Gigabyte GA-X99-Designare EX Review

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Firmware & Overclocking

UEFI Interface

The Designare EX shares the same UEFI interface and features we outlined in the X99P-SLI review. You can check there for more detail. You still get the same Easy and Classic modes, the same slow mouse tracking throughout, and the same problematic fan sliders controls.

CPU Overclocking

Although the Designare has the same overclocking controls as the X99P-SLI, it can't hit the same clock rates stably. Our sample can't reach the 4.2 GHz mark, so it's more than 100 MHz slower than its less expensive cousin at 4.147 GHz (41 x 101 MHz BCLK ). In typical Gigabyte fashion, the BCLK creeps a little above the UEFI setting for an actual pace of 101.16 MHz, giving the 6 MHz bump over the expected 4.141 GHz.  It barely beats the X99 Taichi for a higher overclock, but does it on a much lower voltage (only 1.31V compared to 1.34V ).

BCLK Overclocking

The Designare demonstrates Gigabyte's usual BCLK behavior both in the vacillating (stock 100 MHz bounces between 99.75 MHz and 100.17 MHz) and in extra flexibility. The 1.0 and 1.25 straps can reach 102.2 MHz and 128.3 MHz, respectively, which is just shy of matching the X99P-SLI, but is a greater range than the Gaming Pro Carbon or Taichi.

Power Control

Voltage and power control remain the same on the Designare. Overall configuration options are decent but not as detailed as some tweakers would want.

RAM Overclocking

Overclocking the memory is rather simple on the Designare, as the XMP DDR4-3200 CAS 14 setting was as high as it would go. Once again, this surpasses the Taichi. It also shares the lopsided RAM voltage cheat of the X99P-SLI, with 0.35V on the A and B channels and 0.25V on C and D.

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Eric Vander Linden is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews motherboards, specializing in high-end Intel chipsets.