Release Date: 9/26/2017
For the first time ever I finally had a chance to build my own gaming PC the way I want. Building gaming PCs aren’t cheap, and I don’t just go for budget builds. I get the latest and greatest or not at all because I want to future proof my system and I want quality products. Searching for a motherboard started with the first priority having Wireless LAN as nothing in my house is connected through wired LAN to save on cable space. I also wanted to acquire everything at my local Fry’s Electronics, and this was the only 300 series motherboard with wifi. The price was a little more than I wanted to spend coming in at $200, but this motherboard boasts a plethora of features, some of which I will probably never use.
Let’s start out with just how it looks. This is a sexy motherboard with raised accents, gorgeous lighting, and a sleek layout of all ports and plugs. As I started slapping in my parts, first of which is the CPU and then bolting it to the tower, I started noticing just how much was on this thing. From the top of my head, there’s 6 SATA ports, 3 M2 PCI-E ports, several fan ports, temperature, USB headers, RGB ports, 2 16x PCI-E 3.0 ports, and 3 PCI-E x4 ports. There’s enough here for a powerhouse of a system and I loved putting this thing together.
All of my fans were able to plug into the same row which was nice, but the SATA ports being right on top of each other causes retention clamps to get in the way and it was a bit of a struggle, and when I installed my Intel Optane M2 card I noticed the M2 lanes disable 2 whole SATA ports each. With this installed I’m limited to only 4 SATA ports, and if I wanted to put an M2 SSD in here it would drop me down to 2 SATA ports. This is an unfortunate thing, but most people won’t be using M2 ports anyways.
The back of the motherboard features a decent array of ports such as USB 3.1 which I honestly don’t know what supports that, HDMI, display port, USB-C, 7.1 audio jacks, 2 wifi antenna coaxial ports, 2 USB 3.0, 2 USB 2.0, and LAN. It’s not the largest motherboard input setup, but it’s enough to get the job done. If you need more USB ports most cases come with front USB headers or you can buy a 5.25″ USB bay drive, or even a PCI-E USB card. I could also go on about the black caps, audio capacitors, and all that boring stuff, and to be honest, it means nothing to me. I know it means the board will last longer and won’t be subject to power issues, but most newer motherboards have all these features.
There’s also a dual BIOS feature for overclockers and various fail-safes in the software. There’s a quick flash feature, and you can even restore the BIOS to default settings if an OC goes belly up. Once you get into the BIOS itself there are so many options I didn’t know where to start. The M.I.T.s is your first screen, and unless you have a K series CPU there’s nothing much for you to do here as it’s all for overclocking. You can change the BLCK clock, startup speed, change the integrated graphics speed and splice it, and various other features. I have the non-K 8700 so I couldn’t use most of this.
There are sections to overclock your RAM, which is actually quite complicated, plus various other settings that allow you to change the basic RGB lights, wake devices, and other little minor settings. What’s nice is there is an easy mode that displays just the basics and what most people will use. You can even access Speed Fan 5 and change all your fan settings right in the BIOS. It’s rather robust, but it’s very basic looking and rather bland.
Gigabyte boards come with loads of software, and to be honest, they aren’t that great. They feel outdated, basic, and some don’t even work. There’s a Gigabyte App Center, which I actually like as it detects updates for all of your drivers, but there are so many apps, and most of them I found useless. I wanted to be able to use the 3D OSD which is a customizable OSD for various information that you can select, but I couldn’t get it to appear on screen in any game. There are various cloud storage apps that I found pointless, power management, EZ Tune which allows you to OC your CPU and RAM from within Windows which was pretty handy, but it’s very basic and doesn’t have the details the BIOS had. You can flash the BIOS and even export and import straight from the app, you can change the USB DAC, EZ RAID setup, GPU tuner which is basic, Smart HUD which I couldn’t even figure out how to use.
There’s a couple of neat apps such as TimeLock which allows you to set timers to lock down your computer or shut it down. There’s an app that allows you to backup files and recovers which is pretty cool and useful however there are better-dedicated programs out there for that. SIV is the System Information Viewer which allows you to control your fans with Smart Fan 5. I just set this to performance and let it go as it did its job well. You can click on each fan in your system and set it to auto-stop or change its various speeds. There is a game boost app and an app that allows you to upload files from your phone, control your computer from your phone, and even OC remotely. The app is awful and feels like it was made 7 years ago and seems pretty useless. There’s a BIOS fast boot feature, a blue light killer which would completely mess with your picture setup, and that’s about it. I kept maybe 5 of the dozen or so apps. This is an overly bloated software suite that needs serious updating and trimming.
This motherboard has a plethora of features and so many options for overclockers and anyone wanting to finetune their BIOS and control all of their hardware. The bloated and dated software is a huge disappointment, but there are a few gems in there for sure. Having the M.2 slots take up 2 SATA lanes each is disappointing, and there aren’t as many rear ports as most people would like, but the addition of wifi and built-in lighting make up for it in the long run.