Closer Look at the Motherboard:
GIGABYTE Z87X-OC comes with the black and orange theme which it inherited from its predecessors. The orange color is relatively new to the motherboard scene. It looks really good and serves as a nice escape for a people who are tired of red and black (believe me; people are really tired of red and black). Furthermore, this motherboard like all the other GIGABYTE motherboards comes with true matte black PCB which is not a standard thing among other manufacturers. Not that it effects the performance of the motherboard but it’s a nice little touch and with people investing huge amount of money and time into making their systems look good, this nice little touch goes a long way in making an impression. Unlike its elder brother, the Z87X-OC comes with a standard ATX form factor.
Obviously we’ve the Foxconn-made LGA1150 socket in the top part of the motherboard. GIGABYTE strategically designed the whole VRM to be on the left side of the socket with a small heatsink. This witty decision leaves ample room for large coolers or easy insulation if you are into LN2. Once again, this is a small design decision which probably puts a big smile on the face of all the overclockers using this motherboard.
To the right of the CPU socket, we’ve four memory slots which support up to 32GB of DDR3-3000 memory in dual channel mode.
For power delivery, the Z87X-OC has one 8-pin EPS and one 4-pin connector for CPU, one 24-pin ATX connector and one 6-pin PCIe connector for preliminary power to the graphics cards. However, the 6-pin connector is in kind of an off place. It right there between the CPU socket and the top PCIe slot. It’s a difficult place to reach if you’ve a large cooler/LN2 pot installed along with a GPU in the top slot. Also it’s pretty bad for cable management. It should have been on the bottom or top-left side of the motherboard.
The bottom area of the motherboard is largely covered with the expansion slots. The top three slots are PCIe 3.0; 1st and 3rd is wired to x8 bandwidth while the middle one is wired for x4 only. Then there is the bottom most PCIe 2.0 slot which is also wired for x4 only. While the top three are connected to CPU, this bottom one is wired to the PCH. Apart from that, we’ve one PCIe x1 slot and two legacy PCI slots. Even though the slots layout is ideal for 4-way GPU configuration and all slots can be populated with four cards at x8/x4/x4/x4 but the bandwidth is very low to yield any worthy results. However, it’s perfect for up to 2-way GPU configurations at x8/x8 in 1st and 3rd slot. On the other hand, the more expansive Z87X-OC Force fully supports 4-way GPU configurations at x8/x8/x8/x8 bandwidth.
In terms of on-board storage connectivity options, the Z87X-OC comes with six SATA III ports, all of which are from the Z87 PCH. Like I mentioned in the start, GIGABYTE has avoided using any unnecessary third party chips to provide not-so essential features. I believe six SATA ports are enough for over 90% of computer users in general and for 100% of users who buy a motherboard in this price range. Next to the SATA ports, we’ve two USB ports which GIGABYTE calls OC Connect and these are here for connecting peripherals or USB sticks for when you’ve your motherboard on an open bench.
Near the 24-pin ATX connector, there is a red-colored USB 3.0 internal header. It is a special connector with GIGABYTE’s ON/OFF Charge feature which provides more current over the USB 3.0 ports for charging the mobile devices. In addition to this, we’ve one other USB 3.0 header that is present at the bottom of the board along with other usual headers like front panel audio, front panel buttons and LEDs. Furthermore, it has a total of eight fan connectors; six of which are 4-pin PWN connectors.
On the back panel I/O, there are two USB 2.0 ports, six USB 3.0 ports (these are from the Renesas uPD720210 hub), PS/2 keyboard/mouse port, dual HDMI, DisplayPort, gigabit Ethernet (powered by Intel NIC) and lastly the SPDIF-out and 7.1-channel HD Audio from Realtek ALC 892. That was all the boring stuff, the most interesting part of the back I/O is that little orange button. It’s called OC Ignition and it’s exactly what every overclocker or water-cooling enthusiast wishes for. Pressing this button will only power up the connected drives and system fans; CPU, memory, GPU or anything else will not be powered up. This is perfect for LN2 overclockers when you want the CPU to come out of a cold bug but you want to keep the fans running to reduce the moisture and this is also helpful for leak testing the watercooling systems.
There is a huge OC-dedicated area at the top-right side of the motherboard and we’ll be discussing it in detail on the next page in an even closer look at the motherboard.