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Gigabyte Z97X-SLI Motherboard Review

3
Posted June 18, 2014 by Kenny in CPU & Motherboards

Overview

Hardware:
 
Manufacturer:
 
Price at time of Review: $129.99 on Newegg.com
 

WHAT WE LIKED:

SATA Express and M.2 SATA Features, Great Simplistic Aesthetic Appeal, SLI and Xfire Compatible
 

WHAT WE DISLIKED:

Easy Tune OC Features a bit Lacking (stability wise), Lower VRM Phase
 
BOTTOM LINE:
With the Gigabyte Z97X-SLI motherboard paired 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 performance to value ratio.
by Kenny
Full Article
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Z97 Chipset

The Z97 chipset isn’t much different than its predecessor, the Z87. Most of the features remain pretty close in design with a few updates. This probably isn’t a surprise since its a “refresh.”

Taking a look at the block diagram below, you can see that the main (and most substantial) change is the added SATA Express support. This will give users additional bandwidth to 10Gb/s, up from the previous 6Gb/s with the SATA III ports. While most SSDs today can’t saturate the existing lanes just yet, it appears that Intel is just thinking ahead of the curve. Probably in the next year or so we will start to see media devices that can take advantage of the available bandwidth.

The Z97 also brings the M.2 slot over (also known as NGFF). This essentially replaces the older mSATA platform and offers the additional bandwidth. The mSATA standard wasn’t all that popular to begin with in the Z87 chipset; however, as we start to see more and more SATA drives appear in the market in M.2 form factor, it comes as no surprise that Intel and motherboard manufacturers have taken a leap into this arena.

Today, the M.2 can be supported in multiple ways. Motherboard manufacturers can omit a few SATA ports to allow for the additional bandwidth, or they can use the PCIe Lanes that are available on the board. So, while every manufacturer can play this differently, it’s really up to the consumer to choose the right platform for their needs.

On one last note: we also are seeing better memory controls as the current generation of motherboards are maturing. While DDR3 is still the memory used with the current Haswell Processor, it wouldn’t surprise us if we see another revision down the line for the up coming DDR4 memory coming later next year.

Let’s take a quick look at the Z97 vs the Z87 block diagram.

Z97

Z97

Z87

Z87_diagram

With the overview of the Z97 Chipset complete, let’s move forward and take a look at the package and contents.

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3 Comments


  1.  
    GorbazTheDragon

    Tried turning up the VRin?




    •  
      Kenny

      Hi GorbazTheDragon,

      We did, while it helped, but it wasn’t stable unless voltages were cranked up a bit. While the MB was able to handle the voltages, the lower VRM phase made stability a little bit of an issue. In other board reviews, we have been able to manage 4.6GHz with lower vcore, however with this motherboard we weren’t able to achieve those.

      Thanks for your suggestion and reply.




      •  
        GorbazTheDragon

        Yeah, I did some more searching, and the mosfet quality on this VRM is pretty bad on top of the fact that it only has 4 phases…





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