On June 19, Intel removed the mystery from the X299 chipset, which became the base of the platform with the Kaby Lake-X and Skylake-X processors , at the same time we published detailed information about the motherboard Gigabyte X299 AORUS Gaming 7. Meanwhile, the sample of the motherboard entered our test lab, so it’s time to consider it in more detail. You will learn all the details in our full test.
At the moment, Gigabyte offers five LGA2066 motherboards: X299 UD4, X299 AORUS Gaming 3, X299 AORUS Ultra Gaming, X299 AORUS Gaming 7 and X299 AORUS Gaming 9. The X299 UD4 model was the only one in the Ultra Durable line, all the rest belong to the AORUS family.
Motherboard X299 AORUS Gaming 7 refers to the high-end segment, it is equipped quite well. There are five mechanical PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, three M.2 interfaces and eight SATA 6 Gb / s ports on the board. In addition, there are five USB 3.1 Gen2 ports, six USB 3.1 Gen1 and USB 2.0 ports. Network support for the X299 Gaming 7 is represented by two Gigabit LAN ports, a WLAN module and Bluetooth.
Gigabyte motherboards have, for the most part, black color. Unless the radiators and the casing of the I / O panel on the Z270 motherboards were white. With the new X299 platform, Gigabyte again changed its appearance. In terms of size, the board corresponds to the full ATX format.
In addition to the motherboard, the package includes:
In addition to the usual I / O stubs, motherboard and support disc manuals, Gigabyte added four SATA cables, a WLAN antenna, a 2-way SLI-HB bridge and a G-Connector. There are two LED extensions, two puffs, two thermistor cables and three screws for M.2 slots.
With the X299 chipset, Intel created a technical analogue of the modern Z270 PCH for the LGA1151 socket. Compared to the X99 PCH, which offered only eight Gen2 lines, the X299 chipset provides 24 Gen3 lines. Add to them up to 44 Gen3 lines from the LGA2066 processor, as a result, we get a good basis for connecting various interfaces and controllers. The X299 PCH chipset provides up to eight SATA 6 Gb / s ports.
The X299 chipset provides 14 USB ports, of which up to ten first-generation USB 3.1 interfaces are available. The connection between CPU and PCH is performed via the DMI 3.0 (Direct Media Interface) interface with four Gen3 lines, as in the case of Intel 100 and 200 chipsets for Socket LGA1151. Therefore, the throughput in theory also amounts to a maximum of 32 Gbit / s.
The power of the LGA2066 processor provides nine phases, eight of which are allocated to the voltage of the CPU VRIN. The ninth phase is for the CPU System Agent. Gigabyte has installed eight high-quality PowIRstage MOSFETs such as IR3556M and one IR3553M.
To ensure that the power subsystem does not become a bottleneck in overclocking, Gigabyte has installed two 8-pin EPS12V sockets. According to Roman Khartung (der8auer) , the extreme overclocking of Skylake-X processors without them is really problematic. To cool VRM Taiwanese manufacturer installed a system of heat pipes, providing adequate cooling during acceleration.
It should be noted that one 8-pin socket is sufficient for the standard operation of the system without overclocking. Only in the case of (intensive) overclocking to the motherboard should be connected, at least, another 4-pin plug. Or use two 8-pin, as in the case of Gigabyte X299 AORUS Gaming 7.
To the left and to the right of the CPU socket are four memory DDR4 DIMM slots, which allow to install up to 64 GB of RAM in the case of Kaby Lake-X processors and up to 128 GB with Skylake-X processors. If Core i5-7640X or Core i7-7740X processors are used, then memory can be installed only in four DIMMs to the right of the socket.
The left photo shows the IR35201 PWM controller from International Rectifier. The controller IR35204 on the right is responsible only for the voltage of the System Agent.
X299 AORUS Gaming 7 is equipped with five mechanical PCIe 3.0 x16 slots for expansion cards. With the exception of one slot, all four work from the LGA2066 CPU. As usual, the distribution of lines depends on the CPU used. The corresponding table is presented below.
