Gigabyte X99P-SLI Motherboard Review
With the LGA 1151 / Z170 spectacle starting to finally settle down, enthusiasts are once again looking towards the professional orientated X99 and socket 2011-v3 to fulfill their needs. Whether it is the massive quad channel DDR4 memory bus, the higher core count, the higher PCI-E lane count, or some combination thereof the venerable X99 and 2011-v3 combination still has a lot going for it. One area that it was obviously starting to lag in however was in the value department.
This is partly because X99 motherboards are geared more towards workstation and professionals where the upfront costs are amortized over a longer lifecycle, but mainly due to the fact Z170 motherboard manufactures have entered a new arms race. They’re now including everything but the kitchen sink just to stay relevant. Features once reserved for X99 motherboards such as DDR4 instead of DDR3 support, Intel NICs, four lance PCI-E M.2 ports are all now standard on mass market Z170 motherboards. This does tend to make the arguably superior – but older – LGA21011-v3 and X99 based motherboards a tougher sell.
Let’s be honest for a moment; the Skylake platform is actually quite expensive once you start looking at the cost of an overclockable processor and suitably feature-rich motherboard to accompany it. X99 on the other hand boasts slightly older processors and mobos from the Haswell-E lineup are still costly things are starting to change.
What if a company took a long hard look at their existing X99 lineup and decided to do a late season refresh? What if such a company could offer buyers a cutting edge X99 motherboard that not only offered advanced features like excellent on-board audio and Intel NICs, but also cutting edge USB 3.1 and Thunderbolt 3.2 support? What if on top of all that they could also offer all the benefits of the 2011-v3 and X99 chipset but do so with an asking price that was not outlandish? Would such a board make X99 systems even more relevant and more enticing? We’ll answer that right here: YES.
Fortunately for consumers this is not simply a flight of fantasy and instead this is precisely what Gigabyte did when they recently released their GA-X99P-SLI motherboard. We know that when we first heard about the X99P-SLI that we certainly took notice. After all, it not only includes Gigabyte’s stellar on-board ALC1150 based audio, an Intel NIC, and Intel-based USB 3.1 abilities, but also includes ten SATA ports, one SATA Express Port, as well as a four lane capable M.2 port. More importantly and unlike its predecessor – the X99 SLI which was a good value orientated motherboard in its own right – this new version even boasts improved RAM overclocking.
Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of Gigabyte’s X99 2011 motherboards is their very quiet rollout of BIOSes which now support an upgrade path to Intel’s upcoming Broadwell-E processors. Along with the fact that USB 3.1 and M.2 are here to stay for the foreseeable future, this means purchasing a fully-featured yet frugally priced board like the GA-X99P-SLI will lead to potentially years of future-proofing.
When Gigabyte’s award winning BIOS and software suite is taken into account the X99P-SLI’s price of only $230 seems almost too good to be true. After all, there are countless X99 motherboards like the ASUS X99-A/USB3.1 which can offer a somewhat similar feature set, but demand a thirty-to-forty dollar price premium. So is this a case of paper specifications not telling the whole story, or is the X99P-SLI in fact as good a value as it appears to be? That is a question worthy of investigation!
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