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Gigabyte G1.Assassin X58 Motherboard Review
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Date: Jul 15, 2011
Section:Motherboards
Author: Mathew Miranda
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Introduction

It's becoming more difficult to justify the purchase of Intel's X58 Express chipset with all the new technology looming on the horizon. This chipset came out almost three years ago. Time sure flies, especially in the hardware industry. We still like the fact that the X58 offers support for the six core processors in Intel's lineup, along with triple channel memory. However, after the success of Sandy Bridge processors and their associated chipsets, one has to wonder how much longer the major manufacturers will be willing to pick from this tree.


One thing is certain. Gigabyte will not be the first to move away from the X58. Their latest G1 Killer series of X58 motherboards are specially designed for gamers that accept no compromises. There are three products in this particular line up: the G1 Assassin, G1 Sniper, and G1 Guerrilla. In a military motif, all three come with a black and green color scheme, along with heat sink designs that resemble gun barrels and magazine clips. Today, we're looking at the big brother of the group, the G1 Assassin. It supports Core i7 LGA 1366 processors, offers six memory slots with support for a max capacity of 24 GB, four PCI Express x16 slots, Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi digital audio processor, Bigfoot Network's Killer E2100, SATA 6Gbps, USB 3.0, 16 phase power, and Gigabyte's Ultra Durable 3 specifications.

Gigabyte G1.Assassin X58 Motherboard
Specifications & Features

CPU
Intel Core i7 LGA1366
Chipset
Intel X58 Express
Memory
Six 1.5V DDR3 DIMM sockets
Up to 24 GB
Audio
Creative CA20K2 chip
7.1 channel HD audio

LAN
Bigfoot Killer E2100 chip
Marvell 88E1118R phy

Expansion Slots
Two PCIe x16 @ x16 slots
Two PCIe x16 @ x8 slots
Two PCIe x1 slots
One PCI slot
Graphics
Supports up to 3-way SLI and 4-way  CrossFireX
Storage Interface
South Bridge supports six SATA 3Gb/s connectors
Marvell 88SE9182 supports two SATA 6Gb/s connectors
Form Factor
XL-ATX / 13.6” x 10.4
Manufacturer Warranty
3 Year Limited Warranty
Price
$459

 



At $459, the G1 Assassin is not cheap. But of course, flagship products never are. It's not the most expensive X58 board you can buy either. The dual socket SR-2 from EVGA currently holds that title, with a street price of $579, although that board requires Xeon processors. Asus also offers an ultra high end mobo, the Rampage III Black Edition, which costs $559. That's definitely a budget buster no matter how you slice it. Compared to those two, Gigabyte's G1 Assassin is a bit more affordable, but still a lot more expensive than the majority of X58 options currently available.

Since the demand for no-holds-barred motherboards is strong enough, big name companies like Gigabyte will continue to manufacture over the top hardware to fill the need. So what exactly do you get for $459? Before we get to the performance numbers, let's take a closer look at the features of G1 Assassin on the following page.

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Closer Look

Both gamers and hardware enthusiasts can appreciate a good looking motherboard. Here, we find the G1 Assassin sporting a black and green theme, a first for a Gigabyte product.


There are four green PCI Express x16 slots on the G1 Assassin. For those with multiple videocard systems, this board is double spaced in order to support the installation of dual slot graphics cards. Dual card setups should make use of the first and third PCIe x16 slot, leaving the second slot empty to allow for increased airflow. Additionally, the board can handle up to three NVIDIA videocards in Tri-SLI, or up to four ATI cards for Quad-CrossFire. 

Also, one of the things we noticed right away was the lack of onboard power and reset buttons on the G1 Assassin. Every high end board we've looked at over the last several years has offered these buttons. So it is a bit strange to omit.


As with all X58 boards, this one has six memory DIMM slots. Install memory on the green ones first, and then the black slots once you get another kit. The board supports memory speeds up to 2200 MHz, with a total capacity of 24 GB.


