29 Apr, 2015   Rakesh Sharma    Reviews .  GIGABYTE GA-Z97X-Gaming 3 Motherboard Review

Gigabyte G1 Gaming Motherboard series with a tag line “BORN TO GAME”, is truly a gamer oriented motherboard series with handpicked features to provide gamers and enthusiast with best performance and great gaming experience. We have already reviewed some top of the line G1 Gaming Motherboards like Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK and Gigabyte X99 GAMING 5P .

Today we are reviewing entry level of Gigabyte G1 Gaming Motherboard series, the Gigabyte GA-Z97X GAMING 3 motherboard costing Rs.13K, a price tag where we can’t expect top-line features. But Gigabyte had done a great job in designing GA-Z97X GAMING 3 motherboard by providing all of the important features needed for great gaming experience at such an affordable cost.

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

Package

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.

Inside the box

Looks

Board is a solid build in the same black and red colour theme as all Gigabyte’s Gaming series boards are.

Features

  • Supports 4th and 5th Generation Intel® Core™ processors
  • Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi MB3 gaming audio suite
  • Audio Noise Guard with LED path lighting
  • 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 Solid caps
  • APP Center including EasyTune™ and Cloud Station™ utilities
  • GIGABYTE UEFI DualBIOS™

Specifications

Layout

Detailed layout of board.

1. Intel LGA 1150 socket, supporting current 4th generation and 5th generation CPU.

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.

2. 4 x DIMM slots supporting maximum 32GB of 1600/1333MHz DDR3 or up to 3200(O.C.) DDR3 memory.

3. ATX Power connector (24-pin EATXPWR)

4. ATX CPU Power Connector (8-pin ATX12V).

5. Back Panel Connectors : 1 x PS/2 keyboard port, 1 x PS/2 mouse port, 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector, 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, 5 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out, Rear Speaker Out, Line In, Line Out, Mic In)

6. 7. 11. 13. 1 x CPU Fan, 1 x CPU OPT Fan and 4 x System Fan Connectors

8. Front USB 3 Port.

9.1 x SATA Express connector, 6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors

10. System Front panel Connector

12. 2 x USB 2.0 Connectors

14. Serial Port and TPM Connector

15. Front panel Audio connector and SPDIF out port.

16. M.2 PCIe connector

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. (The PCIEX16 and PCIEX8 slots conform to PCI Express 3.0 standard.), 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x4 (PCIEX4)* The PCIEX4 slot shares bandwidth with all PCI Express x1 slots. All PCI Express x1 slots will become unavailable when a PCIe x4 expansion card is installed.* When installing a x8 or above card in the PCIEX4 slot, make sure to set PCIE Slot Configuration (PCH) in BIOS Setup to x4. (Refer to Chapter 2, "BIOS Setup," "Peripherals," for more information.), 3 x PCI Express x1 slots(The PCIEX4 and PCI Express x1 slots conform to PCI Express 2.0 standard.), 1 x PCI slot

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.

Component Layout

Let’s now see what all components Gigabyte have planned for this board.

1. 2. CPU voltage regulator circuit has Vishay SiRA12DP MOSFETS each package limited to 25A controlled by Intersil ISL95820 Hybrid Digital Four Phase PWM Controller.

3. 2-Phase digital memory power supply section using Vishay SiRA12DP MOSFETS and Richtek RT8120F controller chip.

4. Asmedia ASM 1442K chip managing output display ports.

5. The NXP Semiconductors PTN3360D HDMI / DVI level shifter.

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.

7. Gigabyte AMP-UP Audio is powered by 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.

A semi-transparent line on motherboard separates the whole audio section from the rest of the board in order to minimize interference. 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.

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.

RightMark Audio Analyzer (RMAA) suite is used for testing Gigabyte 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 Gigabyte High Definition audio.

RMAA Asus Xonar DX

RMAA Gigabyte AMP-UP Audio

8. NXP Semiconductors L04083B is a 4 differential channel, 2-to-1 multiplexer / demultiplexer switch for PCI Express Generation 3.

9. Intel Z97 Express Chipset.

10. Gigabyte uses two SPI chip labeled MXIC MX 2SL12873F a capacity of 128 Mb for storing UEFI BIOS.

11. ITE IT8620e is SuperIO chip monitors temperatures, voltages and other key metrics for normal operation and overclocking.

12. IT8892E is a single-function PCI Express to PCI bridge chip.

Testing

Test system configuration - Intel i7-4790K, 4GB Kingston 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.

BIOS

Bundled Softwares

Overclocking

Benchmarks

Power Consumption

Wattage reading as per displayed by APC Pro 1000VA (Model no. BR1000G-IN) UPS.

Pros

  • Good and easy OC
  • Multi GFX support
  • Great price tag
  • Killer E2200 LAN

Cons

  • Idle power consumption a bit high

Conclusion

Gigabyte GA-Z97X GAMING 3 is the entry level motherboard of G1 Gaming Motherboard series with good design and comfortable features with basic bundle. Also has good oveclocking power and stable performance, at just Rs. 13K price segment.

Due to Intersil ISL95820 VRM design, I think so the board has slight higher power consumption when CPU is overclocked but doing nothing just idle. Beside this the board is perfect for budget gaming build.

At the conclusion I found Gigabyte Z97X-GAMING 3 is a gaming motherboard, with superb build quality & features, also incorporates latest technologies like M.2 and Sata Express and all at an affordable price, worthy of our PC Tek INDIA Value Award.

Manufacturers Info

Site Link

Thanks.

Comments