GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Intel Z87 Motherboard Layout

A couple of years ago GIGABYTE launched the X58A-OC Intel X58 Motherboard. It was geared specifically for overclockers and was virtually nothing but a chipset, socket, and expansion slots. While the X58A-OC had it's place, the latest iteration in the GIGABYTE OC series has a place that can fit many more users. The GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force is designed for those extreme overclockers with features like OC Touch, OC PCIe Switch, and one of the latest GIGABYTE features OC Ignition. It has all of the overclocking features, but it also has the features that today's computer enthusiast is looking for! Since the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force looks like it will be a motherboard that will be a top contender for both extreme overclocking, and computer enthusiasts it does carry a bit of a heavy price with it, currently it can be had for $409.78 shipped. Not a board for those on a tight budget, if you're looking for a board that will do everything, the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force may be what you're looking for. Let take a closer look at the features.

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force OC Ignition

One of the features that I mentioned is new to GIGABYTE with the Z87X-OC Force. OC Ignition is a feature that will allow you to supply power through the motherboard to the peripherals in your system without booting the system! It may not be something that will be used everyday, it is a great feature for those that need some juice without booting the system up. If you are working on case mods that need some power, leak testing a water cooling rig, or for those playing with some LN2 it will allow you to keep the fans spinning to reduce the moisture while the CPU warms up all you'll have to do is depress the OC Ignition button and all you're fans and hard drives now have power.

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force OC Touch

The GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force also has the OC Touch feature that we can see above. From this series of buttons there isn't much that we cant tweak during overclocking sessions. From this panel we can change the CPU multiplier, CPU Bclk, OC Gear Bclk steppings, monitor the various system voltages, as well as power on and reset the system. There are a couple of other features that are worth going into a little more detail. The first is the OC Tag button, the OC Tag button will apply the setting tied to the Tag profile within the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force UEFI BIOS. The OC Trigger Switch will bring your system into what could be considered a safe mode for the system. This will bring the system to the default system settings regardless of the settings actually being used in the BIOS.

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Water Cooling

The fine folks at GIGABYTE realized that an OC board needed a little more than passive cooling on all the various components of the board. They first threw on a couple of small fans, one on the Intel Z87 chipset, and one on the PWM heatsink. We all know how hot that can get when adding the extra juice needed to break those overclocking records, whether your own personal records or world records. Getting a little airflow through the heatsinks will certainly help. They went a step further though, across the PWM's they also integrated water cooling, just for that added kick!

Now these features we've mentioned so far are pretty much the tip of the proverbial iceberg that is the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Z87 motherboard. As such we will be looking at the board and the features in the coming pages, for now though, let's take a look at the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force specifications below. Be sure to pay attention there's going to be a test later!

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Intel Z87 Motherboard Specifications

CPU
  • Support for Intel Core i7 processors/Intel Core i5 processors/Intel Core i3 processors/Intel Pentium® processors/ Intel Celeron processors in the LGA1150 package
  • L3 cache varies with CPU
Chipset
  • Intel Z87 Express Chipset
Memory
  • 4 x 1.5V DDR3 DIMM sockets supporting up to 32 GB of system memory
  • Dual channel memory architecture
  • Support for DDR3 3000(O.C.)/2933(O.C.)/2800(O.C.)/2666(O.C.)/2600(O.C.)/2500(O.C.)/2400(O.C.)/2200(O.C.)/2133(O.C.)/2000(O.C.)/1866(O.C.)/1800(O.C.)/1600/1333 MHz memory modules
  • Support for non-ECC memory modules
  • Support for Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) memory modules
Onboard Graphics
  • 2 x HDMI ports, supporting a maximum resolution of 4096x2160 (Support for HDMI 1.4a version)
  • 1 x DisplayPort, supporting a maximum resolution of 3840x2160 (Support for DisplayPort 1.2 version)
  • Maximum shared memory of 1 GB
Audio
  • Realtek ALC898 codec
  • High Definition Audio
  • 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
  • Support for S/PDIF In
  • Support for S/PDIF Out
LAN
  • 2 x Intel GbE LAN chips (10/100/1000 Mbit) Support for Teaming
Wireless Communication module
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, supporting 2.4/5 GHz Dual-Band
  • Bluetooth 4.0, 3.0+HS, 2.1+EDR
Expansion Slots
  • 3 x PCI Express x16 slots, running at x16 (PCIEX16_1~3)
  • 2 x PCI Express x16 slots, running at x8 (PCIEX8_1~2)
  • 2 x PCI Express x1 slots
Multi-Graphics Technology
  • Support for 4-Way/3-Way/2-Way AMD CrossFire/NVIDIA SLI technology
Storage Interface

