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Saturday, 25 July 2015


Gigabyte X99 UD5 WiFi Motherboard Review and Specifications

So here I am again with a new motherboard review! Today I have with me the Gigabyte X99 UD5 Wifi motherboard. As the name suggests, this motherboard is based on the latest Intel X99 chipset and Intel 5th Generation (Haswell-E) CPUs. Also it has on board WiFi card.
The UD in the UDseries (UD3/UD4/UD5/UD6/UD7) stands for Ultra Durable Series. Its priced at around $300. Basically if you want to migrate to the Enthusiast section without burning a hole in your pocket and want to shift to the X99 chipsets, these motherboards are meant for you, So without further due, lets get inside the box!

Inside The Box

The box looks excellent. The back side of the box has a brief of the features of the motherboard. The packaging is quite sturdy and maintains the Gigabyte standard.
Inside the box you'll find:

  •     User Guide and Installation guide
  •     Driver disc - One for board and one for included WiFi and Bluetooth module
  •     2 SATA 6 Gb/s cables - 3 sets
  •     One auxiliary CPU power Connector 
  •     Back panel I/O shield with LED connector.
  •     WiFi antenna
  •     NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFireX bridges
And a beautiful looking-all black Motherboard!
These are the things you need to setup your motherboard. I'm really impressed by the fact that it has inbuilt WiFi and bluetooth support. This is where my PC used to feel inferior to my laptop and the motherboards that offered these features were super expensive. Thanks to Gigabyte, we can get these features in the budget section.

Features and Specifications:

The Gigabyte X99 UD5 WiFi motherboard has many features similar to the Gigabyte Gaming Series. I've reviewed the Gaming series, in  my previous articles and you can check out those articles to get a detailed explanation of the common features.
Intel 5th Generation (Haswell-E) CPU support
♦SATA Express Ports (upto 10 Gb/s)
♦Multi GPU support (both SLI and Crossfire)
♦UEFI dual Bios
♦AMP-UP Audio Technology
These were some of the common features of the new generation, gigabyte motherboard. Now, lets discuss the exclusive features of the X99 UD5 motherboard.
Dual M.2 Connectors: Unlike the Gaming series, the X99 UD5 has provision for two M.2 Connectors. One for the SSD drive connection (for higher speed) and another one for the onboard WiFi card.
4 Channel DDR4 Memory Slots: Most of the high end motherboards have 2-channel Memory slot but the Gigabyte X99 UD5 has 4 channel DDR4 memory slots for increased performance. The slots are divided into a 4+4 configuration on either side of the CPU that support up to 64GB of DDR4 at speeds ranging from 2133MHz DDR up to 3000MHz DDR via overclocking.

Expansion Slots: As claimed by the company, the UD5 supports quad-GPU setup. But this may not be true in every case. Since the UD5-WiFi does not have a PLX chip onboard, all the PCIe lanes are powered by the CPU.
2 x PCI Express x16 slots, running at x16 (PCIE_1, PCIE_2)
2 x PCI Express x16 slots, running at x8 (PCIE_3, PCIE_4)
When an i7-5820K CPU is installed, the PCIE_2 slot operates at up to x8 mode and the PCIE_3 operates at up to x4 mode. So, even though operating at Quad SLI or CrossFire, you may not reap the full potential of the CPU.
But to that disadvantage, Gigabyte is providing a big adavntage. With its X99 UD5 motherboard, you can utilise all the 40 PCIe lanes of the Intel’s Core i7-5960X or Core i7-5930K. A direct connection between one of the PCI-E x16 lanes and the CPU brings the overall PEG bandwidth to 320Gbps. The extra bandwidth allows for a 4-way SLI or CrossFireX configuration of x8/x8/x16/x8 or a 3-way configuration of x16/x16/x8

Enhanced Audio Technology: Creative’s Sound Core3D quad-core audio processor handles the sound processing, offloading that chore from the CPU. You’ll also find support for high-quality audio headgear. There’s a front headphone amplifier that pumps out loads up to 600 ohms, and there’s a gain boost switch to increase amplification from 2.5X (default) to 6X (high amplification). The latter is intended for speakers or headphones with high impedance. GIGABYTE also includes its OP-AMP (operational amplifier) technology, which lets you swap op-amps to change the sound to suit your needs. Out of the box, the GA-X99 UD5 WiFi features a TI Burr Brown OPA2134 op-amp.

