The launch of Intel’s Broadwell-E processors were all motherboard manufacturers reason to refresh their offerings. In the past two years is indeed done enough, so the feature set again could use an update. Especially in the high-end segment of activity: for example, ASUS came up with a new version of the Rampage V Extreme, while the MSI Godlike Gaming issued a revision. Also the third major manufacturer we received a new sign: the Gigabyte X99-designare EX.
What we have since the launch of the X99 chipset, in August 2014, seen the news? RGB lighting in recent months, the main trend at the Computex trade show, we could not turn our ass if we were illuminated product display counter. Gigabyte has implemented the extensive, with both LEDs on the board as an RGB header for a loose strip. The u.2 connector for fast SSDs came, we also found on this motherboard. Finally, USB 3.1, an increasingly important feature: also present. In short, the new Gigabyte is completely up to date.
X99-designare EX is characterized by its distinctive design. Where many manufacturers opt for a largely black board – which matches with any backlight color that you can choose – are the large heat sinks and the I / O enclosure on the Gigabyte bright white, with here and there a blue accent. That Gigabyte stands out in any case, but the design should appeal to you, of course.
All the wonderful things we discuss in this and the following pages does have a hefty price tag: you pay an average of 489 euros for this motherboard. It’s also significantly cheaper than the Rampage V Edition 10 and the Godlike Gaming Carbon, but more expensive than the ASUS X99-Deluxe II.
The Gigabyte X99-designare EX is an ATX motherboard and has the usual eight DDR4 memory slots, where you just can install up to 128 GB of registered RAM or 256 GB. Among the socket are five reinforced with metal PCI-Express slots, four PCI-Express 3.0 lanes to get out of the chipset. The first three run on lanes 16, while the fourth slot runs in x8 mode. This is also possible on a CPU with 28 lanes, thanks to the present PLX-chip. If you have four video cards or M.2 / U.2 will use even get the first three locks only eight lanes of bandwidth. The last physical x16 slot never has a higher bandwidth than four PCI-Express 2.0 lanes, while there is also a x1 slot is available for a simple expansion card.
Under the roof between the first two PCIe slots are two M.2 slots clogged. The first is a normal M.2 2280 x4 slot for fast SSDs, but the other is a so-called one socket connector, where a WiFi module is installed. It is an Intel Wireless-AC 8260, an 802.11ac adapter with a maximum throughput of 867 Mbit / s. The wireless network uses two included antennas and also does Bluetooth 4.2. The wired connection is provided by chips from the stable of Intel. You can merge the two Gigabit Ethernet controllers to a single connection with a bandwidth of 2 gigabit.
On the other side of the chipset we find ten SATA600 connectors from the Intel chipset, six of which can be used for RAID. In addition, SATA Express and u.2 are soldered on the board, the last even in duplicate. The second u.2 connection does not work if you have a 28-lane CPU, so an i7 5820K or i7 6800K, used with this board. The SATA Express standard seems near death, but there would have to appear more u.2 SSDs in the future. At present there is only the Intel SSD 750.
USB is also plentiful. To begin with, of course, USB 3.1. The two gates, once and once Type-C Type-A, are controlled by an Intel chip. There 36 watts of power can be supplied via the Type-C connector. Eight USB 3.0 ports, four rear and four via two internal headers, coming from the hubchips Renesas. sits on the I / O panel also one USB 3.0 port which comes directly from the chipset. Finally, you can also find two USB 2.0 headers on the board.
One aspect that we have not yet discussed is the audio. The widely used Realtek ALC1150-codec is at the basis of the sound device, which Gigabyte promises to be a signal to noise ratio of 115 dB. Nichicon is the provider of the capacitors used. A headphone amplifier is not available. There is an optical S / PDIF out there, but DTS Connect and Dolby Digital Live is not supported.
On the next page we continue on the bundled software and the special features of the designare.
On the occasion of the Broadwell-E launch Gigabyte has designed a completely new interface for its BIOS. The graphic ‘easy mode’ undeniably is very similar to that of the ASUS UEFI Gigabyte has obviously a good look at the competition. It is in any case a user-friendly environment, less experienced computer users can easily adjust the most important settings in this mode, such as the boot sequence, fan settings, and RGB lighting.
Gigabyte provides its App Center along with the motherboard. That is the linchpin in the ecosystem of all the programs that are available, such as the System Information Viewer to set fans. You can moreover connect five fans on the board, but only the first three connectors supporting PWM actually.
RGB lighting is located at the I / O enclosure, the audio device, the M.2 slot and the chipset. He is controlled by the ambient LED software, which is simple in design. Of course you can turn on and off lights, but when you turn on the lights, you can also choose from three modes: continuous burning, pulsing and moving to the beat of the music you are playing. The latter function otherwise works fine and seemed more accurate response than we saw at ASUS.
We are also a fan of the color picker, which operates more intuitive than competing solutions and moreover the set color shows immediately. We must make the remark that the ASUS Aura software is even more extensive in terms of possible effects. The option to connect LED strip actually uses the same connector (s pin order + 12V G-R-B) and does the same as the on-board lighting.
Finally, Gigabyte provides a lot of accessories that include a block to connect the front panel connectors at once. We find a very useful addition. A nice finishing touch is that the included SATA cables sleeving are provided.
At high-end motherboard design plays a major role. Gigabyte distinguishes itself with many white accents in it. Where we fast WiFi cards, and USB 3.1 connectors u.2 often encounter in this segment, the PLX chip is also unique to Gigabyte. The advantage is that even with a 28-lane CPU 3-way SLI can run, but certainly in idle therefore runs the power consumption or further than competitors.
X99-designare EX is similar in feature set back all the time and we therefore have little to complain about. Sometimes implementation is somewhat rough: it S / PDIF, but not DTS Connect and Dolby Digital Live support to send out 5.1 surround example. Also, not all fan connectors PWM, although they are designed as 4-pin. And although working RGB lighting fine and we felt comfortable in using the software, he is not nearly as extensive as those of some other manufacturers.
Also in terms of price, the X99-designare EX falls somewhere between two stools. He is not as expensive as the Rampage V Edition 10 from ASUS and MSI X99A Godlike Gaming Carbon, but is more expensive than the ASUS X99-Deluxe II. Compared to the last plate – happens to be with a white theme – he still has some drawbacks. Thus, the wireless board that quickly, there DTS Connect support and features, the ASUS problem diagnosis and on-board buttons, we had to miss at Gigabyte. Actually, only the RGB lighting a distinct advantage of the Gigabyte, provided of course, that you can appreciate.
Furthermore, we would like to briefly mention one aspect, namely, the re-designed BIOS interface. The ‘easy mode’ is in our opinion well on improved, though Gigabyte has therefore does not too subtly given to the competition. However, we appreciate that many older Gigabyte X99-designare EX motherboards have now got a BIOS update with the new look, and that can certainly be said.