Here are key points about the GIGABYTE X99-Ultra Gaming.
Optimized 2-way and 3-way spacing: Shifting away from their traditional four equally spaced PCI-E 16x slot arrangement, GIGABYTE has optimized GPU layout for two or three cards, which is what most people will use these days. Two cards get a huge amount of spacing between each other, and three cards can run without blocking the bottom row of headers.
M.2 and U.2 at the same time: GIGABYTE's X99-Ultra Gaming allows for U.2 and M.2 to work at the same time. Instead of switching x4 PCI-E 3.0 between the two, GIGABYTE provides each a dedicated x4 link to the CPU.
Intel USB 3.1: The Alpine Ridge controller has become synonymous with high-end USB 3.1. Although we have yet to see many USB 3.1 devices on the market, Intel's solution should offer superior performance because of its PCI-E lane requirements and Intel's reputation for high-performance controllers.
RGB LEDs Galore: Some people dislike RGB LEDs, but to be honest, they are kind of cool. I am not going to be a hardware snob and pretend like I don't enjoy the lights - even though I own over 100 motherboards, I still like to show off my hardware. GIGABYTE's UEFI based RGB LED control allows you to set and forget the lights. The diffusion in certain zones like the audio and DIMM areas look cool, but I am not a fan of the PCI-E and VRM area RGB LEDs, as they aren't diffused.
Dual NICs: While you can't team the Intel and Killer NICs, they still are useful. You could switch between the two and use the Killer for gaming and the Intel for everything else.
No POST Code: Seriously. I know that the POST code is pretty much only handy for troubleshooting, but on an expensive build, it can save time and nerves. I would have also like to have seen a dual BIOS switch to manually change the BIOS ROMs.
No RGB Zones: If you want to disable the PCI-E and VRM RGB LEDs but not the DIMM, IO shield, audio, and SATA RGB LEDs, you are out of luck. You might be able to cover the LEDs you do not like with some black tape, but otherwise, you get either all or none. The same thing applied to using different colors in different zones; you can only choose one color for all LEDs.
No U.2 for 28-Lane CPUs: Since GIGABYTE routed x4 directly to the M.2 and U.2 slots, they decided to only allow U.2 with a 40-lane CPU. However, if you want to use U.2, you can always get an M.2 to U.2 converter, which doesn't cost all that much.
The X99-Ultra Gaming is an interesting motherboard. It costs $279.99 while the X99-Phoenix SLI costs $339.99, that's a $60 difference for different networking (no WIFI/different second NIC) and a few changes in aesthetics. The X99-Ultra Gaming uses very high-quality voltage regulator components, the PCI-E layout is excellent, fan control is useful, and the RGBs are a nice touch. Overclocking was very simple, and memory compatibility was quite good with the 32GB kits I used.
I was upset when I didn't find any POST code display since it's very hard to find one in the US that will work with all motherboards and if I did it would take up a PCI-E slot. If I had to choose between the two motherboards, I would probably go with the Phoenix because of the orange color theme, but if I could make good use of the $60 in savings, I would just get the X99-Ultra Gaming and call it a day.
The amount of features the motherboard has along with all the X99 refresh updates makes it an awesome value product.
|Performance (including Overclocking)||90%|
|Quality including Design and Build||91%|
|Bundle and Packaging||88%|
|Value for Money||93%|
|Overall TweakTown Rating||91%|
The Bottom Line: GIGABYTE's X99-Ultra Gaming looks and feels like a high-end motherboard equipped with the latest in connectivity and performance features, but without the crazy high price tag.
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- Page 1 [Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing]
- Page 2 [Packaging and X99-Ultra Gaming Overview]
- Page 3 [GIGABYTE X99-Ultra Gaming Circuit Analysis]
- Page 4 [GIGABYTE X99-Ultra Gaming 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]