Quick Onboard Buttons: Here we have onboard Power, Reset, clear CMOS, direct BIOS and DIP switches. In addition to these, we have the Fast Boot Button and dedicated OC button. Something for the Enthusiasts and open bench setups.

Improved Heat-sink Design: The VRM Heatsink design has been changed to account for DRAM slots on both sides of the CPU Socket. The two VRM Heatsinks are interconnected by a single metal heatpipe, and a similar design pattern is followed with the chipset/PCH heatsink which is thicker than in Z97 boards.

Underneath the VRM Heatsink we get the 8 phase, all-digital power delivery system. International Rectifier’s PowIRstage is onboard, leveraging their DirectFET MCM packaging. This reduces electrical noise to a large extent.

On-board WiFi and Bluetooth module: Between the second and third PCIe x16 slot, you can see that we've got a M.2 PCIe connector, along with a second slot that has an Intel Wi-Fi card included, which offers Wi-Fi 802.11 a / b / g / n / ac and Bluetooth 4.0. The WiFi module is an Intel 7260NGW Dual Band module.

Q-Flash Plus USB Port: In case you corrupt your BIOS, the Q-Flash Plus allows you to update to the latest BIOS using a thumb drive without the CPU or memory needing to be installed.

Improved Screw Mounting Holes 
Don't worry anymore about accidental damage while mounting your motherboard to you chassis. Gigabyte X99 motherboards all feature a wider copper ground pad and onboard components free area around the PCB screw mounting holes. This exclusive design reduces the chances of damaging any surrounding onboard components during the PC assembly process. Bigger copper ground pads also provide the added benefit of lower EMI disturbance for reduced noise interference across your system.

Thunderbolt™ Ready
Gigabyte X99 comes with an onboard pin header to accommodate the addition of a GIGABYTE Thunderbolt™ add-in card. The Thunderbolt™ controller can provide bandwidth of up to 20 Gb/s, compared to a max of 10 Gb/s on previous generation designs.

Durability: Gigabyte has provided some really durable features in this X99 UD5 WiFi motherboard.
  • Cooper Bussmann Server level chokes
  • 30µ Gold plated CPU socket
  • 30µ Gold plated DDR4 slots
  • 30µ Gold plated PCI-e slots

LED lit IO Shield and Heat Sink: The IO shield of the the motherboard is lit in bright blue color, while the Heatsink glows in bright yellow color giving the motherboard a premium look (I personally missed this glowy heatsink in the Gaming series) Both the heatsink and the rear I/O shield LEDs are programmable, too. You can set them to stay lit, pulse, or even flash along to the beat of the music you’re listening to.

BIOS and Bundled Software

Gigabyte has refined the X99-UD5 WiFi BIOS over the previous generation. The sheer number of screens and settings are far too numerous to display here, so we will just take a look at the basics.

If you're interested in a more classic look, you can press F2 to get out of the Smart Tweak BIOS, and enter the Classic View. Since the last time we were in here, GIGABYTE has changed it slightly with a different overall color design. However, everything is generally where you'd think it would be. If you're going to be doing any overclocking, you'll undoubtedly want to be hanging out in the M.I.T. section of the BIOS, which is the first screen you'll see upon entering.

Bundled Softwares

Gigabyte has unified their included utility software under what is called APP Center. APP Center is a one stop source area for almost every setting and feature the X99-UD5 WiFi has to offer.

