Gigabyte’s Z97 motherboard line has been out for a while now, but they have recently introduced “Black Edition’s” to their Ultra Durable Z97 line. These motherboards include the Z97X-UD5H-Bk and Z97X-UD3H-BK. So what does the “Black Edition” mean? Gigabyte Black Edition motherboards have been tested for an extra 168 hours (7 days) to ensure premium quality. During the 168 hour test, each motherboard needs to pass rigorous, full system validation testing for 1 full week. GIGABYTE has built a custom testing facility at their Taiwan (Nanping) factory. A Certificate of Validation is included with every board, issued by the GIGABYTE factory and signed by the manufacturing VP & GM to indicate that each board has passed their highest test standards. The really shows Gigabyte’s commitment to quality and ensures your Black Edition motherboard will last. Today we are taking a look at the Z97X-UD3H-BK that features 3-way CrossFire or 2-way SLI, SATA Express support, Intel Gigabit Ethernet, M.2 support and much more. Let’s jump in!
Intel’s Haswell-E or X99 platform is of course their high-end desktop platform and is made for extreme setups. Well the X99 motherboard we are taking a look at today definitely fits that description. Today we are checking out our first X99 workstation motherboard and it comes from ASRock. It is the ASRock X99 WS and it has all of the features you would want in a high-end motherboard like 4-way SLI and CrossFireX support, a powerful 12 phase power design, server-grade LAN chip support, support for ECC memory, 10 SATA ports, an Ultra M.2 slot and of course ASRock’s Super Alloy design. You can build a pretty insane system with this motherboard, let’s take a look and see how it holds up to our tests.
MSI has distinguished themselves as having three major motherboard lines. The Classic Series which focuses on the mainstream, the Gaming Series which is geared towards gamers and the Overclocking Series which is made for overclockers and enthusiasts. We are very familiar with the Overclocking Series here at ThinkComputers as we reviewed the MSI Z97 MPower motherboard not that long ago. Today we will be looking at the X99 version of that motherboard the X99S MPower, which sits as the entry-level motherboard in MSI’s X99 Overclocking Series. This motherboard features overclocking specific features like going through MSI’s OC Certification process, MSI’s OC Engine, voltage check points, and of course MSI’s Military Class 4 components. On top of that you have great features like an Ultra M.2 slot with speeds up to 32 GB/s, DDR4 support, MSI’s Audio Boost chip and so much more.
I have always been a fan of Micro-ATX motherboards. They give you many of the same great features you find in ATX motherboards in a smaller form factor that is great for building a LAN rig. In the case of the Intel X99 chipset we have seen a couple of companies release Micro-ATX motherboards and EVGA is one such company. While having a Micro-ATX X99 motherboard does not take advantage of the extra PCI-Express lanes the platform offers you can easily run dual graphics (x16/x16) or 3-way graphics (x8/x8/x8) with the three included PCI-Express slots on this motherboard. On top of that you are going to get the higher CPU core count that the new Haswell-E processors have an DDR4 memory support. The EVGA X99 Micro also packs in six SATA 6GB/s ports, a 6 phase digital VRM, six USB 3.0 ports (4 rear / 2 header) and Intel Gigabit Ethernet. If you are looking to build an extreme LAN rig this could be the perfect motherboard for you. Read on as we check it out!
When you first look at this motherboard you think to yourself is this really a Gigabyte Gaming Motherboard? Yes, Gigabyte has ditched the neon green and black design and has opted to change their gaming line to a red and black design, which is common for gaming motherboards these days. Don’t let the color change fool you this motherboard is packed with features. First and foremost for gamers this motherboard is capable of 4-way multiple graphics card configuration thanks to the PLX PEX8747 chip, it has Killer E2200 networking platform for no-lag gaming, and AMP-UP audio technology for the best game sound. If that is not enough you also have SATA Express, gold-plated display and audio ports, and Gigabyte’s Ultra Durable design so you know this board is built with quality components. Let’s jump in!
MSI has a complete offering of Z97 motherboards so it is hard to really decide which motherboard to get. Well if you are an overclocker and want a board specifically designed for overclocking and stability then the board we are talking a look at today might be for you. The Z97 MPower is part of MSI’s overclocking series of motherboards and features a powerful 12 phase all digital power design, voltage checkpoints, MSI’s Military Class 4 components, MSI’s Audio Boost chip and much more. On top of all that it is one of the sexiest looking Z97 motherboards that we have seen so far. Read on as we dive in!
ASRock has had a partnership with the Fatal1ty brand for a while now. With the introduction of Intel’s Z97 chipset ASRock has released three Fatal1ty-branded motherboards, today we will be looking at the Fatal1ty Z97 Killer. Of course being Fatal1ty-branded we know that this board is going to cater to gamers. With that said it does offer gaming features like the Killer E2200 Intelligent Networking Platform, ASRock’s Gaming Armor which has loads of features, Purity Sound 2 audio, ASRock Key Master software and you even get a 3 month premium license of XSplit to stream and broadcast your gaming skills. Is this the next motherboard for you? Read on as we take a look…
The mini-ITX form factor has really exploded over the past year and both motherboard manufacturers and case makers have really caught up. Building a mini-ITX system means that it is going to be small and that you are going to be able to easily take it with you to LAN parties. Because of this we have seen many mini-ITX gaming motherboards. With Intel’s release of the 9-Series chipset of course we expected to see new mini-ITX motherboards and today we are taking a look at our first. The MSI Z97I Gaming AC gives you the full power of the Z97 chipset, a single PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slot for your high-end graphics card, KillerNIC Gigabit Ethernet, Audio Boost 2 technology, 802.11ac WiFi, USB 3.0 and even four SATA 6GB/s ports. Did I mention that this board only measures 6.7-inches x 6.7-inches! Let’s take a look…
Intel’s 9 Series chipsets are here and with that brings a whole onslaught on new motherboards based on these chipsets. The two main chipsets in the 9 series are the Z97 and H97, which effectively replace and are upgrades to the Z87 and H87 chipsets respectively. Most of you are probably more interested in the Z97 chipset and that is what we will be covering today. We have our first Z97 motherboard in for review and it is the Z97-A from ASUS. It is their entry level board in their mainstream series with a modest price point of around $149.99. Even though this is an entry level board ASUS has still loaded it with features like SATA Express, M.2 support, their Crystal Sound 2 audio technology and a whole suite a incredible software. Let’s see if this is the board to make your entry into Intel’s Z87 chipset.
ASUS’s Republic of Gamers line is just what you think it is, a line of products specifically targeted at gamers. While many PC games have full tower rigs with multiple graphics card and intense watercooling others just have a simple setup. Being a PC gamer who attends multiple LAN parties a year I made the switch to a Micro-ATX system a long time ago to make it easier for me to bring my PC to events. ASUS of course catering to gamers actually has two motherboards in their Republic of Gamers Z87 stack, the Maximus VI Gene which is a Micro-ATX board and the even smaller Maximus VI Impact which is a Mini-ITX board. Today, our review will be focusing on the Maximus VI Gene, which has quite a lot of features for gamers and overclockers alike. Let’s check it out!
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