An Even Closer Look:
GIGABYTE has done a complete redesign of their heatsinks with the new LGA1150 socket motherboards. These are designed for good aesthetics without compromising on the performance. Both the VRM heatsink and the PCH heatsink are installed with the help of screws which ensure maximum heat conductivity.
GIGABYTE opted for an 8-phase power delivery design for the CPU and 2-phases for the memory. The CPU regulation is done by International Recitifier 3563B controller. It’s a single-output digital VRM controller with switching frequency of 2 MHz per phase. The CPU VRM is exactly what an overclocker needs; it’s powerful enough to not stop you from hitting overclocking records and on the other hand, it isn’t taking much space of board making insulation a lot easier.
On the bottom left corner of the motherboard, we’ve the iTE IT8892E PCIe to PCI bridge chip which is responsible for the legacy PCI slots. Next to it, we’ve the iTE IT8728F super I/O chip which handles the hardware monitoring of the motherboard. Furthermore, it also provides the PS/2 port at the back I/O.
A little above the super I/O chip, we’ve the Realtek ALC892 audio chip which is nothing special in itself but it can provide good enough sound when coupled with decent circuitry. Next to it, there is the much asked-for Intel gigabit Ethernet controller. I’ve to give special thumbs up to GIGABYTE for using the Intel controller instead of some cheap solution.
Right behind the back I/O panel, we’ve these two little chips which are responsible for the dual HDMI ports at the back. Apart from this, we’ve two Renesas PD720210 USB 3.0 hub controllers which are responsible for the extra USB 3.0 ports.
And that’s pretty much all the Z87X-OC has in terms of third party chipsets. GIGABYTE has kept these to minimum to keep the cost down and to keep the overclocking experience seamless.
The most important bit of the motherboard is its OC area. It’s present near the memory slots and comprises of a quite a few buttons and switches. To begin with, it has the dip switches for the individual PCIe slots which is a must-have feature for LN2 overclockers. And there are the ratio and base clock +/- buttons along with the power, reset and clear CMOS switches.
Then we’ve the Tag, Turbo and Gear buttons. The Tag button’s task is pretty simple. It’s associated to the profile 8 in the BIOS and pressing the button activates that profile. You can modify the profile with your preferable settings from the BIOS. Next to it is the Turbo button which also works in the similar way however you cannot modify the profile associated with this buttons. Motherboard selects the best possible settings to provide the most stable but considerable performance boost when this button is pressed. The Gear switch toggles between 1 MHz or 0.1 MHz adjustments options. It affects the BIOS as well as the on-board BCLK +/- buttons.
Under these, we’ve some other buttons like single BIOS/double BIOS mode selection, settings lock and memory safe mode. There are just so many buttons that I had to keep the user manual near me during testing to keep track of everything. Apart from the buttons and switches, there is a debug LED and a wide array of on-board voltage readout points.