Gigabyte X99 Ultra Gaming Motherboard Review

Product Showcase – Close up

Here is the board, in all its glory. As you can see from the pictures that Gigabyte did not cheap out in reinforcing all the PCIe x16 slots, unlike “A” certain brand. The memory slots are reinforced as well. I feel that the stainless steel slot covers adds a little bit of rugged look to the board. Gigabyte kept the layout pretty clean and put things that really mattered on the board. They focused on things like; great audio, SLI support, plenty of storage connectivity, and a place to add in a WiFi module.

 

 

Taking a look at the rear I/O options, one might feel that there is not enough. Especially since X99 doesn’t support on board video. I do feel that Gigabyte could have used that extra space for adding more USB connectors in the back. The board features dual gigabit LAN, for those few who really need dual LAN. One is Intel, and the other is Atheros Killer LAN (so LAN Teaming may be a little more difficult). The board also features a dual mode PS2 connector, for old school keyboard or mouse. The rear I/O has a single USB 3.1 Type “A” port, plus a USB 3.1 Type “C” connector. Gigabyte has left some space (and mounts) for your WiFi antennas, in the event you do get an M.2 WIFI module. I wish that Gigabyte would include some antennas (and cables) to use with the board. The board has your standard audio outputs, including an optical digital audio out (S/PDIF), and gold plated connectors. The white USB 3.0 port can be used to flash the BIOS using a USB jump drive (even without processor or RAM installed).

 

The top of the board features the EPS 8 pin CPU power connector. The top also includes a system fan header, and the CPU optional fan header. The CPU optional fan header can also be used as a pump header (as it offers Hybrid control). The RAM slots look a little different, because of the reinforcement slot covers and RGB light diffusers.

 

The front edge of the board features the standard connectors one would expect to see. You have the 24 Pin motherboard power connector, a USB 3.0 header, and a Thunderbolt header.

 

Looking at the storage options on the board, you get a lot with the X99 Ultra Gaming. Starting with the U.2 connector (for Intel PCIe SSDs), 10 SATA 6GB/s connectors, and a SATA Express connector. The board also supports a single PCIe or SATA M.2 SSD. I like boards that still offer support for SATA M.2, and not just PCIe. I feel it allows more options for the users, and they don’t necessarily have to upgrade their SATA M.2 SSD to use the board.

 

The bottom of board features the standard connectors.

From Left to right you have the

  • Front Panel Audio header
  • RGB LED header
  • Demo header
  • Molex power connector (extra power for PCIe lanes)
  • TPM header
  • System Fan header
  • 2 x USB 2.0 headers
  • USB 3.0 Header
  • System Fan/Pump header
  • Front Panel header

Everything is labeled very nicely on the board.

 

The bottom pin on the RGB Strip header is the 12V pin. Please make sure that you plug in your RRG LED Strip cable correctly, to prevent any damage.

 

The board features an M.2 SSD slot between the 2nd and the 3rd PCIe lane. The CMOS battery, and the M.2 WiFi slot are located between the 1st and the 2nd PCIe lane. The board supports M.2 SSDs that are up to 110mm long. Typically M.2 SSDs are 80mm long.

 

Here is a close up view of the SSD (red arrow), and the WiFi (blue arrow) M.2 connectors. If you look closely they are not exactly the same and you will not be able to plug things into the wrong spot.

 

The CPU socket area is pretty clean, and you will only find the CPU fan header in that area.

 

The board features a total of Five (5) fan headers. Two (2) of them are setup as hybrid fan headers. These can be used for water pumps on custom loops, or, All In Coolers like the Corsair Hydro Series.

 

The board features the Intel LGA 2011-V3 socket, that actually has 2083 pins. These extra pins are used to provide more power under overclocking conditions. Gigabyte possibly uses the most gold in their sockets (approx 15u). That provides you with better contact, and less interference.

 

The  X99 Ultra Gaming supports SLI at x16 x16. This is thanks to two of its x16 slots being real x16 (electrically). Keep in mind, in order to run SLI at x16, x16, you need a CPU that has support for that configuration. Some LGA 2011-V3 CPUs only support 28 PCIe lanes (not 40). So, for CPUs like the i7-5820K or 6800K, you will be running SLI at x16 x8.

 

The motherboard features Gigabyte’s patented dual BIOS, and the recovery feature (powered by the iTE IT8951E). The Dual BIOS is located right above the 3rd PCIe lane.

 

Here is a closeup of the Two (2) BIOS chips (Main_BIOS and Backup_BIOS) on the X99 Ultra Gaming

 

All of the heat-sinks and I/O shroud are held in place using screws. Once we remove those screws, we can really see what is under the heat-sinks and covers. Let’s take a look at some of the key components of the board.

 

Gigabyte X99 series motherboards all feature “server level” Cooper Bussmann chokes. The X99 Ultra Gaming is no exception and features an all digital power delivery system. The board also features all Black solid capacitors that are rated to perform at maximum efficiency for extended periods (even in extreme performance configurations).

 

X99 Ultra Gaming features a digital CPU power design from International Rectifier® which includes both 4th Generation digital PWM Controllers and industry-leading 3rd Generation PowIRstage® controllers.

 

With the heat-sink removed we can see the Platform Controller Hub (PCH). We can also see an iTE IT8620E super I/O controller for voltage and temperature monitoring. There is also an iTE IT8792E for fan control. The internal USB 3.0 headers are powered by the D720210 hub controller.

 

The X99 Ultra Gaming features RGB LEDs all over the board for ambient LEDs. The rear I/O cover even has a cable that connects to an RGB header on the board.

 

The rear covers are actual 2 separate pieces and they are both easily removed for painting (or whatever).

 

The X99 Ultra Gaming’s “Amp Up Audio” is powered by a Realtek ALC 1150 codec (red arrow), and Nichicon capacitors. The board also features a very unique RGB XMP indicator, that illuminates when an XMP memory profile is enabled.

 

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