Gigabyte had a tough job on their hands when developing the successor of their Z87X-OC motherboard; a tedious task as it was one of the most utilized socket 1150 boards by the enthusiasts at HWBot. And to cut things short, the Z97X SOC FORCE is another great addition from Gigabyte to their ever growing Overclocking series, carrying all the features from its predecessor, being it with small refinements. The extra additions alike the DIMM channels dip switches is a feature we will see on future boards and probably not only on the Gigabyte boards.
The layout hasn't changed that much from the Z87X SOC board, though the relocation of some OCing friendly parts alike the LED poster and the 6 pin GPU PEG clearly indicate Gigabyte wanted to move on and not just implement the new Intel Z97 chipset in an existing PCB design. For the extreme guys the area around the CPU socket remains pretty clean, thus making it very easy to insulate.
Performance wise this board is top notch, playing directly with the big boys, being it on air/water or liquid nitrogen. The new improved graphical BIOS might not be used much by the enthusiast crowd, though it is again a step forward from the previous version.
We have played with the Gigabyte Z97X SOC FORCE during numerous days under extreme cold and the board is still rock solid as from day one. The Extreme OC'ing bios X04 and X06 are so easy in usage. Now to make them even better the BIOS team could ditch completely the graphical part on my behalf. Pressing F2, classic mode for the win!
If we have to reveal one weakness, than it would be the tedious training required with the legacy PSC ICs. Even though most will use Samsung based memory anyway, the die-hard crowd still swears with LN2 cooled PSC based memory. The OC bios team is fully occupied with it to provide a solution.
The Gigabyte Z97X SOC FORCE is a steal at its price, especially when looking at the components and the versatility when using the board, though its little brother the Z97X SOC retails even lower. Okay it only has 4 phases and might lack the OC brace and Killer NIC, yet it might be that little more interesting for daily air or water overclockers. Gigabyte is not targeting the game crowd here but those that want to explore new heights. A solid foundation is required as a starting point and this Z97X SOC FORCE motherboard will deliver that at an affordable price tag. The numerous World records set by the Team.AU guys and other overclockers at HWBot just reinforce our thoughts about this motherboard. This is one top notch Overclocking friendly motherboard!
- Solid Overclocking series motherboard
- Affordable price tag
- OC Brace
- GTL tweaking software
- Xtreme OC biosses
- Running PSC requires too much training
- Why a Killer NIC?
- no Tri-SLi
We wish to thank Bernice from Gigabyte for providing us with the Z97X SOC FORCE board
Harry from Corsair for the Vengeance Pro and Dominator Platinum memory kits
Microcool for the Banchetto 101 bench setup
Niko from EKWB for the L360 kit
The Tones crew for the years of immaculate support