The GIGABYTE G1 Assassin X58 motherboard packed with features. In fact, I don’t think the could pack anything else on the board than they already did. In order to fit everything that they did, GIGABYTE had to move away from the standard ATX form factor and increase the size of the board to a XL-ATX form factor. The XL-ATX form factor measures 34.5cm x 26.3cm, opposed to the Standard ATX form factor which measures 30.5cm x 24.4cm. The increase in the form factor size gave GIGABYTE an additional 163.15 square centimeters. That’s a gain of 21.9% in the total real estate on the PCB for all of the added features.
Despite the increased real estate on the PCB of the GIGABYTE G1 Assassin X58 motherboard, GIGABYTE managed to fill it with features. One of the features of the GIGABYTE G1 Assassin that was squeezed onto the board is the Bigfoot Networks Killer E2100 NIC. The Bigfoot Networks Killer E2100 NIC offers quite a few features that we didn’t get test today. The Killer E2100 features a dedicated Network Processing Unit and 1Gb of DDR2 Memory. The NPU and dedicated memory are supposed to offload network traffic from the CPU. Our testing didn’t seem to show that, we also weren’t running a game for our testing though. In our NTTTCP testing the CPU had an average usage of 4.18%, which was in the middle of the pack of our boards.
Another key feature of the GIGABYTE G1 Assassin X58 motherboard that was shoe horned onto the PCB is the Creative Soundblaster X-Fi Digital Audio Processor (20K2). The Creative Soundblaster X-Fi Digital Audio Processor features EAX Advanced HD 5.0, Dolby digital live encoding, and DTS Connect. Features like these aren’t available on your run of the mill onboard audio chip. Testing the Creative Soundblaster X-Fi Digital Audio Processor with Rightmark Audio Analyzer show’s an improvement in quality over the Realtek ALC 892 chipset found on most of the boards we have tested. The software available for the Creative Soundblaster on the GIGABYTE G1 Assassin, is part of what is going to separate the GIGABYTE G1 Assassin from the rest of the pack.
Our performance testing of the GIGABYTE G1 Assassin X58 motherboard doesn’t show the GIGABYTE G1 Assassin standing out from the crowd. To be fair though, there is only so much that a motherboard can do for performance when we are running at default settings. Once we got into overclocking with the GIGABYTE G1 Assassin is where things started to get fun. Unfortunately, we were limited by heat, and time in our Intel Core i7 950. Pushing 95-96 degrees Celsius is risky business, otherwise we would have been likely to hit the 4.4-4.5GHz mark with our processor.
I really like the concept behind the GIGABYTE G1 Killer series of motherboards. The issue I have though, is that it is an Intel X58 motherboard. It’s still a strong system if you are already using it, but if I were to be building a new system, an Intel X58 system wouldn’t be my first choice. Our Intel Core i5 2500K processor in the Intel P67 motherboards was giving the i7 950 a solid run for the money. If GIGABYTE had release the G1 Killer series of motherboards in the Intel P67 chipset I think it would have been a better move on their part. Please don’t mistake this for knocking the board, the board was great, just a little late. Perhaps GIGABYTE will release another version of the G1 Killer Series motherboards for the up and coming Intel Z68 chipset, or for Socket R later this year.
Like all but GIGABYTE’s Micro ITX motherboards, the GIGABYTE G1 Assassin carries a three year warranty from the date of manufacture. With all of the features that the GIGABYTE G1 Assassin carries, it’s no surprise that it carries a hefty price tag as well. The GIGABYTE G1 Assassin can be found online for $509.99 plus $10.60 for shipping. Currently there is a $20 mail-in rebate card available, so that brings the overall price down to $500.59. As you can see, it’s on the pricey side, If you were to subtract the cost of the Killer NIC and the Creative Soundblaster X-Fi, the price would be in the realm of $300-$350. If you planned on upgrading the audio and installing a Killer E2100 NIC, you may just come out ahead since you won’t be taking up space in your expansion slots. It can’t do Quad-SLI, but it can do pretty much everything else!
Legit Bottom Line: If you happen to be building an Intel X58 system and plan on upgrading the audio and installing a Killer E2100 NIC, the GIGABYTE G1 Assassin may just fill your needs perfectly!