The Gigabyte GA-Z87X-OC is a very attractively designed board featuring a black PCB with contrasting orange slots and several large heatsinks for cooling. This board complies with the ATX form factor measuring 30.5cm x 24.4cm.
There is a large heatsink close to the CPU socket which features the ‘Ultra Durable’ branding. There is plenty of room around the socket to fit the largest air coolers on the market. We tried with several Phanteks and Noctua coolers and had no issues. You can see in the image above that Gigabyte have included an 8 pin and a 4 pin power socket to enhance overclocking stability. This could potentially help when overclocking with phase change, or LN2.
Alongside the memory slots (next to the Debug display readout) is the ‘OC Touch’ panel, which can be used for ‘on the fly’ overclocking. There are CPU ratio buttons, as well as BCLK buttons and BCLK steppings. A handy power button is also available here, if you are using the system outside a chassis, or haven’t connected all the cables yet.
The OC Ignition button powers up all the system’s equipment before powering on the CPU. This is ideal to check power cables are connected and to keep the system fans running to avoid the LN2 ‘cold bug’ issue.
Gigabyte also include a ‘OC PCIe switch’ which allows the user to disable and enable various PCIEX graphics slots.
Lastly, Gigabyte include a series of onboard voltage connectors – to be used with a multimeter to measure component voltages, including VRIN, VCORE, VRING, VIOD, VIOA, VAXG, VSA, PCHV and VDIMM.
Above, Gigabyte created diagrams showing how the on board ‘OC Touch’ buttons work. I have to admit, when I am overclocking I do tend to use the primary BIOS. That said, we can see the use for this, especially with a system built on a desk, specifically for overclocking events and tournaments.
Along the lower side of the board are two connectors for OC Connect and On/Off Charge and a clear battery CMOS switch – if things go wrong. There are additional switches on this board to toggle the Main and Backup BIOS.
The Gigabyte GA-Z87X-OC can accept up to four DDR3 DIMM’s with support for up to 32GB of memory. Their manual states ‘support for DDR3 1600mhz/1333mhz modules’ but as we find out later this is only a very basic statement. There is obviously also support for Intel’s Extreme Memory Profile (XMP).
One of our favourite aspects of owning a new Z87 motherboard is the fact that all the SATA ports are 6Gbps capable. The SATA ports on the GA-Z87X-OC are controlled by the Intel Z87 chipset and offer RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5 and RAID 10 support. There are six SATA ports on this board, while the ASUS Z78 Sabertooth has an additional two.
This board has a total of four PCI Express x16 slots. The top slot runs at x16 and Gigabyte recommend a single graphics card is installed here. The secondary PCI Express x16 slot runs at x8 bandwidth, sharing bandwidth with the top slot. If two graphics cards are installed, then both run at x8.
The lower two PCI Express x 16 slots run at 4x (PCIEX4_1, PCIXX4_2). Gigabyte recommend when installed a card in the PCIEX4_1 slot to make sure to adjust the PCIE Slot Configuration in the BIOS setup to x4 – this is located the peripherals BIOS submenu.
The PCIEX16, PCIEX8 and PCIE4_1 slots conform to PCI Express 3.0 standards. The PCIEX_2 and PCIEX1_1 slots conform to the PCI Express 2.0 standard. Additionally, there are two PCI slots.
The rear panel has the following connectors:
- 2x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
- 1x OC Ignition button
- 6x USB 3.0/2.0 ports
- 1x optical S/PDIF Out connector
- 2x HDMI ports
- 1x DisplayPort
- 1x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port
- 1x RJ-45 port
- 6x audio jackets (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out/Rear Speaker Out/Side Speaker Out/Line In/Line Out/ Microphone).
The GA-Z87X-OC has a total of 6 system fan header connectors, to suit a wide variety of builds.
Along the bottom of the board (from right to left) are the following connectors. The main front panel connector, a system fan header, a USB connector, another system fan header, two more USB connectors, another system fan header and audio connectors.