Chipset:

  • 6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors (SATA3 0~5) supporting up to 6 SATA 6Gb/s devices
  • Support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10

Marvell 88SE9230 chip:

  • 4 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors (GSATA3 6~9) supporting up to 4 SATA 6Gb/s devices
  • Support for RAID 0, RAID 1, and RAID 10
USB

Chipset:

  • Up to 2 USB 3.0/2.0 ports (available through the internal USB header)
  • Up to 6 USB 2.0/1.1 ports (2 ports on the back panel, 4 ports available through the internal USB headers)

Chipset + 2 Renesas uPD720210 USB 3.0 Hubs:

  • Up to 8 USB 3.0/2.0 ports (6 ports on the back panel, 2 ports available through the internal USB header)
Internal I/O Connectors
  • 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
  • 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
  • 1 x 4-pin ATX 12V power connector
  • 1 x PCIe power connector
  • 10 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
  • 1 x CPU fan header
  • 1 x water cooling fan header (CPU_OPT)
  • 7 x system fan headers
  • 2 x heatsink fan connectors
  • 1 x front panel header
  • 1 x front panel audio header
  • 1 x S/PDIF Out header
  • 1 x S/PDIF In header
  • 2 x USB 3.0/2.0 headers
  • 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
  • 1 x serial port header
  • 1 x Clear CMOS jumper
  • 1 x power button
  • 1 x reset button
  • 1 x Clear CMOS button
  • 1 x Gear button
  • 1 x OC Turbo button
  • 1 x OC Tag button
  • 1 x OC Trigger switch
  • 1 x OC Ignition button
  • 1 x OC PCIe switch
  • 1 x CPU BCLK Down button
  • 1 x CPU BCLK Up button
  • 1 x CPU Ratio Down button
  • 1 x CPU Ratio Up button
  • 1 x onboard voltage measurement module
  • 2 x BIOS switches
Back Panel Connectors
  • 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port
  • 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
  • 2 x HDMI ports
  • 1 x DisplayPort
  • 6 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports
  • 2 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
  • 2 x RJ-45 ports
  • 6 x audio jacks
I/O Controller
  • iTE I/O Controller Chip
H/W Monitoring
  • System voltage detection
  • CPU/System/Chipset temperature detection
  • CPU/CPU OPT/System fan speed detection
  • CPU/System overheating warning
  • CPU/CPU OPT/System fan fail warning
  • CPU/CPU OPT/System fan speed control
BIOS
  • 2 x 128 Mbit flash
  • Use of licensed AMI EFI BIOS
  • Support for DualBIOS
  • PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.6, ACPI 2.0a
Unique Features
  • Support for Q-Flash
  • Support for Xpress Install
  • Support for APP Center
  • @BIOS
  • EasyTune
  • EZ Setup
  • ON/OFF Charge2
  • USB Blocker
Bundle Software
  • Norton Internet Security (OEM version)
  • Intel Rapid Start Technology
  • Intel Smart Connect Technology
  • Intel Smart Response Technology
  • cFosSpeed
Operating System
  • Support for Windows 8/7
Form Factor
  • E-ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 26.4cm

Got all that? Good! Let's take a closer look at the layout of the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force on the next page!

