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GIGABYTE G1.Assassin 2 (Intel X79) Motherboard Review

We check out the gaming focused G1.Assassin 2 from GIGABYTE and see how this new X79 offering performs.

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Mon, Nov 14 2011 11:38 PM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:01 PM CST
Rating: 97%Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction and Package

Introduction

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VIEW GALLERY - 64 IMAGES

I found myself taking over the motherboard category here at TweakTown just as the new Z68 chipset launched from Intel. Having missed the boat on the G1 series of boards from GIGABYTE for the X58 platform and having no P67 version to look at, I was really disappointed as the series looked to be one of the most feature packed ones on the market.

Jump forward a few months and we saw GIGABYTE bring the G1 series back in the form of the GIGABYTE G1.Sniper 2; it offered everything you'd want from a board that was focused on the gaming market. I liked the board so much that it made its way into my own system paired with a 2600k and HD 6990. The Killer E2100 NIC while I feel is probably just as good as an Intel one is a really nice addition, but the onboard X-Fi audio is a real stand out for me, along with the Matte Black PCB.

Jump forward a few more months, though, with the launch of the X79 chipset and we saw that GIGABYTE was getting on the G1 bandwagon straight away. Last week we managed to preview the new GIGABYTE G1.Assassin 2, but today we get to really see what the new board is about in our full review. Because we've already previewed the board, we've had the opportunity to cover almost every aspect of the board already. Really, the only thing we've missed is the PCIe specifications when it comes to the expansion slots.

So with so much of the board already looked at, we'll just quickly offer you a look at our original pictures and cover a few things we couldn't tell you. Once that's done we'll take a closer look at the new 3D BIOS from GIGABYTE and let you know what we think of GIGABYTEs first foray into the graphical UEFI BIOS.

Of course, after that we'll get into the performance side of things along with overclocking to see what the new board is able to do for us. So with all that said, let's get into a bucket load of pictures before we get into the meat of the review to see what the board is all about.

The Package

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Like we said in our preview, the GIGABYTE board carries with it an really impressive bundle with one of the biggest highlights being the new PCIe x1 card which offers us both 802.11n wireless connectivity and Bluetooth 4.0 as seen on the new iPhone 4S.

The Motherboard

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Again while we previewed most of the information here in our original preview, we can get a bit more specific on the expansion slot side of things. While we of course know we've got the older PCI legacy slot, two PCIe x1 slots and three PCIe x16 slots, the PCIe x16 slots configuration we couldn't tell you.

The top and bottom PCIe x16 slot are both wired to x16 and if you're using two cards in SLI or CrossFire, they will be running at x16. If you throw a third card into the mix in between the outside two, that setup will move to a x16 / x8 / x16 one which is the most standard setup we're seeing from boards that support three cards.

The Motherboard Continued

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Moving around to the rest of the board, there wasn't really anything that you didn't know already. Of course, now we can say that the four DDR3 DIMM slots support Quad Channel memory, but while we couldn't officially say that, Quad Channel support on the new platform was fairly well known.

BIOS

GIGABYTE has finally made the jump to the new graphical UEFI design with the latest X79 platform and it looks absolutely fantastic. There are essentially two modes; the one you open up with which shows you a picture of the board alongside a more "Advanced" one. We say Advanced in brackets because the first one you're looking at still offers you pretty much all you'd expect. Looking through the images below, though, you'll see how it all works.

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As you move around the board, you select areas. In this case you can see we've selected "3D Power", above you can also see it gives a brief explanation on the area. Once we open that up we've got everything really related to the power side of things.

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You can see that we can just move over the board and configure different areas; everything from the SATA side of things to the I/O side which shows us all the integrated devices. It's really pretty cool in the sense if you go, 'ok, I want to disable onboard networking because I'm just going to use the WiFi card included', you just click on the I/O ports at the back of the board. Want to do overclocking? You go to the CPU area which gives us options for, well, "System Tuning" which can be seen above.

