Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
GIGABYTE has one of the largest Intel X99 motherboard fleets in the retail market. Instead of leaving just a few models to satisfy their customers, they tend to tailor their segments to better target their end users' needs. GIGABYTE has come out with G1 Gaming, SOC Overclocking, and Ultra Durable lines. While each type of board is specifically targeted towards gamers, overclockers, or power users, all the boards cross over into each other's domains.
Their overclocking boards carry upgraded audio and their gaming boards carry overclocking features, while their main series carries both. However, as you get deeper into their product structure, certain products offer features that don't exist on other lines, and the X99-Gaming 5P is a perfect example of this.
What makes GIGABYTE's second wave of X99 motherboards special isn't their features, but rather the socket. At X99 launch, ASUS figured out that the Intel CPU had more pads than there were pins on the motherboard, and for an unknown reason (maybe they didn't want to rename the socket to LGA2083), Intel decided to dictate that the LGA2011-V3 socket wouldn't have pins for all the CPU pads. Until recently, only ASUS had the socket with extra pins, but now all X99 motherboard manufacturers have motherboards in the market with the extra pins, and the X99-Gaming 5P is one of them.
The X99-Gaming 5 is basically a refreshed model of the X99-Gaming 5 I reviewed a few months ago, but with a few differences. Follow me as I explore the ins and outs of the X99-Gaming 5P.
The specifications of the X99-Gaming 5P are almost identical to that of the X99-Gaming 5 which is being phased out of production. It has a different circuit layout, a wider PCB, a socket selector switch, and enhanced feature positioning compared to its predecessor. What is interesting to note is that GIGABYTE didn't remove anything hardware wise, instead they added.
The X99-Gaming 5P is $309.99 on Newegg and Amazon at the time of this review, which is a bit on the higher side for X99 motherboards. It is cheaper than the X99-Gaming G1 WIFI which is $370, but more expensive than the X99-Gaming 5 which is $264.
Packaging and the X99-Gaming 5P
Packaging and the Board
The box is simple and the packaging is well done. The board is in an anti-static bad inside its own mini-box.
Accessories include 6x braided SATA6G cables, lighted IO shield, 2-Way SLI bridge, two 3-Way SLI bridges with different spacing options, 4-Way SLI bridge. 2-way CrossFireX bridge, 3-to-1 ESP 8-pin CPU power expander, driver DVD, manuals, GIGABYTE sticker, and G1 Gaming sticker.
I have circled the five fan headers in red and blue. The single CPU fan header circled in red is for PWM fans, and the rest of the four headers are voltage mode fan headers. The aesthetics of the motherboards are quite appealing, especially if you like red. The logos aren't tacky and the colors seem to blend well. GIGABYTE has darkened the color of the PCB markings, so that they are no longer white, but rather gray. The back of the PCB is bare except for a few LEDs for the audio PCB divide.
Side by side the X99-Gaming 5 and the X99-Gaming 5P look almost identical, but there are some major differences. First off the X99-Gaming 5P is wider than the X99-Gaming 5, making it an E-ATX motherboard which will fit in most ATX cases since it isn't longer than ATX. The X99-Gaming 5P has 72 extra pins in its CPU socket compared to the X99-Gaming 5. The heat sink on the PCH is also larger on the X99-Gaming 5P, and the fan headers have been moved which makes for easier connection for case fans. The USB 3.0 front panel header has been moved near towards the 24-pin power socket, which is a very nice move.
While most of the circuitry is the same, the X99-Gaming 5P has a lot of added components to support the features of the new socket with extra pins. An extra switch is also added so users can decide if they want to use the Intel certified socket or the socket with the extra pins. It turns out that those extra pins unlock the ability for higher cache frequency as well as lower required voltage for the IMC during high speed DDR4 overclocks. It isn't apparent whether the new socket is more or less safe for the CPU and with the X99-Gaming 5P it doesn't matter because it carries a switch to disable or enable those pins.
The IO Panel features 6x USB 3.0 (white port is for USB BIOS recovery), 4x USB 2.0 (with power control), PS/2 Keyboard and Mouse ports, RJ-45 1GBit Killer LAN, a gold plated TOSLINK with S/PDIF, and a bracket in case you want to install an M.2 WIFI card.
The PCI-E layout on this motherboard is optimized for multi-GPU configurations. All the PCI-E bandwidth from the CPU reaches the slots, and does so almost without delay. The third and fourth slots are hardwired at 16x (third slot) and 8x (fourth slot). The first slot has its first 8x hard wired to the CPU and the second 8x can be shared with the second PCI-E slot if needed.
