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IO Performance

A Thermaltake Blac X 5G SuperSpeed USB 3.0 docking station was paired with a more aggressive ADATA Premiere SP610 240GB SSD simply to show some of the max potential Z97 is capable of providing. Keep in mind, a platter drive will be much slower as you can see in the scores below.

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X Gaming GT Motherboard Review 19

When paired with the GIGABYTE GA-Z97X Gaming GT, the USB 3.0 perked up greatly with a capable storage device. It's not as fast as ASUS' specialized USB 3.0 Boost or UASP support but it's better than some slow platter drive.

RightMarkAudio Analyzer

GIGABYTE GA-Z97X Gaming GT Motherboard Review 23

All I can say is that I love the OP AMP feature. Games sound great with such decent volume and clarity. It's nice having clear noise free audio, both from the USB port as well as the analog ports. And, the dip switches can help change the experience seemingly on the fly. However, the audio level coming out isn't quite as robust as the Sniper 5. Either way, once you sample this feature, you'll probably be spoiled and won't accept anything different.

Final Thoughts

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It's interesting to see how the Haswell-R (Devil's Canyon) has inadvertently leveled the overclocking playing field, forcing motherboard manufacturers to really focus on delivering features rather than high end overclocking. Features shouldn't just be fancy tech lingo and pictures on a product box. And that's what the refocusing of the G1 Gaming brand is about, which is to make boards more approachable for mainstream gamers.

The GIGABYTE GA-Z97X Gaming GT is quite possibly the best cost effective gaming solution for enthusiasts who expect a stable platform, beneficial audio performance that enhances any game genre, and overclocking that is as good or better as their own flag ship motherboards. But if  you simply want to leave it alone and let the software do the job, GIGABYTE has done a fantastic job updating their EasyTune software to be more in tune with the mainstream user that doesn't necessarily want to tweak for performance.

The GIGABYTE GA-Z97X Gaming GT retails for around $239 US, which is affordable when compared to the company's previous efforts. And with all the great features onboard, just plug in your favourite headset, and you'll be one happy gamer.

Pros

  • Stable and reliable Z97 platform
  • Fast performance with an aggressive BIOS
  • Capable overclocker with the right settings
  • Great quality construction and decent layout
  • New G1 Gaming theme is attractive

Cons

  • UEFI BIOS can be complicated
  • Smart Tweak Mode needs some cleaning up
  • Some users may miss the aggressive G1 Military Style

 Overall Rating: 8.75/10

 

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