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Aug 27, 2014

Gigabyte Flagship X99 LGA 2011-3 Motherboard for Haswell-E CPUs




Since we only have a few days left until Intel's Haswell-E CPUs go up for sale, motherboard makers are finally launching their flagship products, or at least allowing the world to catch a glimpse of them. Gigabyte is one of those companies.

We've already seen it once with the ASUS X99 Deluxe Motherboard, a high-end mainboard itching to get a Core i7-5000 series CPU and start crunching numbers. Gigabyte has now revealed the X99-UD7, which is supposed to play in the same league as that, even though it doesn't look quite as great. We're talking about the distinct lack of “armor” on the edge holding the I/O interfaces. The heatsinks are shaped and colored well enough, but that last touch of style isn't there. The company probably thought (and rightly so) that no one will actually place their desktop case with its rear at the front, and cases usually have cover plating there anyway. But pardon our egress. The X99-UD7 is everything we've come to expect from top-tier X99 chipset-based products, from the eight DDR4 DIMM slots to the four PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots. In fact, the PCB is almost exactly the same as the one sported by the Gigabyte X99 Gaming G1.

The main difference is the audio technology, from the ground-layer isolation to the audio-grade electrolytic capacitors, and audio chipset lacking a user-replaceable OPAMP (operational amplifier). It might sound odd to see motherboard makers put so much emphasis on audio technologies, until you realize that there isn't much else that can set mainboards apart at this point. I/O technologies like USB, Ethernet, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are all standard, and unless you're going to get an add-in daughterboard for better networking, there isn't much uniqueness to be found in this area. The same goes for memory. All high-end X99-based motherboards have eight DDR4 slots, no exceptions, and they come with tougher components than normal to cope with overclocks (Ultra Durable in this case). Needless to say, having four PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots is pretty much warranted as well.

Because of that, at the end of the day, the audio technology is the only thing that can provide some variety. It's not clear if the Gigabyte X99-UD7 has a 5.1-channel or 7.1 channel implementation, so we'll have to wait and see. Sales should start in a matter of days, but the price is unknown. Definitely lower than the $1,000 / €1,000 needed by the Core i7-5960X CPU though.

Gigabyte X99-UD7
Image credits to Gigabyte

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