Gigabyte X99-UD7 WiFi Motherboard and Core i7-5960X Extreme Edition Haswell-E Processor Review

Hassan Mujtaba
Posted Oct 13, 2014
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Introduction

Intel released their first generation High-End Desktop (HEDT) platform, the Nehalem (X58 Tylersburg) back in November 2008. At that time, Chipzilla introduced their first high-end desktop processor codenamed Core i7-980X that introduced 6 cores and 12 threads for the first time in the consumer market. The Core i7-980X was followed by the Core i7-990X which featured the same specification and brought a minor clock bump which has become a tradition now a days when companies usually refresh their processor lineups. These chips were the high-end parts of their time and time passed with Intel updating to two new product series and a totally new platform codenamed X79 (Patsburg). The X79 chipset featured the LGA 2011 socket which featured support for the 2012’s Sandy Bridge-E and 2013’s Ivy Bridge-E processors (32nm and 22nm). While new at the time of its launch, most of the X79 features haven’t been upgraded since 2012 on the HEDT side and mainstream platform such as the Z87 and Z97 have picked up the pace in terms of features, designs and overclocking.

Today, Intel has a new platform and not just any platform, a new HEDT platform. Intel has had a heart for PC enthusiasts since their emergence and they have already said that they are committed to the market. To show that, Intel has unveiled their latest X99 platform codenamed Wellsburg and along with it, launched the latest Haswell-E processors. Things are not only great on the performance side but there are some major key updates on the features side as well. The Haswell-E X99 platform actually is the first consumer platform which will set standards for the upcoming platforms since it is the first to support DDR4 memory and a load of new, improved technology enhancements.

The Haswell-E processor family comes a whole slew of a new generation of motherboards, packed full of new features to propel the technological race forward into a state of electric proportions. The LGA2011 V3 socket has brought about a lot of positive commotion in the industry with the X99 chipset while the DDR4 memory is the latest standard in the memory architecture which will boost performance plus bandwidths at very low voltages compared to its predecessors. The X99 motherboards from various manufacturers have been given the same enhancements as the latest Z97 series boards which were introduced with the Haswell Refresh CPU lineup and updated with enhanced designs suited and built for the enthusiast crowd.

Right now, we are looking at three key products, the fastest Haswell-E processor known as the Core i7-5960X, Gigabyte’s high-performance and feature loaded X99-UD7 WiFi motherboard and a 16 GB Ripjaws IV memory kit based on the DDR4 standard from our friends at G.Skill. All three products are available to consumers and can be readily purchased from various hardware retail outlets. Our review will show the generational increase in performance and new features and enhancements introduced in Haswell-E and the technologies that have surrounded it at launch. So let’s get in and have a look at the Godzilla-E chip!

Haswell-E Architecture Insight

Intel’s Haswell-E is codenamed after Haswell  which means its based on the same architecture that makes use of a 22nm Tri-gate 3D transistor technology which is an improvement over the regular Tri-gate transistor technology featured on Ivy Bridge. The Haswell architecture  makes use of a two chip platform technology which includes the processor itself and the Wellburg 9-Series X99 PCH (Platform control hub). Intel’s X99 chipset is featured on the LGA 2011-V3 socketed motherboards with which Haswell-E processors are fully compatible.

The Haswell die is largely similar to its predecessors Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge. The Haswell-E die comes with up to eightcores which share the same L3 cache. It features 2.6 Billion transistors and a die size of 335.2 mm2 compared to 1.86 Billion (257mm2) on the Ivy bridge-E based Core i7-4960X processor. Other than these, the Haswell die include system agent, display agent, DDR4 Quad Channel Memory controller I/O and PCI-e 3.0 memory controller while the large L3 cache is shared by a slice of four cores on its side. The Haswell instruction set includes Intel VT, AMT 9.0, Intel TXT, SSE4.2, Hyper Threading, Turbo Boost 2.0, AVX2, AES-NI, PCLMULQDQ, Secure key, Intel TSX, PAIR (Power aware interrupt routing and SMEP. Haswell for the first time features C-states of C0, C1, C1E, C3, C6, C7 and enhanced Intel Speedsted technology.

Haswell-E Overclocking and Power Management

Intel shares the same overclocking features introduced on their Devil’s Canyon processor for the Haswell-E CPUs which provides tons of overclocking options to enthusiasts and overclockers.

Intel’s Haswell-E comes with a dynamically adjustable and fully unlocked Turbo Boost Technology limit that ensures users get the most out of their processors when they need it. Core ratios have been unlocked  up to 80 in 100 MHz increments while the CPU voltage is completely controllable via the iVR (Integrated Voltage regulator). DMICLK or BCLK allows for an unlocked PCH clock controller with increments upto 200 MHz while PEG and DMI will offer variable/adjustable ratios based on the BCLK frequency. Similarly, the GPU core also features an unlocked design that allows for frequency adjustments (60 Ratio in 50 MHz increments) and fully programmable voltage via iVR. An unlocked memory controller allows for upto 2933 MHz overclock on the DDR3 modules.

Intel has provided key details on the upcoming iVR through which voltage on CPU and GPU could be dynamically adjusted. Currently, voltage management is accomplished with the use of external VRM’s on the motherboard. There are in total four voltage override modes through the iVR module on Haswell chips which are accounted for when running the processor in default and overclocking mode. With the next generation Haswell processors, we would be looking at an increased BCLK of greater than 167 MHz (non-continuous) compared to the peak 116.95 MHz on Ivy Bridge along with a select CPU PEG/DMI ratios of 5:5, 5:4, 5:3 which is quiet impressive. The next few slides details various performance tuning ratios available on Haswell core for CPU/GPU/DDR/PEG,DMI and Ring.