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In the bottom left corner you can also flip the board around in case you want to get a view from the other side or want to make sure that you don't miss selecting anything. This is literally only half of the BIOS, though.

BIOS Continued

BIOS

As good as the "3D BIOS" is, if you want to get down and dirty you'll probably want to hit the ESC button and get into the other side of the BIOS. Here we can see a BIOS layout that is similar to that of a lot of other companies who have jumped on the Graphical UEFI design. Of course, we've got the familiar M.I.T. area here which is where you'll no doubt want to be if you're overclocking.

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The M.I.T. layout is very familiar and if you've overclocked on GIGABYTE boards of past, you'll know your way around fairly easily. The options as always are strong and you can see a massive focus on Power Control thanks to the new "3D Power - 3Way Digital Power Engine" that the new X79 boards have implemented.

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Outside of the M.I.T. section, you're going to see no real big surprises across the board as you move across the other areas. Considering the amount of "Graphics" implemented in the BIOS, the BIOS runs fairly smooth - not as smooth as some of the others we've used, but for the first time we're seeing the new BIOS, GIGABYTE has done a fantastic job. They're definitely offering a lot more than a lot of other companies when it comes into the BIOS side of things. It's also really nice to finally show pictures of a GIGABYTE BIOS without the need to use my camera.

The new BIOS from GIGABYTE is ultimately just pretty cool and going through it and using it a bit, you don't feel that there needs to be some major overhaul with the design like we've seen from other companies with their first version.

That really covers the new BIOS from GIGABYTE in a fair bit of detail, so let's move onto the testbed side of things and see how we went with overclocking on the new board.

Test System Setup

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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASUS, MSI, Western Digital and Corsair.

On the testbed side of things you're not going to see anything that hasn't really been seen already. Also, everything is fairly self-explanatory above so there's no real need to get into too much detail with what's going on in the testbed side of things. Instead we'll just get into the overclocking side to see what kind of performance we're able to get out of the new GIGABYTE board.

To be honest, this launch hasn't been the smoothest for some companies and we've had companies literally email us new BIOS versions every couple of hours as we get closer to the launch. The G1.Assassin 2 on the other hand arrived to us a little later than some boards, but the installed "F5a" BIOS has been an absolute dream to deal with.

As soon as we entered the BIOS, we hit "ESC" and got into the more familiar M.I.T. zone that we're used to seeing and started playing with the BIOS. As you can see below, we ended up with a final setup of 37 * 125.

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This resulted in our i7 3960x coming in at 4625.22MHz or 4.63GHz as illustrated in our graphs today. This is a nice overclock from the stock 3.3GHz that's on offer and of course, compared to the older 980x / 990x which saw just a tad over 4GHz most of the time, it's a really strong increase.

While the new Sandy Bridge-E platform doesn't offer as high a numbers as Sandy Bridge which sees 5GHz+ with ease on a lot of boards, we saw in our original launch coverage on the i7 3960x that stock performance is often stronger than the i7 2600k at 5.2GHz when it comes to real world tasks.

Let's get started!

CPU Benchmarks

HyperPi 0.99

Version and / or Patch Used: 0.99

Developer Homepage: www.virgilioborges.com.br

Product Homepage: www.virgilioborges.com.br

Download It Here

HyperPi is a front end for SuperPi that allows for multiple concurrent instances of SuperPi to be run on each core recognized by the system. It is very dependent on CPU to memory to HDD speed. The faster these components, the faster it is able to figure out the number Pi to the selected length.

For our testing we use the 32M run. This means that each of the four physical and four logical cores for the i7 and the four physical cores of the i5 is trying to calculate the number Pi out to 32 million decimal places. Each "run" is a comparative to ensure accuracy and any stability or performance issues in the loop mentioned above will cause errors in calculation.

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Looking under Hyper Pi, the performance comes in a little slower than the X79A-GD65. Overclocked, though, we can see a nice little boost in performance which brings our Hyper Pi run down to around 12 minutes.

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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Looking at AIDA64 memory performance, we can see that performance between our X79 boards is very similar with almost nothing separating them. We can again see when we overclock that the 3960x is able to stretch its legs a bit more with a nice boost in performance across the board.

