Gigabyte X99-SOC Force Motherboard Review

Introduction

Intel’s release of the Haswell-E and the corresponding X99 chipset has created quite a buzz. The new design brought many of the features of the previously released Z97 to the Intel Extreme line up. With the new chipset release there has also been another important change, the introduction of DDR4 memory. Gigabyte has been kind enough to send us one of their recently released X99 chipset motherboards, the GA-X99-SOC Force. The GA-X99-SOC Force is part of their OC (Overclclocking) line. This line of motherboards has proven to be very capable and have been used to break numerous overclocking world records.

The GA-X99-SOC Force is packed full of features. There is up to 4-way AMD CrossFire and Nvidia SLI support. A precise digital CPU power design helps sqeeze out those Mhz from your CPU. A SATA Express offer support for 10 Gb/s data transfers. On the networking side, a Killer E2200 network adaptor supplies more advanced features over the standard Intel network adaptor. Realtek ALC1150 115dB SNR HD Audio with Built-in rear audio amplifier supplies your audio needs. A 2x copper PCB design, long lifespan Durable Black Solid caps, a new heatsink design, and 8 onboard fan connectors round out the hardware features.

Gigabyte has not been remiss on the software side either. They have revised their UEFI DualBIOS, which has exclusive GIGABYTE OC features. There is also an application center that allows quite a bit of control over the BIOS, overclocking, and other various features from inside the Windows environment. If that was not enough, Gigabyte has also added a new feature called  Cloud Station, which allows that control from a smart phone as well.

Gigabyte’s take on the GA-X99-SOC Force

Genuine All Digital Power Design

GIGABYTE X99 series motherboards use an all digital CPU power design from International Rectifier® which includes both 4th Generation digital PWM Controllers and industry-leading 3rd Generation PowIRstage® controllers. These 100% digital controllers offer incredible precision in delivering power to the motherboard’s most power-hungry and energy-sensitive components, allowing enthusiasts to get the absolute maximum performance from their new Intel® Core™ i7 Extreme Edition CPUs.

IR Digital PWM & IR PowIRstage® ICs

This new generation of IR® digital power controllers and PowIRstage® ICs feature Isense technology, which provide more precise current sensing accuracy. This helps evenly distribute the thermal loading between the PowerIRstage® ICs, preventing the overheating of each individual PowerIRstage®, resulting in longer lifespan and better reliability.

Server Level Chokes by Cooper Bussmann

GIGABYTE X99 series motherboards feature Server Level Cooper Bussmann Chokes.

• Server level reliability

• High current capacity

• New design reduces heat created by power loss and provides efficient power delivery to CPU VRM area.

High Quality POSCAPs for CPU Power Delivery

POSCAP (Polymerized Organic Semiconductor Capacitor) is a high grade product recently which has better ripple current and dissipation factor characteristic. The most commendable of POSCAP is that in all kinds of operating frequencies, this product can maintain low impedance characteristics. So, POSCAP is suitable for motherboards with high-frequency switching power supply.

Long Lifespan Durable Black™ Solid Caps

GIGABYTE X99 series motherboards integrate the absolute best quality solid state capacitors that are rated to perform at maximum efficiency for extended periods, even in extreme performance configurations. This provides peace of mind for end users who want to push their system hard, yet demand absolute reliability and stability, with ultra-low ESR no matter how high the CPU loading.

Single Package Design

IR® has leveraged it’s world class packaging technology developed for the DirectFET®, improving the thermal capability and layout of the PowIRstage® significantly over that of other MCM packages. Other MOSFET layout implementations use a multi-chip, side-by-side arrangement of the high and low side MOSFETs and driver ICs, taking up significant board real estate and creating more electrical leakage.

OC Ignition

OC Ignition maintains power to the motherboard and connected components while the system is shut down. This means that system fans will continue to provide airflow in cold bug situations, while i-ram drive users will not lose installed data. OC Ignition also allows users to pre-test water cooling setups, and allows case mod demonstrations without having to turn on the PC.

• Fans continue to provide airflow in cold bug situations

• Perfect for pre-testing water-cooled system setups

• Case mod demonstrations without having to turn on the PC

• Retains i-ram data

OC Buttons

GIGABYTE OC Button includes a range of easy to use buttons and switches featured exclusively on GIGABYTE OC motherboards. The design philosophy behind OC Button is simple; to help enthusiasts and overclockers not only get the most performance from their hardware, but also the absolute most enjoyable OC experience.