Back Panel I/O  
  • 1 x PS/2 keyboard port
  • 1 x PS/2 mouse port
  • 1 x optical S/PDIF Out
  • 1 x coaxial S/PDIF Out
  • 4 x USB 3.0 / 2.0 ports
  • 4 x USB 2.0 / 1.0 ports
  • 1 x RJ-45 port
  • 5 x audio jacks

Accessories   
  • Motherboard driver disk
  • User's manual
  • Quick installation guide
  • Four SATA cables
  • I/O shield
  • 5.25" Front Access Control Panel
  • One 2-way SLI bridge
  • One 2-way CrossFireX bridge
  • One 3-way CrossFireX bridge
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Test System and KIller E2100 Testing

How we configured our test systems:  Before testing, we visited the motherboard's support page to download the latest BIOS that's publicly available. Then we flashed the BIOS to the latest revision and moved to the next step. When configuring our test systems for this article, we set each board to its optimized defaults. After saving the settings, we re-entered the BIOS and manually set the memory for DDR3-1600 with 9-9-9-24 timings. The hard drive was formatted, and Windows 7 Pro 64bit installed. Once the Win 7 installation completed, we updated the OS and installed the drivers necessary for our components. Auto-Updating and Windows Defender were then disabled and we installed all of our benchmarking software, and ran the tests.

 

 

 HotHardware's Test System
 Intel Inside

Motherboards:
Gigabyte G1.Assassin (BIOS F4a)

EVGA Classified X58 760

Asus Rampage III Extreme

Processor:
Intel Core i7 980X Extreme Edition
(3.46 GHz - Six-Core) 

RAM:
Corsair Dominator 6GB (3x2GB)
DDR3-1600 CAS 9-9-9-24

Graphics Card:
Asus Direct CU II GTX 580

Hard Drive:
Crucial M225 128GB SATA II MLC SSD

Software:
Windows 7 Professional 64-bit

In order to find out where the G1 Assassin stood in comparison to other high end boards, we tested it along with the Classified X58 motherboard from EVGA, and with the Rampage III Extreme from Asus. We used a single Asus DirectCU II GTX 580 during all of the tests.

Just like any article comparing boards of the same chipset, we expect the scores to be very close, provided everything is working correctly. For most users, the biggest difference between these boards will come in the form of looks, connectivity options, BIOS settings, and accessory bundle.

Netperf
Network Performance Testing

Netperf is a suite of applications designed to test network performance across a wide variety of parameters. It is primarily a throughput test designed to measure how much traffic can flow through a piece of networking hardware in a given period of time. We used the application, along with batch files, in order to specifically test the performance of the Bigfoot Networks Killer E2100 chip.

The most important information to take away from the graph above is the throughput advantage shown by the Killer E2100. While TCP results are similar across the board, UDP, or User Datagram Protocol scores are lopsidedly in favor of the G1 Assassin, thanks to Bigfoot Network's chip.

 

 

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SiSoft SANDRA and Cinebench R11.5

We started off our testing with SiSoftware's SANDRA 2011, the System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant. We ran three of the built-in subsystem tests that partially comprise the SANDRA 2010 suite on the test motherboards (CPU Arithmetic, CPU Multi-Media, and Memory).

SiSoftware SANDRA 2011
Synthetic Benchmarks







Three of four SANDRA tests went to the Rampage III Extreme, but the G1 Assassin was able to capture first place in the multi-media benchmark.

 Cinebench R11.5
  3D Rendering

Cinebench R11.5 is real world cross platform test suite that evaluates PC performance capabilities. It is based on Maxon's animation software, Cinema 4D. The CPU test scenario uses all of the system's processing power to render a photorealistic 3D scene, and makes use of various algorithms to stress available processor cores. Results are given in points.


