Enthusiast system builders have a lot to be excited about this summer. New high-end CPUs and GPUs are on the horizon and it doesn't even matter where your allegiance lies—Intel, AMD, and NVIDIA have all announced some exciting new products. For Intel, the big news is its Core i9 line of processors. In preparation for those chips reaching retail, Gigabyte unveiled a trio of X299 chipset motherboards under its Aorus gaming brand.
"Marked with the Aorus brand the new X299 Aorus Gaming motherboards are here to exceed expectations, this is apparent just by glancing at the aggressive exterior of these new motherboards. Not only are there physical improvements but software enhancements are also included with the X299 platform," Gigabyte said.
One of those enhancements is through a partnership with WTFast. The new motherboards feature WTFast's Gamers Private Network (GPN) technology, which optimizes and improves connections from a gamer's home PC to the game server and back again. WTFast CEO Rob Bartlett claims that gamers will see upwards of a 60 percent overall connection improvement, along with reduced ping.
Starting at the top, the X299 Aorus Gaming 9 is Gigabyte's flagship X299 motherboard for gamers. It sports eight DDR4 DIMM slots and can accommodate Intel's fancy new Optane Memory modules. It also features high-end components, such as Chemi-Con 10K durable black solid capacitors.
The board is equipped with five reinforced PCIe x16 slots, two of which run at full x16. One of the others runs at x8, while the remaining two run at x4. Other features include dual LAN ports (one powered by Intel and one powered by Killer), three M.2 connectors, eight SATA 6Gbps ports, and lots of USB 3.1 and 2.0 ports.
Gigabyte is bringing the bling here with multi-zone RGB lighting. This board also includes headers for digital LED and RGB LED light strips for an even fancier light show.
The middle motherboard of the bunch is Gigabyte's X299 Aorus Gaming 7, shown above but with the LED light show turned off (it also supports multi-zone RGB lighting). It is similar to the Gaming 9 model and offers up the exact same expansion port configuration and storage options. Where it differs is that two of the M.2 slots are not enclosed. And unlike the Gaming 9, this board does not come with an M.2 to U.2 adapter.
Gigabyte also swapped the audio scheme, downgrading onboard audio chores from an ESS Sabre ES9018K2M to an ES9018Q2CA with one op-amp instead of two.
The last of the three new motherboards is the X299 Aorus Gaming 3. Whereas the step-down from the Gaming 9 to the Gaming 7 wasn't all that dramatic, there is a bigger gap in features from the Gaming 7 to the Gaming 3, perhaps because Gigabyte is waiting for a future date to squeeze in a Gaming 5 motherboard.
In any event, the Gaming 3 still features five PCIe x16 slots, though only two are reinforced. It also has just two M.2 slots for NVMe SSDs, neither of which are enclosed with a heat shield.
Gigabyte also swapped out much of the USB 3.1 connectivity for USB 3.0. Counting both rear I/O ports and internal headers, the Gaming 3 has ten USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, and two USB 3.1 Gen2 ports. This board also sports a single LAN for wired connections and does not come with onboard Wi-Fi.
Gigabyte says these new motherboards will be available in June. No word yet on price.