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GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force (Intel Z87) Motherboard Review

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force (Intel Z87) Motherboard Review

We check out the very mean, very orange and very OC looking Z87X-OC Force motherboard from GIGABYTE. Let's see how it performs.

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Thu, Jan 16 2014 4:28 PM CST   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:32 PM CDT
Rating: 97%Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction and Package

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VIEW GALLERY - 42 IMAGES

When it comes to core components, you can't deny that the hot products for the last quarter were indeed video cards. Thanks to a big launch from AMD, which saw a ton of new models, we saw a bunch of video cards come through from partners. We're still receiving samples from companies as they release new variations of models.

Along with AMD though, we saw NVIDIA release a new high-end model in the form of the GTX 780 Ti, to compete against the AMD Radeon R9 290X 4GB. Along with all of this, there's talk of more models coming from NVIDIA in the coming months, as each side continues to stay relevant in the extremely intensive video card arena.

While there's been a ton of movement in the video card side of things, the motherboard side of things hasn't exactly stood still. With video cards getting such a major focus, we've fallen a bit behind on the motherboard front. We're about to start playing catch up today though, and we're starting off with the very sexy looking GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force.

So, with that all said and done, let's take the time to see just what is being offered from GIGABYTE as far as the package is concerned.

Package

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Taking a look at the front of the box, you can see we've got the model name, along with the brand across the top of the box. You can also see a picture of the cooling setup that is used on the board. Of course, we'll take a closer look at that in just a moment.

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Turning the box over, you can see we've got a picture of the board, along with all of the major features being shown. Starting from the top, you can see one of the big features is the new Dual Water / Silent Fan thermal design, which sits across the top of the board. We'll take a closer look at this on the next page, when we look at the motherboard. You can also see some of the main power features, which include High Current Capable 8+4 Pin Power Socket, 15u Gold Plated CPU / Memory / PCIe Sockets, alongside an all IR Digital Power Design.

Other big features include OC Touch, Dual BIOS, and the ability to switch between them with ease. You can see we've also got support for both 4-Way SLI and CrossFire, alongside the OC Brace, which we'll take a closer look at in a second.

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Moving inside the box, you can see the normal line of paperwork, with three manuals; including one wireless adapter. You can also see two CDs; one is the typical driver and software, and the other is the Wi-Fi driver.

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Continuing on, you can see we've got the normal array of SATA Cables, with six being included in the package. Across the bottom of the image, you can also see we've got our main I/O panel.

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Above, you can see the OC Brace, which we mentioned just before when taking a closer look at the box. This isn't something that everyone will use. It's designed to be used when you don't want to install the board into a case. It's a cool feature that overclockers will like, but as we just mentioned, it's not going to be for everyone.

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Moving on, you can see we've got a bunch of connectors for multi video card setups. Three are related to SLI, with the top left one being for a four card setup, and the top right one being for a three card setup. Along with that, we've got a bridge for dual card setups for both AMD, and NVIDIA.

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Moving even deeper into the bundle, you can see we've got the PCIe GC-WB300D card, which offers both Bluetooth 4.0, and Wireless 802.11 a/b/g/n. Next to that, you can see we've also got an antenna to help with the signal.

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Finally, we finish up with the last piece of the bundle, which is a front panel connector that includes two USB 3.0 ports. Overall, you can see we've got quite a massive motherboard bundle being offered here. Having finally looked at all of that though, let's move on to the board.

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Motherboard

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Taking a look at the board, you can immediately see the black and orange color scheme, which is consistent with other boards under the "OC" labeling. I've always been a huge fan of this look, as it's really unique when compared to what we see from other companies. The matte black PCB also looks great, nicer than the glossy black that we see sometimes from other companies.

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As we take the time to start moving around the board, you can see we've got a total of seven PCIe slots. Towards the bottom, you can see we've got two PCIe x1 slots, while the other five slots are PCIe x16. The top slots, and four PCIe x16 slots, are both x16; while the second, third, and fifth all run at x8. As we've already seen mentioned a few times, the board supports up to four video cards; offering support for both Quad SLI, and 4-Way CrossFireX.

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Taking a look across the bottom of the board, you can see we've got the normal array of headers, including USB 2.0 and 3.0 headers, fan headers, and our main front panel header. You can also see our BIOS switches on both the left, and right side of the board.

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Turning the corner, you can see we've got a total of 10 SATA ports being offered here. All are SATA III, with the six black ones running off the Intel Z87 chipset. As for the four other SATA III ports, they run off the Marvell 88SE9230 chip. Next to the SATA ports, you can see we've got a SATA power connector. This is used if you're running high-end Quad SLI setups, and helps provide extra power to the PCIe slots.

