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Gigabyte X99P-SLI Motherboard Review

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,274
Test System & Testing Methodology

Test System & Testing Methodology




To full test the built in over-clocking abilities of a given motherboard, we have broken down testing into multiple categories:

Stock Turbo Boost - To represent a 5930K at stock with turbo enabled.

Automatic OC
- To represent a Gigabyte X99-SLI at best proven stable overclock achieved via included automatic overclocking (4.4GHz).

Manual OC –To represent an experienced overclocker that is looking for the optimal long term overclock to maximize system performance while keeping voltage and temperatures in check (4.5GHz).

We chose benchmark suites that included 2D benchmarks, 3D benchmarks, and games; and then tested each overclocking method individually to see how the performance would compare.

The full list of the applications that we utilized in our benchmarking suite:

3DMark 8
3DMark 2013 Professional Edition
AIDA64 Extreme Edition
Cinebench R11.5 64-bit
SiSoft Sandra 2013.SP4
SuperPI Mod 1.5mod
RightMark Audio Analyzer 6.2.5
Sleeping Dogs Gaming Benchmark
Metro: Last Light Gaming Benchmark
Tomb Raider
BioShock Infinite


Instead of LinX or P95, the main stability test used was the AIDA64 stability. AIDA64 has an advantage as it has been updated for the Haswell architecture and tests specific functions like AES, AVX, and other instruction sets that some other stress tests do not touch. After the AIDA64 stability test was stable, we ran 2 runs of SuperPI and 2 runs of 3DMark to test memory and 3D stability. Once an overclock passed these tests, we ran the full benchmark suite and then this is the point deemed as “stable” for the purposes of this review.


To ensure consistent results, a fresh installation of Windows 8.1 was installed with latest chipset drivers and accessory hardware drivers (audio, network, GPU) from the manufactures website. The BIOS used for overclocking and benchmarking was version 1301 and the Nvidia drivers used were version 332.21.


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Our test setup consists of an Intel Haswell 5930K, Gigabyte X99-SLI motherboard, one NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 video card, 32GB of G.Skill RipJaws 5 DDR4-3600 memory, a Intel 335 180GB SSD, and a WD Black 1TB. All this is powered by an EVGA SuperNOVA 1000 P2 1000 watt PSU.

For cooling we used a Corsair H110i GT AIO w/ four 140mm fans attached. For hardware installation testing we also used a Noctua NH-U12S, Noctua DH-D15 and a XSPC Raystorm waterblock.

Complete Test System:

Processor: Intel i7 5930K
Memory: 32GB GSkill RipJaws 5 DDR4-3600 1.35v
Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780
Hard Drive: 1x 180GB Intel 335 SSD. Western Digial Black 1TB.
Power Supply: EVGA SuperNOVA 1000 P2
CPU Cooler: Corsair H110i GT AIO

Special thanks to EVGA for their support and supplying the SuperNOVA 1000 P2.
Special thanks to NVIDIA for their support and supplying the GTX 780
 

AkG

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Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,274
Feature Testing: Onboard Audio & USB 3.1 Performance

Feature Testing: Onboard Audio


While the Gigabyte Gaming 5 is mainly orientated towards PC enthusiasts, the upgraded onboard audio is one of its main selling features. As such, it behooves us to see exactly what this upgrade brings to the table. To do this we have used RightMark Audio Analyzer.





Given the price point of this motherboard we have zero issues with its audio capabilities. Put simply these results are more than good enough for most consumers and many will have a hard time telling the sound output difference between what Gigabyte is offering and stand-alone sound cards.


Feature Testing: USB 3.1 Performance


For the USB 3.1 device we have used an ASUS USB 3.1 enclosure which uses a pair of Samsung 840 EVO 250GB drives, and is powered by a ASMedia ASM1352R chipset.



Crystal DiskMark


Crystal DiskMark is designed to quickly test the performance of your drives. Currently, the program allows to measure sequential and random read/write speeds; and allows you to set the number of tests iterations to run. We left the number of tests at 5 and size at 100MB.




