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GIGABYTE GA-Z97X Gaming 7 Motherboard Review

rakesh_sharma23

In the zone
GIGABYTE GA-Z97X Gaming 7 Motherboard Review
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Gigabyte have released it Z97 gaming series of motherboard supporting Intel’s Haswell CPUs and upcoming Intel’s Broadwell CPUs, for all you gamers and pc enthusiasts. Starting from topnotch GA-Z97X-Gaming G1 WIF Black Edition board to a decent GA-Z97X-Gaming 3 board. Till now we have reviewed the monster GA-Z97X-Gaming G1 WIF Black Edition Motherboard, which is indeed one of the best motherboard I have seen so far and GA-Z97X-Gaming GT Motherboard.


Today we are taking a closer look at our third Gigabyte Z97 gaming motherboard. The Gigabyte GA-Z97X-Gaming 7 motherboard, falling in between the highest and lowest range of gaming series board at Rs.18K pricing.


Now let’s see what this new Intel Z97 chipset gaming board have for us.


Package
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Looking at the front of the box, we see Gigabyte logo with motherboard model no. At the rear of the box, we find that Gigabyte goes into great detail on the specifications of the motherboard.
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Inside the box
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Looks
Board is a solid build in the same black and red colour theme as all Gigabyte’s Gaming series boards are.
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Features



  • Supports 4th and 5th Generation Intel® Core™ processors
  • Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi MB3 gaming audio suite
  • Audio Noise Guard with LED path lighting
  • Gold plated display and audio ports
  • High end Nichicon audio capacitors
  • Realtek ALC1150 115dB SNR HD Audio with Built-in rear audio amplifier
  • Killer™ E2200 gaming networking platform
  • Extreme multi graphics support
  • SATA Express support for 10 Gb/s data transfer
  • M.2 for SSDs drives with up to 10 Gb/s data transfer
  • Long lifespan Durable Black Solid caps
  • APP Center including EasyTune™ and Cloud Station™ utilities
  • GIGABYTE UEFI DualBIOS™