You can run cards in multiple configurations, especially when you have a 28-lane CPU installed, and that is why GIGABYTE provides two 3-way SLI bridge offering different slot spacing. A MOLEX receptacle for extra PCI-E power is provided at the bottom of the motherboard and both M.2 slots are between the second and third PCI-E 16x slots. All the PCI-E 1x slots are directly routed to the PCH.
GIGABYTE equipped the X99-Gaming 5P with 10 SATA ports, two of which are shared with the SATA Express and M.2 ports. The four ports labeled sSATA cannot do RAID, while the other six can.
The CPU mode switch allows for users to enable the extra pins in the socket and a USB 3.0 internal header is positioned below the 24-pin connector.
The audio setup on this board is one of the most customizable I have seen, and it is identical to the one on the X99-Gaming G1 WIFI. The ability to replace the amplifier is a really cool feature, and while most won't utilize it, it still provides upgradability. The gold cover on the Creative Core3Di is also a nice touch, and actually contrasts well with the green Nichicon audio capacitors. The switch in the picture allows for gain adjustment.
The VRM is made up of 6 phases, and it's the same as the VRM found on the X99-Gaming 5 and other 6-phase GIGABYTE X99 motherboards. While it might not seem like much, it is more than enough.
The heat sink is one solid piece. The heat sink uses screws and makes good contact with components.
X99-Gaming 5P Circuit Analysis
The CPU VRM features a total of 6 phases; each is powered by an integrated power stage, the well-known International Rectifier PowIRstages. There are six high capacity server grade inductors made by Cooper Bussmann. The FP1007R3-R15-R are 0.15uH Flat-Pac series power inductors, they feature 76A saturation current at 25C, this is an extremely high current rating, and will help reduce overall heat around the VRM area. The X99-Gaming 5P uses 9x Nippon Chemicon 10K can-type polymer capacitors each rated at 560uF for a total of 5040uF.
The X99-Gaming 5P is using the International Rectifier IR3580, an 8 phase digital PWM, the latest one that is offered by International Rectifier. GIGABYTE has used the IR3556 for the power stages; each one can output 50A at about 10W and 90% efficiency. The IR3556 is a brand new PowIRstage, it replaces the IR3551.
There are two sets of everything for the DDR4 power on X99, this is because there are two sets of DIMMs on every X99 motherboard. GIGABYTE chose to stay with digital PWM control for all four DDR4 VRMs; the International Rectifier IR3570 is a 3+2 phase digital PWM perfect for this. Two of these PWMs are in use, one on each side of the board. There are four DDR4 VRMs because each set of DIMMs requires a DRAM voltage of 1.2v and a DRAM VPP voltage of 2.5v. The 1.2v rail is the most important, and on this board each set of DIMMs get two phases, each a 40A International Rectifier IR3553. The VPP is powered by a single phase that also uses the IR3553.
Here is the second memory VRM and the VPP VRM is located below the DIMMs.
A single RT8120 is a single phase PWM and it powers a single phase VRM using two Vishay SiRA14 and SiRA18 MOSFETs that control the PCH voltage rail.
The main chip for the audio on the X99 Gaming 5P is the Core3Di chip from creative, the CA0132. It resides under the gold plated EMI shield. The entire audio section is separated from the main PCB where the analog and digital signals are mixed, this makes higher quality analog signals on the audio side easier to attain.
GIGABYTE provides a replaceable operational amplifier; they call this system OP-AMP. The board comes with a Burr Brown (Texas Instruments audio subdivision) OPA2134, the CAP switch next to it reduces gain from 6x to 2.5x for both channels. A Texas Instruments TPS65130 provides up to +/- 15v for the OP-AMP socket. Dual ASM comparators help with the LED lighting modes. The X99 Gaming 5P also provides an amplifier for the front panel audio, the DRV632 from Texas Instruments provides that functionality. There are also 8x Nichicon audio capacitors of varying sizes.
X99-Gaming 5P Circuit Analysis Continued
Circuit Analysis Continued
A Qualcomm Killer e2201 gaming NIC is provided. Four of the USB 3.0 ports on the backpanel are routed through a NEC/Rensas D720210 which is a 1-to-4 USB 3.0 hub.
