GIGABYTE's G1.Assassin2 motherboard is garish, but great

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GIGABYTE's G1.Assassin2 motherboard is garish, but great
Rating
Overall:

A great all-in-one X79 motherboard.

Price
Price: $465
> Pricing info
Specs
LGA 2011; X79 chipset; E-ATX form factor; 3 x PCI-e x16 (2 x 16x, 1 x 8x electrically); 2 x PCI-e 1x; 1 x PCI; 4 x SATA2, 4 x SATA3, 2 x eSATA3; DDR3-2133

Review: The first X79 board to hit the Labs; but is the G1.Assassin2 worth the asking price?

 

Nine months after the release of the original G1.Assassin, the G1.Assassin2 has emerged from the depths of GIGABYTE's labs to entice enthusiasts with a brand-spanking new socket and chipset pair. The Intel LGA 2011 socket and X79 chipset, otherwise known as the next generation platform for ridiculously expensive processors, is finally taking over the aging X58 chipset found on the original G1.Assassin after 3 years of loyal service.

The target audience that the G1.Assassin2 serves is much the same as its predecessor – high-powered workstations (whether that be gaming or video editing). The main features over Nehalem and X58 are a quad channel memory controller, 40 PCI-e lanes (compared to 36 lanes on X58), SATA3.0 support for two of the six available native SATA ports, and the very likely future support for PCI-e 3.0, judging by the use of PCI-e 3.0 standards compliant slots on this and other available X79 based motherboards.

3-way SLI and CrossfireX are also supported, where two cards are assigned 16x/16x lanes, while three cards are assigned 16x/16x/8x. This is the main advantage of X79 over Z68, which relies on chipsets such as the NF200 to allow for three card configurations.

Surprisingly, there are no native USB 3.0 ports on the new chipset! We're not sure what's going on there, considering Intel had ample time to implement it. X79 and P67 share similar traits; it's the processors associated with each that are the key differentiators. Most functionality is now built directly onto the CPU, such as memory and PCI-e controllers.

A thin-finned block of metal serves as passive cooling for the toasty VRMs. Its small footprint allows for a pleasantly clean layout. The only other heatsink is on the PCH, and is shaped like a handgun, not unlike the original G1.Assassin and its clip-inspired heatsink.

Despite the similar aesthetics between the two Assassin boards, the similarities aren't all skin deep. The Bigfoot Killer E2100 network processor is back, along with the onboard Creative CA20K2 sound solution.

GIGABYTE have finally jumped onto the EFI GUI bandwagon with '3D BIOS'. After entering setup, you're met with a picture of the G1.Assassin2, similar to the kind you'd expect on an initial slash screen. The key difference is that this image is interactive, such that clicking on a component of the motherboard will bring up its associated BIOS settings. This is a neat take on simplifying the BIOS, whilst maintaining a solid level of control over settings. Pressing escape takes you to a fancier rendition of the more traditional Award BIOS layout.

The back panel provides an OC button for a quick boost to 4GHz, in addition to a standard array of ports including a PS/2 port, 6 x USB 2.0, 2 x USB 3.0, 2 x eSATA/USB and a 1Gb/s RJ-45 port.

GIGABYTE have bundled plenty of additional extras, including a Wi-Fi (802.1n)/Bluetooth 4.0 card with dual antennas, a Crossfire and 3-way SLI bridge, a 3.5” 2 x USB 3.0 front panel plate, and large stickers.

To test the overclocking capabilities of the board, we enlisted our newest initiate, the Intel Core i7 3960X, and a 2133MHz CL11-11-11-30 quad-channel memory kit provided by G.Skill. Our first target was 4.4GHz using auto settings for the various VRM options, and an excessive vCore of 1.5v. Both Prime95 and OCCT were happy with this, so we pushed further. Following a series of failed attempts at hitting 4.5GHz, we finally settled for 4.45GHz using a vcore of 1.525v. There was no way we were going to push it any further without risking damage to the processor. It's still early days with this CPU, so we're not certain of its absolute capabilities just yet, but we were a tad disappointed that we didn't quite reach a clock rate beyond 4.5GHz.

When it comes down to a recommendation, it's clear that this type of board is going to appeal to gamers with deep pockets. There's a lot of bang for your buck, provided you can justify the overall cost. A great sound solution paired with a platform capable of running multiple GPUs without breaking a sweat may be just what you need. All things considered, this is a definite step up from the original G1.Assassin in both design and performance.

Intel  Core i7 3960X

99 x 45;  DDR3-2133 @ 10-11-10-24

99 x 45; DDR3-1600 @ 9-10-9-22

100 x 39; DDR3-2133 11-11-11-30

PiFast

16.47s

16.49s

18.81s

wPrime 32M - single thread

31.465s

31.451s

35.926s

wPrime 32M – multi-thread (HT off)

6.716s (4.69x efficiency)

6.77s (4.65x efficiency)

7.7s (4.67x efficiency)

CineBench R10 64bit - single thread

7414

7380

6474

CineBench R10 64bit – multi-thread (HT off)

29838 (4.02x efficiency)

31012 (4.2x efficiency)

26875 (4.15x efficiency)

Everest Read

20657MB/s

19894MB/s

18727MB/s

Everest Write

17239MB/s

17176MB/s

15053MB/s

Everest Latency

52ns

55.3ns

55.6ns

 

See more about:  gigabyte  |  g1assassin2  |  motherboard  |  pc  |  hardware  |  review  |  overclocking
 
 

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