Gigabyte X99-Ultra Gaming Motherboard Overview
Gigabyte’s X99-Ultra Gaming has the same color design that we saw Gigabyte use on their Z170 G1.Gaming motherboards, which happens to be a black PCB with red and white accents and some silver thrown in there. This board has plastic thermal armor that goes over the rear I/O and goes all the way down the board covering the audio components on the board as well. The heatsinks on the board are pretty aggressive, you have one over the power components and another over the PCH, they are connected by a single heatpipe.
Starting up at the CPU socket we have Intel’s LGA2011v3 socket, which of course supports both the new 5th Generation Broadwell-E HEDT processors and 4th Generation Haswell-E HEDT processors. This socket is referred to as the OC Socket, which includes extra pins for certain overclocking situations. The board uses a pretty hefty all-digital power design with International Rectifier digital power controllers and PowIRstage ICs, Cooper Bussmann sever level chokes, and long lifespan durable black solid caps. Flanking the CPU socket are four DDR4 DIMM slots on each side. These slots have two new features we have not seen from Gigabyte before, first they are are reinforced with metal and have LED strips. The reinforced metal is what Gigabyte calls their Memory Armor, which is a one piece stainless steel shielding design prevents against PCB distortion and twist (Plate bending) in addition to preventing any possible ESD interference. We will go over the boards lighting a little later in this review. The main CPU Fan header is located at the bottom right corner of the CPU socket, which is a very convenient locations.
At the top of the board towards the center you will find your 8-pin EPS connector and two more 4-pin fan connectors (CPU optional & System Fan).
Moving over to the side of the board in the top right corner there is your 24-pin ATX power connection and a USB 3.0 header.
As we move down the board we have all of our storage connections which include one U.2, one SATA Express, and eight SATA 6GB/s ports. Remember if you don’t plan on using the the SATA Express connector that gives you two more SATA 6GB/s ports (10 total). U.2 is something we are going to start seeing more on motherboards. U.2 is a PCIe Gen3 x4 connection that takes advantage of the NVMe protocol. Intel’s 750 Series 2.5-inch drive is one of the only U.2 drives available currently, but expect more to come soon! All storage connections are at a 90 degree angle so they are out of the way of your installed graphics cards.
At the bottom of the board you are going to find the rest of your connections and headers. From left to right you have front panel audio header, RGB header, Molex connection for extra PCIe power, TPM header, 4-pin fan header, two USB 2.0 headers, USB 3.0 headers, another 4-pin fan header, and your front panel headers. Above the front panel headers is your clear CMOS header, sort of bummed out that there is not a clear CMOS button on this board. Also missing are dedicated power and reset buttons.
At the far end of the board you have your audio components, which are covered by the thermal armor. Gigabyte’s AMP-UP Audio solution makes use of Realtek’s ALC1150 high definition audio codec combined with high quality audio capacitors. There is also a RGB LED strip here.
Moving on to our expansions slots we have four PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots and a single PCI-Express x1 slot. The first two slots are spaced so you have expanded space between your cards for better cooling. Now it will all depend on your CPU, but if you have a CPU with 40 PCIe lanes the first two slots will always operate at x16 mode and the second two will always operate at x8 speeds. This board supports Quad-GPU SLI / CrossFire. All of the PCI-Express x16 slots have Gigabyte’s Ultra Durable PCIe armor, which is one piece stainless steel design.
In between the PCI-Express slots you will find two different M.2 slots. The first is for a WiFi+Bluetooth module that you can buy for this board. The second is a NVMe PCIe Gen3 x4 M.2 slot which supports M.2 solid state drives up to 110 mm.
Finally moving to the rear I/O you have a PS/2 port, two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 3.1 ports (1x Type-X, 1x Type-A), four more USB 3.0 ports, dual Gigabit Ethernet (Killer E2400, Intel I218), and your audio connections. You can also see there are mounting points for the antennas for that optional WiFi+Bluetooth module.