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GIGABYTE X99-Phoenix SLI (Intel X99) Motherboard Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Socket LGA 2011 in Motherboards | Posted: Jun 28, 2016 4:48 pm
TweakTown Rating: 92%Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Packaging and Overview




The X99-Phoenix SLI's box is as colorful as the RGB LEDs soldered to its PCB. The entire package feels high quality, and the motherboard is very well protected inside its foam container.





Accessories include RGB LED strip extension cable, WIFI Antenna, 1 to 3 CPU power expander, G-connector, 2x Velcro cable ties, 2-way SLI bridge, 3-way SLI bridge, IO shield, 6x SATA6Gb/s cables, driver DVDs, and manuals.




The GIGABYTE X99-Phoenix SLI has three types of fan headers. The first is a PWM-only header circled in blue (for the CPU fan), the next are voltage mode headers that are also compatible with PWM fans, they are circled in pink. The final are dual-mode headers circled in green that can be set to voltage or PWM mode in the UEFI. It is not the first time GIGABYTE has provided this flex functionality, but it's the first time they have actively marketed it.


GIGABYTE has finally added in GUI based fan control curves into the UEFI; so GIGABYTE fans can rejoice. The orange and white color theme looks elegant, and I am a big fan of almost-neon colors mixed with white. While a lot of enthusiasts are asking for plain black motherboards, there is also a subset of users that want color and flash, and this board is targeting them. GIGABYTE has also made some aesthetically pleasing additions with RGB LEDs; we will take a closer look at those later. The back of the PCB is pretty bare.




The IO panel on the X99-Phoenix SLI carries six USB 3.0 ports (the white one is for Q-Flash Plus), USB 3.1 type-A (red), USB 3.1 type-C, two antenna ports, PS/2 keyboard/mouse, two RJ-45 Intel Gbit LAN ports, and gold plated 7.1 audio outputs with S/PDIF optical.




GIGABYTE has reinforced all of its PCI-E slots with a metal shield to ensure that the slots aren't pulled out, and so heavy GPUs won't droop as much or damage the motherboard. What makes GIGABYTE's design different is its unibody design. I will now explain the PCI-E layout for those interested, as deciphering the manual is difficult because sadly, GIGABYTE has omitted the block diagrams they used to include.


For starters, the M.2 port and U.2 ports are hard wired to the CPU and do not share lanes; the only pitfall is that with a 28-lane CPU the U.2 port will not work. The first and second PCI-E slots are wired 16x. The first PCI-E 16x slot will give the third PCI-E 16x slot 8x of bandwidth if the third slot is populated. The second PCI-E 16x slot will give the fourth PCI-E 16x slot 8x of bandwidth if the fourth slot is populated, but with a 28-lane CPU, the fourth slot is disabled because the second slot will only receive 8x of bandwidth. If you are confused, please read GIGABYTE's manual for proper SLI/CrossFireX configuration when using 28 and 40 lane CPUs.




The motherboard has two M.2 slots; one is keyed for WIFI, and the WIFI module is included. The other M.2 slot gets 4x of PCI-E 3.0 directly from the CPU. The motherboard has all 10 of Intel's SATA6Gb/s ports, the six closest to the top of the motherboard support RAID. The U.2 port only works with 40-lane CPUs, and it is hardwired to the CPU. A USB 3.0 internal header is located right between the U.2 slot and the 24-pin power connector.




A second USB 3.0 internal header is located in the lower right-hand corner of the motherboard near the front panel headers. The motherboard does have two internal USB 2.0 headers for users who require USB 2.0. GIGABYTE has included an RGB LED header for external RGB LED strips. The "LED Demo" header allows for 5v input from a battery pack to illuminate the motherboard's LEDs without the system being powered. There is a MOLEX receptacle for extra PCI-E power.




GIGABYTE has tried something unique by adding in plastic diffusers for RGB LEDs that illuminate the division between the memory DIMMs. It creates a cool effect in the dark. The memory DIMMs are also reinforced by metal shields; these shields are designed to help strengthen PCB structure. The motherboards WIFI/BT card comes installed.




The heat sinks are connected by a heat pipe, and everything is secured with screws. The shield over the IO panel has RGB LEDs built into it.

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