For drives other than eight SATA 6 Gb / s ports, there are three M.2 interfaces (M-Key).In the case of the middle slot M.2, there are no restrictions, but the upper and lower use shared resources.
For the top slot, the only limitation is the first SATA port (SATA3 0), if the module is running in SATA mode. SATA ports 4 through 7 share resources with the lower slot, regardless of whether the module is running in PCIe or SATA mode.
The I / O panel is equipped with the following interfaces:
Gigabyte did not install on the X299 AORUS Gaming 7 10 Gbps port. But the motherboard is equipped with two Gigabit LAN interfaces. One works from the controller Rivet Networks Killer E2500, the second – from Intel I219-V-PHY, which is well-known on various motherboards LGA1151. Also on the board is integrated wireless module Rivet Networks Killer Wireless AC-1535. It also supports Bluetooth in version 4.1.
In addition to the PS / 2 port, there are two USB 2.0 and two USB 3.1 Gen1, and as many as five USB 3.1 second-generation. The latter are divided into four Type A ports and one Type C. White USB 3.1 Gen1 port is designed for the Q-Flash Plus function, which allows updating the BIOS without the installed processor and memory. Of course, there were five analog 3.5 mm audio ports and one TOSLink optical output.
Audio ports are connected to the Realtek ALC1220 sound processor. It is complemented by the DAC ESS Saber 9018, four WIMA and five audio capacitors. There is also an amplifier for headphones with a resistance of up to 600 Ohm, so the sound should be at a good level.
In the picture, you can see two network controllers: on the left is the Intel I219-V, on the right is the Killer E2500 of Rivet Networks. Both provide a maximum theoretical throughput of up to 1 Gb / s, but without combining channels. Chip Killer E2500 is optimized for minimal delays in online games. In any case, the user has the choice over which network controller to perform the connection.
There were no additional chips. Among the novelties is the Realtek RTS5423, a 4-port USB 3.1 Gen2 hub that provides four Red Type A ports on the I / O panel. The Type C interface works through the ASMedia ASM3142 controller (centered). On the right is a 4-port USB 3.1 Gen1 hub, namely the RTS5411. It provides four USB 3.1 Gen1 ports
Of course, a high-end motherboard is hard to imagine without integrated buttons. To the left of the two USB 2.0 combs are four integrated buttons: power, reset, OC and ECO.The OC button provides automatic overclocking of the system, and ECO – maximum efficiency. On the right, a diagnostic display and a CMOS clear button are installed.
Four LED indicators are available for the video card, CPU, memory, and boot status. Of course, the chip is soldered to the Super I / O chip, namely IT8686E from ITE-Tech. On the left you can see the chip that provides the Q-Flash Plus function.
In general, we liked the layout of the motherboard. All interfaces can be easily reached.The I / O panel cover can be removed if necessary. As for the connectors for the fans, there are eight of them on the Gigabyte X299 AORUS Gaming 7: two FAN CPUs and six for the case fans. All connectors can be controlled.
There are RGB LEDs on the PCB. Moreover, not only the motherboard, but also the I / O panel are equipped with LED backlighting.
Gigabyte X299 AORUS Gaming 7 was shipped with the early BIOS version F3. As in the case of the Ryzen platform, Skylake-X has a very important new version of the BIOS.Through Instant Flash, we installed the latest version of the F7a at the time of the tests, in which there were several improvements:
The interface UEFI was copied 1: 1 from the LGA1151 motherboard for the current Intel Kaby Lake platform. In UEFI, you can choose between Easy and Advanced modes. In the upper left corner you can see basic information, including the motherboard model and the BIOS version, the installed CPU, the clock speeds and memory capacity. The temperature of the CPU and system, CPU voltage is displayed. So the user immediately after the assembly can determine, for example, whether there are any problems with the cooling system.
