This is usually the area of the article that I get most excited for, which is perhaps a little wrong, but it is ultimately my real area of expertise. I was eager to find out how the GAMING 7 would perform when it was put under more than just a stock speed environment and, oh my do I have some stories for you. After seeing how well it performed at stock with no overclock applied, this motherboard really has some wicked potential to truly knock down its competitors.
I will start with my experience trying to overclock the memory. As some of you may know, HWBOT was running a competition along with GIGABYTE. In order to be competitive, you needed to have some very highly clocked RAM along with mega tight latencies. Unfortunately, this is where I hit my first and only hurdle. While the motherboard performs fantastically at stock with XMP, it struggles to go much tighter without some serious tweaking. Something that was very easy on an overclocker orientated board like the OC Formula from ASRock, was extremely tough on the GAMING 7. I have my RAM and CPU settings dialled into perfection, but I wasn’t able to attain anywhere near the same results without some serious, serious tweaking. It would appear that I was not alone in the struggle, as even the top-end motherboard that GIGABYTE currently produce on Z170, the results were not as good as they should have been. GIGABYTE is aware of the problem and is actively working on improving the RAM overclocking abilities as we speak. I’ve heard that there may be a new BIOS on the horizon for all of their boards, so we will have to wait and see. On a positive note and to spin the negative around, here’s a plus point. Even though the RAM overclocking experience wasn’t exactly faultless, I must stress something here before you get the wrong idea about the board. The RAM performance while using XMP is simply brilliant and the motherboard has no issues setting XMP profiles either, it’s once you start pushing past that where the problem lies.
On to the CPU overclocking side of things, and I’m sure you’ll be delighted to read/discover that there are no issues here whatsoever. My particularly average CPU was able to chug along at its clock speed of 4.8 GHz at 1.45 volts without any hassle. To add to the positive list of things said about the GAMING 7, it was clear to see that the results are pretty much representative of what happened at stock settings when compared to other motherboards.
Recovering from failed overclocks is something that the GAMING 7 struggled with a little bit without a true hard reset, especially when you’re tuning the RAM to something that is way beyond its rated specifications. I mean, I’m talking about the extremities in tuning RAM, which for 99.9% of you will never be needed or even dabbled in. However, recovering from the overclock was no more difficult than turning the PSU off during the boot phase, within the first half a second or so, and then powering it back on again. The board, like most others, is programmed to recognise a failed boot and it reverts settings to optimised defaults upon the next boot. So beyond more than a little annoyance, the overclock recovers nine out of ten times.
Overall, I’d have to say that it was a positive experience and nothing that I wasn’t used to from overclocking systems just that little bit too far. It used to be a real pain to reset a failed overclock in the past, but that is exactly what it is now, a thing of the past.