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  • Marlowe - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    Thank you. I wish there were M.2 benchmarks. Guess there are no drives out. Plextor M6e? Where are you and your friends? Reply
  • TelstarTOS - Thursday, May 15, 2014 - link

    wrong, there are. Reply
  • basroil - Thursday, May 15, 2014 - link

    M.2 PCIe drives worth testing don't yet exist, almost all are cheating (sata raid) or just not that great. Reply
  • TelstarTOS - Thursday, May 15, 2014 - link

    There are two, the plextor is the lower performer, and ther Samsung XP941 that I linked above (but i'm not sure if the post was deleted - so i'm not posting a link here). Reply
  • TelstarTOS - Saturday, May 17, 2014 - link

    Uhm it didn't take long for a review ;) Reply
  • XZerg - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    hmmm... here i was hoping to see some storage benches but disappointment again. what's the point of calling the review "Choose Your Storage Option" when there is no storage review? Reply
  • kwrzesien - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    Would it make sense to include the rear port cover in place for the picture? I'd like to see the finished effect, plus maybe it names which network port is Intel vs Killer. Reply
  • DanNeely - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    Is the power consumption from the 900mhz underclocking option different from what's seen during the long idle test? Reply
  • DanNeely - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    I really like that Gigabyte provided a block diagram of the board. Between flexible IO, PLX chips, on board USB hubs, and the sata switch used here; it can be really hard to figure out exactly what's connected where and what can be used at the same time. The diagram had almost everything I'd want to know collected in a single place; the only exception being which USB3 ports were attached to the hub.

    I really hope other motherboard vendors will provide similar information as well.
  • Ian Cutress - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    GIGABYTE do this in all their motherboard manuals, so you only have to download the manual from the website and have a look. I am trying to get the other motherboard manufacturers to do this. Reply
  • DanNeely - Thursday, May 15, 2014 - link

    Good for Gigabyte; they briefly got to the top of my list for the new system I'm planning. Unfortunately when I looked on newegg, it appears that they don't have any boards with 2 USB3 headers which is high on the list of features I want. Reply
  • Bdad - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    Please Reply
  • apertotes - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    "I must commend GIGABYTE in their APP Center redesign, and give kudos to exploring new types of application that they can combine into their package."

    Ian, EasyTune had a very nasty bug in their previous version in that it had some global, non-customizable hotkeys that took control of some important keys in non-English keyboards, like @, # or |. To make things worse, it also crashed windows 7 x64 when some of those combinations where typed successively by unsuspecting users.

    Can you say if this has been fixed?
  • Ian Cutress - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    I've asked if GB is aware of the issue. Will let you know when I get an answer. Reply
  • apertotes - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    Oh, they are, they are. I've myself submitted 2 tickets, one in Canada and a second one in Spain because they said they did not have any non-English keyboard to test in their Canada tech support office. Not even a French keyboard. Right. Reply
  • apertotes - Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - link

    Well, I just tried, and no, they have not fixed that stupid bug. With Easy Tune active, numbers 1-5 third value is lost, which means no |@#~€. Shame on you, Gigabyte. Reply
  • rpg1966 - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    Consummate? Kinky! I think you meant "commensurate". Reply
  • Ian Cutress - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    Aha, good catch :D Fixed. Reply
  • The_Assimilator - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    "2 x Ethernet Audio Jacks (ALC1150)"? Cool story! Reply
  • Ian Cutress - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    D'oh! Fixed :) Reply
  • silenceisgolden - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    So I think I might be a few PCIe lanes off, but would it be feasible to get rid of the PCI, one LAN slot, the D-SUB (because why is that still useful with DVI available), the PCI Express/M.2/SATA6 switch but keep the M.2? Then either add in another USB3, SATA6, or if possible in the future, another M.2 stacked on top of the first. I would think this would be the best combination of connectivity that the mainstream to enthusiast range of PC builders are looking for, and would stop the continuation of older standards or these choices that people have to make that might not be obvious when they are plugging stuff in to the motherboard. Reply
  • Chil - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    The BIOS screenshots of both HD and Classic Mode show a BCLK of 99.79 MHz. Isn't the standard 100.0? Can anyone comment on if this is a bug or expected behavior and how it affects performance? Reply
  • The_Assimilator - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    It's possible that AnandTech had Spread Spectrum enabled, but I have that option disabled on my Asrock Z77 Extreme6, and its BCLK fluctuates between 99.97MHz and 99.99MHz at boot (I have never seen it do a flat 100.00MHz). Reply
  • Chil - Thursday, May 15, 2014 - link