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Retail Packaging & Bundle

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Retail Packaging and Accessory Bundle

I like the fact that many companies are leaving the front of retail packaging relatively low-key. The GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force doesn't have much in the way of marketing text or an overabundance of logos on the front. GIGABYTE simply put the product name, picture of the heatsinks that feature built in water cooling, and a couple of the Intel Logos. It may be a simplistic approach, but it's certainly eye-catching.

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Retail Packaging and Accessory Bundle

The back of the retail packaging is a different story, there is no shortage of marketing text and information here. Just about everything about the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force can be found back here. Information on everything from the OC-Touch, OC Brace, I/O Panel layout, and digital power design is detailed here.

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Retail Packaging and Accessory Bundle

Opening up the retail packaging we can catch our first glimpse of the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force motherboard in all its glory. There's no doubt that this board is well packed and secured in place for the dangerous road to your doorstep.

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Retail Packaging and Accessory Bundle

The GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force is secured in a separate box that can be removed to reveal the accessory bundle underneath. Not surprising, the bundle is well secured with the more fragile items like the Bluetooth 4.0 + 300 Mbps Dual Band Wi-Fi card separated from the more robust items like SATA cables.

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Retail Packaging and Accessory Bundle

The bundle that comes with the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force is nothing short of impressive. There are three key items that separate this bundle from the others that I have seen in the past. The first, and we've seen it before is the 3.5" front panel USB 3.0 adapter. A number of cases today come with front panel USB 3.0, but the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force has two internal headers, so this will certainly aid in taking advantage of the full capabilities of the Z87X-OC Force. Second is the OC Brace. Lot's of overclockers will run their systems outside of a case, and there's always the risk of knocking the PCIe expansion cards loose, the OC Brace can help support them and prevent that from happening. The third item from the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Bundle is the Wi-Fi Card. The included Wi-Fi card supports IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0! It's the little things like a solid bundle that can separate the men from the boys. In addition we have the wires for the voltage check points, three pairs of SATA 6Gbps cables, a CrossFire bridge, 2-way, 3-way, and Quad SLI Bridges, I/O shield, GIGABYTE case badge, and of course the user manuals and driver/utility discs.

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Intel Z87 Motherboard Layout & Features

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Intel Z87 Motherboard Layout

When it comes down to it, the looks of the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force gave me mixed feelings. Mainly because I'm not one who would typically have anything orange, it's just not me. After staring at the Z87X-OC Force for a bit while working with it, I've grown to like it. The Black PCB and heat sinks are accented by the orange PCIe x16 slots and DIMM slots and the orange on the heat sinks throws a little contrast to them. While it really doesn't make a bit of difference to me what the board looks like as long as is has the performance and features that I need.

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Intel Z87 Motherboard Layout

This is where much of the overclocking goodness happens, at least the features pertaining to overclocking. The GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force OC Touch panel allows direct hardware level overclocking without heading into the GIGABYTE UEFI BIOS. On the OC Touch panel you can tweak the CPU Multiplier, Bclk, set the OC Ignition, and of course the Turbo. Just to the south of the OC Panel is a series of voltage check points, we can check the CPU VCore, VDIMM, VRING, VIGA, and several others. The simplest way is to take advantage of the leads that plug in that are included in the bundle. Along the left side of the photo we can find the PCIe Dip switches. These allow us to turn off each of the four PCIe x16 expansion slots to save some power. Above that is the first internal SuperSpeed USB 3.0 header. The GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force can support up to 32Gb of DDR3 and speeds as fast as 3000MHz(OC)!

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Intel Z87 Motherboard Layout

Swinging the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force around the first feature that jumps out is the number of SATA ports, 10 in total. Six of the SATA ports are SATA III 6Gbps powered by the Intel Z87 chipset, the remaining for are from a Marvell 88SE9230 SATA III 6Gbps controller chip. To the right of the SATA III ports is a SATA power plug, while you may expect this to be for the SATA ports, it's actually to supply extra juice to the PCIe x16 expansion slots. To the left of the SATA III ports is the CMOS reset switch and a pair of fan headers just above there. Continuing up the edge of the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force we can find the header for the front panel, the second Internal SuperSpeed USB 3.0 header, a 4pin fan header and a pair of internal USB 2.0 headers. The heatsink features a fan to keep the heat on the chipset at bay, the heatsink is connected to the heatsink over the PLX chip via heatpipe.

