TechARX Tech Report : Gigabyte Z97X Gaming 3

Hello guys!
Welcome to one more episode of  TechARX Tech Report and this time we will be checking out the Gigabyte Z97X Gaming 3 with an Intel Pentium G3258 processor.
So without further ado lets see what we have today.

Z97X Gaming 3

 Specification and close look

CPU Support for Intel® Core™ i7 processors/Intel® Core™ i5 processors/ Intel® Core™ i3 processors/Intel® Pentium® processors/Intel® Celeron® processors in the LGA1150 package
Memory
  1. 4 x DDR3 DIMM sockets supporting up to 32 GB of system memory
  2. Dual channel memory architecture
  3. Support for DDR3 3200(O.C.) / 3100(O.C.) / 3000(O.C.) / 2933(O.C.) / 2800(O.C.) / 2666(O.C.) / 2600(O.C.) / 2500(O.C.) / 2400(O.C.) / 2200(O.C.) / 2133(O.C.) / 2000(O.C.) / 1866(O.C.) / 1800(O.C.) / 1600 / 1333 MHz memory modules
  4. Support for non-ECC memory modules
  5. Support for Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) memory modules
Graphic
  1. 1 x D-Sub port, supporting a maximum resolution of 1920×[email protected]
  2. 1 x DVI-D port, supporting a maximum resolution of 1920×[email protected]
  3. 1 x HDMI port, supporting a maximum resolution of 4096×[email protected] or 2560×[email protected]
  4. Support for up to 3 displays at the same time
  5. Maximum shared memory of 512MB
Multi-GPU Support
  1. Support for 3-Way/2-Way AMD CrossFire™and 2-Way NVIDIA® SLI™ Technology
Expansion Slots
  1. 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16 (PCIEX16)
  2. 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x8 (PCIEX8)
  3. 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x4 (PCIEX4)
  4. 3 x PCI Express x1 slots
  5. 1 x PCI slot
Storage
  1. 1 x M.2 PCIe connector
  2. 1 x SATA Express connector
  3. 6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors (SATA3 0~5)
  4. Support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10
LAN
  1. Qualcomm® Atheros Killer E2201 LAN chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)
Audio
  1. Realtek® ALC1150 codec
  2. Support for Sound Blaster X-Fi MB3
  3. High Definition Audio
  4. 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
  5. Support for S/PDIF Out
Exclusive Features
  1. Support for APP Center
    * Available applications in APP Center may differ by motherboard model. Supported functions of each application may also differ depending on motherboard specifications.
    @BIOS
    EasyTune
    EZ Setup
    Fast Boot
    Game Controller
    ON/OFF Charge
    Smart TimeLock
    Smart Recovery 2
    System Information Viewer
    USB Blocker
  2. Support for Q-Flash
  3. Support for Smart Switch
  4. Support for Xpress Install
Back I/O Ports
  1. 1 x PS/2 keyboard port
  2. 1 x PS/2 mouse port
  3. 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
  4. 1 x D-Sub port
  5. 1 x DVI-D port
  6. 1 x HDMI port
  7. 4 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports
  8. 4 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
  9. 1 x RJ-45 port
  10. 5 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out, Rear Speaker Out, Line In, Line Out, Mic In)
Form Factor ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 22.5cm
Product Link  http://www.gigabyte.in/products/product-page.aspx?pid=4966#sp

With that aside lets take a look at the board.

10226_bigThew Z97X Gaming 3 has a similar  design to its brother with with its characteristics red heat sinks with the Gigabyte Eye.The heatsinks are spring loaded but that is not much of a problem since the heat output is low.

DSC_0523

Coming to the socket area we see VRM area which is partially covered with the red heat-sinks.The power delivery system is marketed as 8 phase although its a 4 Phase circuit with a doubler and a ISL9582 PWM Controller.Apart from that we can see the 4 color coded Dram slots supporting upto 32GB DDR3 rams from 1333MHz to 2400MHz.

DSC_0522

Coming further down we see the storage part which is controlled by the Z97 chipset.Two ports sits apart while the other four are clubbed together with the bottom one doubling up as a sata express connector.
Please note two sata ports will be disabled if you use a sata express or a m.2 ssd in this board.

DSC_0531

The PCIex slots operate in X16/x8+x8/x8+x4+x4 mode depending on the number of GPU’s.

DSC_0540

On the audio side of things we see the usual AMP-UP audio solution hoever in the Gaming 3 we are missing the swappable AMP option. Moreover, it uses a Realtek ALC1150 codec instead of a Creative audio processor.
The section is isolated from the rest of the pcb and features a pretty nice red light denoting the insulation line which can be turned off in the bios.

10228_bigThe I/O is as always in a lower end board,packed to the brim.

  • Two PS/2 connectors for keyboard and mouse
  • D-Sub, DVI-D and HDMI video outputs
  • Four USB 3.0 ports (blue connectors, based on the Intel Z97 chipset, with two more available via a single onboard header)
  • Four USB 2.0 ports (with four more available via two onboard headers)
  • Gigabit Ethernet connector (based on a Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2201 controller)
  • One optical S/PDIF and five analog audio outputs (based on an 8-channel Realtek ALC1150 codec)

All in all not much to complain about,except the analog/hybrid controller on the VRM.

Bios

The Bios has two mode : Classic and Smart Tweak Mode

I will let the pictures do the talking here

Classic Mode

Classic BIOS Features Classic MIT Advance Frequency Settings Classic MIT Current Status Classic Peripherals SATA Configuration Classic Peripherals

Smart Tweak Mode

Startup Guide ST HD Voltage ST HD Memory ST HD Memory Sub Timings ST HD Advance CPU Core Settings ST HD Frequency

Benchmark Results

we got our hands on a Pentium G3258 to test.
DSC_0520

 

 

and so we ran some tests,sadly we lost a few files due to an hard disk crash but managed to salvage most of the data for this review.

So here we go…
First a few syntheticsqueen

aes

fpu

And for some super pi love

spi1M

 

spi32m

And finally some real world torture by Cinebench

cinebench

 

 

 

All in all pretty consistent results across the board.

Conclusion

Making a fully featured motherboard for the lower ends is always an interesting challenge.
Keeping a balance between price and features is always a problem, so at times you see features that are needed missing or u see a degradation in quality to keep price in check.

The Z97X Gaming 3 manages to hit all the right note although in a few places it could do some improvements like the audio section and maybe an implementation of a Digital Controller in voltage regulation.

And the bios in general needs to be retuned in Z97 lineup for Gigabyte, I sincerely hope the GB Bios team is taking notes.

All in all a pretty decent board otherwise at a INR 15000 Price point.

 

Sumon Pathak

Sumon Pathak

Lawyer by day, Overclocker and reviewer by night, and a sniper in weekends.