Real World Data Transfers


No matter how good a synthetic benchmark like IOMeter or PCMark is, it cannot really tell you how your hard drive will perform in “real world” situations. All of us here at Hardware Canucks strive to give you the best, most complete picture of a review item’s true capabilities and to this end we will be running timed data transfers to give you a general idea of how its performance relates to real life use. To help replicate worse case scenarios we will transfer a 10.00GB contiguous file and a folder containing 400 subfolders with a total 12,000 files varying in length from 200mb to 100kb (10.00 GB total).

Testing will include transfer to and transferring from the devices, using MS RichCopy and logging the performance of the drive. Here is what we found.




As you can see the Intel USB 3.1 controller is rather impressive in its abilities. With this level of performance, it is no wonder that Gigabyte dropped the first gen ASMedia controller in favor of this more dual purpose controller - as the Thunderbolt abilities are simply icing on the cake.
 
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AkG

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Feature Testing: Software Auto-Overclocking

Feature Testing: Software Auto-Overclocking


As with any modern motherboard the X99P-SLI offers multiple ways for users to quickly, easily, and nearly painlessly overclock their system. All these various options will result in a fully stable and safe overclock. This is a marked difference from previous iterations which either pushed excessive voltage to the CPU or ended up providing an unstable overclock.


Unlike some manufacturers these options all rely upon software-only solutions rather than hardware based ones which are implemented within the BIOS. So if you are interested in physical ‘automatic’ overclocking such as what MSI or ASUS offer you may be a tad disappointed. On the other hand, most will find one of the two ways to be more than capable; the end results are all that matters and what Gigabyte offers is a very pain free solution.

Since both options are contained in the same program (in this case EasyTune) it will really come down to an individual’s goals and comfort level with overclocking. For consumers not interested in spending any more time than necessary the OC Button option allows a fast, stable overclock that is literally set and forget simple. To be precise this option will automatically boost an Intel 5930K from 3.7 to 4.1GHz on all cores, turns on the RAM’s XMP profile (if it is not already on) and calls it a day. More importantly it only increases the voltage to a touch over stock so that even inexpensive aftermarket CPU cooling solutions should be able to handle the additional heat load.


This moderate boost in performance will provide more than enough extra performance that going further is simply not needed. For those who do want to push the envelope even more – but do not want to take on the responsibility of manual overclocking – the second option is the more optimal solution. Simply press the Auto Tuning button located next to the other software overclocking options, sit back and wait for the system to work its magic. During this process the system will slightly increase the settings, reboot, run a quick diagnostics and continue to increase the performance until it runs into an issue. When it does it then simply reboots to the last ‘known good’ setting and calls it a day.

Sadly, while the end result was rock solid, this process is rather rudimentary compared to what ASUS and their software package can accomplish. There still is no in-depth stress testing done, there is still no RAM stress testing, and the final OC does use a touch more voltage than what ASUS X99 motherboards require. More importantly our DDR4-3600 RAM refused to work with the XMP profile being enabled. The highest that the software was able to do was DDR4-2666 speeds which is rather abysmal considering the abilities our G.Skill Ripjaws 4 3000MHz sticks have to offer.

Once again Gigabyte needs to be lauded for improving their software solution, but still need to further improve it so as to catch up with the rest of the industry. In the meantime, this program is still fairly capable as it set all cores to 4.4Ghz, set Uncore to 3.4Ghz and more importantly only set the CPU voltage to 1.330v.
 
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AkG

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Manual Overclocking Results

Manual Overclocking Results


For users who either feel that the software results are not good enough and that they can do better, or simply feel that the journey is just as important as the destination, the only real solution is manual overclocking. Thankfully the X99P-SLI is sure to please as it not only acquits itself nicely, but actually posted better results than the original X99-SLI was capable of.

With that being said for anyone still on the fence about whether to go the Z170 or X99 route, please be aware that manual overclocking is not as user-friendly as it is on similarly priced Z170 motherboards. This is not because Gigabyte cut corners on the X99P-SLI; rather it is due to the fact that the Z170 platform includes features that make overclocking easier and more precise. For example, BCLK overclocking is rather limited on this motherboard, especially compared to what Skylake-based systems offer. The same holds true of RAM overclocking, as Z170’s offerings are simply superior. That is not to say you cannot overclock DDR4 RAM modules using this board, but it is a touch more complicated and troublesome than the newer Z170 systems.

