Every generation usually calls for a new style for motherboards. In the case of GIGABYTE, we mourn the death of their previous designer. The Z87 generation of GIGABYTE motherboards marked a generation of subtly aggressive yet sleek and refined designs from the board maker for its motherboards. The new designs are personally dull and lacks creativity. Anyways, the board features a smooth, matte black finish on the PCB with a metallic, orange tint on its heatsink highlighted by black trims. Contrary to the Z87X-OC FORCE, there is no upper VRM block.
The GIGABYTE Z97X-SOC FORCE features a four PCIe x16 slots for quad-GPU action. All slots are certified PCIe3.0. Two legacy PCI slots are available as well as a single PCIe x1 slot.
The GIGABYTE Z97X-SOC FORCE supports dual-channel DDR3 memory up to DDR3-3000 speeds via overclocking. XMP profiles are fully supported.
The GIGABYTE Z97X-SOC FORCE features an 8-phase VRM cooled by a long, semi-narrow heatsink bearing the Ultra Durable branding. Wait, did I just say 8-phase? Yup, an 8-phase VRM. GIGABYTE has taken note that the Z87X-OC held much more market than its FORCE brethren with its meaty 16-phase VRM, and that influenced the decision to promote the standard OC design as the flagship FORCE model for the Z97 lineup. In case you didn’t know also, the 9-series generation of boards from GIGABYTE borrows heavily from the GIGABYTE VGA department. The SOC designation was a GIGABYTE Windforce model and the new G1 GAMING logo is also the GIGABYTE VGA logo, although clad in red for the G1.
Rear I/Os include a good loadout of USB3.0, USB2.0, HDMI, DVI, VGA, LAN & 8-channel audio ports. A PS/2 port is also present for legacy peripherals which improves usability when overclocking.
Here’s one of the new stuff we can see from the 9-series boards: the new SATA-Express interface. For the price of two SATA ports, you get ultra-fast SATA Express for currently non-existent products. They are on their way, though.
Time to see the exclusive goodies we get with the Z97X-SOC FORCE overclocking motherboard. First up we have the OC Buttons, refined from the Z77X-UP7, the OC Buttons have evolved from a modest feature to a fully-specialized toolset. The OC buttons allow on-the-fly frequency adjustment, profile saving, downclocking, etc. plus a handful more tools to complement any overclocker.
Also aimed at out-case situations is the inclusion of internal USB2.0 headers. Because GIGABYTE can.