBlaster Core3D audio chipset is capped with a gold-plated heat sink located in the upper left corner of the board for signal shielding purposes. The changeable OP-AMP port and audio gain control switches are located to the right of the audio chipset. The audio gain control switches change the per channel gain for headphones attached to the headphone output port on the rear panel (analogue audio port in lower left corner of port assembly). The gain is set to 2.5x with the switches set to position 1 and 6.5x with the switches set to position 2. The OP-AMP port allows for user switching of the board's OP-AMP chip for customized the audio experience. By default, the board comes with a TI Burr Brown® OPA2134 OP-AMP chip installed in the socket. The front panel audio header is located the upper left corner of the audio PCB, to the left of the audio chipset.
Along the outside of the fourth PCI-Express x16 slot are the front panel audio header, two system fan headers, and the on board USB 2.0 headers. Note that the OP-AMP port is used for devices connected to the rear panel audio ports only.
The CMOS battery sits in between the lower portions of the third and fourth PCI-Express x16 slots with the on-board USB 2.0 headers along the bottom of the fourth PCI-Express x16 slot.
Two system fan headers, front panel header, the CMOS reset jumper (two pin jumper to the lower right of front panel header), the Dual BIOS switch (SB), and the active BIOS switch (BIOS_SW) are located in the lower left corner of the board. The active BIOS switch is used to switch between the primary and backup BIOS. With the switch set to the 1 position (default), the main BIOS is active. In the 2 position, the backup BIOS is activated. The Dual BIOS Switch is set to enabled (the 1 position) by default. Dual BIOS is disabled with the switch in the 2 position.
The Intel Z97 Express chipset is covered by a large, low profile heat sink just below the PCI-Express x16 slots. The heat sink is red colored with the GIGABYTE Gaming series (eye) logo prominently centered on the heat sink in silver color.
GIGABYTE integrated a total of six on-board SATA 6 Gb/s ports and one SATA Express 10 Gb/s port located just under the chipset cooler ito the board's design. The four gray colored SATA ports on the right of the port block are tied to the Marvel controller, while the black colored ports on the left are tied to the Intel Z97 chipset controller.
The on-board DDR3 memory slots are located just below the CPU socket in the lower right quadrant of the board. Dual Channel memory mode is enabled by seating memory modules like colored slots with the gray colored slots acting as the primary slot set. The board supports up to 32GB of memory running at a maximum speed of 2933MHz. Note that memory speeds above 1600MHz are considered overclocked speeds and are outside of the official Intel stock memory speed specifications. Just under the memory slots are the Intel Z97 chipset controlled USB 3.0 header, a SATA power header, and the 24-pin ATX power connector. The SATA power port provides extra power to the PCI-Express bus when multiple video cards are seated in the board. Simply connect it to a SATA power connector from your PSU.
To the lower right of the DIMMM slots are the 2-digit diagnostic LED display, voltage measurement points, and on-board power, reset, and CMOS clear buttons. The diagnostic LED display can be used in conjunction with the table provided in the user manual to identify and troubleshoot board boot-related issues. The voltage measurement points allow for direct board voltage measurement using a volt meter.
The CPU socket is clear of obstructions with the power circuitry and VRM heat sink surrounding the upper three sides of the socket. The board contains a total of eight digital power phases to ensure board stability under all operating conditions.
GIGABYTE integrated a water channel into the VRM heat sink, allowing the user to water cool the on-board CPU VRM chips. The threaded inlet and outlet ports are G1/4" ports allowing for use of any G1/4" compatible water barbs with the board.
The VRM heat sink and heat pipe cooling the PLX and Intel Z97 chipsets are no physically connected. This means that the water cooling channel will only cool the CPU VRMs, requiring active airflow over the PLX/Z97 chipset cooler.
A single 8-pin ATX12V power connector was provided to power the CPU, located in the upper right corner of the board.