Nomenclature

Intel’s new processor will get a numerical naming scheme; 59xx and 58xx. The 59xx and 58xx series processors are quad-core offerings and will be available from launch. HD4600 however will not be uniformly implemented across the processors. The alphabet suffix will continue to be the same (i.e.“K” for fully unlocked processors, ‘T’ & ‘S’ for low TDP variants) while the new R-Series would be supplied in BGA packages making use of the HD 5200 “Iris Pro” graphics chip.

Intel LGA 2011 V3 Socket

Intel LGA 2011-3 Socket was meant to replace the Ivy Bridge-E HEDT (High End Desktop) platform and is based on the latest second generation 22nm Hi-K process architecture. The most interesting part is that Intel is finally providing up to 8 core SKUs in their desktop lineup with the launch of Haswell-E. Intel has detailed 6-8 cores for their Haswell-E processors that are equipped with massive 20 MB of L3 smart cache and just like Haswell, feature an integrated voltage regulator “FVIR.” Intel is aiming for an 55% IPC improvement over quad cores with their flagship Haswell-E processors.

Just like Haswell and Ivy Bridge-E before it, Haswell-E retains the great overclocking features that would ship with the “K” series and “Extreme Edition” processors. Both the memory and processor can be overclocked beyond limits with unlocked turbo limits, unlocked core ratios in 80/100 increments, programmable iVR voltage, support for XMP mode, unlocked memory controller and voltage limits, native support for memory upto 2667 MHz, Unlocked PCH and PLL voltage controls and more.Gigabyte X99 UD7 WiFi_Socket Close Up 2

Cooler Compatibility With LGA 2011 V3 Socket

Anyone who has a cooler capable of supporting the LGA 2011 socket need not worry about the dash 3 at the end. Any LGA 2011 compatible cooler/bracket combo works on LGA 2011-3 sockets. Intel is advertising to use liquid cooling solutions with the Haswell-E processors since they provide more cooling performance. Intel has their own TS13X liquid cooler which include

Intel 9-Series X99 Platform Control Hub (PCH)

Intel ships their latest X99 platform with the Haswell-E processors which will introduce a new generation of high-end motherboards for enthusiasts and gamers. You can find below the specifications of the X99 chipset and comparison against the Intel X79 chipset:

Item Intel X79 “Patsburg” Intel X99 “Wellsburg”
CPU Cores 6 and 4 8 and 6
Shared Cache 15 MB L3 Cache 20 MB L3 Cache
PCIe Lanes Off of Processor 40 Lanes 40 Lanes (5820K with 28 Lanes)
Discrete Graphics Configurations 2×16 / 4×8 Gen 3 GPUs through processor 2×16 / 5×8 Gen 3 GPUs through processor
Memory Quad Channel DDR3 1866 Quad Channel DDR4 2133
TDP (Thermal Dissipation Power) 130W 140W
Socket LGA 2011 LGA 2011-v3
Maximum SATA Ports (Maximum at 6 GB/s) 6 (2) 10 (10)
Thunderbolt Capability No Yes
BCLK (Base Clock) OC Support From Chipset No Yes
Total Number of SKUs Available Three (Core i7-4820K / Core i7-4930K / Core i7-4960X) Three (Core i7-5960X / Core i7-5930K / Core i7-5820K)

First Desktop Platform To Feature DDR4 Memory Support

Coming to the memory controller,  Intel’s Haswell-E is officially the first HEDT platform to feature support for DDR4 memory. The DDR4 memory controller lies on the processor itself through which it is directly connected. The new DDR4 memory modules consume only 1.2 V of power compared to 1.65/1.5V standard with DDR3. The can feature upto 16 banks of memory and require a 288-Pin DIMM connectors which would be available on the new X99 chipset motherboards. The DDR4 memory controller offers Quad channel memory support. DDR4 would offer faster clock speeds and the Haswell-E platform supports frequencies o 2133 MHz, 2667 MHz O.C +.

LGA 2011-3 Socket Supports Haswell-E Processors

Intel is also preparing the latest LGA2011-3 socket which has similar dimensions but a different ILM key pattern which allows only for Haswell-E processor compatibility. Intel adds compatibility for both their Channel DRX-B Liquid cooler and T-HPHS air cooler with the LGA 2011-3 socket for Haswell-E processors.

Better Overclocking Support For Overclockers

Just like Haswell and Ivy Bridge-E before it, Haswell-E  retains the great overclocking features that  ship with the “K” series and “Extreme Edition” processors. Both the memory and processor can be overclocked beyond limits with unlocked turbo limits, unlocked core ratios in 80/100 increments, programmable iVR voltage, support for XMP mode, unlocked memory controller and voltage limits, native support for memory upto 2667 MHz, Unlocked PCH and PLL voltage controls and more. A single Haswell-E processor would feature 2 x16 and 3 x8 Gen 3 PCI-e support with 40 lanes and would be directly connected to the DDR4 memory controller and the Wellsburg X99 chipset. The feature set would remain the with technologies such as SSE4, AVX, VT, AESNI under its belt.

Intel Haswell-E X99 Motherboards

Haswell-E Block Diagram

We already detailed the Haswell die above, what you see below is the block diagram for Haswell-E X99 chipset platform. You can see that the processors is directly connected to the Wellsburg PCH through DMI 2.0 x 4. The PCH offers 6 USB 3.0/ 8 USB 2.0, 10 SATA 6 GBps (Native), High definition Audio, integrated LAN, 8 PCI-e 2.0, and Intel Rapid Storage Technology 13.1 while the Haswell-E processors offer PCI-e 3.0 (Up to 40 Lanes / 28 on the Core i7-5820K) and Quad channel DDR4 Memory support up to 2133 MHz (native).

Nomenclature

Intel’s new processor will get a numerical naming scheme; 59xx and 58xx. The 59xx and 58xx series processors are quad-core offerings and will be available from launch.

Next Generation Era Begins

The Haswell-E and X99 HEDT platform usher a new era of high-end performance computing. Since this a start of a new era of consumer level desktop PCs, we will be providing details on three key components, the Haswell-E chip, the X99 motherboard and the latest DDR4 memory. We would like to thank Intel, Gigabyte and G.Skill for arranging this test platform for us to review.