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Intel Z87 Motherboard Layout

Quite possibly the most important feature here is the expansion slots, there is a total of five five physical PCIe x16 slots and a pair of PCIe x1 slots. The Intel Z87 chipset doesn't have enough PCIe lanes to supply this many PCIe x16 slots so GIGABYTE is using a PLX chip on the Z87X-OC Force to add additional lanes. Towards the leading edge of the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force we can find a few of the IC's that drive the peripherals, first up is the Realtek ALC898 High Definition audio codec.

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Intel Z87 Motherboard Layout

As I mentioned previously, the heatsink on the PWM circuitry has the option to be water cooled in addition to being  actively cooled with the fan. To the left of the heatsink there is the 8pin CPU power plug plus an additional 4pin CPU power plug for some added juice to the Intel Core processor.

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Intel Z87 Motherboard Layout

The I/O panel of the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force is packed with connectivity, there is a total of eight USB ports, six of which are SuperSpeed USB 3.0 from the Intel Z87 chipset. This was accomplished using a pair Renesas uPD720210 USB 3.0 hubs, the remaining two USB ports are USB 2.0. We also have a pair of Gigabit Ethernet jacks powered by Intel GbE LAN chips with support for teaming. If you're planning on running the Intel graphics, you can connect to the motherboard via a pair of HDMI 1.4a ports or through a DisplayPort,

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Intel Z87 Motherboard Layout

The GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force features a pair of 4pin CPU fans. This is great for those using CPU cooler with a push/pull configuration or a water cooler like the Corsair H100i.

The Legit Reviews Test System

Before we look at the numbers, let's take a brief look at the test system that was used. All testing was done on a fresh install of Windows 8 Enterprise 64-bit and benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running. We completely overhauled our test setup for the Intel Core i7-4770K processor launch, so we are starting over from scratch when it comes to testing everything. For this review will be comparing Intel Z77, Intel Z87 and AMD FM2 platforms. These platforms are aimed at mainstream users and all feature integrated graphics, so it will be interesting to see how the systems compare. We understand that there is a significant price difference between some of the processors we will be testing, but the platforms are targeted to the same consumer group.

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Test System

The Intel Z87 platform that we used to test the Intel 1150 processors was running the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force was running the latest BIOS version F6f that came out on 6/20/2013. The Corsair Dominator Platnium 8GB 2133MHz memory kit was set to XMP 1.3 memory profile settings, which is 1.5v and 9-11-10-27 2T memory timings. The Corsair Neutron GTX 240GB SSD uses 19nm NAND and was using M310 firmware.

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force System Settings

 Here is a quick look at the CPU-Z information for our main test system that we'll be doing the testing on.

z87-pro-system-settings-2

The Intel HD Graphics 4600 that from the Intel Core i7-4770K

 

Intel LGA1150 Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor

Intel Core i7-4770K

Motherboard

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Click Here

Memory

8GB Donimator 2133MHz Click Here

Video Card

ASUS GeForce GTX670 DirectCU II Click Here

Hard Drive

Corsair Neutron GTX 240GB SSD

Click Here

Cooling

Corsair H100i

Click Here

Keyboard

Corsair K90

Click Here

Mouse

Corsair M95

Click Here

Power Supply

Corsair AX860i

Click Here

Operating System

Windows 8 64-Bit

Click Here

 

Futuremark 3DMark 2013

3Dmark Fire Strike Benchmark Results - For high performance gaming PCs

Use Fire Strike to test the performance of dedicated gaming PCs, or use the Fire Strike Extreme preset for high-end systems with multiple GPUs. Fire Strike uses a multi-threaded DirectX 11 engine to test DirectX 11 hardware.

3DMark Fire Strike

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force 3DMark Firestrike Results

Futuremark 3DMark 2013 Firestrike

Benchmark Results: The GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force took the third spot in the latest iteration of the popular 3DMark benchmark with an overall score of 5975. What stands out though, is the Physics sub-score which is heavily CPU dependent, here it was the highest of all the motherboards with a score of 11224.