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Heading to the north end of the board, you can see our four DIMM slots, which support up to 32GB of DDR3 memory at speeds ranging from 1333MHz DDR to 3000MHz DDR. Outside of that though, you can see we've got a bunch of other stuff going on here. We've got our main 24-Pin ATX Power connector, along with a USB 3.0 header, and PCIe switches that let you enable and disable particular PCIe x16 slots.

The big features here that really grab our attention though, are of course the OC Ignition; instead of going through what all the buttons do, we've instead chosen to include the OC Touch image that is offered on the GIGABYTE website. Below, you can see a good description of each switch.

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Moving a little further, you can see the CPU area, and the very fancy looking heat sink that GIGABYTE has got going on. The OC Cool setup that is offered on the force brings passive, active, and water cooling support, in what GIGABYTE labels as an "Extreme Heatsink Design". Looking at it, we wouldn't disagree with them.

As for power, you can see in the top corner of the board we have two power connectors on hand. One is an 8-Pin, while the other is a 4-Pin. Most will opt to use just the 8-Pin, but like the extra power for the Video Cards; if you're looking to get a bit more extreme with the system, then you'll want to use both.

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Finishing up our look at the board, we head over to the I/O side of things. Starting from the left, you can see we've got a pair of USB 2.0 ports, and a combo PS2 port. Continuing across, you can see we've got two of the total six USB 3.0 ports that are on offer. Two run off the Z87 chipset, while the others run off a pair of Renesas uPD720210 USB 3.0 hubs.

Video output options are offered via two HDMI ports, along with a single DisplayPort connector. Around here, we can also see an optical port. Nearing the end, we've got two Gigabit networking ports, both of which run off of Intel GbE LAN chips; because of this, Teaming is also supported for people who need even more speed out of their wired network. Finally, we finish off with six auxiliary ports, all of which run off of the Realtek ALC898 codec.

BIOS

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force (Intel Z87) Motherboard Review 18 | TweakTown.com

Recent BIOS updates brought support for High Resolution BIOS support via Dual Link DVI. Before we had a monitor that was capable of more than 1920 x 1080, the High Resolution feature didn't work over the Dual Link cable. Looking above though, you can see that it is indeed working, and the high resolution mode brings with it a sharper look, and more information, thanks to the higher resolution. You can see the status of the CPU, Memory and System on the sides, along with information regarding the voltage, fan speed, and temperature across the top.

Let's move away from the high resolution feature though, and cover what we're dealing with when we first enter the BIOS. You can see above, the "home" area offers all of the main performance options related to the CPU and Memory. We've also got basic voltage options here. Really everything you need for most people is right here.

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force (Intel Z87) Motherboard Review 19 | TweakTown.com

However, if you want to go into a bit more detail on the overclocking side of things, you can head over to the next tab, which is the Performance tab. Here, you've got a more vast array of options for the CPU, as well as the memory. Voltage options are also expanded.

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Moving through the rest of the BIOS, you can see all of the standard features. There's not a huge need to go into too much detail, as everything is really self-explanatory thanks to the images above; even more so now that the images are at a higher resolution.

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Finally, we finish up our look at the BIOS in the other mode. Normally, when we have the option, we'd always move straight over to this one to overclock; especially when GIGABYTE had the 3D BIOS, which was just a pain in the butt to navigate. The new BIOS though, are really fantastic, and we find our desire to move to this one is simply not as great as before; especially when we can have the High Resolution option in the other mode, which gives us an absolute wealth of information.

Benchmarks - Test System Setup and Overclocking

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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, MemoRight, and Corsair.

We've got a bunch of motherboards in our graphs here today, with the GIGBAYTE Z87X-OC Force being run at both stock speed, and overclocked. We'll talk about the latter in just a moment. As for the other boards that you'll see in our graphs today, we've got the MSI Z87-GD65 GAMING, ASRock Z87 OC FORMULA, and the non-Force version of the board we're looking at today: the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC.

Along with all those Z87 based options, we've also got the Z77 based MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming, alongside the GIGABYTE X79S-UP5-Wi-Fi to round things off. As always though, before we get into the performance of the board, we need to check what exactly is going on in terms of the overclock.

Overclocking went really well on the board, and it looked like we might be able to get 5GHz stable. We didn't have any problems getting into Windows, and it survived much longer than other boards we've tested. We messed around with the voltages for ages, in all places, to see if we could get it stable. In the end though, no matter what, that 50x multiplier just didn't want to play nice.

We moved back to the 49x multiplier, which brings us in at 4.9GHz. This is the number that we find most of our boards sitting at. It came as no surprise that this was stable, so we headed back into the BIOS to mess with the BCLK a little, to see if we could get any more. Unfortunately, we couldn't get anything stable.