3-Way / 4-Way Graphics with Premium PCIe x16 Lane Up to *320Gb/s Bandwidth

GIGABYTE X99 motherboards feature a unique PCI Express design that utilizes 100% of all 40 lanes from the CPU when in a 4-Way or 3-Way graphics configuration. Standard designs limit all 4 main PCIe lanes to x8 (64Gb/s) bandwidth, but thanks to the onboard external clock generator combined with the direct connection of one of the x16 lanes to the CPU (switchless design), GIGABYTE X99 motherboards can unlock the full bandwidth available and provide the best graphics bandwidth possible to the user.

OC Brace

OC Brace allows extreme overclockers and system testers to safely install up to four graphics cards in an open case or test bed without risking PCIe slot damage or preventing cards not showing up in the OS due to poor contact with PCIe slot. OC Brace is a simple and elegant way to give robust installation support to full sized graphics cards in extreme multi-GPU configurations.

Turbo M.2 Technology

GIGABYTE X99 SOC motherboards feature a Turbo M.2 socket to provide compact connectivity for SSD devices. Thanks to the unique design from the X99 chipset, 4 PCIe (Gen.2) lanes can be allocated to the M.2 socket, unlocking up to 20 Gb/s of bandwidth. Turbo M.2 offers considerably faster storage performance than current mSATA and even SATA Revision 3 (6Gb/s) storage devices.

Next Generation SATA Express Connector

GIGABYTE X99 series motherboards feature an onboard SATA Express connector which provides performance far superior to that of current SATA technologies. SATA Express features data transfer rates of up to 10Gb/s, considerably higher than SATA Revision 3 (6Gb/s), which won’t bottleneck faster NAND flash technologies in cutting edge SSDs. SATA Express combines the benefits of PCI-Express and SATA to provide much higher bandwidth, allowing SATA Express based drives to perform at similar speeds as PCI-Express based drives.

6x (30µ) Gold Plating

GIGABYTE X99 motherboards come equipped with a 30 micron thick gold plating for the CPU socket, 4 PCIe slots and over the 8 DIMM slots, which means that enthusiasts can enjoy better connectivity, absolute reliability and longevity for the diverse connectors overtime, without having any concerns about corroded pins and bad contacts.

Safer Design Around Screw Mounting Holes

Don’t worry anymore about accidental damage while mounting your motherboard to you chassis. GIGABYTE X99 motherboards all feature a wider copper ground pad and onboard components free area around the PCB screw mounting holes. This exclusive design reduces the chances of damaging any surrounding onboard components during the PC assembly process. Bigger copper ground pads also provide the added benefit of lower EMI disturbance for reduced noise interference across your system.

Long Lifespan Durable Black™ Solid Caps

GIGABYTE X99 series motherboards integrate the absolute best quality solid state capacitors that are rated to perform at maximum efficiency for extended periods, even in extreme performance configurations. This provides peace of mind for end users who want to push their system hard, yet demand absolute reliability and stability. With ultra-low ESR no matter how high the CPU loading, these exclusive capacitors also come in customized jet black, exclusively on GIGABYTE X99 series motherboards.

2x Copper PCB Design(2 oz Copper PCB)

GIGABYTE’s exclusive 2X Copper PCBs design provides sufficient power trace paths between components to handle greater than normal power loads and to remove heat from the critical CPU power delivery area. This is essential to ensure the motherboard is able to handle the increased power loading that is necessary when overclocking.

Realtek ALC1150 115dB SNR HD Audio with Built-in Rear Audio Amplifier

The Realtek ALC1150 is a high-performance multi-channel High Definition Audio Codec that delivers an exceptional audio listening experience with up to 115dB SNR, ensuring users get the best possible audio quality from their PC.

The ALC1150 provides ten DAC channels that simultaneously support 7.1-channel sound playback, plus 2 channels of independent stereo sound output (multiple streaming) through the front panel stereo outputs. Two stereo ADCs are integrated and can support a microphone array with Acoustic Echo Cancellation (AEC), Beam Forming (BF), and Noise Suppression (NS) technologies. The ALC1150 incorporates Realtek proprietary converter technology to achieve Front differential output 115dB Signal-to-Noise ratio (SNR) playback (DAC) quality and 104dB SNR recording (ADC) quality.

All New Heat Sink with LED Design

GIGABYTE X99 series motherboards feature new heat sink designs that offer uncompromisingly efficient cooling on key areas of the motherboard including the PWM area and chipset (PCH). GIGABYTE X99 Series motherboards offer cooling support of the crucial PWM area so even the most aggressive and extreme configurations will be kept well within optimal thermal parameters.