SiSoftware Sandra 2013 SP1a

Sisoftware Sandra 2011 SP5

The Sisoftware Sandra 2012 SP3 benchmark utility just came out a few weeks ago and we have started to include it in our benchmarking. Sandra 2012 comes with support for Virtualisation (Virtual PC/Server, Hyper-V, VMware) and GPGPU (OpenCL, DirectX 11 DirectCompute), but today we will be using the program to look at memory and CPU performance!

GIGABYTE Z77X-UP7 Intel Z77 Sandra 2013 SP1a Memory Benchmark Scores

Benchmark Results: The GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force took the second spot in SiSoftware Sandra 2013. Though it the margins were so close between the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force and the ASUS Maximus VI Hero that it's nearly a wash. The Hero was only .01GB/s
ahead of the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Float memory throughput of 28.14GB/s and .02GB/s ahead of the Integer Memory bandwidth of 28.03GB/s.

Metro Last Light

Metro: Last Light is a first-person shooter video game developed by Ukrainian studio 4A Games and published by Deep Silver. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic world and features action-oriented gameplay with a combination of survival horror elements. It uses the 4A Game engine and was released in May 2013.

Metro: Last Light

Metro Last Light was benchmarked with Ultra settings

Metro Last Light - ASUS NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670 DirectCU II

Metro Last Light Benchmark

Benchmark Results: While the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force may not be a 'Gaming' Board per se, it was more than capable of handling itself. Running Metro Last Light at 1280x1024 we were able to average 62.42 frames per second, fourth in our line of competitors, though separated by ~.8 frames per second or roughly 1.3%. Increasing the resolution to the more popular 1920x1080 the Z87X-OC Force jumped up a spot to third and was only .45 frames per second behind, roughly 1%.

Hitman: Absolution

Hitman: Absolution is an action-adventure stealth DirecX 11 video game developed by IO Interactive and published by Square Enix. It is the fifth entry in the Hitman game series, and runs on IO Interactive's proprietary Glacier 2 game engine. This game title uses the Glacier 2 game engine and was released on November 20th, 2012.

hitmanabsolution_550.

We benchmarked Hitman: Absolution with Ultra Settings.

Hitman Absolution - ASUS GeForce GTX 670 DirectCU II

Hitman Absolution Benchmark

Benchmark Results: The GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force averaged 43.27 frames per second at 1280x1024 and 30.97 frames per second at 1920x1080 and was the slowest of all the motherboards in Hitman: Absolution.

Cinebench R11.5

MAXON; CINEBENCH R11.5:

MAXON recently released CINEBENCH Release 11.5, an advanced hardware testing suite that assesses a computer's performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on the same powerful technology as MAXON's award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. The new version of CINEBENCH includes the ability to more accurately test the industry’s latest hardware, including systems with up to 64 processor threads, and the testing environment better reflects the expectations of today’s production demands. A more streamlined interface makes testing systems and reading results incredibly straightforward. Again, higher Frames/Second and point score equal better performance.

Cinebench R11.5

Cinebench R11.5 was able to put a 100% load across all the cores on all of the processors, which makes this a great benchmark to look at multi-core platforms.

Cinebench R11.5 Results

Benchmark Results: The GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force was right on par with our other Intel Z87 Motherboards with an SMP score of 8.57 points. The single core score wasn't as high as some of our other motherboards, though it was still a respectable 1.72 points and not a score that we haven't seen previously.

