Gigabyte X99-SOC Champion & X99 Gaming 5P Haswell E Motherboards Reviewed

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X99 SOC Champion (Continued)

The Gigabyte X99-SOC Champion employs the familiar orange and black color scheme that the company has used on a number of its recent motherboards targeting overclockers. If you take a good, long look at the board, though, you’ll see some not-so-subtle omissions that typically find their way onto flagship X99-based motherboards.
soc board
The most glaring change is in the DIMM slot configuration. As we’ve mentioned, Gigabyte nixed a quartet of DIMM slots in an attempt to simplify and optimize the design for maximum memory stability while overclocked. Further along those lines, there are some heavy-duty heat-spreaders and heatsinks on-board, atop the chipset and VRM to keep the components cool. While we’re on the subject, we should also point out that this board has an all-digital power design, with an IR Digital PWM and related ICs. The X99-SOC Champion is also outfitted with high-end copper Bussmann chokes and solid caps, which offer increased durability over lower-end products.
soc champion
There is also gold plating used on the DIMM slots, CPU socket, and PCIe slots to maximize conductivity, and for what it’s worth, Gigabyte claims to use “2x copper” in the PCB. Overall, the layout of the board is quite good and its slot configuration is pretty close to ideal. The board supports four-way GPU configurations and between each PCIe x16 slot, you’ll find x1 slots as well.

All of the main headers and connectors are situation around the edges of the board to facilitate good cable managements, with the exception of an optional “OC-PEG” power header, which sits just above the first expansion slot. That power feed supplies additional power to the slots to aid in stability while overclocking—hence “OC PEG”.

soc labeled

In terms of additional expansion and features, there’s a 20Gb/s M.2 slot on board (right in the middle of the PCIe x16 slots), a couple of SATA Express connectors (which can only be used independent of the M.2 slot), 10 SATA III ports, and a bevy of USB connectors. The X99-SOC Champion supports Gigabyte’s Thunderboard add-in-card as well, and it’s complement of on-board peripherals includes Intel Gigabyte LAN controller and Realtek ALC1150 audio with built-in amp and trace isolation (which offers a 115db SNR).

soc switches

To cater to the hardcore overclocking crowd, the X99-SOC Champion also sports simple overclocking controls, an easy BIOS switch, a built-in POST code error reporter, and numerous voltage check points that can be probed with a multi-meter.

soc io

Like the board itself, the X99-SOC Champion’s IO backplane is somewhat streamlined as well. There are a couple of PS/2 ports (mouse and keyboard), 8 USB ports (4x 3.0), an RJ45 LAN jack, and audio ports. There is no Wi-Fin NICor other bells-and-whistles to speak of.

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