Layout and Features
The most identifiable feature of the G1975X has to be the dual translucent blue plastic tubes that run alongside the CPU socket. These tubes make up part of the TurboJet technology that Gigabyte is using with the new G1-Turbo series of motherboards. A 4 phase voltage regulation system is utilized, using some cleverly placed capacitors and heatsinks. By keeping the area directly around the CPU mostly clear and positioning circuitry within the TurboJets' channels, heat build-up is almost non-existent, which should stability and overclockability. Even the heatsink over the Northbridge is considered, and it winds up being placed directly near one of the interior fans. In total, there are four fans that push heated air from the socket area directly out of the system. Thus, the CPU, memory, Northbridge and other circuitry are all benefiting from this cooling apparatus.
Looking at the rest of the board, we have very few complaints concerning component placement. Most of the board's various connectors or slots are color coded, like the DIMM slots, SATA connectors, and front panel header. The main drive connectors are placed right where they should be: along the inner edge of the board, right where the drives will probably be installed. This helps keep cable clutter down to a minimum. Most optional connections, such as FireWire and extra USB are at the farthest end of the board, near the rarely-used PCI-E x1 slots. Two larger x16 slots surround two standard PCI slots, which poses a bit of a problem. Should the x16 slots be populated with two ATi video cards, users would have to install an add-in PCI card, such as a sound card, between the two. We might have preferred mixing and matching the PCI-E 1x and PCI slots to allow for all installation options. It's almost as if Gigabyte has no other intentions for the user other than to use on-board solutions for audio, LAN, etc.
Although the two powered TurboJets are a major feature of the G1975X, passive cooling is employed on the Southbridge. In fact, a rather smallish heatinsk is placed on top of the Southbridge, without any optional fans such as the one that came with the GA-8N-SLI. This, in fact, turns out to be a good thing, at least for those with noise concerns. As its name implies, the TurboJets on the G1975X run quite loud - louder than just about any other cooling solution we could think of in recent memory, in fact. All other sounds, including the CPU cooler and PSU were simply dwarfed by the four spinning fans of the TurboJet duo. It's almost as if Gigabyte has done the exact opposite of what many manufacturers are doing, adding noise instead of subtracting it. While the components are definitely running cooler, the noise levels may hit a sour note with part of the market.
On-board additions include a Gigabit LAN solution from Broadcom, as well as an integrated version of Creative's Sound-Blaster Live!. The quality of this chipset is good enough for most users, which partially takes away from the aforementioned poor PCI slot placement. Supporting up to 7.1 audio channels, the Sound Blaster Live! controller also requires fewer CPU cycles than typical on-board audio CODECs, meaning that less performance is sacrificed for musicians and gamers alike. And, although we weren't overly keen on the noise output from anything other than the SoundBlaster Live!, the TurboJets do add some panache to a windowed-chassis. When the system is turned on, blue LEDs light up the cooling tubes, which exhaust out through a custom backplate. We should also mention that the G1975X features and on-board power switch and debug LED. However, in a testament to stability, neither of these ever had to be used during normal or overclocked operation.