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Specifications
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Layout
Detailed layout of board.
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1. Intel LGA 1150 socket, supporting current 4th generation and 5th generation CPU.
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5x (15μ) Gold Plated CPU Socket Design. GIGABYTE 9 Series motherboards come equipped with a gold plated CPU socket, which means that enthusiasts can enjoy absolute reliability and longevity for the CPU socket overtime, without having any concerns about corroded pins and bad contacts.
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2. 4 x DIMM slots supporting maximum 32GB of 1600/1333MHz DDR3 or up to 3200(O.C.) DDR3 memory.
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3. ATX Power connector (24-pin EATXPWR)
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4. ATX CPU Power Connector (8-pin ATX12V).
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5. Back Panel Connectors 1 x PS/2 mouse port, 1 x PS/2 Keyboard port, 1 x D-Sub port, 1 x DVI-D port, 1 x HDMI port, 4 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports, 4 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports, 1 x RJ-45 port, 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector, 5 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out, Rear Speaker Out, Line In, Line Out, Mic In)
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6. 7. 11. 13. 1 x CPU Fan, 1 x CPU OPT Fan and 4 x System Fan Connectors
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8. Front USB 3 Port.
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9.1 x SATA Express connector, 8 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
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10. System Front panel Connector
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12. 2 x USB 2.0 Connectors
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14. Serial Port and TPM Connector
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15. Front panel Audio connector and SPDIF out port.
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16. M.2 PCIe connector
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17. Expansion Slots.
1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16 (PCIEX16)* For optimum performance, if only one PCI Express graphics card is to be installed, be sure to install it in the PCIEX16 slot.1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x8 (PCIEX8)* The PCIEX8 slot shares bandwidth with the PCIEX16 slot. When the PCIEX8 slot is populated, the PCIEX16 slot will operate at up to x8 mode.1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x4 (PCIEX4)* The PCIEX4 slot shares bandwidth with the PCIEX8 and PCIEX16 slots. When the PCIEX4 slot is populated, the PCIEX16 slot will operate at up to x8 mode and the PCIEX8 will operate at up to x4 mode.* When installing a x8 or above card in the PCIEX4 slot, make sure to set PCIE Slot Configuration (CPU) in BIOS Setup to x4. (Refer to Chapter 2, "BIOS Setup," "Peripherals," for more information.)(The PCIEX16, PCIEX8 and PCIEX4 slots conform to PCI Express 3.0 standard.)3 x PCI Express x1 slots(The PCI Express x1 slots conform to PCI Express 2.0 standard.)1 x PCI slot
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Removing Heat-sinks
Gigabyte used dense aluminum heatsink in this board. Heatsinks base is having thermal pad installed. VRM heatsink are secured in place using plastic spring locks.
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Component Layout
Let’s now see what all components Gigabyte have planned for this board.
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1. 2. CPU voltage regulator circuit has high end 10K Durable Black solid capacitors. IR3563 is IR (International Rectifier) 8-phase single output PWM Controller IC, controlling Vishay SiRA12DP MOSFETS (each package limited to 25A . It’s a 4-phase x 2 VRM where IR3598 is being used as a doublers IC.
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3. 2-Phase digital memory power supply section. IR 3570A is IR (International Rectifier) Dual output 4+1 and 3+2 phase PWM Controllers.
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4. Asmedia ASM 1442K chip managing output display ports.
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5. The NXP Semiconductors PTN3360D HDMI / DVI level shifter.
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6. Qualcomm Killer E2201 is a more integrated E2200 NPU. Providing the NPU, the PHY and all the other components in one 40-pin IC, a high-performance, adaptive gigabit Ethernet controller that offers better online gaming and online media performance compared to standard solutions.
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7. Marvell 88SE9172-NNX2 controllers provide the additional SATA 6 Gb/s connectivity.
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8. Intel Z97 Express Chipset.
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9. NXP Semiconductors L04083B is a 4 differential channel, 2-to-1 multiplexer / demultiplexer switch for PCI Express Generation 3.
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10. IT8892E is a single-function PCI Express to PCI bridge chip.
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11. ITE IT8620e is SuperIO chip monitors temperatures, voltages and other key metrics for normal operation and overclocking.
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12. Gigabyte uses two SPI chip labeled MXIC MX 2SL12873F a capacity of 128 Mb for storing UEFI BIOS.
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13. 14. Gigabyte AMP-UP Audio is powered by Realtek ALC1150 (under the EMI shield) 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.
A semi-transparent line on motherboard separates the whole audio section from the rest of the board in order to minimize interference. Audio section is having premium Nichicon Gold Capacitors 100uf/6.3v for audio filtration. In addition Gigabyte used one N5532 Op-amp for rear audio amplification. So licensing under Stereo mode produces high audio quality with excellent dynamic range.
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GIGABYTE G1™ Gaming motherboards also include Sound Blaster X-Fi MB3 software suite. Sound Blaster X-Fi MB3 software suite is a powerful audio platform offering premium audio quality, effects and features for gamers. It features SBX Pro Studio™ suite of technologies, which is designed to give you the fullest audio experience.
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RightMark Audio Analyzer (RMAA) suite is used for testing Gigabyte AMP-UP High Definition audio against Asus Xonar DX Sound card. You can see clearly the difference between Noise level, dynamic rang and Total harmonic distortion percentage produced by AMP-UP Audio.
RMAA Asus Xonar DX
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RMAA AMP-UP Audio
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Testing
Test system configuration - Intel i7-4790K, 8GB Kingston HyperX Fury 1600Mhz RAM, Corsair H100i cooler, Samsung 830 SSD 256GB, Corsair RM1000 PSU, Asus HD-7750, Asus Xonar DX Sond Card, WD 1TB Green, HP DVD RW Drive.
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BIOS
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Bundled Softwares
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Overclocking
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Benchmarks
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Power Consumption
Wattage reading as per displayed by APC Pro 1000VA (Model no. BR1000G-IN) UPS.
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Pros

  • Good and easy OC with Easy Tune
  • Gold plated back I/O connectors
  • Multi GFX support
  • Affordable price tag



Cons

  • Spring loaded push-in type plastic locks for VRM Heatsink.
  • PCI Slot



Conclusion
Gigabyte Z97X-GAMING 7 performed great while Overclocking and we were able to OC Intel i7-4790K up to 4.6 GHz stable with just one click on Gigabyte EasyTune App.
With all gaming oriented feature like multi GPU support, SATA Express, M.2 connector and great audio, the Gigabyte Z97X-GAMING 7 satisfies both Gamers and Overclockers, at a very affordable price tag of Rs18K only.
At the conclusion I found Gigabyte Z97X-GAMING 7 is an affordable gaming motherboard, with superb build quality, offering great features.




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