    99.97 is right around what I expect, but 99.79 (0.21 off the mark) is a different story. I did a big of searching and this appears to affect Gigabyte's entire "ultra durable" lineup. Reply
  • maecenas - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    Given that you've run a few articles explaining how modern games are GPU dependent, and very rarely is the CPU the bottleneck in single-card applications, I'm really not clear on how a motherboard is going to have a significant impact on gaming performance, holding the GPU and CPU constant. Reply
  • extide - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    It doesnt. The only thing is really the PCIe lane allocation, and if it possibly uses a PLX chip. Also, the feature set may be different, but the motherboard doesn't really affect performance. Reply
  • Ian Cutress - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    PCIe lane allocation is important if you are not limited by the CPU first (see our Haswell refresh). There are some weird and wonderful chipset lane allocations when you move into the world of the PLX chip, or some server boards miss out lanes altogether. If/when I move to 4K gaming benchmarks (2015? depends on 24"/27" 60Hz monitor pricing) we might see a greater effect there. Reply
  • The_Assimilator - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    Flex IO is a step in the right direction from Intel. That said, it could be so much more; in fact it would make the most sense if ALL Flex IO ports were switchable between PCIe/USB3/SATA3. That would allow motherboard manufacturers to provide e.g. native 10 SATA ports without having to purchase and integrate additional standalone SATA controllers, which are slower and add to the BOM. I'd be pretty happy with a motherboard that did a 2/8/8 split for PCIe/USB3/SATA3.

    Additionally, the 14 USB 2.0 ports are ridiculous; I don't think I've ever seen a motherboard that provides that many. Intel should aggregate 10 of those ports into an additional Flex IO port, which would leave 4 USB 2.0 ports. Anyone who needs more than a minimum of 8 USB ports (4 USB2 + minimum of 4 USB3) can buy a USB hub.
  • DanNeely - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    8 back panel ports and 3 mobo headers for 6 more was a relatively common config a few years ago. I think I've seen 6 back panel and 4 headers a few times too. 3 mobo headers covers a case with 4 front panel ports and a card reader in a drive bay. Other than being mostly USB3 this board has the same 8 back panel and 3 header configuration.

    I'm not sure why Intel didn't cut the number of 2.0 ports down when they added USB3 to the chipset, but IIRC a USB2 controller is tiny compared to a USB3/PCIe lane/Sata6 controller. It's entirely possible that it came down to the 2.0 controllers being a small enough chunk of the chip that it wasn't worth fiddling with them because it couldn't affect enough space to matter for anything else.
  • repoman27 - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    Well A: the USB 2.0 controllers, hubs, ports were already there, so it's easier to just let them be, and B: every USB 3.0 port uses a USB 2.0 port as well. Thus you really have a maximum of 14 USB ports total, up to 6 of which can be USB 3.0. Reply
  • The_Assimilator - Thursday, May 15, 2014 - link

    A: By that argument every chipset ever made should still support ISA.
    B: The Flex IO diagram on this very page specifically states "Total of 14 USB2 ports". I'm reading that as being a constant entirely independent of the number of USB 3.0 ports, but if you have any literature to contradict that, I'd be appreciative if you could link it.
  • repoman27 - Thursday, May 15, 2014 - link

    Not sure I follow your logic. USB is probably the most used feature of a modern chipset (I suppose SATA probably gives it a run for its money though). Take a look at any USB 3.0 connector and you'll find 5 contacts which correspond to the SuperSpeed transmit and receive signaling pairs and ground, and then 4 more that carry the USB 2.0 signal and Vbus. This is how USB 3.0 achieves SuperSpeed while maintaining backwards compatibility, and the signals all need to come from somewhere.

    Intel hasn't posted datasheets for the 9 series chipsets yet, but there really isn't a heck of a lot of difference between them and the 8 series (in fact they're all currently listed in ARK under the "Products (Formerly Lynx Point)" heading). In the 8 series datasheet [ ], however, Intel states: "xHCI USB controller provides support for up to 14 USB ports, of which six can be configured as SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports." Intel also includes this additional note: "Some USB 3.0 motherboard down devices do not require support for USB 2.0 speed and it is possible to route only the SuperSpeed signals, as allowed by the USB 3.0 specification. In this special case, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 signals will not need to be paired together, thereby allowing support for more than 14 USB connections."

