You just dropped $1700 on a 6950X CPU, and now you have to decide how to care for the expensive beast, and you feel an increasing feeling of anxiety when it comes to motherboard selection. Your mouse hand is getting warmer each second, and your fingers are slowly starting to shake as you scroll through the seemingly endless list of motherboards. You realize that picking a motherboard isn't going to be an easy task, you want one of the newer X99 motherboards and not one of the older models, but you realize that reviews on the newer models are few and far between. Questions pop into your mind about the quality of the different motherboards, after all, you don't want a cheaper motherboard to ruin your precious CPU.
So, you decide to set a minimum motherboard price instead of a maximum, perhaps at $400; after all, you just spent more than four times that amount on the CPU. Now your search has condensed into only 20 models, and you are still having a tough time. Today I will give one of these high-end motherboards a thorough review.
The model names GIGABYTE has picked this round are interesting; I have no other word for it. The word "Designare" sounds almost Italian, French, or perhaps even Spanish. A Google search and call to my Italian uncle reveals that it is the Italian word for "designate" not "designer" (in fact, according to an Italian friend, the Italian word for designer is designer). So here we have the X99-Designate EX, it is ready to tell you your fate! Either way, we have to give GIGABYTE credit for trying something new, and this motherboard is their top X99 refresh model, and it has a hidden PEX8747 under the shielding. The motherboard offers an unprecedented number of feature for the X99 platform, and so today I will examine it inside and out.
The GIGABYTE X99-Designare EX is loaded with features including USB 3.1 from Intel's Alpine Ridge, 32Gb/s M.2, two 32Gb/s U.2 ports, WirelessAC/BT 4.2, and a new UEFI. I will say this, the implementation of Alpine Ridge on this motherboard is setup for Thunderbolt 3, the proper hardware is in place. There is even a DisplayPort input only for the controller so it can be used for Thunderbolt 3. The reason GIGABYTE isn't advertising Thunderbolt 3 might be because certification takes months, so I wouldn't be surprised if they officially support it in the future.
The X99-Designare EX is available from many large retailers for $418.99.
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- Page 1 [Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing]
- Page 2 [Packaging and X99-Designare EX Overview]
- Page 3 [GIGABYTE X99-Designare EX Circuit Analysis]
- Page 4 [GIGABYTE X99-Designare EX Circuit Analysis Continued]
- Page 5 [BIOS and Software]
- Page 6 [Test System Setup]
- Page 7 [Overclocking]
- Page 8 [CPU, Memory, and System Benchmarks]
- Page 9 [System IO Benchmarks]
- Page 10 [Thermal Imaging and Power Consumption]
- Page 11 [What's Hot, What's Not & Final Thoughts]