Gaming, Hardware, Reviews, VR World

Gigabyte GA-X99-GAMING 5: A Solid Performer

GBT X99 Gaming 5- 900 - BSN-3

Overkill VR is a fast paced VR action game

Intel recently released the Haswell-E CPUs and the X99 chipset to go along with it. Gigabyte has released their line of X99 to the masses with eight new boards. Gigabyte’s GA-X99 Gaming 5 is in the lower mid-range of the new board lineup, and has some promising features for the gamers that it is hoping to target. While the Gaming 5 may not have the slew of options for overclocking and performance tuning that the top of the line GA-X99-SOC Force but does have enough options to keep a serious system tweaker busy for days. Thankfully, with all those options the board still proves to be an easy overclocker.

 

GA-X99-GAMING 5

GA-X99-GAMING 5

 

The board is based on the X99 chipset which means it uses the new DDR4 in quad channel configuration. It also has the Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2201 Gigabit Ethernet, which is supposed to help your online gaming with lower latency. I have used the Killer E220x series of network adapters and I am thoroughly pleased with the results that I have had with them. The sound is handled by the dedicated Creative’s Sound Core3D which does a superb job of providing audio in games. Gigabyte actually goes as far as to isolate the X99 Gaming 5’s audio components from the rest of the electronics on the board to reduce interference. The best feature of this audio setup by far is the Recon mode, which when enabled pumps up sounds that were originally faint to help give you an advantage. In Battlefield 4 I was able to get the jump on people because I heard them coming from a distance and had time to prep myself. There is a downside to the Core3D which is that those faint sounds will sometimes throw you off, sometimes hearing something new in a game that you have played many times before can definitely throw you off. With that said let’s look at what really is the focus of the testing today, the performance of the board with the 5960X.

 

PS/2 ports, 4 DAC-Up USB to provide cleaner power (yellow ports), Q-Flash Plus port (white), Killer GbE LAN, and Gold Plated audio jacks

PS/2 ports, 4 DAC-Up USB to provide cleaner power (yellow ports), Q-Flash Plus port (white), Killer GbE LAN, and Gold Plated audio jacks

 

This board has been downright packed with features by Gigabyte.  One of the very useful additions on this board is that of the Q-Flash Plus, it allows you to update the BIOS via USB drive without the CPU or memory needing to be installed.  The board is also ready for Thunderbolt 2 and has an onboard header to support a Gigabyte Thunderbolt add-in card.  The board sports Ambient LED that has LEDs on the motherboard and a lighted rear I/O shield.  These LEDs can be set up in BIOS to  pulse, light to the audio being played, on, and off  ( This will look great with a side window case).

Storage Options: 10x SATA 6Gb/s, 1x SATA Express, 1x M.2 ( another M.2 is for a WiFi card)

Storage Options: 10x SATA 6Gb/s, 1x SATA Express, 1x M.2 ( another M.2 is for a WiFi card)

The Board also supports 4-way SLI and 4-way Crossfire with up to 320Gb/s of bandwidth for graphics.  M.2 support is here with up to 10 Gb/s of transfer speed, while a secondary M.2 slot is available for a WiFi add in card.  The x16 PCI-E slots, DIMM slots, and the CPU socket have a 30 micron thick coating of gold plating on the contacts.    This is a lot more than standard designs so as to help make better electrical connections between components and ensure enduring performance.  One very nice thing about the audio is that if has a gain switch and a user replaceable OP-AMP so that you can tailor it to your needs.  Replacement OP-AMPs can be found easily on the internet and eBay and will allow you to change the audio characteristics.

Creative Sound Core3D audio processor with Nichicon audio capacitors and a user replaceable OP-AMP.

Creative Sound Core3D audio processor with Nichicon audio capacitors and a user replaceable OP-AMP.

