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GIGABYTE X99-SOC Force and X99-UD7 WiFi Preview

PCB & connectivity

Ah…the good old black and orange… a nice sight for an overclocker, if you remember the history of this color scheme and the first motherboard from the GIGABYTE OC Series, the beautiful GA-X58A-OC beast… GIGABYTE X99-SOC Force is the direct descendant of the old X58 behemoth, and of course we will have to see if the performance will rise to the level of the old OC monster.

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Until then, let’s see what the engineers from GIGABYTE packed in with X99-SOC Force. Of course, the first thing we see is the OC Button area, which allows us to change settings like the multiplier on the fly, without using any software. Of course, we meet some old friends like OC Ignition (the function that keeps power in the motherboard and fans even if the system is turned off), the PCI-E switches, that allow us to manually shut down the slots we are not using at that moment, the good old debug led and of course the OC Trigger switch and the measuring points.

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Taking a look a little bit to the left, we see the S-ATA connectors area, with S-ATA Express and all the goodies, but we also see something else which is very interesting. You see those 4 tiny holes near the S-ATA connectors? No, Intel didn’t go crazy with yet another type of connector for hard-drives, those are ports for connecting two K-Type temp probes.

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Another new addition, in the frontal connectors area, is the Thunderbolt header. Yep, I think this might be the first time I see a Thunderbolt header on a motherboard… or at least on an overclocking motherboard. We can also see that GIGABYTE X99-SOC Force has 2 PCI-E x16 slots, 2 PCI-E x8 slots and 3 PCI-E x1 ports. And here comes the fun part – using all 40 of the PCI-E lanes from the CPU, GIGABYTE X99-SOC Force can accommodate multi-card configurations like this:

x16 for single card, x16 / x16 for two cards, x16 / x16 / x8 for 3 cards and x16 / x8 / x8 / x8 for 4 cards. So all you need now in order to enjoy full speed SLI are two GTX 780Ti… or 3…or maybe 4… Piece of cake…

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And it doesn’t stop here. Taking a step away from the legacy of X58A-OC, GIGABYTE X99-SOC Force is also gifted with a Realtek ALC1150 HD Audio with built in Rear Audio Amplifier and independent right and left audio channel PCB layers. Well, that’s cool but it is not exactly what I am looking for when I run SuperPi or 3DMark…

A…and I almost forgot… everything is gold plated. The CPU socket is gold plated…the DDR4 slots are gold plated….the PCI-E slots are gold plated… gold, I tell you, gold everywhere.

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