Intel Haswell-E CPU Lineup

Following is the list that details each Haswell-E processors along with their predecessors that Intel has launched with their desktop processor platform. The Core i7-5960X  is the flagship processor of the lineup and the one we would are reviewing today is the i7-5930K.

Model Intel Core i7-5960X Intel Core i7-5930K Intel Core i7-5820K Intel Core i7-4960X
Platform Haswell-E Haswell-E Haswell-E Ivy Bridge-E
Process 22nm 22nm 22nm 22nm
Cores/Threads 8/16 6/12 6/12 6/12
Cache 20 MB L3 15 MB L3 15 MB L3 15 MB L3
Core Clock 3.0/3.5 GHz 3.5/3.7 GHz 3.3/3.6 GHz 3.6/4.0 GHz
Socket LGA 2011-3 LGA 2011-3 LGA 2011-3 LGA 2011
TDP 140W 140W 140W 130W
Memory DDR4-2133 MHz DDR4-2133 MHz DDR4-2133 MHz DDR3-1600 MHz
Chipset X99 X99 X99 X79
Price  $999 $583 $389 $999

Intel Core i7-5960X “Haswell-E”

Intel’s First Native Eight-Core Processor

The Intel Core i7-5960X Extreme Edition is the be the flagship processor of the lineup boasting 8 Cores and 16 threads. The Haswell-E Core i7-5960X will house 2.6 Billion transistors inside its 22nm die and measures at 335.2 mm which is considered a huge die. The die block diagram also shows that the Core i7-5960X is not a 12 core die as previously expected which turns out to be a Xeon core. We can see 8 Cores with a large amount of shared L3 cache in the middle with a DDR4 memory controller at the bottom and Queue, Uncore and I/O at the top side. This would be Intel’s first 8 Core consumer processor and would be clocked at 3.0 GHz base and 3.5 GHz boost frequency. The processor would feature 20 MB of L3 cache, 140W TDP and support for DDR4-2133 MHz memory. Being the flagship processor of the Haswell-E lineup, the Core i7-5960X would end up with a price of $999 US.

In terms of raw performance, the Core i7-5960X is around 20% faster in terms of 4K Video Editing, 32% faster in 3D rendering and 14% faster in games and AI processing compared to the last generation Core i7-4960X CPU that is the flagship Ivy Bridge-E offering. The models will be available with Intel’s TS13X liquid cooler which has been in the market since the first generation of Sandy Bridge-E processors and is priced in between $85-$100 and compatible with LGA 2011-3, LGA 2011, LGA 1366 and LGA 115* platforms.

Intel Core i7-5930K Processor

The Core i7-5930K is the second best processor of the flock featuring 6 cores and 12 threads. Featuring a clock speed of 3.5 GHz base and around 3.7 GHz boost, the Core i7-5930K would integrate 15 MB L3 Cache and a TDP of 140W. The processor would be able to support DDR4-2133 MHz memory. From specifications, the Core i7-5930K looks a lot like the current generation Core i7-4960X processor however we are looking at better IPC due to the improved Haswell microarchitecture. The price forthe Core i7-5930K would be $583 US at launch.

Intel Core i7-5820K Processor

The Core i7-5820K is the the entry level processor of the lineup featuring 6 cores and 12 threads. The CPU comes with a 15 MB L3 Cache, 3.3 GHz base clock, 3.6-3.8 GHz boost clock, 140W TDP and support for DDR4-2133 MHz memory. Being similar to the Core i7-5930K in terms of technical specifications aside from the clock speeds, the Core i7-5820K might just become an attractive processor for the X99 chipset platform since it will be priced at $389 US. There is one limitation however that the processor features only 28 PCI-Express lanes which compared to 40 PCI-E lanes on the other two processors is skimmed down however, the processor would be able to cope with 2-Way and 3-Way SLI setups easily.

Intel Haswell-E Extreme Edition Key Features:

  • 16-Way Multi-Task Processing:  Runs 16 independent processor threads in one physical package
  • Massive PCI Express Bandwidth: 40 lanes of PCIe supported through the processor
  • Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0:  Dynamically increases the processor frequency up to 3.50GHz when applications demand more performance.  Speed when you need it, energy efficiency when you don’t.
  • Intel Hyper-Threading Technology:  Allows each core of the processor to work on two tasks at the same time providing unprecedented processing capability for better multi-tasking and for threaded applications. Do more with less wait time.
  • Intel Smart Cache:  Up to 20MB of shared cached allows faster access to your data by enabling dynamic and efficient allocation of the cache to match the needs of each core significantly reducing latency to frequently used data and improving performance.
  • Overclocking Enabled Warning: Altering clock frequency and/or voltage may: (i) reduce system stability and useful life of the system and processor; (ii) cause the processor and other system components to fail; (iii) cause reductions in system performance; (iv) cause additional heat or other damage; and (v) affect system data integrity. Intel has not tested, and does not warranty, the operation of the processor beyond its specifications. Intel assumes no responsibility that the processor, including if used with altered clock frequencies and/or voltages, will be fit for any particular purpose.
  • Integrated Memory Controller:  Supports 4 channels of DDR4-2133 memory with 1 DIMM per channel. Support for the Intel® eXtreme Memory Profile (Intel XMP) specification, revision 2.0 for DDR4.

Gigabyte X99 UD7 WiFi Motherboard

High-End Overclocking Guaranteed

The motherboard we will be testing today is the X99 UD7 WiFi which we received from Gigabyte. The Gigabyte X99 UD7 WiFi is a top of the line motherboard with some great overclocking features and an enthusiast grade design which shows the engineering that went into the development of this high-end product. First of all, we will take a quick look at the specifications and then move into a close-up look of the motherboard.

