Introduction & Closer Look
In front of us we have the GIGABYTE X99 Gaming 5P, which is a slightly tweaked Gaming 5 which they originally released in the past. There are no major differences, but the 5P is more comparable to the G1 Wi-Fi with the feature set that it brings to the table. It is basically a G1, but without the wireless aspect. That part may be given away when you take a closer look at the IO later on. However, for now, let’s take a look at the board that is in my hands and find out what I think of it.
First impressions count; right? Absolutely! The Gaming 5P is, from the aesthetic look of it at least, a quality bit of kit where no compromises have been made with regards to its selection of parts. The main two differences between the Gaming 5 and the Gaming 5P is that it features an OC socket, which has 2083 pins instead of the official 2011. The big advantage of the extra pins resides in the fact that you gain cache voltage control. The other bonus is that it supports DDR4-3200 as an XMP standard. I don’t want to bore all of you with the too much technical spiel, and then go over it all again in the more descriptive part of this review; so let’s crack on and check out what the Gaming 5P is really made of.
Whilst we are at this end of the motherboard, we may as well take a quick look at the power delivery for the CPU with the heatsink removed and take a quick look at the socket placement as well as the DIMM slots. The CPU power delivery system comprises of *five* power phases, which seems inadequate in my opinion, given that the CPUs draw a lot of power, even at stock speeds. The i7-5960X has a 140-watt TDP, and I have a feeling that the VRM may have something to say about that. I’ll go into greater detail regarding this issue in the *INSERT URL* overclocking section */INSERT URL* of this review.
It is with thanks to the eight DIMM slots that you are able to use a whopping amount of RAM, should you ever need it. A maximum of 128GB is within your reach, but, of course, something only the top percentile of extreme enthusiasts would ever have. Availability is rather limited (read: good luck finding anything of the sort!) at the moment, but it may become more mainstream in the not too distant future. The ability to use a 3200 MHz XMP profile is something that wasn’t previously possible on the Gaming 5 non-P motherboard. The motherboard does not support ECC modules, in case you were wondering. You can use them, sure, but they will operate in the non-ECC mode only.
It wouldn’t be appropriate to continue without a quick shot of the cooling system that is on the Gaming 5P. It’s one solid piece that is joined with one long heat pipe to spread the heat, resulting in lower overall system temperatures.
Expansion via the SATA bus is always a tricky one to get right, as you can often have too many or too little ports that varies vastly from user to user. I for example would be perfectly fine with just two ports for two drives, and that’s it. Some other members of the PC world may be in need of 12 for their massive storage requirements. The Gaming 5P comes with a variety of expansion slots for your storage requirements, and they range from things such as a PCI-E M.2 connector that is unfortunately limited to 10 Gbps rather than 20 or even 32 Gbps by using the CPU lanes over the PCH lanes, one SATAe (SATA Express) connector, and finally to a further six SATA 6 Gbps ports as well. Furthermore, there are another four SATA 6 Gbps ports that are also provided by the chipset as well.
Intel’s X99 range wouldn’t be of much use without a multi-GPU support function, which is why GIGABYTE offer a host of PCI-E lanes that can bring your gaming experience to the next level when you pair a couple of cards together and game in ultra stunning detail. The motherboard supports (up to) 4-way configurations, but they do tell you in the specs that 4-way is not supported when you are using a Core i7-5820K (due to the lack of PCI-E lanes). In order to make use of the four lanes in tandem, you need to use an i7-5930K or i7-5960X for the 40 PCI-E lanes (vs 28 on the i7-5820K). So, what we have is a grand total of four PCI-E lanes that operate at x8/x8/x16/x8 when you’re at full capacity. It’s a little strange that the first slot doesn’t operate at x16, but it makes sense when you look at the schematics of the board. The third PCI-E slot is actually linked straight into the CPUs bus which means they are actually the fastest of them all. In addition to the four PCI-E x16 lanes, there are also three PCI-E x1 slots for your other cards, but they’re hidden when you use dual slot graphics cards (unfortunately).
All of the GIGABYTE G1 Gaming motherboards are equipped with the exclusive ‘AMP-UP Audio Technology’ that provides some of the industries highest levels of onboard audio features and technologies. GIGABYTE have designed the audio part of the motherboard to be as efficient as possible by taking the most direct route from the audio chip to the ports which is supposed to reduce crosstalk and result in lower noise disturbance. One thing which they are also very keen to show off is the OP-AMP which you can customise to your very own personal preference by simply replacing it with a vast range of different chips that GIGABYTE sell. It’s all powered by a quad-core audio processor that is also known as the Creative Sound Core3D chip.
Whipping around to the final stop of our motherboard tour, we have the IO connections. One thing you will instantly notice is the two empty holes to the right of the ports. The reason for this is that the Gaming 5P is the exact same board as the G1 Wi-Fi, but, it is lacking the Wi-Fi card (and antennas). However, that is where the emptiness ends as the IO is packed with various ports that are sure to be enough for your requirements. We have the all important PS/2 port for both your keyboard and mouse. It’s quite bizarre to see the two together as it is usually a combination port as I’d imagine the vast majority of us have made the switch to USB in recent years. A total of six USB 3.0 ports and four USB 2.0 ports are present, along with a single RJ-45 LAN connection that is powered by the Killer E2200 network chip from Qualcomm, and five audio jacks that are joined by an optical S/PDIF out connector too. Plentiful if you ask me, but another LAN port wouldn’t have gone amiss – even though it is not essential.