Again, the Rampage III Extreme doesn't give up the top spot very easy. The good news is that the G1 Assassin is never far behind the Rampage's performance.
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CrystalDiskMark 3.01
CrystalDiskMark 3.01 
Synthetic File Transfer Tests

CrystalDiskMark is a synthetic test that evaluates both sequential as well as random small and large file transfers.  It does a nice job of providing a quick look at best and worst case scenarios with regard to hard drive performance, best case being large sequential transfers and worse case being small, random 4K transfers. 



Gigabyte G1.Assassin
 

Asus Rampage III Extreme
 

EVGA Classified 760
 
Across the board, the G1 Assassin's read performance was a touch better than the other two products we tested. Write performance was another story though. Either way, the scores were close enough to question which board was actually better in this test, since the results are well within this benchmarks intrinsic variances from run to run.

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Futuremark PCMark Benchmarks

Futuremark PCMark 7
Simulated Application Performance

PCMark 7 includes 7 PC tests for Windows 7, combining more than 25 individual workloads covering storage, computation, image and video manipulation, web browsing and gaming. Specifically designed to cover the full range of PC hardware from netbooks and tablets to notebooks and desktops, PCMark 7 offers complete PC performance testing for Windows 7 for home and business use.



Futuremark PCMark Vantage
Simulated Application Performance

We then ran our test motherboards through PCMark Vantage, Futuremark’s latest system performance metric built especially for Windows Vista. PCMark Vantage runs through a host of different usage scenarios to simulate different types of workloads, including High Definition TV and movie playback and manipulation, gaming, image editing and manipulation, music compression, communications, and productivity. Most of the tests are multi-threaded as well, so they can exploit the additional resources offered by multi-core CPUs.


The G1 Assassin wasn't able to break away from the pack during our PCMark testing, although it did record the highest PCMark Vantage score of the group by a hair. The Rampage III Extreme took #1 in PCMark 7, and the Classified landed in third in both tests.

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Futuremark 3DMark Benchmarks

Futuremark 3DMark11
Synthetic DirectX Gaming


3DMark11

The latest version of Futuremark's synthetic 3D gaming benchmark, 3DMark11, is specifically bound to Windows 7-based systems because it uses the advanced visual technologies that are only available with DirectX 11, which isn't available on previous versions of Windows.  3DMark11 isn't simply a port of 3DMark Vantage to DirectX 11, though.  With this latest version of the benchmark, Futuremark has incorporated four new graphics tests, a physics tests, and a new combined test.  We tested the graphics cards here with 3DMark11's Extreme and Performance preset options.


Futuremark 3DMark Vantage
Synthetic DX10 Performance


3DMark Vantage

Futuremark's synthetic 3D gaming benchmark, 3DMark Vantage, is specifically bound to Windows Vista-based systems because it uses some advanced visual technologies that are only available with DirectX 10. With this version of the benchmark, Futuremark has incorporated new graphics tests, CPU tests, several feature tests, and support for the latest PC hardware. We tested the graphics cards here with 3DMark Vantage's Extreme and Performance preset options.


Futuremark 3DMark06
Synthetic DirectX Gaming


3DMark06

3DMark06 includes Shader Model 2.0, Shader Model 3.0, and HDR tests. To push the system, scenes are rendered with very high geometric detail and shader complexity, and with extensive use of lighting and soft shadows. The maximum shader length 3DMark06 supports is 512 instructions. The 3DMark06 Overall Score is a weighted average based on the SM 2.0 and HDR / SM3.0, and CPU scores.


All three boards produced a good showing in each test. We didn't find a particular product leading the other two by a significant margin so it's basically a wash for this set of tests. The G1 Assassin came in first during 3DMark11, second in 3DMark06, and third place in 3DMark Vantage. But the scores were very close throughout.