CPU
  • Support for Intel Core i7 processors in the LGA2011-3 package
  • L3 cache varies with CPU
Chipset
  • Intel X99 Express Chipset
Memory
  • 8 x DDR4 DIMM sockets supporting up to 64 GB of system memory
    * Due to a Windows 32-bit operating system limitation, when more than 4 GB of physical memory is installed, the actual memory size displayed will be less than the size of the physical memory installed.
  • 4 channel memory architecture
  • Support for DDR4 3000(O.C.) / 2800(O.C.) / 2666(O.C.) / 2400(O.C.) / 2133 MHz memory modules
  • Support for non-ECC memory modules
  • Support for Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) memory modules
  • Support for RDIMM 1Rx8 memory modules (operate in non-ECC mode)
Audio
  • Realtek ALC1150 codec
  • High Definition Audio
  • 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
  • Support for S/PDIF Out
LAN
  • 2 x Intel GbE LAN chips (10/100/1000 Mbit)
Wireless Communication module
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, supporting 2.4/5 GHz Dual-Band
  • Bluetooth 4.0, 3.0+HS, 2.1+EDR
  • Support for 11ac wireless standard and up to 867 Mbps data rate
    * Actual data rate may vary depending on environment and equipment.
Expansion Slots
    • 2 x PCI Express x16 slots, running at x16 (PCIE_1, PCIE_2)
      * For optimum performance, if only one PCI Express graphics card is to be installed, be sure to install it in the PCIE_1 slot; if you are installing two PCI Express graphics cards, it is recommended that you install them in the PCIE_1 and PCIE_2 slots.
    • 2 x PCI Express x16 slots, running at x8 (PCIE_3, PCIE_4)
      * The PCIE_4 slot shares bandwidth with the PCIE_1 slot. When the PCIE_4 slot is populated, the PCIE_1 slot will operate at up to x8 mode.
      * When an i7-5820K CPU is installed, the PCIE_2 slot operates at up to x8 mode and the PCIE_3 operates at up to x4 mode.
      (All PCI Express x16 slots conform to PCI Express 3.0 standard.)
    • 3 x PCI Express x1 slots
      (The PCI Express x1 slots conform to PCI Express 2.0 standard.)
  • 1 x M.2 Socket 1 connector for the wireless communication module (M2_WIFI)
Multi-Graphics Technology
  • Support for 4-Way/3-Way/2-Way AMD CrossFire™/NVIDIA® SLI™ technology
    * The 4-Way NVIDIA® SLI™ configuration is not supported when an i7-5820K CPU is installed. To set up a 3-Way SLI configuration, refer to “1-6 Setting up AMD CrossFire™/NVIDIA® SLI™ Configuration.”
Storage Interface
  • Support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10
    * Only AHCI mode is supported when an M.2 PCIe SSD or a SATA Express device is installed. (M2_10G, SATA Express, and SATA3 4/5 connectors can only be used one at a time. The SATA3 4/5 connectors will become unavailable when an M.2 SSD is installed in the M2_10G connector.)
  • 6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors (SATA3 0~5)
  • 1 x SATA Express connector
  • 1 x M.2 PCIe connector
    (Socket 3, M key, type 2242/2260/2280 SATA & PCIe x2/x1 SSD support)
  • 4 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors (sSATA3 0~3), supporting IDE and AHCI modes only (An operating system installed on the SATA3 0~5 connectors cannot be used on the sSATA3 0~3 connectors.)
USB Chipset:

  • 4 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports (available through the internal USB headers)
  • 6 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports (2 ports on the back panel, 4 ports available through the internal USB headers)

Chipset + 2 Renesas® uPD720210 USB 3.0 Hubs:

  • 8 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports on the back panel
Internal I/O Connectors
  • 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
  • 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
  • 1 x PCIe power connector
  • 1 x SATA Express connector
  • 10 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
  • 1 x M.2 Socket 3 connector
  • 1 x CPU fan header
  • 1 x water cooling fan header (CPU_OPT)
  • 3 x system fan headers
  • 1 x heatsink LED power connector
  • 1 x I/O shield audio LED power connector
  • 1 x front panel header
  • 1 x front panel audio header
  • 2 x USB 3.0/2.0 headers
  • 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
  • 1 x Thunderbolt add-in card connector
  • 1 x Clear CMOS jumper
  • 1 x power button
  • 1 x reset button
  • 1 x Clear CMOS button
  • 1 x Direct to BIOS button
  • 2 x BIOS switches
  • Voltage Measurement Points
Back Panel Connectors
  • 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port
  • 1 x CPU overclocking button
  • 1 x Fast Boot button
  • 1 x Clear CMOS button
  • 8 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports
  • 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
  • 2 x RJ-45 ports
  • 2 x SMA antenna connectors (2T2R)
  • 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
  • 5 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out, Rear Speaker Out, Line In, Line Out, Mic In)
I/O Controller
  • iTE I/O Controller Chip
H/W Monitoring
  • System voltage detection
  • CPU/System/Chipset temperature detection
  • CPU/CPU OPT/System fan speed detection
  • CPU/System/Chipset overheating warning
  • CPU/CPU OPT/System fan fail warning
  • CPU/CPU OPT/System fan speed control
    * Whether the fan speed control function is supported will depend on the cooler you install.
BIOS
  • 2 x 128 Mbit flash
  • Use of licensed AMI UEFI BIOS
  • Support for DualBIOS
  • Support for Q-Flash Plus
  • PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.7, WfM 2.0, SM BIOS 2.7, ACPI 5.0
Unique Features
  • Support for APP Center
    * Available applications in APP Center may differ by motherboard model. Supported functions of each application may also differ depending on motherboard specifications.
    @BIOS
    Ambient LED
    EasyTune
    EZ Setup
    Fast Boot
    Cloud Station
    ON/OFF Charge
    Smart TimeLock
    Smart Recovery 2
    System Information Viewer
    USB Blocker
    V-Tuner
  • Support for Q-Flash
  • Support for Smart Switch
  • Support for Xpress Install
Bundle Software
  • Norton Internet Security (OEM version)
  • Intel Smart Response Technology
  • cFosSpeed
Operating System
  • Support for Windows 8.1/8/7
Form Factor
  • E-ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 25.9cm
Remark
  • Due to different Linux support condition provided by chipset vendors, please download Linux driver from chipset vendors’ website or 3rd party website.
  • Most hardware/software vendors may no longer offer drivers to support Win9X/ME/2000/XP. If drivers are available from the vendors, we will update them on the GIGABYTE website.