With those two caveats in mind the X99P-SLI is fairly user-friendly and certainly above average in it abilities for its price range. For example, when – not if – the system does hang from a bad overclocking profile consumers will not have to worry about corrupting the BIOS or having to manually clear the CMOS. The worst that will most likely happen is you will get an error stating ‘Overclocking Has Failed’ as the board seamlessly switches over from one BIOS to the other.

In the dozens upon dozens of times this happened not once did the system disappoint us – even when we tried to make it fail. This may not be as good as what ASUS is offering on their latest and greatest, but overall this is a great feature to have and will be very reassuring to novice overclocking enthusiasts.


Even though the X99P uses a relatively simple a six phase VRM the components are top notch and only a touch more power input was needed than usual. We doubt most would ever notice the difference but we did, and took note of it. By that same token this additional power was not enough to matter and in the end we achieved an overclock that was about equal to much more expensive X99 motherboards. Once again however it was the RAM part of the equation that let us down and the best we were able to accomplish was DDR4-3333. This was disappointing, but still better than what the software was able to accomplish.

Overall, the combination of very good BIOS and decent hardware does make for an enjoyable overclocking experience. We have no issues with recommending this motherboard to experienced users who can squeeze the most from their hardware. However we would have trouble recommending it – or any X99 motherboard for that matter– to the true overclocking novice. For first time consumers Z170 is simply in a league all its own with X99 badly lagging behind. The lack of RAM overclocking options, the lack of real BCLK overclocking, and the generally more orneriness of the socket 2011-v3 processors can make for one steep learning curve.

If you are the adventurous type and do not mind a challenge than you can safely disregard this recommendation as the end results are better than what Z170 can offer – as a 5390K combined with good DDR4 makes for one potent system. To be more precise we were able to get 4.5GHz on all six cores, a 4.2 Uncore setting, and DDR4-3333 performance levels. No matter how you slice it, that is one powerful system – especially when paired with an NVMe solid state drive.
 
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AkG

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System Benchmarks

System Benchmarks


In the System Benchmarks section we will show a number benchmark comparisons of the 5930K and Gigabyte X99P-SLI using the stock speed (turbo enabled), software overclocking, and our manual overclock. This will illustrate how much performance can be gained by the various overclocking options this board has to offer.

For reference the CPU speeds, memory speeds, memory timings, and uncore speeds used for these tests are as follows:

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/GB_X99P-SLI/chart.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>

SuperPI Benchmark


<i>SuperPi calculates the number of digits of PI in a pure 2D benchmark. For the purposes of this review, calculation to 32 million places will be used. RAM speed, RAM timings, CPU speed, L2 cache, and Operating System tweaks all effect the speed of the calculation, and this has been one of the most popular benchmarks among enthusiasts for several years.
SuperPi was originally written by Yasumasa Kanada in 1995 and was updated later by snq to support millisecond timing, cheat protection and checksum. The version used in these benchmarks, 1.5 is the official version supported by hwbot.</i>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/GB_X99P-SLI/pi.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>


CINEBENCH R11.5


<i>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.

In this system benchmark section, we will use the x64 Main Processor Performance (CPU) test scenario. The Main Processor Performance (CPU) test scenario uses all of the system's processing power to render a photorealistic 3D scene (from the viral "No Keyframes" animation by AixSponza). This scene makes use of various algorithms to stress all available processor cores. The test scene contains approximately 2,000 objects which in turn contain more than 300,000 polygons in total, and uses sharp and blurred reflections, area lights, shadows, procedural shaders, antialiasing, and much more. The result is displayed in points (pts). The higher the number, the faster your processor.</i>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/GB_X99P-SLI/cine.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>

Sandra Processor Arithmetic & Processor Multi-Media Benchmarks


<i>SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility. The software suite provides most of the information (including undocumented) users like to know about hardware, software, and other devices whether hardware or software. The name “Sandra” is a (girl) name of Greek origin that means "defender", "helper of mankind".