    Interestingly, although the PCH package only provides connections for 14 USB 2.0 signals, those signals can come from either the newer xHCI or the two legacy EHCI controllers which are still present on the chip.
  • DanNeely - Thursday, May 15, 2014 - link

    Am I correctly understanding that as saying that by routing the signals separately you could create a USB3 only port that's not back compatible with USB 1/2? Reply
  • repoman27 - Thursday, May 15, 2014 - link

    You're not allowed to do that according to the USB 3.0 Specification, but let's say you had an on board card reader that had a SuperSpeed USB interface, then you wouldn't necessarily be required to route a USB 2.0 signal to it as well and could use that signal for something else instead. Reply
  • repoman27 - Thursday, May 15, 2014 - link

    If all the high speed signaling ports were Flex I/O ports, everyone who purchased a PC or motherboard based on that platform would be paying for an insanely large PCIe 2.0 switch with 18 downstream lanes/ports, an 18-port xHCI, and an 18-port SATA 6Gb/s controller plus 18 separate muxes to steer the desired signals to each port. I'm sure Intel would be happy to sell all that to the OEMs instead of just letting them use discrete controllers, but I seriously doubt it would end up lowering the BOM cost any. Flex I/O is just a way to keep the PCH package size down by steering features to a reduced number of balls. I'd rather be able to actually utilize all of the controllers I'm paying for.

    Not all of the chipsets offer 14 USB ports, and not all of the available USB ports are necessarily routed to external connectors or headers on the logic board. Some of them are used to connect devices on the motherboard itself or other embedded features. Also, since this many ports have been available since the 5 Series, Intel can't exactly regress the feature set while AMD is still offering 14 USB ports.
  • KAlmquist - Thursday, May 15, 2014 - link

    With the current "Flex IO" design, Intel implemented 20 high speed controllers (8 PCIe, 6 SATA, and 6 USB 3.0), but only provided pinouts for 18 of them, meaning that two controllers sit unused. To provide full I/O flexibility, Intel would have to implement 54 controllers (18 of each type), 36 of which would be unused. It sounds like a waste of silicon to me. Reply
  • gloinsir - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    The Rear IO abuses a Renesas USB 3.0 hub to one USB 3.0 port into four, bringing the total number of USB 3.0 ports the motherboard can handle to eight.

    Oh the poor Renasus abuse.
  • celestialgrave - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    I guess I don't really see the need for wifi built into my desktop motherboard. I'd rather have the dual NICs. But I guess I can see the advantage when it comes to building a computer for mom or grandma. Reply
  • Ian Cutress - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    If you have a family, more often than not there is a central WiFi router in the house connecting to everyone. If the house/flat isn't all layed out in RJ-45, then if everyone has a computer it has to get the WiFi signal for connections. For example, I have my NAS connected via ethernet to the router, but the three systems in my office are all connected via WiFi, as well as the HTPC in the front room. Reply
  • plopke - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    I am still confused about what PCI-Express and M.2 supposed to be in the end for like a regular consumer? One time i read M.2 stuff and pice express will use the same protocl then other times i read articles like this that they wont work together , etc
    Any change anyone has some googlde docs spreadsheet that show a table like
    connecter type motherboard | protocol | protocol max speed | connecter type SSD | speed SSD | max theorictal performance | compatible
  • Ian Cutress - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    At this point, it is more up to the motherboard manufacturer and what they implement.
    The chipset diagrams will show you how the slots are arranged, and which can be used at the expense of others. We will try and add these as we go forward.
    As for protocols, it is all AHCI right now.
  • Jon-Tech - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    I wanted to ask about USB controllers. Are all the USB 2.0 ports using one controller? Are the USB 3.0 ports on the same controller? Also from the sounds of it, the extra USB 3.0 ports are just using a hub rather than an extra controller? Due to my setup I often run into USB bandwidth issues with lots of ports on one controller. So I'm looking at motherboards that have as many as possible for more flexibility and none of the review sites ever seem to mention how many there are!