Gigabyte X99 UD7 WiFi – Unboxing

The first thing we notice of the board is that it comes in the standard box packaging which we should expect from a high-end motherboard. The board weighs a bit more than standard motherboard which is due to the extra components found on the X99 motherboards. There’s an easy carry handle on the top while the front side of the box displays a large Ultra Durable logo with a shied in the background. Gigabyte has three X99 lineups which include Gaming, Overclock and Ultra Durable.

The back side of the box is once again the standard design which we should expect from companies these days with a ton of marketing material and feature details. A large specifications and feature map lists down each component of the motherboard and its I/O panel in detail. From the feature bar, we can see that Gigabyte has emphasized a lot on four key features; Performance, Durability, Protection and Looks on the X99 UD7 WiFi.

Just like the Z97X SOC Force we tested a few months ago, the X99 UD7 WiFi has a flip cover which pops out on the front. The flip cover shows the X99 UD7 WiFi shot with its LEDs in action. The X99 UD7 WiFi’s heatsinks are LED-backlit and we will detail them in a bit.

On the other hand of the flip cover, we can see a transparent cut out which shows off the X99 UD7 WiFi in all its glory. It’s a nice bit of detail and especially useful when buying the motherboard since you can take a quick peek at the motherboard without having to open up the box.

The Gigabyte X99 UD7 WiFi is placed nicely inside a cardboard box, we can see that Gigabyte has went with a gold yellow and black color scheme with strikes of silver on the memory slots. The Gigabyte X99 UD7 WiFi is an E-ATX form factoe motherboard measuring at 30.5cm x 25.9cm. It’s massive so don’t expect to slot in an ATX sized chassis because that would be a recipe for disaster. Nevertheless the board looks gorgeous but before we move on, we take a look at the last major component of the box.

The accessories are a fun part of any package and motherboards come with a plenty of them. For Gigabyte’s X99 UD7 WiFi, we are looking at an LED Lit I/O Panel backplate with a mirror shielding at the front. This is the first time that I am looking at such a design for the I/O shield and it looks amazing. The I/O panel is powered through a 2-Pin connector. We also have six sleeved SATA cables which look gorgeous, a 4-Way SLI, an extended 3-Way SLI, a regular 3-Way SLI, a 2-Way SLI and a 2-Way Crossfire bridge, two antennas for wireless connectivity, a Molex 8-Pin to dual 8-Pin power connector, a Manual Guide, Installation Guide, a drivers CD and the LAN Utility driver disc.

 

The X99 UD7 WiFi from Gigabyte can be found below in all its glory, showcasing the impressive design and build quality which it delivers to consumers.

Gigabyte X99 UD7 WiFi – A Closer Look

We are finally going to begin a closer inspection of the board but before we do that, let’s take one more look at the Gigabyte X99 UD7 WiFi from the front. As we detailed earlier, this E-ATX motherboard is a beast and we are going to verify that in the performance section. There are several components scattered across the PCB such as the large heatsinks and the eight DDR4 DIMM slots.

The back of the PCB does not include any electrical components but it indicates the several components that are integrated on the front. A large backplate can be found below the LGA 2011-3 socket while there’s also a support bracket for the top most VRM heatsink.

The first thing we notice on the motherboard is the LGA 2011-3 socket (3 stands for the third revision of the LGA 2011 socket). The socket is covered by a protective cover which can easily be removed. The socket should not be removed unless the motherboard is going to be used with a Haswell-E processors otherwise, even the slightest bit of pressure can damage the pins badly.

Removing the socket cover, we can finally see the glorious housing of the Haswell-E processors. The socket has two levers which need to be pulled to open the socket and is quite tricky for someone who’s new to the HEDT platform. A arrow on the top shows the position which needs to be aligned with the Haswell-E processor for proper use. Putting the CPU in any other position will damage the pins and make the board ineffective of use. The LGA 2011-3 socket houses 2011 pins but some manufacturers have released boards which come with more pins that allow better stability and performance. According to Gigabyte, their LGA 2011-3 socket comes with 6x (30u) gold plating which means better connectivity and stability allowing for longer usability without the worry of corroded pins.

The other major thing about the Gigabyte X99 UD7 WiFi is that it supports DDR4 memory. Each side of the socket is surrounded by four DDR4 DIMM slots making a total of eight DDR4 DIMM slots. The motherboard features support for up to 64 GB of DDR4 memory (8 x 8 GB / 4 x 16 GB) in quad channel mode with speeds ranging to DDR4 3000(O.C.) / 2800(O.C.) / 2666(O.C.) / 2400(O.C.) / 2133 MHz, The motherboard is fully compliant with Intel’s XMP 1.3 (Extreme Memory Profile).

The next thing that comes into detail is the 8-Pin power connector which supplies power directly to the socket. The connector is placed in addition to the 24-Pin ATX connector which can be found to the right socket of the DDR4 DIMMs. The power circuitry which we will detail in a bit provides ample juice to the board and socket for overclocking support.

The X99 UD7 WiFi is fitted with Gigabyte’s AMP-UP Audio solution which is fitted on an isolated PCB which is separated from the rest of the PCB components and indicated by a yellow line which will litup under operation. According to Gigabyte, the AMP-UP audio design features the Realtek ALC1150 Audio codec with 115dB SNR HD Audio and built-in rear audio amplifier. There are ten DAC channels with support 7.1 Channel HD audio play back and 2 channels of independent stereo sound output.

