Packaging and Overview
Final retail box and packaging are top notch and are some of the best regarding quality and design I have seen thus far. The designare line of the motherboard is about stability, modding, and even power users (workstation-esque). They are basic but get the job done, and they typically follow a silver/white color theme.
The accessory package includes six SATA6Gb/s braided cables, SLI HB bridge, Velcro cable straps, Torx wrench, two EC temperature sensors, two RGBW extension cables, WIFI antenna, M.2 screws, G-Connector, M.2 to U.2 adapter, Designare stickers, driver DVD, and manuals.
The motherboard has a whopping eight hybrid PWM/DC mode fan headers situated around the PCB. Five headers seem to be grouped in the top right corner of the motherboard. Two pump headers circled in blue, offer full speed as their default mode. The other features are circled in red. The motherboard has seven built-in temperature sensors used to control fan speed based on fan curves you can set in the UEFI or in Windows.
There are also two headers for EC temperature sensor probes, which are actually included in the box, so you can put those wherever you want and use them as fan reference, the headers are circled in green. The back of the motherboard has a huge metal shield, and the shield helps top reinforce the PCB and strengthens the motherboard. It also reduces the chance of you shocking the board while installing it.
The rear IO panel features PS/2 Keyboard/Mouse, eight USB 3.0 ports (yellow are DAC-UP 2, white is also for USB BIOS recovery), two 1Gbit LAN ports, WIFI antenna connectors, USB 3.1 type-A, USB 3.1 type-C, and 7.1 gold-plated audio outputs with S/PDIF optical. The vents you see in the integrated IO shield are for the hidden fan that cools the VRMs.
The PCI-E layout is super easy to understand, the first slot is always x16 PCI-E 3.0, the second is always x8 PCI-E 3.0, the third is always x4 PCI-E 2.0, the fourth is always x16 PCI-E 3.0, and the fifth is always x8 PCI-E 3.0. You can run up to 4-way SLI/CrossFireX. GIGABYTE provides three x4 PCI-E 3.0 M.2 slots; each one has a really awesome M.2 shield that doesn't only cool down your M.2 drives but also greatly aids in M.2 drive installation by holding the M.2 screw in place (seriously, that's more important to me than cooling my M.2 drives).
Eight SATA 6Gb/s ports connect to the chipset, there is no port sharing or switching on this motherboard. A USB 3.1 type-C header is located right below the 24-pin connector, and right near that is the Thunderbolt 3.0 GPIO header, which means this motherboard will support a Thunderbolt 3.0 add-in card when AMD and Intel finish certification.
The motherboard features an 8-pin and a 4-pin 12v power input for the CPU power; you should plug both in. Near all of those five fan headers sits one of the RGBW headers, it can also just be used for normal RGB LED strips and UV strips.
A beautiful POST code display is located right near a USB 3.0 internal header. We also get power, reset, and clear CMOS buttons on the motherboard, although I am not sure they placed clear CMOS so close to the power and reset switches and didn't change its color, you will need to be careful if you are going to use these buttons. You also get two USB 2.0 internal headers.
We find another RGBW header, but also a digital/addressable RGB LED header. Above the digital RGB header is a jumper, and this jumper allows you to change the digital RGB power from 5v (default) to 12v. The heat sink on the X399 Designare EX for the VRM is actually much different than the one used on the X399 AORUS Gaming 7.
It has more surface area as the fins have been redesigned, and it also comes with a small fan attached. The fan will turn on when MOSFET temperatures reach 90C (I never saw it on). The motherboard has an integrated IO panel and rear shield, both of which are nice improvements.
PRICING: You can find the product discussed for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link below to see real-time pricing for the best deal:
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- Page 1 [Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing]
- Page 2 [Packaging and X399 Designare EX Overview]
- Page 3 [GIGABYTE X399 Designare EX Circuit Analysis]
- Page 4 [GIGABYTE X399 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]
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