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Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming 7 Motherboard Review

Haswell is just the latest Intel CPU architecture to see many of the critical system operations handled by the processor. As such, benchmarking a motherboard becomes more of a test to certify that the part operates correctly and meets the anticipated performance levels.

installed

We will be outlining the Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming 7 motherboard's performance with the Core i7 4770K CPU at its stock frequency (3.9GHz due to forced turbo). Overclocked performance will be outlined later in the review.

Performance of the Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming 7 motherboard will be compared to that of four other Z97 parts. All motherboards are partnered with identical hardware and software, so the results are directly comparable.

stock-clocks

By default, the Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming 7 motherboard applies multi-core turbo (MCT) and forces the 4770K to a constant 3.9GHz when XMP is enabled. This will be displayed as the ‘stock’ setting (and outlined in the charts’ brackets after the non-turbo stock speed is displayed).

Gigabyte automatically sets the MCT VCore level at 1.20V via the UEFI (which increases to 1.212V due to loading). 1.20V seems common for a 3.9GHz 4770K and should be simple enough to tame, even for entry-level CPU coolers.

Note: CPU-Z does not read the correct CPU core voltage values from the Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming 7 motherboard. We tested HWMonitor v1.25 and found that it displayed the correct level under the CPU VCORE title. Gigabyte's EasyTune software also displayed the correct voltage levels (which were confirmed via a multimeter reading).

M_2

Support for the PCIe-based M.2 storage interface is one of the key features for the Z97 chipset. We use Plextor's ultra-fast M6e 256GB M.2 SSD to test the speed of a motherboard's M.2 connector. We reviewed the 512GB Plextor M6e (and its PCIe x2 adapter card) HERE.

We also use a Kingston M.2 SATA device to confirm the motherboard's operation with M.2 SATA connections.

Z97 Motherboard Test System:

Compared Z97 Motherboards:

Software:

  • Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming 7 BIOS F4 (latest).
  • Catalyst 14.4 VGA drivers.
  • Intel 10.0 chipset drivers.

Tests:

  • 3DMark 1.1.0 – Fire Strike (System)
  • SiSoft Sandra 2014 SP2 – Processor arithmetic, memory bandwidth (System)
  • Cinebench R15 – All-core CPU benchmark (CPU)
  • WinRAR 5.01 – Built-in benchmark (CPU)
  • HandBrake 0.9.9 – Convert 4.36GB 720P MKV to MP4 (CPU)
  • ATTO – SATA 6Gbps, USB 3.0, M.2 transfer rates (Motherboard)
  • RightMark Audio Analyzer – General audio performance test (Motherboard)
  • Bioshock Infinite – 1920 x 1080, ultra quality (Gaming)
  • Metro: Last Light – 1920 x 1080, high quality (Gaming)
  • Tomb Raider – 1920 x 1080, ultimate quality (Gaming)

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