Motherboards

GIGABYTE Z97X-SOC Review

GIGABYTE Z97X-SOC

An Even Closer Look:

GIGABYTE has done a revamp of their heatsink redesign with the Z97 series motherboards. In case of the Z97-SOC, the orange is now a lot more visible on the heatsinks as compared to its predecessor. It has a fairly simple cooling system. There is one heatsink for CPU VRM and one for the Z97 PCH. The CPU VRM heatsink is pretty compact and is only present on the left side of the CPU socket. It should be much of an issue in case you want to install a big air cooler or insulate the motherboard for LN2.

GIGABYTE Z97X-SOC (3)

The GIGABYTE Z97X-SOC comes with a 4-phase power delivery system for the CPU and 2-phases for RAM. CPU’s VRM is controlled by International Rectifier’s IR3564B which is a fully digital PWN controller with switching frequency of 200 KHz to 2MHz.

GIGABYTE Z97X-SOC (22)

On the bottom left side of the motherboard, there is some dedicated PCB area for audio components however it is not equipped with any special. There is the usual Realtek ALC1150 audio codec along with 10K black capacitors. Right next to the audio area, there is an ITE IT8620E super I/O chip. It provides the PS/2 port along with some system monitoring functionalities.

GIGABYTE Z97X-SOC (19) GIGABYTE Z97X-SOC (20)

Near the back I/O panel, there is ASMedia ASM 1442 high speed TMDS level ship IC which provide the HDMI and DVI port to the motherboard. This is a standard solution for display outputs and is used by several motherboard manufacturers. At the bottom edge of the motherboard, there is another IC by ITE. This time it’s their IT8892E PCIe to PCI bridge chip which provide the motherboard with legacy PCI slots.

GIGABYTE Z97X-SOC (21) GIGABYTE Z97X-SOC (23)

That’s it in terms of third party chips present on the Z97X-SOC. GIGABYTE has kept these to minimum to keep the cost down and to prevent any potential issues which could affect the stability of the system.

One of the most important parts of the Z97X-SOC is its OC Touch area which contains all the overclocking buttons and other aids. The OC Touch comes with the most extensive amount of options. Other motherboards also come with same options more or less but they don’t have these options present in one single place that’s easily accessible.

GIGABYTE Z97X-SOC (2)

Here’s a list of options present in the OC Touch area:

  • Power button
  • Reset button
  • CPU Ratio +/- buttons
  • BCLK +/- buttons
  • OC Gear BCLK Stepping; this button adjusts the steps that BCLK button uses.
  • OC Turbo button for one-touch overclocking
  • OC Tag button for activating pre-calibrated overclocks
  • OC Ignition button which keeps the fans on even when the system is off
  • Memory Safe button to recover from bad memory overclocks
  • Direct to BIOS button which takes system directly to BIOS on next restart
  • A Setting Lock button
  • Single BIOS and Dual BIOS buttons
  • Clear CMOS switch
  • OC Trigger switch
  • DIP switches to disable PCIe slots
  • DIP switches of disable DIMM slots
  • Voltage readout points

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