- Gigabyte x99 Phoenix SLI motherboard- 1
- Gigabyte x99 Phoenix SLI motherboard- 2
- Corsair Vengeance LED DDR4 RAM
- Corsair Force LE SSD storage
Gigabyte x99 Phoenix SLI motherboard- 3
Let’s remove the heatsinks and take a look underneath.
4 spring loaded screws on the PCH heatsink and 2 more screws on the VRM heatsink secure them in place. As always, removing this is not recommended and may void warranty so please don’t follow these steps without reason.
The VRM and PCH heatsinks are metal (aluminum) with aesthetic top covers and paint on said covers, and both are connected by a single dark nickel plated copper heatpipe. There is very good contact on the thermal pad over the VRMs, and given that the x99 chipset only outputs 4-5 W of heat, the added heatsink area over the PCH is mainly to help dissipate the heat from the VRMs. The PCH itself uses thermal paste, and a lot of thick thermal paste at that:
It is no different from any other Intel x99 chipset, and do be warned that the TIM is very hard to remove. Again, this is something I have seen all manufacturers do wherein a square sheet of TIM is used which dries up and is way too much for such a small die. There are a couple of RGB LEDs on the upper right side of the chipset die, which are seen through the slit holes in the heatsink cover.
Gigabyte has gone with an 8 phase design for power delivery here. The VRMs are the excellent International Rectifier IR3556 second gen PowIRstage modules which are rated for an output current of 50 A at 25 °C. This means that at this temperature, and assuming a voltage draw of say 1.25 V to the CPU, these can provide a max of 50 x 1.25 x 8 = 500 W of power to the CPU. Of course things are not as simple as this in reality as voltage draw and voltage supply will also depend on the rest of the motherboard design, and operating temperatures will lower the max output current rating as well. This is why it is best to keep the VRMs as cool as possible. In my testing, I have found that even good airflow in a case (as mimicked by a hotbox) will suffice for most cases. I can’t talk for situations such as an i7 6950x drawing >400 W though. Power delivery is also handled by an IR3580 digital PWM controller.
Helping out with power delivery are ferrite core Cooper Industry’s Eaton Bussmann FP1007R3-R15 inductors which are from their 0.15uH Flat-Pac series and again are a good choice with a current rating of 76 A at 25 °C each, and one that are becoming quite popular in PC DIY PCBs these days. These are intended for high current server applications and will do the job well. Rounding off this section are Nichicon’s Functional Polymer aluminum solid electrolyte capacitors (FPCAP) rated for 6.3 V and what seems to be 560 μFcapacitance each but I was not able to find this exact part in the FPCAP database. Either way, polymer solid caps are all good in my books as long as they are not under-rated for the power delivery design here. Oh, and there are more RGB LEDs between the inductors.
Gigabyte uses a specialized ITE based controller setup for I/O, temperature sensing and fan control. Specifically, the Gigabyte-only ITE8620E is a super I/O controller and handles the I/O section while also helping with fan control on the CPU_FAN header. The auxilliary IT8792E controllers help with other fan headers and temperature sensors.
Intel’s I211-AT Ethernet controller is used here along with the Intel I218-V network interface controller (NIC), and I much prefer Intel NICs over others I have used including Killer NICs. No issues whatsoever here in the 5+ weeks I have used this board so far.
There is a translucent section in the PCB which has “XMP” spelled out, and has 2 RGB LEDs on the back of the PCB to light this up. 4 screws in total hold the audio and I/O “heatsinks” which are just aesthetic covers and nothing more- ABS plastic with paint on them. The two pieces lock together and are then held in place by said screws, and there is an RGB LED strip under the I/O cover with a wire.
Ah, here is the hidden LED header to which that LED strip was connected to- behind the USB 3.1 Type C connector.
LOTES has provided the physical I/O connectors to the audio and also the PS/2 and USB ports whereas Foxconn has provided the dual Gigabit Ethernet ports.
The audio section is separated from the rest off the motherboard via a well visible trace, and a Realtek ALC1150 codec helps with the 2/4/5.1/7.1 channel audio solution here. A Diodes Inc. AS358 op-amp and a Texas Instruments OPA1662 op-amp cover the high gain and low gain segments for the audio output. More Nichicon all Japanese capacitors here, each rated at 100 μF.
This is where I will end coverage of the motherboard since the BIOS and actual testing is contingent a lot on the CPU itself. For those interested, I will say that I had no problem getting my i7 5960x to the same 4.6 GHz overclock at the same Vcore (and other identical settings) as with my Asus x99 Rampage V Extreme. I did have a hiccup initially with any overclocking at all of my RAM past JDEC specs, however an updated BIOS solved that. Overall, quite pleased with the board. The debug LED indicator will be missed, but I have built so many test systems at this point that it is not a deal breaker at all.