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Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming 7 Motherboard Review

The Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming 7 is a feature-rich gaming motherboard that presents strong performance beneath its red and black colours.

Performance of the Z97X-Gaming 7 is comparable to that of other Z97-based motherboards. Overclocking results were equally successful, with Gigabyte’s part taking our 4770K to its 4.5GHz limit.

Feature-wise, the Z97X-Gaming 7 delivers as much as you’d want from a sub-£140 gaming motherboard. There’s Killer’s E2201 NIC with its network management software, a beefed-up audio solution based around the ALC1150 codec, and wise spacing for two or three graphics cards.

Layout of the motherboard is sensible and performance of the storage interfaces is positive. There is the exception that is Marvell’s 88SE9172 SATA 6Gbps controller which delivers disappointing throughput numbers. Thankfully the Z97X-Gaming 7 provides 10Gbps M.2 and SATA Express connectors for high-speed duties.

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In terms of appearance, Gigabyte has opted for the tried-and-tested red and black colour scheme. There’s nothing wrong with Gigabyte’s styling; looks for the Z97X-Gaming 7 are right up there with those of competing parts. We (and many others) just cannot help but miss the unique green and black scheme.

Yes, the green and black was certainly a hate-it-or-love-it concoction, but it was also something that nobody else had (or has to this date). I can understand the philosophy of red and black appealing to a greater audience, but I also hope that Gigabyte re-employs the unique colours that made its G1 series of motherboard so well-known on at least one of its future board lines.

Then we come to the UEFI implementation. We can’t complain about the number of features provided in Gigabyte’s UEFI, and its 1920×1080 resolution allows plenty of information to be displayed at once. Dual BIOS chips for redundancy is a positive, as are the customisable visual appearance and legacy mode.

But the layout still needs improvement. Navigating the various menus and sub-menus feels a little too confusing on times, and many of the parameters cause needless clutter by being repeated multiple times. Noticing that your fine-tuned overclocking profile has been inadvertently overwritten won’t be pleasant, either. And the pre-defined overclocking profiles are terrible.

Priced at £139.99 from Overclockers UK, the Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming 7 competes directly with MSI’s Z97 Gaming 7. Asus’ Maximus VII Ranger and the ASRock Fatal1ty Z97X Killer are both within £10-15 of the Gigabyte board. I keep repeating myself, but competition in the sub-£150 gaming motherboard market is ultra-fierce.

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Pros:

  • Strong set of gaming-orientated features – Killer E2201 NIC, G1 Audio, Multi-VGA support.
  • M.2 and SATA Express connectors.
  • Dual BIOS chips for redundancy.
  • Onboard buttons, switches, and voltage reading points are good for testing/troubleshooting.
  • PCI slot may be critical for some users.
  • Good layout decisions – plenty of fan headers, accessible M.2 slot, right-angled SATA power connector.
  • 4-year warranty upon registration.

Cons:

  • UEFI could still benefit from some layout improvements and minor fixes.
  • Marvell SATA 6Gbps ports are slower than alternatives.
  • The unique green and black colour scheme is gone (although this is a subjective point).

KitGuru says: The Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming 7 does have some negative aspects that prevent it from being a clear-cut winner at its price point, but it also has a range of worthwhile features that make it a smart purchase for the foundation of a strong gaming system.

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Rating: 8.5.

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