    Regarding the z97 chipset, it appears that the xHCI Host Controller supports up to 6 USB 3.0 and 14 USB 2.0, this sounds like one controller. It also has two EHCI Host Controllers which support up to 14 external USB 2.0, though it doesn't look like any of the motherboards are using these. From the sounds of it this motherboard runs all the ports off the single controller? That strikes me as being daft and therefore unlikely, could you shed any light onto what the actual USB controller set up is please? I'm also unclear on how USB affects the PCIe lanes...
  • repoman27 - Thursday, May 15, 2014 - link

    The Z97 chipset contains one xHCI which supports 14 USB ports, up to 6 of which can be USB 3.0. It also contains 2 legacy EHCI host controllers which can be used in lieu of the xHCI for USB 2.0 ports, but there are still only external connections for 14 USB ports total.

    With this board, it appears that Gigabyte has connected a motherboard header and the two back panel USB 3.0 ports above the HDMI port directly to the PCH xHCI, and then used a Renesas USB 3.0 hub chip to expand an additional PCH xHCI connection to support the other four back panel ports.

    The PCH is connected to the CPU via a DMI 2.0 x4 link, which is equivalent to PCIe 2.0 x4, and thus provides a maximum of 16 Gbit/s less protocol overhead of total bandwidth for all PCH attached devices. Obviously the nominal bandwidth of just 6 USB 3.0 ports is greater than that. What isn't so obvious is how the various controllers within the PCH are connected to the PCIe bus internally. From the benchmarks I've seen of previous chipsets, it would appear that the xHCI only has the equivalent of an x2 connection. This still makes it one of the fastest USB 3.0 controllers out there since the only discrete controller I know of with an x2 back end is the Etron EJ198. Seeing as most motherboard manufacturers use discrete controllers with x1 back ends and connect them to PCIe lanes coming from the PCH, the performance generally sucks. If you need more than 785 MB/s of USB 3.0 bandwidth, you'd be better off buying a card like the HighPoint RocketU 1144C and sticking it in a slot that uses some of the PEG lanes coming from the CPU.
  • Jon-Tech - Thursday, May 15, 2014 - link

    Thanks repoman, you've been the most insightful into this from all the various places I've asked! That HighPoint card looks spot on though it's rather pricey, especially considering my old mobo has 3 controllers on it for the 2x USB 3.0 and 12x USB 2.0. Though I only know the amount of controllers cause I have it and can check.

    Seems the only way I'm going to actually find out controllers per motherboards is to ask owners on forums to check for me. It's a really quick test that reviewers could do and its just as annoying it's never listed in the official mobo specs! Alternatively I could buy and try them out for myself though that doesn't seem practical.
  • Adriak - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    Why are there still (conventional) PCI slots on motherboards? Didn't they become obsolete when PCIe arrived in 2004? I understand these slots are likely added for legacy reasons, but are people still using PCI cards? What type of cards are they? Was the ISA bus supported for this long after it was effectively rendered obsolete? I am genuinely curious. Reply
  • Nathan539 - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    This would save me some money for my new comp that im building Reply
  • peterfares - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    Are people still using PCI devices on consumer boards? What could you possibly need to add that goes into PCI for home use? Reply
  • fluxtatic - Thursday, May 15, 2014 - link

    Sound cards. If you're not using the Asus Xonar or a Turtle Beach card, odds are good your discrete card is PCI. Reply
  • Luay79 - Thursday, May 15, 2014 - link

    Do you lose the 16 lanes for the single video card if you use M2/SAta Express SSDs? Reply
  • DanNeely - Thursday, May 15, 2014 - link

    No. See the block diagram at the bottom of the first page. The 16 CPU lanes go to the 16x physical slots. The M2/SataExpress connectors use lanes from the southbridge. Reply
  • TelstarTOS - Thursday, May 15, 2014 - link

    Get one of these and test all the Z97 M.2 port with it.
  • izdlang - Wednesday, August 27, 2014 - link

    So I see on the website that there is now a revision 1.1.. I ordered a new one, and got revision 1.0. Does anyone know what the difference in the revisions are? Want to know if I should whine until I get a 1.1 vs the 1.0? Reply
  • swing848 - Tuesday, September 09, 2014 - link

    Thank you for the review. I noticed that you are still pushing Nvidia ... You are comparing an GTX 770 to an AMD HD 7970. How many people are currently purchasing HD 7970 video cards?

    You could use an AMD R9 290 and an GTX 670, that would be just as fair ... come on, I know [Anand] has more than two video cards to use. This is pure Nvidia bias.

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