The software version used for these tests is SiSoftware Sandra 2013 SP3. In the 2013 version of Sandra, SiSoft has updated operating system support, added support for Haswell CPUs, as well as added some new benchmarks to the testing suite. The benchmark used below is the Processor Arithmetic benchmark which shows how the processor handles arithmetic and floating point instructions. This test illustrates an important area of a computer’s speed.</i>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/GB_X99P-SLI/sis.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>


PCMark 8 Benchmark


<i>Developed in partnership with Benchmark Development Program members Acer, AMD, Condusiv Technologies, Dell, HGST, HP, Intel, Microsoft, NVIDIA, Samsung, SanDisk, Seagate and Western Digital, PCMark 8 is the latest version in FutureMark’s popular series of PC benchmarking tools. Improving on previous releases, PCMark 8 includes new tests using popular applications from Adobe and Microsoft.


The test used in below is the PCMark 8 Home benchmark. This testing suite includes workloads that reflect common tasks for a typical home user such as for web browsing, writing, gaming, photo editing, and video chat. The results are combined to give a PCMark 8 Home score for the system.</i>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/GB_X99P-SLI/pcm8.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>


AIDA64 Benchmark


<i>AIDA64 Extreme Edition is a diagnostic and benchmarking software suite for home users that provides a wide range of features to assist in overclocking, hardware error diagnosis, stress testing, and sensor monitoring. It has unique capabilities to assess the performance of the processor, system memory, and disk drives.


The benchmarks used in this review are the memory bandwidth and latency benchmarks. Memory bandwidth benchmarks (Memory Read, Memory Write, Memory Copy) measure the maximum achievable memory data transfer bandwidth. The code behind these benchmark methods are written in Assembly and they are extremely optimized for every popular AMD, Intel and VIA processor core variants by utilizing the appropriate x86/x64, x87, MMX, MMX+, 3DNow!, SSE, SSE2, SSE4.1, AVX, and AVX2 instruction set extension.
The Memory Latency benchmark measures the typical delay when the CPU reads data from system memory. Memory latency time means the penalty measured from the issuing of the read command until the data arrives to the integer registers of the CPU.</i>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/GB_X99P-SLI/aida.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/GB_X99P-SLI/aida_lat.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>
 

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,274
3D and Gaming Benchmarks

3D and Gaming Benchmarks


In the 3D and Gaming Benchmarks section we will show a number of benchmark comparisons of the 5390K and X99P-SLI using the stock speed (turbo enabled), highest stable software over-clock, and our manual overclock. This will illustrate how much performance can be gained by the various overclocking options this board has to offer.

For reference the CPU speeds, memory speeds, memory timings, and uncore speeds used for these tests are as follows:
<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/GB_X99P-SLI/chart.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
</div>


3DMark Fire Strike Benchmark


<i>The latest version of 3DMark from FutureMark includes everything you need to benchmark everything from smartphones and tablets, to notebooks and home PCs, to the latest high-end, multi-GPU gaming desktops. And it's not just for Windows. With 3DMark you can compare your scores with Android and iOS devices too. It's the most powerful and flexible 3DMark we've ever created.


The test we are using in this review is Fire Strike with Extreme settings which is a DirectX 11 benchmark designed for high-performance gaming PCs. Fire Strike features real-time graphics rendered with detail and complexity far beyond what is found in other benchmarks and games today.</i>

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<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/GB_X99P-SLI/3dm.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
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Sleeping Dogs Gaming Benchmark


<i>Sleeping Dogs is an open world action-adventure video game developed by United Front Games in conjunction with Square Enix London Studios and published by Square Enix, released on August 2012. Sleeping Dogs has a benchmark component to it that mimics game play and an average of four runs was taken.