In the “EZ OC” item, you can select the operating mode. In addition to the Normal mode, other options are available, for example, Eco and Performance. Also information is displayed about occupied DIMM slots with clock frequencies and busy SATA ports. If necessary, you can change the boot order by simply migrating. There is also an option for activation of Intel Rapid Storage Technology. You can see the connected fans and their speeds. Using the Smart FAN function, you can set the fan performance curve manually
In the first menu item “MIT” the overclocking settings are available. There are six sub-items with the appropriate settings. The “System” tab displays information about the motherboard model, current BIOS version, time and date. You can also change the language here. In the corresponding BIOS item, you can find the boot process settings.All information about the embedded components of the motherboard along with the settings is made in the item “Peripherals”. But for the settings of the chipset Gigabyte decided to select a separate tab. Next is the “Power” tab with the power settings. The purpose of the last tab “Save & Exit” is clear by name.
Navigation through the UEFI interface is quite convenient with the keyboard and mouse.And you can adjust the sensitivity of the mouse. All settings worked correctly. The biggest limitation of the current BIOS version is the small number of memory latency settings, as well as the meager RAM overclocking capabilities.
Gigabyte X299 AORUS Gaming 7 is great for overclocking. The VRM radiator is connected to another radiator via a heat pipe. Additional power is supplied via two 8-pin EPS12V sockets. Add to this the BIOS functions implemented by Gigabyte.
The BIOS allows you to change the BCLK frequency from 80 MHz to 500 MHz in steps of 0.01 MHz. With the advent of a new bus with grid topology, the corresponding voltage was added. In addition to the VRIN voltage, it is possible to set the CPU Core voltage in Override and Offset modes. Regarding the numerical data, the range is from 0.500 V to 1.700 V, as well as from -0.300 V to +0.400 V. The step is relatively small – only 0.001 V.
We will devote a separate article to the overclocking of Skylake-X processors.
Overclocking memory, we did not encounter any surprises. Profiles of the Extreme Memory Profile were recognized correctly, with manual overclocking problems also did not occur, we even were able to slightly reduce the delay. The voltage of the VDIMM was 1.35 V.
With X299 motherboards, Gigabyte also uses the “EasyTune” overclocking utility. It provides the ability to overclock the system directly under Windows.
In the automatic OC mode, the processor frequency increases automatically, which can be recommended for beginners. Alternatively, there are modes “ECO” and “AutoTuning”.If you want to make manual settings, all the necessary options are listed on the “Advanced CPU OC” page. Here you can adjust the base frequency, CPU multipliers and voltages. The next tab is devoted to overclocking memory, there is the possibility of adjusting the main delays. Finally, on the “Advanced Power” tab, you can configure the power and voltage subsystem parameters. If required, the selected settings can be automatically activated when the system boots.Page 6: Gigabyte X299 AORUS Gaming 7 | Energy consumption
Today, the issue of PC power consumption is quite relevant, and the difference in power consumption between motherboards is much more common than the difference in performance. On the one hand, it can be connected to the BIOS, where the power saving functions of Intel can be implemented incompletely or incorrectly. Or simply disabled by default. Or inactive integrated components, when they are replaced by additional chips or simply not used, do not shut down and continue to consume energy. The power plan also contributes to overall energy consumption, because it can give more power than required by the components. And the efficiency (efficiency) of the power system is also very important. If the efficiency is low, the system consumes more power from the power supply. The role of program management should not be underestimated, the entire food system should be balanced and coordinated to ensure acceptable efficiency.
On the motherboard Gigabyte X299 AORUS Gaming 7 there are many additional controllers. You can note two LAN controllers, two USB 3.1 Gen2 controllers, a USB 3.1 Gen2 hub, a USB 3.1 Gen1 hub and an audio codec, all of which contribute to the overall power consumption of the system.
We measured the power consumption of the system in idle mode for Windows, and also with the full 2D load of Cinebench 15 and Prime95 (torture test, full load). Below is the power consumption for the entire system.
In the first test run, we left all the default settings when most of the integrated components of the motherboard are active. We used the video card Radeon R9 380. As we already noted above, all power saving functions were enabled, we did not make any manual optimization.
