Articles: Mainboards

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Like all other mainboard makers, Gigabyte released its products with Intel's Z97 and H97 chipsets in the spring of this year. There are new models in Gigabyte's old product series and there are even new series, too.

Gigabyte’s gaming mainboard series has been redesigned dramatically. The unintuitive name of G1-Killer has been replaced with the more obvious “G1 Gaming” but the rest of the changes are not so unambiguous. The military style with camouflage colors and ammo-box-like packaging has been abandoned altogether although a few models still come under the old name of "Sniper". The series features a new logo and a red-and-black color scheme. Gigabyte's mainboards used to be distinguishable for their blue-colored PCB but then switched to black like other brands’ products. The company’s gaming mainboards had a special green-and-black color scheme but now they are black-and-red, just like ASRock’s Fatal1ty, ASUS’s ROG or MSI’s gaming series. Sounds like they’ve lost their individuality.

As for the logotype, the old one (a skull with a dagger) used to be good in pictures but looked cheap and incongruous as a plastic badge on a mainboard’s heatsinks. The new one is a stylized eye.

An eye is an easily recognizable and widespread symbol and Gigabyte must have sound reasons to have chosen it, but we guess it provokes unwanted associations with the sore red eyes of gamers after a sleepless gaming night. The promo materials of the new series may lead to even more frightening associations with vampires and other demonic creatures.

Gigabyte’s mainboards for overclocking and open-testbed experiments are still colored orange but have replaced their old OC (OverClocking) suffix with the more impressive SOC (Super OverClocking). The regular mainboard series is called Ultra Durable. Its color is yellow. Some models have a grey or black heatsink, which looks good, but there is one mainboard which comes in a yellow box but has red heatsinks like the gaming series.

Gigabyte’s Black Edition is a special category rather than a separate series of mainboards. It may be a gaming model, like the Z97X-Gaming G1 WIFI-BK, or a regular product like the Z97X-UD5H-BK. The suffix “BK” tells you they are Black Edition. Such models undergo stress testing and come with a special certificate. This is similar to MSI’s overclocker-friendly mainboards which are tested for 24 hours or Elitegroup’s Black series with their 72-hour testing. Gigabyte's Black Edition are tested a whole week. The company even tries to make the number look even bigger by stating it as 7 days or 168 hours. Owners of such mainboards can register at the Black Edition Members Club and take part in prize drawings. They will also enjoy a 5-year warranty, just like owners of ASUS’s TUF series products.

We were willing to test any new Gigabyte mainboard but, of course, were mostly interested in the gaming models which had changed not only in terms of their color scheme and logo but also in their capabilities. Gigabyte's earlier mainboards for gamers used to be special and rather expensive. We tested quite a lot of them in our labs. But now the series includes rather inexpensive midrange models as well. So we are curious to learn in what aspects such models differ from their more advanced gaming cousins as well as from Gigabyte’s regular mainboards. Since we continue our series of reviews of Z97-based products, the Gigabyte GA-Z97X-Gaming 3 is the most optimal choice for our today’s tests.

Packaging and Accessories

Like every other mainboard packaging, this one has the product’s model name and logos on its front. On the back of the box, there is a picture of the mainboard and its back panel, a brief list of specifications, and a description of some of its features.

The mainboard is additionally packed into a cardboard wrapper. Above it, we can see the following accessories:

  • Four SATA 6 Gbit/s cables with metallic locks (two cables with straight connectors and two cables with L-shaped connectors)
  • One flexible bridge to connect graphics cards in SLI mode
  • I/O Shield
  • User manual
  • Installation guide
  • DVD with software and drivers
  • “Gigabyte Ultra Durable” sticker for your computer case

The accessories are standard enough. We can only add that the I/O Shield is soft-padded and the sticker has a revised design.

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