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Ultimate X79? Five $320+ LGA 2011 Motherboards, Reviewed

Gigabyte G1.Assassin2

Evidence that Gigabyte listens to gamers is found throughout its Assassin motherboards, beginning with the usual, “Give us a stripped-down overclocking board with plenty of slots to mount our high-end NICs and audio cards.” But wait. Aren’t those network and audio jacks we see?

With SLI potentially consuming a bunch of slots, Gigabyte improved upon the concept suggested by those requests (which go back as far as any of us can remember) by placing the high-end NIC and audio processor on-board. Here we find a Killer NIC E2100, complete with cache, along with the full hardware set of Creative’s 64 MB X-Fi Titanium HD.

The best memory latencies are usually accessible by placing only a single module on each memory channel, so Gigabyte docks the board to a mere four slots. The only thing really missing from making this the ultimate gaming-only platform is the absence of four-way CrossFireX or SLI support. But Gigabyte had to put that audio and network hardware somewhere. And besides, there's always that pistol-shaped chipset heat sink to admire.

Gigabyte finally listened to a few editors too, placing a BIOS selector switch on the I/O panel right below its automatic-overclocking OC button. Hidden beneath both of those is a rear-panel CLR_CMOS button.

Fewer connectors leave the G1.Assassin2 with fewer potential layout issues, and the board should fit nearly any ATX case designed for forward-facing SATA cables. Gigabyte paid special attention to the USB 3.0 header by moving it above the graphics cards—where its competitors usually place it—to avoid a repeat of past criticisms.

Yet, just when some might have thought this to be a perfect layout for gaming systems, Gigabyte throws in an added feature that can’t be used in conjunction with most three-way graphics builds. Its Bluetooth/Wi-Fi PCIe card requires a x1 slot that’s usually covered up by the heat sinks of high-performance graphics cards. The space that might have hosted a x1 slot non-obtrusively is filled by the Killer E2100 NIC, and x16 slot spacing issues that could cause the top card to run “hot” add to a package that’s best-completed with only two cards installed.

The G1.Assassin2’s installation kit includes CrossFire, SLI, and three-way SLI bridges, along with four SATA cables, the Wi-Fi kit, and a sheet-metal USB 3.0 drive bay adapter.

  • lradunovic77
    Something is wrong with your ASRock Extreme 9 testing. You article states that you used BIOS 1.40 however first release for this Motherboard was 1.60 and they also recently released 1.70. Bios 1.40 is for ASRock Extreme 4 which i own as well. Again in mean time they updated BIOS for ASRock Extreme 4 to version 1.50 which greatly improves overclocking. I have C1 and i am hitting 4.4Ghz easily. (1.50 BIOS ASRock Extreme 4).

    You might want re check the facts.

    Thanks.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    lradunovic77Something is wrong ...You might want re check the facts.Please do verify the facts beginning with the first X79 Extreme9 UEFI screenshot on page 3, showing version P 1.40 . The latest public firmware was downloaded for every motherboard on November 18, which is before ASRock says its P1.60 was even published. And, if you check Newegg, you'll find that Newegg was actually selling the X79 Extreme9 before firmware P1.60 was published.

    How could that happen? ASRock has repeatedly removed previous BIOS versions from its website and labeled the replacement as the initial release.

    This review was published after many hours of collaboration with ASRock, and some of the problems with this specific CPU are further detailed in the overclocking section. ASRock acknowledged the problem exists with a portion of the C1 CPU supply and has begun issuing patched BIOS to fix the multiplier issue, according to ASRock engineer William Yu.
    Reply
  • oxxfatelostxxo
    I have C1 and i am hitting 4.4Ghz easily. (1.50 BIOS ASRock Extreme 4).
    Not to mention that they didnt say they couldnt hit 4.4ghz, they just stated they didnt get that high without going beyond 1.35v

    Kinda wish we got to see a MAX overclock for air before temps got out of control =P
    But then you get various coolers involved... yada yada... but PLEASE anyway
    Reply
  • clonazepam
    This was a fun article to read. I wanted to quote a few bits here and there just to point out I enjoyed the humor in it, but that would have been a lot of quotes. It's subtle, tasteful way to add personality to the piece.

    I had to comment on something. I can't really comment on the hardware as its so enthusiast and SB-E is well beyond my needs. I can't comment too much on the bios because I still barely understand mine, but I am seeing the trend that it might be best to stick with what you know, or risk having to translate the various names/definitions of settings across different products. I'm not that smart nor that patient. I liked the comment on the 6.00...lol... %! I never would have thought. I think that just deciphered half of my bios options, thanks. /wink
    Reply
  • In the comparison table on the ASUS : "6 (x16/x0/x4/x16/x4/x0 or x8/x8/x4/x8/x84/x8)" -- x84 seems somewhat unlikely ;-)
    Reply
  • gmcizzle
    Not surprised both Asus boards came out on top performance wise, on most of these mobo roundups they usually do.
    Reply
  • Steveymoo
    Without trying to sound critical, wouldn't it be prudent to test SLI scaling on these enthusiast boards? 1, 2, and 3 way SLI, extra PCI-E bandwidth is one of the main reason why people even bother splashing out the extra cash on these chipsets. (Aside from the extra epeen++)

    Just sayin'
    Reply
  • Crashman
    shstoneIn the comparison table on the ASUS : "6 (x16/x0/x4/x16/x4/x0 or x8/x8/x4/x8/x84/x8)" -- x84 seems somewhat unlikely ;-)Thanks. Yes, the x4 stays the same. Fixed!SteveymooWithout trying to sound critical, wouldn't it be prudent to test SLI scaling on these enthusiast boards? 1, 2, and 3 way SLI, extra PCI-E bandwidth is one of the main reason why people even bother splashing out the extra cash on these chipsets. (Aside from the extra epeen++)Just sayin'You obviously don't understand the value of those +++'s!
    Reply
  • AstroTC
    AsRock has the better looking MB by far...

    Question does tht little fan on the motherboard get loud? If it does that would be a deal breaker for me
    Reply
  • CaedenV
    the problem with testing mobos is that they all have the same core (in this case the x79) which is what determines the raw speed of the system and busses, so they are all pretty well bunched together with no possibility of seeing any real world difference between boards. The things that differentiate the boards is in their feature sets, and as they are all rather different there is no proper way to test them against one another. Add to that the fact that these are all brand new boards which will see improvements with new UEFI releases, and there is really no way to pick a clear winner.

    On a side note I would love to see how these boards look assembled :)
    Reply