In the idle mode, we get a tangible difference between the two motherboards. In the case of Gigabyte X299 AORUS Gaming 7, the motherboard consumed 71.1 watts along with the rest of the system, the result of the ASUS Strix X299-E Gaming motherboard is less – 59.1 W.
Under load, the difference between motherboards was only 6.3 watts. In any case, thanks to the “voracious” Core i9-7900X processor, we received power consumption of about 250 watts.
The CPU voltage on both motherboards did not correspond to the actual level.Nevertheless, we should wait for the release of more recent versions of utilities. In our case, the voltage VRIN was output. We plan to update the results as soon as the utilities appear, correctly displaying the voltage.
Since most users do not need all built-in controllers, we ran another test run, during which only the LAN controller and the audio chip were activated from the integrated components. All additional controllers USB 3.0 and SATA we disconnected. The motherboard still set the voltage levels automatically, but we manually set all the energy-saving functions. We still used the video card Radeon R9 380.
With both motherboards, we were able to reduce power consumption by turning off the LED-backlight and other components. In idle mode, we were able to save 2.5 watts. In the case of the ASUS Strix X299-E Gaming motherboard, the savings were four watts.
Changes with an incorrectly displayed voltage did not occur. We plan to update the results as soon as the utilities appear, correctly displaying the voltage.
As you can see, the X299 system with the Core i9-7900X CPU consumes quite a lot of power compared to the previous generation CPU of the Core i7-6950X. The reason, among other things, lies in the rather high frequency of Turbo for all 4 GHz cores.However, for the HEDT platform, high power consumption is quite expected, yet ten physical cores with SMT support at high clock speeds consume a lot.
Motherboard Gigabyte X299 AORUS Gaming 7 is equipped with six interfaces USB 3.1 Gen2. Two are connected via two ASMedia ASM3142 controllers, the remaining four are through the Realtek RTS5423 USB 3.1 Gen2 hub. The four ports are type A, one is Type C, another port is internal.
As you can see, the throughput of USB 3.1 Gen2 from the host controller ASM3142 and the RTS5423 hub was unstable. However, the reason may be in our external snap-in with two SSD SATA 6 Gbit / s in RAID 0. Most of the time we were getting high performance USB 3.1 Gen2. The new ASM3142 controller from ASMedia has shown the read speed of the RAID 0 array to 931 MB / s, the write speed is up to 853 MB / s.
The Realtek RTS5423 also worked quite fast, with a read speed of up to 880 MB / s and a write speed of up to 855 MB / s.
Gigabyte X299 AORUS Gaming 7 is equipped with eight USB 3.1 Gen1 ports. There are four ports on the I / O panel, access to the remaining four can be obtained through two combs. Four ports on the I / O panel are connected to the Realtek RTS5411 hub, four internal interfaces to the X299 PCH chipset. For USB 3.1 Gen1 tests, we used the same solution as for USB 3.1 Gen2.
The performance was at a high level both in the case of the X299 PCH chipset and the 3.1 Gen1 USB hub from Realtek. We got a reading speed of up to 440 MB / s and a write speed of up to 465 MB / s.
On the motherboard Gigabyte X299 AORUS Gaming 7 there are eight SATA ports 6 Gb / s. All eight ports are connected to the X299 chipset in native mode. For the tests, we used the SanDisk Extreme 120 drive, which was connected directly to the SATA ports.
The performance of SATA chipset X299 did not raise any complaints. The read speed was up to 559 MB / s, the write speed was up to 526 MB / s.
On the X299 platform, we continued the M.2 tests. On the motherboard Gigabyte X299 AORUS Gaming 7 there are three M.2 slots. As with the LGA1151 platform, M.2 interfaces get their lines from the chipset, the theoretical bandwidth is up to 32 Gb / s. For testing the M.2 slot, we used the Samsung SSD SM961 with a capacity of 256 GB and 8 cm in length. Samsung indicates for its drive a reading speed of 3.100 MB / s and a write speed of 1.400 MB / s. SSD supports the NVMe protocol version 1.2, the connection is performed over four Gen3 lines.
