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26 GBT X99 Designare EX

Gigabyte X99-Designare EX Motherboard Review

  1. About the X99-Designare EX!
  2. Motherboard Design
  3. Closer Look
  4. Sub-Components and Installation Overview
  5. BIOS Overview
  6. How its tested??
  7. CPU Overclocking and Memory Profile benchmark
  8. SATA Performance Testing
  9. USB 3.1 Gen 1 Transfer Test
  10. Boot Load Timings
  11. Conclusion
  12. Online Purchase Links
  13. View All

Motherboard Design

The PCIe x16 3.0 slot has a lot of space below it, making it ideal for graphic cards that occupy 2.5/3-slot space. This space isn’t wasted as there’s a 22110mm M.2 port, a PCIe x1, a Wi-Fi module and a CMOS battery hidden away under a ‘shield’. You’ll notice that this motherboard has two Intel-based gigabit Ethernet and dual-band Wi-Fi a/b/b/n/ac + Bluetooth 4.2 module. The Ethernet uses Intel I218-V and I211 controllers and this motherboard supports network teaming. The first M.2 port uses the BT+WiFi module and another for a storage drive. This motherboard does have a Thunderbolt 3 controller USB Type C and Type A 3.1. There’s also a SATA Express port, two U.2 ports and a Thunderbolt add-in connector. All of this functions are made to fit within.

The motherboard follows a black PCB layout with white, silver and blue accents. There’s a plastic overlay to hide away the I/O and the controllers on the left section of the motherboard. Too bad Gigabyte couldn’t have a ‘pre-built’ I/O shielding with it. Under the PCIe x16 3.0 slot, you’ll find another lid covering the M.2 ports and the CMOS battery. There are eight DDR4 DIMM slots supporting up to 128GB RAMs clocked up 3200 MHz when overclocked. The silver trims are around the PCIe slots and the DIMM slots.

It has International Rectifiers PowIRStage PWM circuits, Copper Bussman chokes and Durablack capacitors. The PCIe bandwidth distribution also depends on the CPU you have as there is a collection of 28-lane and 40-lane SKUs. It still needs additional PCIe lanes, and hence uses PLX PEX8747 chipset which provides 16 PCIe 3.0 lanes. This is distributed for the second, fourth PCIe x16 and the second U.2 and M.2 connector. But using a 28-lane SKU will only enable one of the U.2 port. It wouldn’t make sense to limit this motherboard with a 28-lane model.

Re-strengthened Slots

Gigabyte calls these “exclusive one piece stainless shield” which would reinforce the slots to support heavier graphic cards. While I am not too convinced about its real-world usefulness, I am somewhat convinced that Gigabyte’s double locking bracket is more helpful. The locking brackets are metal pegs which are inserted through the PCIe slots and then soldered on the other side of the PCB. These act like how CPU brackets work for CPU coolers, except these are soldered on the other side. This way there’s a stronger bond against its PCB to hold heavier and longer graphic cards. While I would have like to see a better eject mechanism for the graphic cards, at least this gives more confidence that the slots are properly secured. The following is the screenshot of the bracket feature:

As much as I would like to see this as a standard in all motherboards, these are patented. But someone smart might find a way to go around it.

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