Gigabyte X99 UD7 WiFi_AMP UP Audio Design

Gigabyte also makes use of what they call independent right and left audio channel PCB layers. This eliminates per channel cross talk and allows for better audio quality.

Gigabyte X99 UD7 WiFi_AMP UP Audio 3One of the main features of this motherboard is the design. Gigabyte has used a total of four heatsinks on the X99 UD7 WiFi motherboard which include three for the electrical circuitry around the CPU socket and one for the PCH heatsink which sits near the storage ports. The top most heatsinks are interconnected with a large heat pipe solution which runs the entire surface of the motherboard. This design helps regulate and dissipate heat effectively through load regions.

The PCH heatsink is not only bulky, but the most impressive of all four heatsinks. It comes with a Gigabyte logo engraved on the top in a metallic design, covered with Gold Yellow, Matte black and Brushed Aluminum black colors. The Yellow strikes on the heatsink are back lit which give out a nice effect when under operation.

You can note in the following picture that the PCH Heatsink also uses a two-pin power connector just like the I/O shield to light up the LEDs. These small LEDs add up to the looks and aesthetics of the board showcasing Gigabyte’s effort that went into designing this board.

There are a few overclocking features that can be found on the X99 UD7 WiFi, the bulk of which can be found on near the ATX power connector. These include an onboard power button, Single BIOS / Dual BIOS mode switch, onboard restart button, onboard clear CMOS button, Direct to BIOS button, Debug LED display and an OC PEG connector which delivers extra power to the PCI-e graphics cards.

Several voltage points can also be spotted in this OC section which can be used by enthusiasts and overclockers to have a real time display and analysis of the voltages being supplied to the motherboard for easy tuning. Do note that the X99 UD7 WiFi being the Ultra Durable oriented motherboard doesn’t pack the OC panel which we have came to see on the Overclock series which include the Z97X SOC Force and X99 SOC Force.

Storage options include 10 SATA 6 Gbps ports and one SATA Express port. Gigabyte has limited the SATA-E connectivity to just one port because there are also M.2 slots which need to be powered up for use. There’s still a good amount of storage options for enthusiasts.

Next up, we have the two M.2 ports which are available on the X99 UD7 WiFi. One of the M.2 Socket is used for SSD support delivering full 10 GB/s data transfer speeds with the latest M.2 NGFF SSDs.

The other M.2 socket is placed directly beneath the top SSD one and is already configured with an onboard WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 card or module for wireless connectivity.

Gigabyte has added support for both NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFire Multi-GPU support. They have featured 4 PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots and three PCI-e 2.0 x1 slots.  Upon closer inspection, it can be seen that only two slots conform to the x16 lanes while the rest of the two are x8 slots. Gigabyte has mentioned that the allow full 320 GB/s bandwidth when all three or four slots are occupied. In four way operation, three slots would operate at x8 while one slot will operate at x16 while in 3-Way, two slots will operate in x16 and one in x8 mode. Gigabyte achieves this with an onboard external clock generator.

Gigabyte X99 UD7 WiFi_PCI-Express slotsThe WiFi module has two cables running through the surface of the board which connect to two Antenna connectors. This offers wireless connectivity which includes WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 functionality.

There are two key components found beneath the PCH heatsink. First two are the front panel connector slot and two USB 3.0 front panel headers. These allow for four USB 3.0 ports to operate at any given time when connected.

The second components are found to the left of these ports which include two front panel USB 2.0 headers, SPDIF connector, two system fan connectors and a front panel audio connector.

Gigabyte X99 UD7 WiFi_Audio USB 2.0

Now, we take off the heatsinks off the motherboard to show what else is under the hood and there’s a lot more. First up, the PCB is all black which is a good thing since the brown PCB color is just awful. This is a 2oz copper PCB which makes use of two times more copper layers that provide better power savings, lower PC temperatures and better overclocking performance. The humidity protection feature protects the PCB from corrosion and increase its usability life.

The most important thing which comes under this area is the PWM section. Gigabyte has resorted to a 8-Phase IR Digital PWM design which also features IR Powlrstage ICs. The fourth generation IR Digital controller deliver precise power delivery, more precise current sensing and distribute the thermal load between each ICs to prevent overheating. Gigabyte has used Server Level chokes from Cooper Bussman which deliver high-grade and long lasting efficiency with the added bonus of all black solid state capacitors rated at 10K hours. The board uses a single package IR MOSFET design which saves space and delivers much more power in overclocking then regular multi-chip designs.

The DDR4 DIMMs also come with their own VRM and electrical circuitry with two phases dedicated to each side of the DDR4 slots. This enables better delivery and enhanced stability when operating in XMP modes and 3300 MHz + overclocked specifications.

The X99 PCH is one big chip when compared to Z97 mainstream PCHs. The size of the X99 is even larger than a Kabini SOC which we are going to test in an upcoming review. The majority of the features which X99 delivers have already been detailed at the top of this review.

Below, you can take a look at just how massive the heatsink is when removed from the board. There are four heatsinks which are all interconnected with each other to offer better thermal load management.

 

The X99 UD7 WiFi is finally installed with our Core i7-5960X Extreme Edition processor and we are just a few more nifty details away from testing out this beast.

Finally we have a few more shots which you can see below in the gallery and next up, we move towards the performance testing of the X99 HEDT platform.

Gigabyte X99 UD7 WiFi Gallery:

Gigabyte X99 UD7 WiFi Feature Slides:

Gigabyte X99 UD7 WiFi I/O Panel:

The Gigabyte X99 UD7 WiFi I/O panel features 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port, 1 x CPU overclocking button, 1 x Fast Boot button, 1 x Clear CMOS button, 8 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports, 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports, 2 x RJ-45 ports, 2 x SMA antenna connectors (2T2R), 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector, 5 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out, Rear Speaker Out, Line In, Line Out, Mic In).