Ambient LED

GIGABYTE X99 motherboards feature LED lighting for the audio guard light path, providing a cool, custom look to your rig. These lights are now programmable, so you can have them beat to the rhythm of the music you are listening to, or pulse at a soothing pace to create a great atmosphere to enhance the environment of your game, movie or music.

GIGABYTE Patented DualBIOS™ Design

GIGABYTE DualBIOS™ means that you motherboard has both a ‘Main BIOS’ and a ‘Backup BIOS’, making users protected from BIOS failure due to virus attack, hardware malfunction, improper OC settings or power failure during the update process.

Q-Flash Plus

Do you have the latest CPU supported by your GIGABYTE motherboard but do not have the latest BIOS installed yet? This is no longer a problem with the new Q-Flash Plus feature. By simply downloading the latest BIOS and renaming it on a USB thumb drive, and plugging it into the dedicated port, you can now flash the BIOS automatically without the need to press any buttons or even the need of onboard memory or CPU. Utilizing the ITE EC 8951E controller, GIGABYTE X99 motherboard BIOS can be updated even if your system is unable to boot. An LED next to the EC controller will notify you once the procedure is complete and you are ready to boot your system normally.

Intel® Gigabit LAN

Intel® Gigabit LAN networking, a popular choice with gamers, delivers several performance-enhancing features such as advanced interrupt handling to help reduce CPU overhead and Jumbo Frame support for extra large data packets.

Additional GIGABYTE X99 series motherboards feature cFos Speed, a network traffic management application which helps to improve network latency, maintaining low ping times to deliver better responsiveness in a crowded LAN environment. cFos Speed works in a similar way to an OS driver, monitoring network traffic packets at the application layer, allowing optimization and improved network performance for specific applications.

Thunderbolt™ Ready

GIGABYTE X99 brings the expandability needed to make your system the ultimate one with an onboard pin header to accommodate the addition of a GIGABYTE Thunderbolt™ add-in card. The Thunderbolt™ controller can provide bandwidth of up to 20 Gb/s, compared to a max of 10 Gb/s on previous generation designs. This allows for incredible data transfer speeds when using high performance storage devices, while also supporting daisy-chaining of up to 12 devices and triple digital display support.

Intel® Core™ i7 Extreme Edition CPUs(Haswell-E)

Intel® Core™ i7 Extreme Edition Processors are Intel’s first 8 core desktop CPUs and is the first to support DDR4 memory. These next generation 22nm CPUs delivers greater performance and energy efficiency as well as the industry’s highest level of discrete graphics performance by sporting 40 PCIe Gen.3 lanes, which GIGABYTE X99 motherboards are able to take full advantage of, delivering bandwidth totaling 320 Gb/s for the most demanding gamers or graphics intensive creation tasks such as video editing. On top of that, Intel® Core™ i7 Extreme Edition CPUs deliver 8 core (16 threaded) multitask processing, higher frequencies, as well as larger cache size.

Additionally, GIGABYTE X99 users can draw even more performance out of their Extreme Edition CPUs, as they are fully unlocked for overclocking. With enhanced overclocking oriented options available on all GIGABYTE X99 series motherboards, users will be able to take full advantage of all the performance potential of Intel Extreme Edition CPUs.

4 Channel DDR4

The next generation of DRAM is here with DDR4. Featuring stock frequencies starting at 2133 MHz, DDR4 delivers up to 20% less energy consumption and twice as much density as the previous generation DDR3. DDR4 can help GIGABYTE X99 users to load their programs faster, increase responsiveness of their system and help them to handle heavy data tasks in a flash. GIGABYTE X99 motherboards provide 4 Channel DDR4 memory support across the entire range, bringing exceptionally fast memory access.

GIGABYTE APP Center

The GIGABYTE APP Center gives you easy access to a wealth of GIGABYTE apps that help you get the most from your GIGABYTE motherboard. Using a simple, unified user interface, GIGABYTE APP Center allows you to easily launch all GIGABYTE apps installed on your system, check related updates online, and download the latest apps, drivers, and BIOS.

Remote OC

Remote OC allows users to remotely control their desktop PC with a powerful suite of software functions that Include overclocking and system tweaking, system monitoring plus the ability to also remotely power down/reset the PC when needed.

Auto Green

Auto Green is an easy-to-use tool that provides users with simple options to enable system power savings via a Bluetooth-enabled smart phone/tablet device. When the device is out of the range of the computer’s Bluetooth receiver, the system will enter the specified power saving mode.

 

That is certainly a long list of features, which we will explore later.  Let us take a look at the product specifications and packaging next.

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