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Gaming Benchmarks

 Gaming Benchmarks: 3DMark Vantage, FarCry 2, GTA IV, Mafia 2
 Single and Dual Videocard Testing

For our next set of tests, we moved on to some in-game benchmarking with Alien vs Predator, Lost Planet 2, and Call of Pripyat. Each game utilizes DX11 and we cranked up image quality settings where possible.






While all three boards performed similarly, Gigabyte's G1 Assassin led the pack in two of the three benchmarks. But again, the results speak more to the superior efficiency of each product, rather than showing a clear front runner.

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Overclocking and Power Consumption

 Overclocking X58 boards
  Getting out what you put into it

Overclocking is not an exact science. For example, every processor is different and just because your friend's Core i7 processor hit 4GHz on air doesn't mean that yours will, even if using the same settings and hardware. Many factors can influence what a processor is capable of. These factors include complementary components like the motherboard, memory, power supply and cooling. In addition, user experience definitely comes into play as there are an abundance of modifiable settings within the BIOS.



The Rampage III Extreme achieved the highest overclock of the three boards, but the G1 Assassin was right behind it. Both boards were able to hit a base clock of 135 with a 33x multiplier. EVGA's Classified was behind the pack, only reaching a 129 base clock.

 Total System Power Consumption
 Tested at the Outlet

And finally, throughout all of our benchmarking and testing, we monitored how much power our test systems consumed using a power meter. Our goal was to give you all an idea as to how much power each configuration used while idling and while under a heavy workload. Please keep in mind that we were testing total system power consumption at the outlet here, not just the power being drawn by the processors alone.

 

Here the G1 Assassin has a clear advantage over the comparison boards. Consuming 407 watts under load, the G1 utilized 4% less power than the Rampage III Extreme, and 5% less than the Classified. And although the EVGA's product was slightly more efficient during idle, the G1 showed similar performance. The Rampage III had the highest idle power usage of all three boards, at 171 watts.

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Performance Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: Throughout testing, the G1 Assassin regularly traded places with the two comparison boards. As one would expect, performance comparisons of motherboards from the same chipset family will yield very few surprises. After all, a processor will perform at its stock speed on one motherboard just as well at it would another, with only a few minor variances in chipset timings from one manufacturer to the other. The big differences lie in the features each motherboard has to offer, and the individual design of the product.



The market for X58 motherboards is filled with mature products that have been available for some time. There are lots of options for those who want to upgrade their current platform. ASRock sells a board starting at $154, and every major company offers base model X58 boards around $170. But of course, the G1 Assassin sits at the opposite end of the spectrum. At this price point, comparable options include the Asus Rampage III Extreme, or Black Edition, or EVGA's Classified 770, and Gigabyte's own X58A-OC or G1 Sniper. These boards cost approximately $400 and up, and offer similar features.

 

Gigabyte's G1 Assassin motherboard does not disappoint. It performed on par with other high-end competition, while bringing some new features to market. Specifically, we liked the inclusion of Bigfoot Network's Killer E2100 chip for enhanced online gaming, and the unique heat sink design that speaks directly to our gamer sense of style and soul. Just remember these features don't come cheap. If you're on a budget, look somewhere else.

So would we recommend this product? It really depends on your current situation. If you're already married to X58 and rocking a six-core 990X Extreme Edition Gulftown, the G1 Assassin could be a nice upgrade over previous motherboard models. But if you're building from scratch, there are other platforms like P67 and Z68 that offer support for the latest advanced processor and features, as well as lower price tags. Also keep in mind, Intel's next-gen enthusiast platform is only a few months away.  That said, in terms of currently available hardware, the X58 chipset also offers the best performance money can buy for Intel's Core i7 and it's also the only Intel chipset to provide true dual X16/X16 PCIe connectivity for multi-GPUs setups as well. And so, if you want it all, boards like Gigabyte's G1 Assassin certainly deliver.

     
  • Unique heatsink design
  • SATA 6Gb/s and USB 3.0
  • Bigfoot Networks Killer E2100 NIC
  • Expensive
  • Aging platform


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