Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming GT Overview
As I said Gigabyte has dropped the flashy neon green and black color scheme and has gone with the very popular red and black. While it does not stand out as much, it does look good. The board has four heatsinks which have bright red accents on them. The top three heatsinks and connected by a heatpipe for better cooling.
Starting at the CPU socket the Z97X-Gaming GT features the LGA1150 socket which supports Intel’s 4th and 5th generation Haswell processors. It looks like there is ample room around the CPU socket for different cooling solutions. The board makes use of an 8 phase PWM and you can also notice the black solid capacitors here. Power to the CPU comes by way of an 8 pin EPS connector. If you are wondering what the lower heatsink is for, it is covering the PLX PEX8747 chip.
Moving over to the DDR3 DIMM slots you have four slots which are color-coded for dual channel operation. The board supports DDR3 memory up to 3200 MHz (OC). Towards the lower part of the CPU socket you will find a 4pin CPU fan connector and a 4pin CPU optional fan connector. Normally we see these towards the top of the motherboard, we will see just how well this location works out. At the top corner of the board is a large power button, debug LED, smaller reset and clear CMOS buttons, 24pin ATX power connector, SATA power connector for your PCI-Express slots and a USB 3.0 header.
Moving down to your storage ports they are at a 90 degree angle, which should make installation quite easy. There are a total of six SATA 6GB/s ports, and a single SATA Express port. If you choose to not use the SATA Express port that will give you two more SATA ports.
Along the bottom of the board you will find the rest of your headers, switches and other connections. From right to left you have your front panel connections, two 4pin fan connectors, BIOS switch, SB switch, three USB 2.0 headers, two more 4pin fan connectors, COM port and HD audio header.
Along the far end of the motherboard you will find the AMP-UP audio solution. It uses PCB isolation to separate it from the rest of the motherboard for less interference. This isolation will actually light up when the motherboard is powered on. This audio solution features high end, Japanese branded Nichicon audio capacitors. These professional audio capacitors deliver the highest quality sound resolution and sound expansion to create the most realistic sound effects for professional gamers. Also you have an upgradable OP-AMP and onboard Gain Boost switches.
When it comes to expansion slots you have two PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots, two PCI-Express 3.0 x8 slots and three PCI-Express 2.0 x1 slots. With the configuration and slot spacing you can easily run 4-way SLI or CrossFire setups. Right above the top PCI-Express slot is a 4pin fan connector which can be used for an exhaust fan on your case. One thing that is missing from this motherboard is a M.2 slot, which would be used for next-generation form factor solid state drives.
Finally we come to the rear I/O. From left to right we have two USB 2.0 ports, a PS/2 port, VGA, DVI, optical audio, HDMI, DisplayPort, six USB 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet (Killer E2200) and 7.1 channel audio connectors. You will notice all of the display ports and audio ports are gold-plated. Also the two USB ports are color-coded in yellow. These are USB DAC-UP ports, they provide clean, noise-free power delivery to your Digital-to-Analog Converter. DACs can be sensitive to fluctuations in power from the other USB ports, which is why GIGABYTE USB DAC-UP takes advantage of an isolated power source that minimizes potential fluctuations and ensures the best audio experience possible.