An IDT6V49332 is a clock generator which basically helps out with BCLK overclocking. The iTE IT8792E and at least six linear regulators are used to handle the extra pins in the socket; the CPU Mode switch is hooked up to this IC which digitally enables or disables extra pins.
Dual 128Mbit (16MB) BIOS ROMs are provided along with an IT8951E which allows for the addition of USB BIOS recovery in case DualBIOS doesn't work.
The main SuperIO is an IT8620E which monitors and controls voltage, temperature, and fans. It also provides the PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports on the back. A secondary EC is used, the IT8792E, and it helps the SuperIO. Four nuvoTon NCT3941S provide voltage mode fan control of four headers. Four NXP L04083B switch two PCI-E lanes each from the first PCI-E 16x slot to the second.
The RT8288A provides clean 5v power to the four USB DAC-UP ports which are yellow on the back panel. These ports have the ability to work without any power or with clean 5v power. Some USB DACs don't need USB power, just data, and with this system you can cut the power without cutting the data so it doesn't cause unneeded input noise.
BIOS and Software
With these X99 GIGABYTE boards, you should really only use the classic mode (gray BIOS) by pressing F2 when you are greeted by the very basic mode upon entrance into the UEFI. From the classic mode, you can access all the settings, including overclocking. While I only have access to the F1 BIOS, the first release for the X99-Gaming 5P, everything worked very well. Bugs from first wave GIGABYTE X99 motherboards, such as the rebooting that occurred with certain USB drives plugged in, have been solved and the UEFI performs as one would expect from a $300 product.
Overall I was impressed by the maturity of this first release UEFI. I do however wish that GIGABYTE would expand fan control, perhaps provide a GUI. When you enable the CPU mode switch, 6 extra voltages become available under the CPU voltage menu.
Only VL4, 5, and 6 should be increased. First start off with 1.44 or 1.45v on VL6 for cache overclocking. VLs will increase by auto rules, so you might not have to change them at all.
EasyTune is the go to program for most novice overclockers and it presents a decent amount of tuning options and monitoring. GIGABYTE also provides other programs through the APP center such as @BIOS, Ambient LED, Cloud Station, Smart Recovery 2, Fast Boot, Smart TimeLock, and SIV.
For more advanced overclockers, GIGABYTE Tweak Launcher (GTL) is much simpler and better.
Killer Network Manager and Creative's Sound Blaster suite are also provided.
Test System Setup
This is the new test bench, and it is designed to test every aspect of the motherboard and IO. I have designed it so that the motherboard sits in a case and is cooled by fans always on at a constant rate to keep the conditions similar for all tests. I have cut out part of the case behind the motherboard so I can get thermal images of the back of the PCB where the VRM heat spreads. System and CPU power measurements are now digitally logged.
I am also using a Netgear Nighthawk X4 AC2350 for our network (including wireless AC) tests. The latest M.2, SSD, and USB technologies are also being utilized to test the maximum potential of the motherboards that are being tested.
In this section, I will go through overclocking this board.
Max CPU Overclock is found by setting the VCore to 1.5v, Input voltage to 2.1v, cache voltage to 1.15v, booting with a CPU multiplier of 45x and disabling any features that would result in CPU frequency fluctuation. I then proceed into Windows and use software to increase the multiplier; in this case I opted to use GTL.
5.0GHz is the maximum of our CPU on this board and other X99 motherboards. It is clear that CPU overclocking is pretty good for high frequency. Maximum AIDA64 Stable Overclock (BIOS settings below for this):
I was easily able to pull off 4.5GHz on the CPU with 3.2GHz cache and a 2400MHz overclock on my memory manually tuning the UEFI.
Boards with the extra pins in the socket can overclock the cache further, on the X99-Gaming 5P I was able to OC the cache to 4.4GHz while the core was 4.6GHz.
CPU, Memory, and System Benchmarks
AIDA64 AES and HASH
PCMark8 Home Test
3DMark: Cloud Gate
3DMark: Fire Strike
Resident Evil 6
CPU, memory, system, and 3D performance are all very strong and there don't seem to be any issues.
These benchmarks are to find either exceptional performance or flaws, however in this case the X99-Gaming 5P is a solid motherboard.
System IO Benchmarks
DiskBench USB 3.0:
ixChariot Network Throughput:
IO performance is where I expected it to be, it's a good performer, but not the best. SATA6G storage performance is solid. I expected these scores because of the 2x PCI-E for the M.2 drive. USB performance is very good because the port is directly routed to the PCH.