Tests M.2 showed not the best result. Of course, the read speed was up to 2.700 MB / s, but other platforms usually show more. In addition, over time, reading performance declined.
And there was no problem with overheating. Even after forced cooling the M.2 module with a 140-mm fan at 1,500 rpm, we could not get better results. But the performance of recording was always quite high – 1.534 MB / s.
Except for minor performance issues (see the previous page), the Gigabyte X299 AORUS Gaming 7 motherboard has performed well. The LGA2066 motherboard is great for the five announced Core-X processors , in the future Gigabyte will introduce an updated BIOS for the “older” Skylake-X models. Professional overclocker Roman Hartung (der8auer) criticized the X299 platform , since many motherboards are equipped with a too weak power subsystem, and the VRM radiators also cope with the cooling of the MOSFET during overclocking.
But with the motherboard Gigabyte X299 AORUS Gaming 7 such problems are unlikely to arise, since the Taiwanese manufacturer has equipped the ATX motherboard with two 8-pin EPS12V connectors, and another radiator has been connected to the radiator VRM through the heat pipe. The motherboard has nine high-quality PowIRstage MOSFETs from International Rectifier, eight provide CPU voltage, and one more – System Agent voltage.
Motherboard X299 AORUS Gaming 7 is equipped with eight DDR4 DIMM slots (of which only four can be used with Kaby Lake-X processors), which allows installing up to 64 GB of memory with Kaby Lake-X processors and up to 128 GB with Skylake-X processors.Gigabyte indicates that you can install up to 512 GB using the RDIMM slats. But you need a CPU with an appropriate memory controller that supports ECC. Desktop Core X processors do not apply to them.
For video cards and other expansion cards, Gigabyte provided five mechanical PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, which together with the Skylake-X processor (28/44 Gen3 lines) allow up to three video cards with an x16 connection. If the Kaby Lake-X processor is used (16 Gen3 lines), then the number of video cards is limited to two, for each eight Gen3 lines are fed.In addition, even with the installation of one video card with Kaby Lake-X processors, only eight Gen3 lines will be fed to it. In any case, buying Kaby Lake-X processors hardly makes sense .
For connecting drives, eight SATA 6 Gb / s ports and three M.2 M-Key slots are available.Two M.2 slots use shared resources (see the second overview page). As for USB, six USB 3.1 ports of the second generation are available. From innovations it is possible to note 4-port concentrator Realtek RTS5423, supporting specification USB 3.1 Gen2. There are eight USB 3.1 ports of the first generation and four USB 2.0.
As for network connections, users will have a choice between two Gigabit LAN ports, the first of which is provided by Intel I219-V controller, and the second one is Killer E2500 from Rivet Networks. There is also support for a wireless network through the Killer Wireless-AC 1535 module, which also supports Bluetooth 4.1. The audio subsystem is represented by an audio processor Realtek ALC1220 with ESS ES9018Q2C DAC, seven audio capacitors and four WIMA. The board has five 3.5 mm connectors and one TOSLink audio out.
For fans of lighting Gigabyte installed a large number of RGB LEDs, which are integrated into the RGB Fusion system. If the backlight does not suit you, you can easily turn it off in the BIOS. UEFI has a familiar interface, navigation is possible using the keyboard and mouse. The settings are complete, they work correctly. The power consumption of the Gigabyte X299 motherboard turned out to be higher than the ASUS Strix X299-E Gaming. But it is also equipped richer.
Price Gigabyte X299 Gaming AORUS 7 is quite high – from 32.4 thousand rubles or 442 euros . But the X299 platform itself is expensive, it concerns both the processor and the motherboard. Gigabyte X299 Gaming AORUS 7 is well equipped and made technically smart. It will be an excellent basis for Intel’s high-end platform.
With the motherboard Gigabyte X299 AORUS Gaming 7 the buyer will receive a well-equipped model X299, ready for overclocking. But the price is appropriate.