Articles: Mainboards

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Gigabyte’s special mainboards for gamers and enthusiasts have appeared but recently in the company’s long history. On the other hand, they have been around for quite a while considering how many chipset generations have been announced and got outdated over this time. So it all began in 2011 when the G1-Killer series was launched consisting of three models: G1.Assassin, G1.Sniper and G1.Guerrilla. There was also an overclocker-friendly GA-X58A-OC model. Each of them was based on the Intel X58 Express chipset and represented the LGA1366 platform. You can check out our reviews of the G1.Sniper and GA-X58A-OC, by the way. Gigabyte has never attempted such a massive assault since then, yet the G1-Killer series has been developing steadily. The G1.Assassin 2 with Intel X79 Express chipset was released for the high-performance LGA2011 platform while the mainstream segment was covered by several models. To support LGA1155 processors, the G1.Sniper 2 with Intel Z68 Express chipset was introduced. It was later followed by the G1.Sniper 3 and the micro-ATX G1.Sniper M3, both based on the Intel Z77 Express. The overclocker-friendly series was continued as well, but could easily be overlooked. The LGA2011 Gigabyte GA-X79-UD7 or the LGA1155 Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UP7 don’t imply any overclocking with their names but seem to be similar to the GA-P67A-UD7 or GA-Z68X-UD7-B3, which are top-end models of regular product series.

That’s the past. As for the present moment, Gigabyte has announced as many as five special LGA1150 mainboards despite the manufacturers’ claims of lowering sales and profits and the analysts’ predictions of the end of the PC era. The announcement is quite surprising, yet there is some solid thinking behind it. If you had bought a new mainstream home or office PC some two or three years ago, it would be still good enough today for web-browsing and text processing. You might have specialized further by installing an HTPC in your living room, a work PC in your study, one more PC for your children, perhaps another one in your kitchen, but you had to stop somewhere. And there is no need for new PCs now just because the old ones keep on working well. That’s the main reason of the slumping sales. But when it comes to gaming PCs, they really get outdated in 2-3 years, preventing you from playing at maximum visual quality settings. New CPUs come out each year, too, and computer enthusiasts won’t sleep well until they overclock them. So, despite the overall decline in demand, there’s still high interest towards gaming and special products and the manufacturers now focus on them more.

ASRock used to release individual models in the Fatal1ty series but now it has announced as many as three such mainboards for the LGA1150 platform and also three models in the overclocker-friendly OC Formula series. ASUS’s increased-reliability TUF series now includes the Vanguard model with Intel B85 chipset whereas the company’s gaming ROG series stretches from full-size to mini-ITX mainboards. MSI’s rare Big Bang series products have transformed into the exceptional XPOWER model. And besides it, MSI offers the overclocker-friendly MPOWER series as well as the separate GAMING series. The trend is obvious, so Gigabyte just follows suit.

Three out of Gigabyte’s five special LGA1150 mainboards belong to the gaming series G1-Killer. Besides the flagship G1.Sniper 5 we already tested there is the micro-ATX G1.Sniper M5 and the intermediate G1.Sniper Z87 model. The company’s special overclocker-friendly products cannot be confused with regular ones anymore as they have the “OC” suffix in their names. There are not one but two such models available. The senior model Gigabyte GA-Z87X-OC Force is in many ways the same as the feature-rich G1-Killer flagship. Both offer a lot of graphics slots, an integrated PLX PEX 8747 switch adding more PCI Express lanes. A Marvell 88SE9230 controller endows them with four additional SATA 6 Gbit/s ports and both mainboards come with a bundled Wi-Fi/Bluetooth card and are equipped with two Gigabit Ethernet controllers. We will probably test the senior model in the future, but it is expensive and this limited in terms of is target audience. That’s why today we will take a look at the less advanced but more affordable Gigabyte GA-Z87X-OC.

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