The new Z97 Intel chipset platform that arrived a few months back brought a handful of new features to the table, but most of the initial boards that launched were targeted at a more demanding audience. Now, Gigabyte has built a mid-range board, which brings the new Z97 features to what we presume will be a lower price point.
The Gigabyte Z97-HD3P motherboard comes in an ATX form factor and has the LGA1150 socket, so it will accept Haswell and Haswell Refresh processors. Wired to the socket are four DDR3 memory slots, two PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots, two PCI-Express x1 slots and two old-school PCI slots. Four SATA3 (6 Gb/s) ports, a 10 Gb/s M.2 slot and a 10 Gb/s SATA-Express interface handle connectivity.
Additional connectivity consists of a front USB 3.0 header, three front USB 2.0 headers, a COM header and an LPT header. The rear I/O ports consist of a PS/2 port, VGA, DVI, HDMI, two USB 2.0 ports, four USB 3.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet and 8-channel HD audio.
The motherboard handles audio with dedicated hardware, which is built with high-quality capacitors and Gigabyte's Audio Noise Guard that separates the audio hardware from the rest of the motherboard with an LED-lit line. You'll also find a dual-BIOS, which is useful in case flashing a BIOS accidentally goes wrong.
All things considered, this board certainly isn't the best Z97 board out there, but it's not meant to be. We expect this motherboard to be among the cheaper Z97 boards, competing with contenders such as the Z97 Anniversary and Z97M Anniversary from ASRock.