System Benchmarks

PCMark 7

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.04

Developer Homepage: http://www.pcmark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.pcmark.com

Buy It Here

PCMark 7 includes a range of tests that give different views of your system's performance. In the Advanced Edition you can choose which tests to run. The common use and hardware component tests are unavailable in the Basic Edition.

Overall system performance is measured by the PCMark test. This is the only test that returns an official PCMark score. The Lightweight test measures the system capabilities of entry-level systems and mobility platforms unable to run the PCMark test, but it does not generate a PCMark score. Common use performance is measured by the scenario tests - Entertainment, Creativity and Production - each of which results in a scenario score. Hardware component performance is measured by the hardware tests - Computation and Storage - each of which results in a hardware score.

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We've found PCMark 7 performance on the new 3960x is a little all over the place at the moment with numbers dropping when overclocked or just a lot of fluctuation here. While you can see when overclocked our performance hasn't dropped, out of the box it sits a bit lower. Until we see a new patch for PCMark 7 we're not going to put a lot of emphasis on it.

MediaEspresso

Version and / or Patch Used: 6.5

Developer Homepage: http://www.cyberlink.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.cyberlink.com/products/mediaespresso/overview_en_AU.html?fileName=overview&r=1

Buy It Here

MediaEspresso is a blazingly fast media universal converter that can transcode your videos, photos and music files and out put them to a huge range of portable devices including mobile phones, portable media players and even game consoles. With technologies like Smart Detect, Direct Sync and CyberLink's TrueTheater video enhancements, you can not only forget about complicated format, resolution and output settings, but your converted file will come out the other side looking better than when it went in!

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Getting into the encoding side of things, we can see some very strong performance in this real world test. We can see that we've got a nice little chunk of time shaved off when compared to our other X79 board here and you can see that we see a really nice boost in performance when we overclock with almost 3 and 1/2 Minutes getting shaved off our encode time.

USB 2.0 and 3.0 Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.70.1400

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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Looking at USB performance, we can see that USB 3.0 performance is pretty standard. USB 2.0 performance on the other hand is extremely strong. GIGABYTE are using a Fresco controller on the USB 3.0 ports and while USB 3.0 performance doesn't hold any surprises, the Fresco chip seems to handle USB 2.0 extremely well.

SSD Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.70.1400

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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HD Tune Pro

Version and / or Patch Used: 4.61

Developer Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com

Product Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com

Buy It Here

HD Tune Pro gives us accurate read, write and access time results and for the last couple of years has been gaining popularity amongst reviewers. It is now considered a must have application for storage device testing.

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SSD performance is strong on the new G1.Assassin 2. We do see that the minimum sits a little lower. During our runs we saw that it would start out a little slower; overall the average is very strong, though, especially when compared to some of the other boards we've got here.

Memory Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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Compared to our other X79 motherboard, RAM performance is strong coming in a little faster. Comparing to the Dual Channel Z68 platform, though, we can see that it sits a little behind. This is more so due to the way AIDA64 is testing. If you want to learn more about Quad Channel RAM and see the performance of it under a wider range of setups and speeds, I highly recommend you check out the Intel X79 Quad Channel and Z68 Dual Channel Memory Performance Analysis article that will be going online within the next 24 hours.

Gaming Benchmarks

3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0

Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.3dmark.com/3dmark11/

Buy It Here

3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world's most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC's gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

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Metro 2033

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.4a-games.com//

Product Homepage: http://www.thqnordic.com/

Metro 2033 is an action-oriented video game with a combination of survival horror and first-person shooter elements. The game is based on the novel Metro 2033 by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was developed by 4A Games in Ukraine and released in March 2010 for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360.[3] In March 2006, 4A Games announced a partnership with Glukhovsky to collaborate on the game.[4] The game was announced at the 2009 Games Convention in Leipzig;[5] a first trailer came along with the announcement.[6] A sequel was announced, currently titled Metro: Last Light.