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force (Intel Z87) Motherboard Review 01 | TweakTown.com

In the end though, we got 4.9GHz stable, which is a strong overclock. We did manage to drop the voltage down, and had the system stable at 1.323v. We're hoping this will mean that at this speed, we won't experience high 90c load numbers when it comes to the temperature.

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, are 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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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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GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force (Intel Z87) Motherboard Review 32 | TweakTown.com

Out of the box the performance is really strong. You can see that when it comes to Hyper Pi, the stock numbers on the Force offering are ahead of our other Z87 boards, which is fantastic. Of course, overclocking helps take the lead even further against our stock numbers.

AIDA64 CPU numbers seem to be fairly in line with our other offerings here, but ahead of the ASRock Z87 OC FORMULA, which sits a little further back when compared to our other Z87 offerings.

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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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 blazing fast media universal converter that can transcode your videos, photos, and music files, and output 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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PCMark 7 sees the Force fall only slightly behind the non-Force version of the same motherboard from GIGABYTE. At stock, it does manage to sit ahead of the other offerings though, and of course it goes even higher when we have our processor running at 4.9GHz.

MediaEspresso performance is really strong, and you can see it manages to come out ahead of all of our other Z87 offerings. While it might only be a few seconds compared to some, it of course manages to sit slightly ahead of its competition, which is always great. Overclocking helps shave a strong three minutes off of our encode time, and this kind of real-world benefit is what we love about overclocking, and MediaEspresso.

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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Checking out the performance of our USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, you can see that everything lines up just as you'd expect, with no change really being seen between the different setups here.

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, it 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 really strong. You can see that for the most part, we're really sitting ahead of all of our other Z87 options, in all areas. HD Tune Pro shows really strong average speed against the other Z87 offerings.

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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Memory bandwidth is fairly similar across the board, as you'd expect; we've seen this on all Z87 motherboards. Along with that though, you can also see that overclocking does nothing to overall memory performance, with nothing but a bit of fluctuation being shown.

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 on 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 titled "Metro: Last Light" was announced.

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Graphics performance is exactly as you'd expect. Out of the box the performance of the Force is pretty much in line with everything else. When it comes to overclocking, we see a slight performance boost in the lower resolution settings, which places more emphasis on the CPU. When we move up the resolution table though, we can see that nothing changes as the pressure moves onto just the video card.

Temperature and Power

Power Consumption

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Power numbers on the board sit higher in both the load and idle area in comparison to the other boards here. The large amount of features offered by the board means that we're not at all surprised by it. What's interesting though, is that when it comes to overclock, the numbers barely move. Idle actually sits slightly lower due to a bit of fluctuation, and load is just under 30 watts higher.

Core Temperature

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force (Intel Z87) Motherboard Review 43 | TweakTown.com

Temperatures numbers are really good. Idle at both stock and overclocked see us sitting 4 - 5c lower than the next closest board. Due to the lower voltage, when overclocking as well, we can see that the load numbers look great at just 82c. Sure it's warm, but it beats the 99c we see out of a lot of other boards. The cooling setup from GIGABYTE clearly does the job.

Pricing, Availability and Final Thoughts

Sure, with its current price tag as you can see below, the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force isn't a cheap board. But, with what's being offered, you wouldn't expect it to be. One of the major features that brings the larger price tag, is the cooling setup around the PWM area, which GIGABYTE has labeled as OC Cool.

We didn't go into a ton of detail today on OC Cool due to the fact that we got a chance to get really down and dirty with it last year. We really recommend that if you want to read more about the OC Cool, the Digital PWM technology, and see what it all looks like under a thermal imaging camera, you read our GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Motherboard Digital PWM and Cooling Deep Dive article.

Of course, the price is relative to so many other areas. Outside of the strong list of onboard features, there's the bundle that we've got, which is also extremely strong. The inclusion of the Wi-Fi / Bluetooth PCIe card, OC Bracket, USB 3.0 header, and the large amount of included SLI bridges, all make for a package that is clearly above average.

Then there's the performance side of things. Out of the box, the board performance is strong, coming in ahead of the competition in some key benchmarks. Overclocking is also strong, coming in at 4.9GHz. However, by taking better advantage of the features on offer, like the water cooling OC Cool, we don't doubt that higher is going to be possible, as we saw the board running well at 5GHz. Unfortunately, just not well enough to be 100% stable. It showed stronger potential of running at 5GHz than a lot of other boards we've looked at.

Outside of the OC name though, you don't have to be some kind of hard core overclocker to take advantage of a board like this. At its current price, the board offers fantastic performance and features that mean that even if you're not an overclocker, you're still getting a quality product. Of course, if you're going to overclock, you'll get even more value out of the product, along with increased value on your CPU. But, you don't have to be an overclocker to appreciate the quality of the board that GIGABYTE is offering here.

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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.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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