Gigabyte shipped its Z97X-SOC motherboard for testing, which was also used to test Intel Devil’s Canyon 4790K processor. The board uses orange and black colour combo and its aimed to attract gamers/ enthusiasts. In my opinion, having a motherboard designed and marketed specifically for extreme overclocking to a crowd where they’ll either use an air or liquid cooling solution (either closed looped, pre-built or custom) will make them look somewhere else, probably similar version of the board minus the switches. This is something that not just applies towards Gigabyte.
Of most of the features that are embedded on the motherboards, such as OC buttons, voltage check, Power Buttons, physical BIOS switch, etc. gets ignored at times once it gets in a closed case system. Even if we round up all the ‘extreme’ hardware enthusiasts across the world and compare it with ‘normal’ hardware enthusiasts who also happen to a gamer, the latter has a significant user base.
Don’t get me wrong, the opinion of mine takes a U-turn if it’s an open case setup. This motherboard does not have the same intimidating pricing as ultra high-end motherboard with a jaw-dropping price. It still maintains the ATX form factor and stays within sub-$200 motherboard market. Provided this motherboard’s layout is done well, you will never mind the physical switches even if you don’t need them. It’s not easy to squeeze as many features you have and maintain the ATX form-factor.
Motherboards like this is probably designed to provide a ‘bridge’ between novice-in-progress hardware enthusiasts who would be interested. While we can talk about ‘how many user base is there’ all day long, what’s important is that whether such motherboards will encourage novice hardware enthusiasts to take a step further, maybe even creating a new generation of hardware enthusiasts from around the world.