Overclocking-centric motherboards have been around for a few CPU generations now and they seem to be here to stay. The ‘overclocking’ motherboard trend got real traction when GIGABYTE launched the X58A-OC a couple of years ago and it became very popular among overclockers and enthusiasts despite that fact that the X58 chipset was reaching the end of its life but from sales point of view, it was really a hit. A major reason behind its low sales was that it was a strictly overclocking motherboard and it didn’t have much of the other (general) features. Later down the road, GIGABYTE tanked the ‘OC’ naming scheme but launched the Z77X-UP7 with the same overclocking DNA and the black/orange color scheme. This motherboard was an exact opposite of the X58A-OC. It was priced around $400 as compared to the $200 X58A-OC and in addition to the overclocking features, it had lots of other features as well. Basically, it was an overkill for any type of system. Once again, it surely made lots of records but it failed to achieve good sales.


In 2013, GIGABYTE once again revived the ‘OC’ name tag but now they had learned a lot for their past mistakes. They launched two ‘OC’ motherboards; the Z87X-OC and the Z87X-OC Force. As the name suggests, both the motherboards were designed for overclocking but they had some other ‘gaming’ features as well and on top of everything. One of them was mid-end users at around $200 while the other $400 one was for people who go all out. GIGABYTE finally found a good balance between the features and pricing. We reviewed the Z87X-OC and it emerged as a good all-rounder motherboard with exceptional overclocking abilities.

Apart from GIGABYTE, in the past years, other manufacturers have also launched some very successful overclocking lineups. The most popular of these is ASRock’s OC Formula series which is mentored by the professional overclocker Nick Shih. MSI has also launched MPower and XPower overclocking motherboards but they didn’t get much popularity. ASUS also launched some new SKUs under the already popular Republic of Gamers lineup.

With the recent launch of Haswell Refresh, Devil’s Canyon CPUs and the new Z97 chipset, the motherboard manufactures once again launched a number of overclocking motherboards but we are here to talk about the GIGABYTE Z97X-SOC. Like last year, they launched two overclocking motherboards; the Z97X-SOC and Z97X-SOC Force but as it’s evident, they replaced the ‘OC’ tag with ‘SOC’ which comes from their GPU lineup. ‘SOC’ refers to Super Overclock and GIGABYTE have had some very capable graphics card under their SOC tags and we expect the same from their motherboards.

The GIGABYTE Z97X-SOC is a $190 motherboard with LGA 1150 socket and the all new Z97 chipset from Intel. It supports all the Haswell, Haswell Refresh and Devil’s Canyon CPUs. Among its exceptional overclocking abilities, it also brings robust storage connectivity, respectable on-board audio solution with dedicated headphone amp and audio hardware zone. This provides the motherboard with a good balance of features which make it a suitable option not just for overclockers but for gamers and enthusiasts as well.

GIGABYTE Z97X-SOC Specifications

Price US (Amazon)
Size ATX
CPU Interface LGA-1150
Chipset Intel Z97
Memory Slots Four DDR3 DIMM slots supporting up to 32 GB
Up to Dual Channel, 1333-3300 MHz
Video Outputs VGA (1200p at 60Hz)
DVI-D (1200p at 60Hz)
HDMI (2160p at 24 Hz or 1600p at 60 Hz)
DisplayPort (4096×2160 at 24 Hz or 2160p at 60 Hz)
Onboard LAN Intel gigabit Ethernet
Onboard Audio Realtek ALC1150
Expansion Slots 4 x PCIe 3.0
1 x PCIe 2.0 x1
2 x PCI
Onboard SATA/RAID 6 x SATA 6 Gbps
1 x SATAe
USB 3.0 6 x USB 3.0 [4 back panel, one header]
Onboard 6 x SATA 6 Gbps
1 x SATAe
8 x Fan Headers
1 x USB 3.0 Header
1 x USB 2.0 Header
2 x USB 2.0 Ports
1 x COM Header
Clear CMOS Butoon
Power/Reset Buttons
Voltage Measurement Points
BIOS Switches
OC Touch Buttons
Front Audio Header
Front Panel Header
Power Connectors 1 x 24-pin ATX
1 x 8-pin ATX
1 x 4-pin ATX
1 x 6-pin VGA
Fan Headers 2 x CPU (4-pin)
6 x SYS (4 x 4-pin, 2 x 2-pin)
IO Panel 4 x USB 2.0
4 x USB 3.0
Combination PS/2 Port
gigabit Ethernet LAN
Audio Jacks
Warranty Period 3 Years
Product Page Link

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