The settings used in the testing below are the Extreme display settings and a resolution of 1920x1200. World density is set to extreme, high-res textures are enabled, and shadow resolution, shadow filtering, screen space ambient occlusion, and quality motion blur are all set to high.</i>

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<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/GB_X99P-SLI/sd.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
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Metro: Last Light Gaming Benchmark


<i>Metro: Last Light is a DX11 first-person shooter video game developed by Ukrainian studio 4A Games and published by Deep Silver released in May 2013. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic world and features action-oriented gameplay. The game has a benchmark component to it that mimics game play. Scene D6 was used and an average of four runs was taken.

The settings used in the testing below are Very High for quality and a resolution of 1920x1200. DirectX 11 is used, texture filtering is set to AF 16X, motion blur is normal, SSA and advanced physX turned on and tessellation is set to high.</i>

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<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/GB_X99P-SLI/met.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
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BioShock Infinite Gaming Benchmark


<i>BioShock Infinite is a first-person shooter video game developed by Irrational Games, and published by 2K Games released in March 2013. The game has a benchmark component to it that mimics game play and an average of four runs was taken.

The settings used in the testing below are UltraDX11 for quality and a resolution of 1920x1200.</i>

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<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/GB_X99P-SLI/bio.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
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Tomb Raider Gaming Benchmark


<i> Tomb Raider is an action-adventure video game. Published by Square Enix released in March 2013. The game has a benchmark component to it that mimics game play and an average of four runs was taken.


The settings used in the testing below are Ultimate default settings for quality, VSync disabled and a resolution of 1920x1200.</i>

<div align="center">
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/GB_X99P-SLI/tr.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
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AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,274
Conclusion

Conclusion


Intel’s Haswell-E processors and X99 motherboards have been used as the foundation for many high end gaming PC’s but the term “value” hardly ever enters into their respective equation. Rather, value-focused buyers typically gravitate towards the Skylake / Z170 combination. As such there really hasn’t been all that much of a market for less expensive X99 offerings. Gigabyte’s X99P-SLI on the other hand proves that there just may be a case where the 2011v3 platform can not only shine right now but also provide a foundation upon which to build an affordable yet future-proof system.

From a specifications perspective, the X99P-SLI provides features that Z170 users may take for granted but were never incorporated into its predecessor, the X99-SLI. Things like USB 3.1, SATA Express and quad-lane M.2 support have been added without diluting the platform’s essential strengths like the ability to natively run two GPUs at full x16 bandwidth. The only thing that’s missing is U.2 but that can be added via a separate $15 adapter.

The fact that the X99P-SLI also comes with a great BIOS, good software, excellent NIC and high end audio is just pure icing on the cake. It’s also important to take into account that BIOSes which support upcoming Broadwell-E processors have also been rolled out. Indeed, the Gigabyte X99P-SLI is a surprisingly well equipped X99 motherboard despite its price of about $230USD.

Where the X99P really shines is what it offers for novices. The included software is not only extremely easy to use but it (finally!) leads to rock solid overclocking that will not endanger your system via dangerously high voltage levels or spit out an unstable set of frequencies.

The only niche market which may find the X99P-SLI a touch lacking is extreme overclockers who push their systems well beyond the capabilities of air and water cooling. Here the six phase power delivery subsystem may be a touch underwhelming and will require more finesse than some, but for 95% of the X99P-SLI’s intended consumer base it too is more than enough.

To be fair most of these features are available on any recently refreshed 2011-v3/X99 motherboard, but Gigabyte has done an excellent job in making every element of this board accessible. However, it is nonetheless important to remember the X99P-SLI is designed as an everyman’s X99 with key elements to improve the experience for folks who are debating Z170 but may want the raw potential of its bigger brother.

All on its own these accomplishments make the X99P-SLI award worthy, but the fact that it was able to do all that and only ask $230 makes it rather impressive. It is inexpensive, without being a ‘cheap’ product; it feels like it should be retailing for a good $50 more. So much so that it brings much needed value back to LGA2011-v3 systems. In other words, there may still be plenty of reasons to opt for Z170 over X99, but the price of the motherboard is no longer one of those. That is what truly makes the X99P-SLI so special.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Motherboard/GB_X99P-SLI/DGV.gif " border="0" alt="" /></div>
 
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