The Gigabyte Z97X-SLI motherboard is the latest addition to Gigabyte’s Z97 series line up. We were pleased with the color scheme, although Gigabyte played it safe here with the red, gray and black. The board does give off a simplistic look for those that like to stick to the traditional colors without getting too flashy. We can’t blame them for sticking to what sells.
When it comes to the software package, Gigabyte has really improved in this sector. This time around, they did a great job and included an abundant variety. The software package that was available with the motherboard gives users something to appreciate, and Gigabyte really impressed us in this sector. We felt like they are finally getting on the right page. Some may think that some of this is bloatware, but we find many of the applications to be rather useful, especially the App Center Suite.
While the Gigabyte Z97X-SLI was developed on an ATX format (slightly slimmed down), the layout hasn’t changed much with the exception of the M.2 PCIe Gen 2 x2 slot and the SATA Express features to the motherboard. Set-up was simple, and with the 4770K, we found that our 2133MHz memory was able to run at the advertised speeds with little to no work. After a simple XMP profile enabling, we were all set. In the OC sector, using the Easy tune feature was easy, but while attempting to use the Extreme OC feature, it failed and forced us to reset the BIOS back to default. However, the lower settings worked great without any problems. In the manual overclocking, we managed speeds of 4.5GHz with little work, but high temperatures and vcore were our enemy here. While overclocking can vary from chip to chip, board choices can become as important when it comes to stability. Gigabyte did “ok” in this sector. We weren’t surprised by this less than stellar result, given the price range that the Z97X-SLI was targerted for and its lower VRM phase. Because of this, stability lacked a bit, but we still managed to get some decent clocks.
As far as performance is concerned, when we look at our benchmark comparisons with the Z87 and other Z97 series boards, we didn’t find a whole lot of benefit changing from your current Z87 chipset motherboard. That is, unless you plan on taking advantage of the M.2 SATA port or SATA Express Features, or plan to upgrade to the newer Intel processors that are due to release very soon. M.2 SATA and SATA Express still hasn’t matured in its development and finding a drive that can use the M.2 SATA port is limited; however, we can foresee the future use of M.2 SATA and SATA Express becoming popular with its greater bandwidth and speeds.
When we paired the motherboard with a set of GTX760 in SLI, the performance levels were outstanding. For those looking for a mid-range motherboard that won’t break the bank, we can say that Gigabyte was spot on with the Gigabyte Z97X-SLI. We found the motherboard on Newegg.com for $129.99 which is a great value to performance ratio for a motherboard that can handle both SLI and Crossfire performance. So with that said, today we honor the Gigabyte Z97X-SLI Motherboard with the PureOverclock Great Hardware Award.