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3DMark 11 doesn't really hold any surprises, but Metro 2033 saw a nice performance increase at the lower resolutions on the G1.Assassin 2 when we overclocked. We've tested other X79 boards and seen no performance increase come from them when overclocking here, so it's nice to see a boost from the gaming orientated G1.Assassin 2.

Temperature and Power

Power Draw Tests

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In our original launch coverage we saw some massive numbers come out of power draw. You can see the new GIGABYTE offering looks a lot more attractive with much lower numbers on here.

Core Temperature

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The new 3960x continues to be a warm running CPU, though, and you can see that here when we're at both stock and overclocked. Fortunately, at least the idle temperature continues to look good when overclocked thanks to EIST bringing the CPU in at 1.5GHz when we're just idling away in Windows.

Final Thoughts

As funny as this might sound, while the G1.Assassin 2 isn't the highest scoring X79 board we've looked at with it falling behind by just 2%, it's probably the better board for so many people because of the focus on this board being gamers instead of these super high end overclockers.

The G1.Assassin 2 doesn't have eight DIMM slots, nor does it have four PCIe x16 slots, but for 90% of users that's not going to matter. One could argue it's more than 90%. This board lights up when you start to dive into the features of the board.

For starters, there's an "OC" button on the back of the board. Hit that and you get 4GHz without doing anything. Great for people who don't want to mess around in the BIOS. The inclusion of KillerNIC is good, but I'm not sure it's the most important thing; I honestly feel that as long as you're not using the Realtek and instead opt for something like an Intel one, then we're all good. We're not going to complain about the KillerNIC E2100 implementation, though.

The sound for me is such a stand out and it's the one thing I bring up every time when talking to someone about the G1 series of boards. With the Creative audio there's just no need to go down the path of a separate sound card. That's good because it's money you don't need to spend, but also means that your video card (or cards) is going to have the maximum amount of breathing room.

Combine the fact you don't need to buy a separate sound card for excellent audio quality means that you're also going to have plenty of room for that included PCIe x1 card that offers us wireless networking and Bluetooth 4.0.

Which brings us onto another benefit of the board; the including PCIe x1 card isn't going to be for everyone. Some people aren't going to use wireless, or they don't have a BT 4.0 device, but it's a nice inclusion and it's something that you could possibly make use later down the track, especially if you're going to get on the Smart Phone bandwagon.

What I think really sums up this board is that it's the kind of board I'd personally use. Coming from someone who really has the ability to use almost any X79 motherboard, that's honestly saying something, but this is one that stands out for me. It's the reason I chose the G1.Sniper 2 in my Z68 build over other options.

I have no interest in overclocking my own system. Stability is the most important thing, so the fact it's not the highest overclocking board doesn't matter to me. If I wanted to do a light OC, though, I wouldn't have any issue with 4.5GHz and we saw today we ended up with just over 4.6GHz. Although, I'm not too sure we'd call that a light OC, the other thing is we're only a push away from hitting 4GHz thanks to the OC button on the back of the board.

I'm not a fan of the "gun" on the board, but once inside my case I wouldn't be able to see it due to my window position, and also the fact my video card would cover it and while not a fan of the color green, I've said before that combined with the matte black PCB, the color combination looks awesome.

While the board lacks eight DIMM slots like some others, 16GB is going to be the sweet spot when it comes to RAM for most people, so it's not a big issue. While four module 32GB kits also aren't as good value when compared to 16GB ones, there's that option as well for people. For most, though, it's fairly safe to assume that four 4GB DDR3 modules are going to be what most people pick up.

The G1.Assassin 2 is like other G1 boards; performance is strong and the feature set is amazing. For so many people that's exactly what you want from a motherboard. This is going to be a popular board from GIGABYTE for a good reason.

If you're looking for a board that focuses on those features that gamers love like the fantastic onboard networking, excellent onboard audio and one button overclock, this is a really attractive option. Throw in other extras like 802.11n Wireless and Bluetooth 4.0 support and you've just got a board that stands out for all the right reasons.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

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