Intel Core i9-7980XE And Core i9-7960X Review: Intel Attacks AMD Threadripper

Intel Core i9 Processors And The Gigabyte Aorus X299 Gaming 3

To test the Intel Core i9-7980XE and Core i9-7960X, we enlisted the help of Gigabyte and its Aorus X299-Gaming 3 motherboard. This is one of Gigabyte’s many X299-based motherboards that also happens to fall on the lower-end of the price spectrum considering the high-end nature of the platform. Whereas many enthusiast-class X299-based boards hover around the $350 price point, the Gigabyte Aorus X299-Gaming 3 can regularly be found for under $270.
The Gigabyte Aorus X299-Gaming 3 may not be the most expensive X299 board out there, but it is still packing a wealth of integrated goodies including ALC1220-based audio with a 120dB SNR, a headphone amp, configurable RBG lighting, server-class digital power circuitry, multiple M.2 slots, and all the features offered by Intel's chipset itself.

As we’ve mentioned in the past, Gigabyte is now using the “Aorus” name with its gaming-grade motherboards. All Aorus-branded motherboards feature a newly refreshed user interface for their BIOS, with “Smart Fan 5” – the latest iteration of Gigabyte’s fine-grained fan controls that give users the ability to tune their cooling using sensor data from multiple areas around the board. We should also mention that Aorus boards have hybrid fan pin headers too, that can auto-sense what type of fan or device is plugged into the header and tune settings accordingly. For example, the headers can differentiate between a water pump and high-speed, PWM fan, and they support up to 3 amps per-header with built-in overcurrent protection.
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This Gigabyte Board's Got Metal-Reinforced, Lighted PEG Slots

Aorus gaming motherboards like the Gigabyte Aorus X299-Gaming 3 are also outfitted with fully-customizable RGB lighting across a few segments of the PCB (for example, around the PEG slots and on the chipset cooler). The lighting can be configured via Gigabyte's “RBG Fusion” app for different modes (pulsing, color cycling, etc. -- 10 modes in total) and there are additional headers on the board for adding more LED light strips as well; the board supports up to 300 LEDs in total.
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The Aorus X299 Gaming 3's Back Panel I/O

The Gigabyte Aorus X299-Gaming 3’s audio comes by way of a Realtek ALC1220 codec, with high-end caps and isolation circuitry to optimize sound quality. The board is also packing an Intel Gigabit network controller, support for SLI and CrossFire, and it even has a PS/2 mouse/keyboard port. That’s probably not a big deal to many of you, but if you want true N-Key rollover with USB HID driver hacks, PS/2 is the way to go.
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The Aorus X299 Gaming 3's Accessory Bundle

The Aorus X299-Gaming 3 also features dual M.2 ports, 8 SATA ports (with support for RAID), USB 3.1 gen 1 and Gen 2 (with a Type-C connector on the back), and all of the IO you’d expect from a high-end board. The BIOS is loaded with overclocker friendly features as well, and its accessory bundle is decent, albeit a bit spartan. The Gigabyte Aorus X299-Gaming 3 includes a handful of SATA cables, a custom I/O shield, a user’s manual and installation guide, drivers and utility software, a sheet of fun Aorus-branded decals and labels, and some easy case connectors to simplify installation.

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