Large heatsink covering Z97
Covering the Z97 chip is a large heatsink which has been coated red and given the GIGABYTE gaming eye motif. This heatsink is substantial in size and is passive. A copper heatpipe connects this heatsink to the PLX heatsink above the PCI Express slots.
Running along the bottom edge of the motherboard are two switches – single BIOS mode switch and dual BIOS mode switch. Having a secondary BIOS is something many system builders and avid performance enthusiasts will appreciate because it means there is always a backup should the system become unstable and malfunction.
Wide selection of PCI Express options
Arriving at the expansion slot area, we are met by a plethora of options. This is certainly an area which GIGABYTE have channelled most of their efforts and since this motherboard is touted as a gaming product then it’s only right that we have so many routes to take.
Available in this region are the following:
2 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots (Running @x16)
2 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots (Running @x8)
3 x PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots
The uppermost PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots operate at x16 and the bandwidth does not drop down because GIGABYTE have integrated a PLX 8747 chip. Having a total of Four x16 PCI Express slots obviously means we have the ability to pair up four graphics cards for 4-Way SLI/CrossfireX.
The eagle eyed amongst you will notice GIGABYTE haven’t included an M.2 port on this motherboard for the simple reason that focus has been dedicated to PLX (chip sits underneath horiztonal heatsink with G1 Gaming written on it) and PCI Express support. This is an interesting decision and it’s easy to understand why GIGABYTE have chosen to opt for stronger provision for the graphics card over storage since this motherboard is directed at gamers.
A strong lineup of audio components
Audio is just as important as video support and thus, we have a strong lineup of audio components situated on Z97X-GAMING G1-WIFI-BK. The gold chip which sits near the corner is Creative Sound Core 3D and is gold plated for shielding. The chip underneath is a quad-core audio processor and fully supports Sound Blaster SBX Pro Studio. The plethora of green capacitors are Bi-Polarized audio CAPs (MUSE ES Acoustic) which promise to deliver precise audio for high-end audiophiles and then finally we have two switches for OP-AMP gain boost – in essence this allows the user to use standard audio levels, 2.5x or 6x amplification for high impedance audio devices. GIGABYTE has also integrated an audio noise guard to protect audio components and separate analogue and digital to protect against EMI. When Z97X-GAMING G1-WIFI-BK is powered up a red LED trace path illuminates to show the separation of audio components to the rest of the motherboard.
Lots of functionality on the Rear IO panel
Lastly, we come to the Rear IO panel which has a plethora of ports to take advantage of. The list of options available are as follows:
1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port
1 x DVI-I Connector
1 x HDMI port
1 x DisplayPort
1 x Optical S/PDIF Out connector
6 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports /2 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
2 x RJ-45 ports /5 x audio jacks
You’ll also notice that some of the connectors are gold plated. GIGABYTE has chosen to incorporate this to improve signal conductivity – thus helping to alleviate electrostatic interference.
The LAN connectivity is via Killer E2200 and offers gigabit transfer rates from two RJ45 ports which both work in conjunction with Killer LAN software. Whilst we have wired solutions, GIGABYTE also bundle the Bluetooth 4.0 and 867 11AC Dual Band WiFi card with antenna so that wireless connectivity can be achieved too.