The APP Center is controlled by a menu that is nested in the lower right hand corner of the desktop.
EasyTune is the big one for overclocking, and GIGABYTE offers several tools to help with automatic overclocks. We tested each of these and with a sufficient CPU 4.1 GHz should be a walk in the park. The Auto Tuning aspect also hit 4.1 GHz on our sample.

The Cloud Station Server is a relatively new part of GIGABYTE’s software package, allowing for overclocking, remote control, hotspot functionality and adjusting use based on proximity to a Bluetooth device (such that the system hibernates if >10m from a paired Bluetooth phone).
 Apart from these there are many more softwares like USB Locker, Fast boot, Game Controller, Smart Recovery 2, V tuner and many more. All these make the Gigabyte X99 UD5 WiFi a lucrative deal.

Load test and Benchmarks:

For test bench setup, I used the following configuration:
CPU: Intel Core i7 5930K (OC at 4.5 GHz)
Motherboard: GIGABYTE X99 UD5 WiFi
Graphics card: Gigabyte R9 290X windforce 3X OC 4GB DDR5
Power Supply: Corsair AX860i 860W 80+ Platinum Modular

Super Pi Moded
This test shows that the X99 UD5 is a very capable motherboard and is able to harness all the power of the i7 5930K. It also shows that there is no real memory bandwidth issues. Hence the value obtained was 7.79s at OC 4.5Ghz which is a great score.

Cinebench R15
Cinebench is the perfect tool to compare CPU and graphics performance across various systems and platforms.

Its an extensive benchmarking tool for home, office and workstation systems. It streches all the components of the system to extremes through various synthetic processes. We can see that the Gigabyte X99 UD5 wifi motherboard passes with flying colors in all the three processes.

SiSoft Sandra
SiSoftware Sandra provides a robust package of diagnostic tools for testing your system and bringing out its potential problems. And Gigabyte X99 is performing great here.

Crystal Disk mark
CrystalDiskMark is designed to quickly test the performance of your hard drives. The program allows to measure sequential and random read/write speeds. Here we are using the ADATA SP920SS 256 GB SSD and its performing flawlessly. The speed of the SSD is matching with the Rated speed by ADATA, so there is no bottleneck issue.

3D Mark- Fire Strike
Fire Strike is a showcase DirectX 11 benchmark designed for gaming PCs and GPU testing. It features real-time graphics rendered with detail and complexity. The X99 motherboard along with the Gigabyte R9 290X windforce 3X OC is holding up great on this test too.

Along with the Benchmarking tools, I did some real world testing aswell where I converted a 1080p .mkv movie of size 950mb to .mp4. I also extracted audio from the same movie. I edited, resized and saved a picture in PhotoshopCC of 25 Megapixels.

Assasin's Creed Unity
Due to its poor PC port optimization the AC Unity puts heavy load on both the CPU aswell as the GPU of any configuration so we used it to see what FPS range our system could produce on the Gigabyte X99 UD5 WiFi. The results were great and we obtained good FPS on Ultra Settings at 1080p resolution.

Tomb Raider 2013
Being a graphic intensive game with beautiful textures to render we put Tomb Raider at Ultra settings & 1080p resolution on the system to see what kind of performance we can obtain.

Crysis 3
Every PC enthusiast knows that the Crysis 3 is very punishing game for any configuration especially when you set all the settings to maximum. We did the same and the results were more than impressive!

My Verdict

The Gigsbyte X99 UD5 Wifi motherboard has its flaws like not having an onboard PLX chip but some of the exclusive features make it near perfect. The premium looks combined with LED illuminated AMP-UP isolation strip and glowy heat sink make it a treat to watch. The layout is perfectly designed and every header, port, switch, or jack seems to be properly placed. The included software also features a great design and is completely relevant to how the board might be used. The Gigabyte X99 UD5 performed above average in all the tests and priced at around $300, you can built your enthusiast PC without spending too much on the motherboard.
It gets a big thumbs up from my side and I give it 9/10
Shivani Mishra
About the Guest Author:
An Engineer by profession and a writer by passion. Trying to solve others problems and learning in the due course.

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