 

 

The bios is laid out nicely and once you get the hang of it you can fly through the sections easily for making changes. The 5960X was easily overclocked by simply raising the core voltage to 1.3v and changing the multiplier to 45x. The XMP profile of the Corsair LPX 2666 DDR4 easily loaded for its default profile of 2666 15-17-17-50 at 1.2v. At 2400 the memory was able to run at 13-14-14-28 1T with the voltage bumped up to 1.4v.  The second XMP profile was for 2800 at 1.35v and had trouble loading up even with everything else at stock. Troubleshooting was made very difficult for the fact that there was no LED display for post codes. This made troubleshooting the overclocking efforts akin to flying blind since you will need to fall back on your knowledge of what it could be if you run into issues. Pushing through that it was hard to complete much of any memory OC, although it was more than possible to raise the voltage and tighten the timings down. The uncore frequency went to almost 3600MHz and that allowed for some impressive memory bandwidth measurements. Overall, the board would perform very well, but it would have a hiccup which meant pulling in the reigns since troubleshooting was proving difficult. To clear the cmos there is a jumper on the board that needs to be shorted. These are two glaring checks in the cons section for the board since for the price one would hope those are something that you would get at a minimum.

Test System
• Intel 5960X 3625MHz (125MHz x 29) and 4500 (125MHz x 36)
• Gigabyte X99 Gaming 5
• Corsair LPX DDR4-2666 4x4GB 15-17-17-50 ( @ 1T w/ NB @ 3600MHz / @ 2133 15-15-15-35 1T for 3.6GHz)
• MSI R9 290X Lightning
• Cooler Master V1200 Platinum PSU
• Corsair V64 SSD
• Thermaltake Water 3.0 Extreme cooler
• Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
Compared System
• Intel 4960X 3600MHz (100MHzx36)
• Gigabyte GA-X79-UD3
• Kingston DDR3-2400 4x4GB @ 2133 11-12-12-30 2T
• Patriot 128GB SSD
• R9 295X2
• Thermaltake 1475 Platinum
• Corsair H100 CPU cooler
• Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

 

AIDA64 - memory benchmark

AIDA64 – memory benchmark

 The Copy and Read scores go up nicely with the increase in speed of the processor, and the scores are clearly dominated by the DDR4.  The Write scores are a bit lower, which is likely attributed to the increased latency that the DDR4 has.  With a bit of  tuning the timings could be tightened over the stock memory specs to bring up the write speed.

SiSoft Sandra - Memory Bandwidth

SiSoft Sandra – Memory Bandwidth

 The latency of the DDR3 on the 4960X system again is likely helpful to give it such a big boost in the Integer memory bandwidth benchmark.  The decent uncore speed on both systems really helps both in bandwidth results.  The bandwidth really increases as well with the increase in speed.

SiSoft Arithmetic

SiSof Sandrat – Arithmetic

The 5960X Processor Arithmetic results are altready improved with the addition of 4 threads over the 4960X. The increase in the Dhrystone results is quite impressive when compared to the gains that the Whetstone results showed.

3DMARK - Physics

3DMARK – Physics

5960Xwith it’s 16 threads really is a marked improvement over the 12 threads of the 4960X in the physics tests.  At 4.5 makes some very good gains in the results.

Super Pi 32m

Super Pi 32m

This The bandwidth increase really helps out the 5960X achieve some great results, Super Pi s a single threaded benchmark that relies heavily on cpu and memory speed and memory timings to improve the efficiency of the runs.

WPrime 1024M

WPrime 1024M

WPrime is a multithreaded benchmark that shows the 5960X making good headway at a compared 3.6 with the addition of 4 threads.  The  results really gain traction at 4.5 with those 16 threads.

UCBench

UCBench

UCBench is a benchmark that is multithreaded and really shows an improvement with those additional threads churning out more passwords per second.  The speed increase makes a huge impact on the results of UCBench.

So is this something you should get?

There are some drawbacks indeed when it comes to some basic features being excluded from this board in the form of cmos clear button and led post display. But as you can see, this board does have the performance there to carry you to a decent OC if you want, you will just need to have patience when doing so. For a $294 the GA-X99-GAMING 5 a solid candidate for a system, especially if you can take advantage of the integrated features when gaming. If you are looking for something easier to troubleshoot the GA-X99-GAMING G1 would be a great choice as it has an expanded feature set and a debug led display.