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GIGABYTE X99-SOC Champion (Intel X99) Motherboard Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Socket LGA 2011 in Motherboards | Posted: Apr 6, 2015 2:11 pm
TweakTown Rating: 93%Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Packaging and the Board

 

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The X99-SOC Champion reduces costs where overclockers don't really care, and increases quality where they do care. The box is a good example of such a cost reduction since the box isn't anything special. This box is actually a bit smaller than the X99-SOC Force box.

 

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Despite the obvious cost reductions, GIGABYTE did a decent job with packaging. The board is in an anti-static bag instead of a box.

 

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Included accessories are as follows: four SATA6G cables, 2-way SLI and CrossFireX bridges, two different 3-way SLI Bridges, one 4-way SLI bridge, one I/O shield, one driver DVD, manuals, and one case sticker.

 

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I have circled the fan headers on the board. There are a total of five fan headers, and only the CPU fan header supports PWM control; the remaining headers support voltage mode, which is backwards compatible with PWM. The motherboard's heat sinks intrigue me. It looks like a RAM with horns - a beast determined to wreck world records.

 

The back of the motherboard is clear of components with the exception of some extra capacitors for the memory signals. The X99-SOC Champion also has SMD DIMMs designed to enhance overclocking performance. GIGABYTE chose to isolate the audio on this motherboard as well, which is an interesting choice considering this board isn't built specifically for gaming.

 

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The back-panel I/O features a 1GBit NIC, four USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, a PS/2 keyboard and mouse, and a 7.1 TOSLINK for audio with S/PDIF out.

 

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The PCI-E layout on this motherboard is optimized for multi-GPU configurations. All of the PCI-E bandwidth from the CPU reaches the slots, and does so almost without delay. The third and fourth slots are hardwired 16X/8X.

 

The first slot has its first 8X hardwired to the CPU, and the second 8X can be shared with the second PCI-E slot if needed. You can run 3-way in multiple configurations, especially when you have a 28-lane CPU installed, and that is why GIGABYTE provides two 3-way SLI bridges with different slot spacing.

 

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I was surprised to see GIGABYTE provided upgraded audio on this motherboard. There are LEDs on the backside that illuminate the PCB isolation, upgraded Nichicon audio capacitors, and an amplifier for the back-panel headphone port.

 

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The X99-SOC Champion carries the maximum number of Intel SATA 6G ports and SATAExpress.

 

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Here is the switch that allows both CPU socket configurations. Switching the switch to the LGA2083 socket can help increase Uncore overclocking and reduce the system agent voltage needed for memory overclocking. I will cover the specifics later in this review.

 

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Here you can get a glimpse of the difference between the normal LGA2011-V3 socket and the socket on the X99-SOC Champion.

 

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The OC features on the X99-SOC Champion are more limited than those on the X99-SOC Force; however, you don't really need much more than these features. GIGABYTE provides the crucial POST code display, power, reset, clear CMOS, Dual BIOS selector, single BIOS mode, and trigger switches. Voltage read points have also been expanded to include VCore, VRing, and VCCSA, which weren't present on the X99-SOC Force; you can't really probe around for these features either since they are integrated into the CPU.

 

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Here is a power port for extra power for the PCI-E slots; this allows you to run 4-way SLI/CrossFireX.

 

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An extra power connector for the CPU power is also included instead of an eight-pin expander like the one you might find on other GIGABYTE motherboards.

 

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The VRM is the same exact VRM as on other GIGABYTE X99 eight-phase motherboards like the X99-SOC Force and X99-G1 Gaming.

 

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The heat sink is one solid piece and uses screws to hold everything down. You will notice that the CPU VRM heat sink and the PCH are the only ones that make contact to components; the rest are just used to increase cooling capacity.

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