  • 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port
  • 1 x CPU overclocking button
  • 1 x Fast Boot button
  • 1 x Clear CMOS button
  • 8 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports
  • 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
  • 2 x RJ-45 ports
  • 2 x SMA antenna connectors (2T2R)
  • 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
  • 5 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out, Rear Speaker Out, Line In, Line Out, Mic In)

Gigabyte X99 UD7 WiFi_IO 2

Gigabyte X99 UD7 WiFi – BIOS

Gigabyte’s latest UEFI BIOS is well crafted and suits perfectly with the X99 UD7 WiFi overclocking board. The Real-Time Overclocking UEFI BIOS features the black and orange color scheme like the board and runs at full-HD resolution of 1920 x 1080P offering a seamless experience providing enhanced set of details for users to tune and look at while overclocking the motherboard. Gigabyte kept their previous Z87 series BIOS intact and they have re-used it in the X99 and Z97 series since it still looks fresh and offers a lot of tools for configuration and settings.

The main panel of the BIOS has  CPU and Memory stats listed on the left side that include information such as frequencies, voltages, temperatures, fan speeds and DRAM timings. The System status bar on the right indicates +3.3V, +5V and +12V supplies along with system and PCH temperatures. The top section of the BIOS shows real-time panels indicating voltage, fan speed and temperatures. Rest of the stuff is centered around the BIOS panel with overclocking options and several tools which can be seen below:

Testing Setup

Processor
  • Intel Core i7-5960X
  • Intel Core i7-5930K
  • Intel Core i7-5820K
  • Intel Core i7-4960X
  • Intel Core i7-4790K
  • Intel Core i7-4770K
  • Intel Core i7-3770K
  • Intel Core i7-2600K
  • Intel Core i5-3570K
  • Intel Core i7-3960X
Motherboard:
  • Gigabyte X99 UD7 WiFi w/Core i7-5960X
  • MSI X99S Gaming 9 AC w/Core i7-5820K
  • ASUS X79 Deluxe w/Core i7-4960X
  • Gigabyte GA-Z97X-SOC Force w/Core i7-4790K
  • Intel DZ87KLT-75K w/ Core i7-4770K
  • ASRock Z77 Extreme 6 w/ Core i7-3770K
  • ASRock Z77 Extreme 6 w/ Core i7-3570K
  • ASUS Sabertooth P67 w/ Core i7-2600K
  • Intel DX79SI LGA 2011 w/ Core i7-3960X
  • Gigabyte GA-990FX-UD7 w/ AMD FX-8150/8350
Power Supply: Xigmatek NRP-MC1002 1000 Watt
Hard Disk: Kingston HyperX 3K 90 GB (OS)
Seagate Barracuda 500GB 7200.12
Memory:
  • 4 x 4 GB DDR3 Kingston HyperX 2400 MHz
  • 10th Anniversary Edition Memory Kit w/ DDR3 Platforms
  • 4 x 4 GB DDR4 G.Skill Ripjaws IV 3000 MHz Memory 4 x 4 GB DDR4
Case: Cooler Master HAF 932
Video Cards: EVGA GeForce GTX 770 AVX
Cooling Solutions: Phantek PH-TC14PE Triple Fan
OS: Windows 8 Ultimate 64-bit

Overclocking Intel’s Core i7-5960X “Haswell-E” Processor:

Overclocking on the i7 5960X was pushed to 4.25 GHz with a multiplier of 34 and a BCLK speed of 125 MHz. The overclocking itself was rather difficult at first given how everything is tied to the BCLK. Furthermore, the chip is a hard clocker and only a few chips can achieve 4.4 GHz. Our chip was unable to push to 4.4 GHz without giving several crashes or being 100% stable hence we resorted to a lower overclock configuration. Nevertheless, 4.2 GHz for the 8 Haswell cores is pretty good. We used G.Skill’s Ripjaws 4 DDR4 memory kit which is clocked at a good 3000 MHz. You can find the review of the memory kit separately at http://wccftech.com/review/gskill-ripjaws-4-ddr43000-16-gb-kit-review/.

Intel Core i7-5960X “Haswell-E” – CPU Benchmarks

X264 HD Encode Benchmark

This benchmark measures the encoding performance of the processor. It offers a standardized benchmark as the clip as well as the encoder used is uniform.

Cinebench R15

CINEBENCH is a real-world cross platform test suite that evaluates your computer’s performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on MAXON’s award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Iron Man 3, Oblivion, Life of Pi or Prometheus and many more.

Cinebench R11.5

Cinebench is based on Maxon’s Cinema 4D. It is used to compare graphics as well as processor performance. We are using the CPU performance numbers for our comparison.

PCMark 7

PCMark 7 is a complete PC benchmarking solution for Windows 7 and Windows 8. It includes 7 tests combining more than 25 individual workloads covering storage, computation, image and video manipulation, web browsing and gaming. Specifically designed for the full range of PC hardware from netbooks and tablets to notebooks and desktops, PCMark 7 offers complete Windows PC performance testing for home and business use.

POV-Ray

The POV-Ray package includes detailed instructions on using the ray-tracer and creating scenes. Many stunning scenes are included with POV-Ray so you can start creating images immediately when you get the package.

3DMark 11 CPU Performance

DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. It was released on December 7, 2010. 3DMark 11 includes four Graphics tests – Deep Sea 1 & 2, High Temple 1 & 2 – for measuring GPU performance, a Physics test measuring CPU performance, and a Combined test targeting CPU and GPU performance.

3DMark Vantage CPU Performance

3DMark Vantage is a DirectX 10 video card benchmark test for Windows that is designed to measure your PC’s gaming performance. While the overall benchmark is great, the utility also provides a good indication of the CPU performance.

Winrar

WinRAR is a powerful archive manager. It can backup your data and reduce the size of email attachments, decompress RAR, ZIP and other files downloaded from Internet and create new archives in RAR and ZIP file format.

