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GIGABYTE X99-Ultra Gaming (Intel X99) Motherboard Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Socket LGA 2011 in Motherboards | Posted: Jul 13, 2016 2:15 pm
TweakTown Rating: 91%Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Packaging and Overview

 

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The X99-Ultra Gaming's box is super colorful. The motherboard is securely packaged inside an anti-static bag and foam container.

 

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

 

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The GIGABYTE X99-Ultra Gaming has five fan headers positioned all around the motherboard. The CPU fan header circled in green is a PWM mode header. The two headers circled in blue are 4-pin voltage mode headers. The two headers circled in orange are voltage or PWM mode headers. GIGABYTE has considerably improved its fan control in the UEFI. You do not need to install their fan control software to set fan curves. The UEFI has a fan control GUI where you can select the reference temperature, change operating mode, and set ramp up points.

 

The motherboard's aesthetics are very similar to that of the X99-Phoenix SLI, but instead of orange, we get red. Many people prefer red because it is much easier to match with accessories. The motherboard's metal reinforcements also work with its color theme, adding in a mechanical feel to the product. The back of the motherboard is bare of ICs which is a good thing.

 

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The IO panel on the X99-Ultra Gaming features two 1Gbit LAN ports, a WIFI antenna bracket, USB 3.1 type-C, USB 3.1 type-A, six USB 3.0 ports (the white one is for QFlashPlus), PS/2 keyboard/mouse, and 7.1 gold plated audio jacks with TOSLINK.

 

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The X99-Ultra Gaming features four PCI-E 16x slots reinforced with a single piece metal support to ensure that GPUs do not damage the slots. The PCI-E layout is simple enough. For starters, the M.2 and U.2 slots are hardwired to the CPU's PCI-E lanes, and 28-lane CPUs do not get U.2. The remaining PCI-E lanes are routed to the first and second slot for 16x/16x, but 28-lane CPUs only get 16x/8x. The third slot will take 8x from the first if it is occupied.

 

With 40-lane CPUs, the last slot can take 8x from the second slot, but 28-lane CPUs don't get any bandwidth for the last slot. CrossFireX/SLI configurations with 40-lane CPUs work at 16x/16x/0x/0x, 8x/16x/8x/0, 8x/8x/8x/8x, or 16x/8x/0x/8x. CrossFireX/SLI configurations with 28-lane CPUs work at 16x/8x/0x/0x or 8x/8x/8x/0.

 

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There are two M.2 slots on the X99-Ultra Gaming; the topmost slot is just for WIFI/BT cards, and the bottom slot is a 4x PCI-E 3.0 slot for M.2 SSDs. There are 10 SATA6Gb/s ports from the PCH and a U.2 port for more storage. U.2 only works with a 40-lane CPU.

 

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One of the USB 3.0 internal headers is located below the 24-pin connector, and the other is located near the front panel headers at the bottom of the motherboard. There are also two USB 2.0 headers along the bottom edge of the PCB.

 

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There is an extra PCI-E power MOLEX receptacle at the bottom along with an RGB LED header and TPM header. The "LED_DEMO" header can be fed 5v from a USB battery charger, and the RGB LEDs will illuminate even without system power, but you don't need to use this header for the RGB LEDs to work.

 

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The CPU socket has 2083 pins in total, which is more than the standard Intel socket.

 

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There are RGB LEDs under the IO shield, on either side of the gaps between the DRAM LEDs for the diffusers, under the audio shield, and under the PCH heat sink. There are also LEDs under each PCI-E slot. By default, they are all red, and you can change their color or disable them.

 

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The heat sinks are connected by a heat pipe and are secured to the motherboard by screws. They make excellent contact with the components they cool down.

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