High End Motherboards Shootout New Socket, New Motherboards (Part 2)

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Gigabyte Z87X-OC

The Gigabyte Z87X-OC boasts what Gigabyte dubs Ultra Durable 5 Plus, similar to Durathon technology featured on the ECS motherboard. Gigabyte’s entry features voltage regulation module components like the black solid capacitors, as well as the use of PowIRstage ICs (single-package, single-silicon design MOSFETs). The motherboard’s PCB also features the use of glass fabric, helping to prevent excessive moisture absorption typical in humid environments such as ours.

Description: GIGABYTE Z87X-OC motherboard

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC motherboard

The board also sports the DualBIOS feature, which lets users store custom settings on one BIOS, with the other maintained as a backup. This is great for tweakers and overclockers to quickly revert to previous settings that worked. Overclockers will be fond of on-board OC buttons that allow for on-the-fly adjustments to both CPU ratio and base clock frequencies. Such adjustments can be made during the system’s normal operations, without having to access the board’s BIOS UEFI utility!


For durability and stability during performance in extreme conditions, the board features Military Class IV components that make up its power delivery system. The Hi-c capacitors, with super ferrite chokes and dark capacitors ensure its overclocking capabilities. In fact, MSI labels the board as being OC Certified, as a sign of confidence.

Description: MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX motherboard

MSI Z87 MPOWER MAX motherboard

Other features targeted at overclockers include voltage read points, as well as an on-board OC button for easy overclocking. For ease of configuration and back up, the board’s Multi-BIOS II feature allows users to store different settings in each of its two BIOSes. OC Genie allows the system to be overclocked with the push of a single button, and for the more ardent overclockers, a pair of Direct OC buttons allow for modification of the CPU ratio and base clock frequency. The board has an interesting add-on card in the form of a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth module that supports Intel Wireless Display (WiDi) technology.

A New Socket – LGA1150

Intel’s new Haswell processors feature a new socket design, dubbed LGA 1150. One of the biggest changes introduced by the new CPU microarchitecture is the Fully Integrated Voltage Regulator (FIVR). Prior to FIVR, a number of voltages such as Phase Lock Loop and Input/Output (I/O) were handled by the voltage regulation modules (VRM) of the motherboard. Now, such voltages are handled by the Haswell processor, and in theory, reducing the need for VRM on motherboards.

Haswell also comes with some power efficiency improvements. Specifically, the chip manufacturer has introduced new C6 and C7 sleep states that will allow Haswell processors to draw less power at idle states, in comparison with previous generation Intel Core CPUs. This feat can be partially attributed to the new FIVR feature that allows better power supply control. (Important: Some older power supply units are incompatible, unable to snap out of their idle state due to the low power consumption state. Fortunately, Intel maintained an updated list of compliant PSUs.)

Description: Intel Core i7 - new Haswell processors

Intel Core i7 - new Haswell processors

Intel also upgraded the Haswell processors graphics to the generation 7.5 Intel HD graphics engine, broadly classified as GT1, GT2, GT3, and GT3e. The new integrated GPUs have support for DirectX 11.1, OpenCL 1.2, and OpenGL 4.0. Most desktop Haswell CPUs sport the GT2-class GPU. For example, our Intel Core i7-4770K features the Intel HD 4600 graphics core engine. The GT2 class graphics cores have 20 execution engines, with base clocks from 350MHz, to maximum dynamic frequencies of up to 1250MHz. The GT3 and GT3e class graphics cores (branded the Intel HD 5000 series) support up to 40 execution engines and even lower base clocks of just 200MHz; however, they have a higher maximum dynamic clock of 1300MHz. The cream of the crop is the Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200, of the GT3e tier.


·         Model: Gigabyte Z87X-OC

·         Memory: 4x DDR3 DIMMs; 32GB Max memory

·         Storage: 6x SATA 6Gbps by Intel Z87

·         Audio: Realtek ALC892

·         Networking: Intel GbE LAN

·         Rear I/O: 1x PS/2; 1x optical S/PDIF Out; 2x HDMI; 1x DisplayPort; x USB 3.0; 2x USB 2.0; 1x RJ-45; 6x audio (Line-in, Front speaker, Microphone in, Center/Subwoofer, Rear speaker, Side speaker)

·         Expansion slots: 3x PCIe 3.0 x16; 1x PCIe 2.0 x16; 1x PCIe 2.0 x1; 2x PCI

·         Price: $422



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