SuperPI

Super PI is used by many overclockers to test the performance and stability of their computers. In the overclocking community, the standard program provides a benchmark for enthusiasts to compare “world record” pi calculation times and demonstrate their overclocking abilities. The program can also be used to test the stability of a certain overclock speed.

Intel Core i7-5960X “Haswell-E” – Gaming Performance

Battlefield 4

Battlefield 4 is the latest installment in the Battlefield franchise. Developed by DICE and published by EA, Battlefield 4 takes multiplayer FPS to the next level unleashing new levels of destruction and the game changing LEVOLUTION. Battlefield 4 is a true next generation experience on the PC rendered with the power of Frostbite 3 which features stunning DirectX 11.1 effects and Tessellation which only a few games dare to match. In addition to the engine, Battlefield 4 would also be the first to support AMD’s latest Mantle API which will leverage the game performance on AMD hardware.

Bioshock: Infinite

Bioshock Infinite, the third title in the franchise developed by Irrational Games takes FPS and story telling to a whole new experience. The game puts us in the boots of Booker who in search of a girl named ‘Elizabeth’ ends up on Columbus,  a bustling metropolis of the early 20th century that floats in the sky. The game uses a modified Unreal Engine making use of DIrectX 11 effects.

CRYSIS 3

PC gamers and Crysis franchise have a long running bond that cannot be broken apart. Crysis 3 is the last title of the franchise that for one last time puts in the Nano suit taking the role of Prophet. The game takes place in a post-apocalyptic New York that is now under the control of C.E.L.L utilizing the left over Ceph technology to take grab in their quest for global domination by means of debt enslavement. We set out to take apart the CEPH and C.E.L.L forces in one last finale.

Visually speaking, the game is by far the most graphically intensive title ever developed with hyper realistic effects, textures and an environment with a massive scale. So much is the power of the CryEngine 3 that the game can only be ran on DirectX 11 compatible cards with a feature list length that never ends. Crytek had already done it once with the original Crysis and they have done it again with Crysis 3. Let’s see if the 2013 lineup of GPUs from NVIDIA and AMD hold up in it.

Tomb Raider

The Tomb Raider franchise was rebooted this year with the latest title in the long running franchise. The players start off their journey with a younger and under-trained version of Lara who goes off on her first survival action journey.

Power Consumption and Thermals

The Gigabyte X99 UD7 WiFi might not be advertised for overclocking but its built quality is easier to reflect the overclocking potential it houses under the hood. Though higher overclocks mean higher power consumption for which high quality PSU’s are recommended, it also means better performance to break records and better gaming performance. The stock results of the Core i7-5960X are pretty high compared to mainstream chips due to a 140W TDP but its under the regular wattage which we may expect from an HEDT chip. Haswell is tuned to deliver much more efficiency in terms of consumption and the difference between an 8 Core Haswell-E and 6 core Ivy Bridge-E is nominal. Overclocking changes this with the Haswell-E pushing a lot of power to its central core.

On the temperature side, we saw that the Haswell-E Core i7-5960X  pushed around the 81-83C even with the top-end air cooler available in the market (Phantek’s PH-TC14 PE). With such high temperatures under over clock configuration, a water cooling setup is recommended for 24/7 overclocked usage.

Conclusion

With Haswell-E and X99 tested, I would like to say that I am thrilled with the time I spent analyzing the new platform. From the 8 Core Godzilla which Intel has released, to high performance motherboards and DDR4 memory kits, this has got to be one of the most biggest platform launches in recent years. We are not only looking at a new processor or a new motherboard lineup, we are looking at a change in the entire PC landscape.

Starting with the Gigabyte’s X99 UD7 WiFi motherboard which is a terrific high-end product built for enthusiasts and overclockers. Gigabyte has added all of their top-of-the-line features on a single PCB which has resulted in a monstrous board with tons of features, utilities and overclocking potential. The price will be a factor but for a HEDT platform, a flagship product does come with a higher price tag but for the price, the X99 UD7 WiFi is a brilliant motherboard which has all the goodness in a single package and there’s nothing about it that I didn’t like. For overclockers who think that the motherboard has a few options for them, Gigabyte has the X99 SOC Force which you should look into and offers a slew of overclocking features configured on its OC panel.

The LGA 2011-3 socket is here to stay for a while and it wouldn’t be soon when Broadwell-E comes to the market next year and Intel will add support for them on the same chipset and socket which exists in the market today. The Haswell-E keeps the price structure same as last year’s Ivy Bridge-E, starting off with the entry level $389 US 5820K, $583 US 5930K and the $999 US 5960X. We have so far tested two of these chips, the 5930K and the 5960X. The 5930K is an absolute beast of a processor with performance outmatching the fastest Ivy Bridge-E processor. If the 5930K has to be regarded as a Godzilla, then the 5960X is easily the daddy of Godzilla being Intel’s first 8 Core consumer chip with tons of multi-threaded performance at hand. The $999 US price will take some heavy commitment to the HEDT platform to get hands on but it is what it is, a fast processor for a heavy price. The Core i7-5820K is an entry level option for those who want to try out the X99 platform and is a good replacement to the Core i7-4790K with 6 cores and higher clocks that result in better IPC performance.

The price of the platform is a major factor, the chips and memory are very expensive since this is the first generation of these products and the HEDT platform amounts to a little percentage of total desktop PCs. It would take a year before the DDR4 adoption rate catches up with Skylake generation of processors next year but for those who want to try it now can grab it now. Do note that Broadwell-E will end up being compatible with the same motherboards and memory so it would be wise for budget level buyers to stick with the 5820K and grab a faster Broadwell-E when it hits next year. The X99 motherboards are priced adequately with major board manufacturers offering decent solutions for under $250 US too. Overall, the X99 platform is a sight of the future of next generation desktop PCs across the board. It’s a platform built for enthusiasts and delivers on that promise with several key innovations and technological support making it one of the biggest simultaneous tech launch in the Desktop PC industry.

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