Audio RMAA 5.5:
I disable all audio features, set the correct bitrates, and then test the audio with a loopback test.
Sound Judgment by Ear: Excellent, really quite good, and the extra volume from the AMP is pretty noticeable. There are 5 ratings for audio: 1. Problems, 2. Okay, 3. Acceptable, 4. Very good, 5. Excellent
Temperature and Power Consumption
System power usage is measured at the AC/DC PSU (the Corsair AX1200i) which I have connected to another system to measure the test system and as a backup I have a wall meter to verify. The CPU power is measured through the 8-pin connector which is hooked up to a hall effect IC which measures current and puts out a voltage in proportion to the current. That voltage is logged by a National Instruments ADC which logs the DC voltage level, which I then convert into current.
Note on Thermal Images: In the temperature section, we use our Seek thermal imaging camera to capture the surface temperatures of major components on the board; I look at the VRM and then all other things that light up the screen. If there is something to worry about then I will state it, otherwise I will just show the hotter running parts of the board for fun. Unless some component is over 80-90C then there really isn't anything to worry about.
All systems will act differently, so I will look for commonalities, such as how far from the VRM the heat spreads through the PCB and the difference in temperature between the front side and backside of the PCB. Keep in mind that the majority of the heat from the VRM goes into the PCB as it is a giant soldered on copper heat sink. A larger difference in temperature between the back and front of the PCB points towards a more effective heat sink.
Thermal Testing at Stock Speeds:
The image on the left is always at idle and the image on the right is at load.
Up-close of the front of the VRM.
Up-close of the back of the VRM.
Thermal Testing at 4.5GHz Overclocked Speeds:
Up-close of the front of the VRM.
Up-close of the back of the VRM.
The VRM components on this motherboard are the same ones GIGABYTE uses on its top of the line overclocking motherboards. Temperatures on the backside never exceeded the temperatures on the front of the motherboard, indicating solid heat sink performance. Even though this is a 6-phase VRM, it performs as well as some 8 and 12 phase VRMs I have seen on other boards.
Board makers can either use high power density or more phases to achieve an overclocking capable X99 motherboard, GIGABYTE has definitely focused on power density. Don't let the fact that the board only has 6 phases faze you (no pun intended); it's enough for any air or water overclock. Anything under 60C is excellent, 60-80C is acceptable, and anything above 80C is a bit worrisome (if at stock).
The X99-Gaming 5P is a really solid Intel X99 motherboard. Being part of the second wave, it has fixes for some of the issues with GIGABYTE's first generation of X99 motherboards. The optimization of feature placement, larger heat sink, and socket with extra pins all provide incentives for the purchase of the new X99-Gaming 5P over its predecessor.
Overall system and IO performance is up to par with the best performing boards. The direct routing of PCH and CPU bandwidth to the slots and ports provides great compatibility and performance. While it has a 6-phase VRM, thermal performance and overclocking is excellent. I would have liked to see some OC features like a POST code display, but OC recovery was exceptional so if it had a POST code you probably wouldn't really need it. The extra pins in the socket and revised DDR trace routing help to increase cache overclocks and decrease the required amount of system agent voltage. While the cache frequency increase might not benefit those on air or water cooling, GIGABYTE is able to guarantee certain DDR4 3333MHz kits work with only XMP enabled, such as those from Corsair.
There are of course some places for improvement, right now the price of the X99-Gaming 5P is a bit on the high-side. The $309.99 price tag reflects the recency of the motherboard's release as well as the hardware required for the extra pins in the socket. I also wish the board came with a 4x M.2 slot, but that isn't a big issue since performance is still very good and the PCI-E lanes saved go towards connectivity and the PCI-E slots.
Overall I was impressed with the feeling of maturity the X99-Gaming 5P provided over its predecessor and other X99 motherboards I have tested. GIGABYTE does provide some premium gaming features, specifically in the audio section. The X99-Gaming 5P has GIGABYTE's top of the line onboard audio, and the replaceable amplifier with gain switch makes it one of the most versatile audio solutions for a motherboard.
|Performance (including Overclocking)||93%|
|Quality including Design and Build||96%|
|Bundle and Packaging||94%|
|Value for Money||90%|
The Bottom Line: If you want a dependable Intel X99 motherboard with the latest gaming technologies coupled with solid overclocking performance and the feeling of platform maturity, look no further than the X99-Gaming 5P.
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