The X299 platform has impressive potential when a high-end motherboard and CPU combination are chosen. Gigabyte’s X299 Aorus Gaming 7 and an Intel Core i9 offer exactly that, it would be a mismatch to pair a motherboard of this stature with anything less than a Core i9.
Gigabyte provides lavish amounts of USB, SATA, PCIe and M.2, as is expected for an X299 motherboard. The “triple” M.2 and full-sized PCIe slots across the board set it apart from some of the competition “only” offering dual M.2 and a number of X1 PCIe slots.
Networking connectivity is a particular strong point for Gigabyte since it offers dual LAN (Intel and Killer) and a Killer AC 2T2R WiFi solution. Gigabyte may have missed a trick not including faster-than-Gigabit networking standards but that’s inevitably a niche market and would add significant extra cost. Plus there’s plenty of PCIe connectivity to add a faster-than-Gigabit expansion card should the user so desire.
The accessory bundle was generous in the direction of LED customisation, even if stingy on SATA cables. Gigabyte delivers a considerably better LED experience with the Aorus Gaming 7 than MSI’s Gaming M7 ACK both in terms of the quantity and quality of onboard LEDs as well as the range of customisation and intuitiveness of the provided software.
Overclocking features are not quite as hot as the competition, we definitely prefer MSI’s Gaming X299 M7 ACK for the better range of buttons, sensors and debug utilities. That said Gigabyte still has the essentials – onboard buttons, debug code reader and a genuine heat pipe based heatsink for Gigabyte’s true 8-phase V-Core VRM.
Gigabyte’s ability to shoehorn in eight fan headers to the X299 Aorus Gaming 7 is impressive and on a motherboard of this stature we’d say it’s a welcome inclusion. On most motherboards a a dual-fan AIO with a pump and 4 case fans is enough to exhaust available fan headers, with Gigabyte’s board there’s still one to spare after that.
Our particular sample was let down by an irritating level of coil whine, something rarely experienced on motherboards. Even packing it inside a case couldn’t disguise the high-pitched noise and we certainly hope for Gigabyte’s sake this is a manufacturing inconsistency on our sample not a standard issue across the entire production run.
Audio performance was slightly behind that off MSI’s equivalent X299 motherboard. Perhaps a result of the un-isolated audio PCB and “only” a single codec for front and rear audio – MSI offers dual codecs in this scenario. We also found memory and rear USB 3.1 throughput to be slightly off the pace, although not significantly so.
Gigabyte’s X299 Aorus Gaming 7 is another all singing, all dancing motherboard for Intel’s HEDT platform. It’s mighty price tag is enough to make most people quiver, but anyone seriously considering a Core i9 Skylake-X CPU would do well to take a look. There is, unfortunately for Gigabyte, a considerable amount of competition at and around that £400 price point so options from ASRock, ASUS and MSI will warrant serious consideration too.
The Gigabyte X299 Aorus Gaming 7 is available at Overclockers UK for £415.99. Gigabyte offers a manufacturer warranty of 3 years with this product.
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- Exuberant PCIe, M.2, SATA and USB connectivtiy
- Plentiful networking options
- Bright and easily customisable LEDs
- Effective M.2 cooling solution
- Ample fan headers
- Strong CPU VRM and cooling
- Electrical coil whine
- No isolated audio PCB
KitGuru says: A flashy and well-equipped foundation for any high-end Core i9 system, Gigabyte’s Aorus Gaming 7 is worth placing on the X299 shortlist.