Overclocking and Conclusion

Overclocking

To give a feel for the Overclocking performance potential of the Z97X-SOC Force board, we attempted to push it to known CPU-supported performance parameters with minimal tweaking. We were able to get the board running stable for over 4hrs at a 4.67GHz CPU speed, a 2340MHz memory speed, and a 4.0GHz ring bus speed with a 167MHz base clock. System stability was tested running the AIDA64 stability test in conjunction with EVGA's OC Scanner X graphical benchmark running at 1280×1024 resolution and 8x MSAA in stress test mode. Note that 16GB (2 x 8GB) of Corsair Vengeance Pro DDR3-2400 memory modules were used for the overclocking tests.

Note that this is is meant only as a quick preview of the board's performance potential. With more time to tweak the settings to a greater extent, pushing to a higher base clock and ring bus speed may have been achievable, in addition to an overnight stability run without issue.

Performance

The GIGABYTE Z97X-SOC Force motherboard performed admirably in all tests with its performance remaining within tolerances for all benchmarks run. Overclocking-wise, the board easily took what we threw at it, running the DDR-2400 memory at close to full speed without any stability issues encountered.

Pricing

As of May 12, the GIGABYTE Z97X-SOC Force motherboard was available pre-order at Newegg.com for $209.99. The board was also available from Amazon.com for $209.99 with Prime shipping.

Conclusion

The Z97X-SOC Force is a well designed board, featuring almost anything an enthusiast or professional overclocker would desire in an overclocking motherboard. GIGABYTE improved upon their previous generation design, including additional DIMM slot and overclocking-related controls. One of the more innovative features is the CMOS battery reset button, giving the user the ability to reset the CMOS board memory without removing the physical CMOS battery. The board is lean on extra SATA and USB ports, but has plenty to appeal to the overclocking crowd it is targeted at, as well as gamers and enthusiasts alike. Layout-wise, GIGABYTE places all integrated components keeping well spaced and accessible. Additionally, the power regulation circuitry was overhauled to lessen the on-board circuitry footprint as well as reducing the operating temperatures of those components. This resulted in the need for fewer on-board power phases without affecting the board's overclocking performance potential.

Strengths

  • Stock performance
  • Overclocking performance
  • Board layout and design
  • Optimized power circuitry
  • CPU socket layout and spacing
  • Overclocking-related integrated features
  • Optimized memory socket design
  • Clear CMOS battery button
  • Price
  • UEFI BIOS design and usability
  • CMOS battery placement

Weaknesses

  • Lack of accessible PCI-Express x1 slot with primary PCI-Express x16 slot occupied
  • Lack of integrated PLX chip for enhanced PCI-Express x16 slot performance
  • Inclusion of PCI slots instead of additional PCI-Express x4 or x1 slots

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