X264 HD Video Encoding Benchmark

x264 HD Encoding Benchmark

Simply put, the x264 HD Benchmark is a reproducible measure of how fast your machine can encode a short HD-quality video clip into a high quality x264 video file. It's nice because everyone running it will use the same video clip and software. The video encoder (x264.exe) reports a fairly accurate internal benchmark (in frames per second) for each pass of the video encode and it also uses multi-core processors very efficiently. All these factors make this an ideal benchmark to compare different processors and systems to each other. We are using x264 HD v5.0.1 for this test.

x264 HD Encoding Benchmark

This application did fairly well when run on 12 threads, as you can see from the screen shot above. The first pass was not using all of the processing power available on the cores, but on the second pass all 12 threads were at ~95% load.

x264 HD Encoding Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: The GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force was the fastest of all our our motherboards in the X264 HD Video Encoding benchmark. The first pass which isn't the most processor intensive hit an average frame render speed of 85.55 frames per second and was .3 frames per second faster then the ASUS Republic of Gamers Maximus VI Hero. The second pass which is considerably more processor intensive averaged 17.41 frames per second which is once again the fastest performance out of the bunch, albeit by .08 frames per second.

Rightmark Audio Analyzer Performance

 

RightMark Audio Analyzer

 

The RightMark Audio Analyzer suite is designed for testing quality of analog and digital paths of any audio devices, be it a sound card, an MP3 player, a consumer CD/DVD player or an acoustic set. The results are obtained by playing and recording test signals passed through the tested audio path by means of frequency analysis algorithms. The latest version of RightMark Audio Analyzer can be found here.

 

RightMark Audio Analyzer Results

 

Rightmark Audio Analyzer Comparison Chart

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Audio Performance

The GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force may not have the latest Realtek ALC1150 High definition audio codec, but it was certainly able to hold its own. The Realtek ALC898 High Definition audio codec was able to hit the same general performance rating of 'Very Good' as our other Intel Z87 motherboards. Our other boards were able to hit some of the sub scores higher, but let's keep in mind that the Z87X-OC Force is aimed at those looking for a great overclocking board and that's where GIGABYTE sank in their time.

Intel Z87 SATA III 6Gbps Performance Testing

CrystalDiskMark is a small benchmark utility for drives and enables rapid measurement of sequential and random read/write speeds. Note that CDM only supports Native Command Queuing (NCQ) with a queue depth of 32 (as noted) for the last listed benchmark score. This can skew some results in favor of controllers that also do not support NCQ.

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Hero Motherboard SATA III Performance
ASUS ROG Maximus VI Hero Motherboard SATA III Performance

The SATA III 6Gbps performance testing was completed using a Corsair Force GT 240Gb SATA III 6Gbps SSD.

Benchmark Results: Since we started testing the latest Intel Z87 chipset the ASUS ROG Maximus VI Hero has been the top dog across the charts. The GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force was able to put a dent in the Hero's record by taking the top spot for the sequential read speed. The GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force was able to average 514.5MB/s which is 3.1MB/s faster than the Hero's performance. While the remainder of the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force scores were rock solid they weren't enough to top the Hero in CrystalDiskMark.

HD Tune Pro 4.01 is an extended version of HD Tune which includes many new features such as write benchmark, secure erasing, AAM setting, folder usage view, disk monitor, command line parameters and file benchmark.

Intel Z87 HD Tune Pro 5.50 Write Benchmark Results

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Hero Motherboard SATA III Performance

Intel Z87 HD Tune Pro 5.50 Read Benchmark Results

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Hero Motherboard SATA III Performance

 

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Hero Motherboard SATA III Performance

Benchmark Results: Once again the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force was able to topple the record of the ASUS Maximus VI Hero, at least with the Average read performance of 380.9MB/s, granted it's only .7MB/s faster than the Hero. The average write of 316..8 was solid but not enough to knock down the Hero in that department who hit 326.5MB/s

Intel Z87 SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Performance Testing

Thermaltake BlackX 5G SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Dock

There are a number of different Super Speed USB 3.0 host controllers out there. In order to know which ones perform the best we run a series of tests that will put the controller through the ringer and see how it comes out on the other side. Each of our motherboards uses a different Super Speed USB 3.0 controller and you can find the below.

CrystalDiskMark is a small benchmark utility for drives and enables rapid measurement of sequential and random read/write speeds. Note that CDM only supports Native Command Queuing (NCQ) with a queue depth of 32 (as noted) for the last listed benchmark score. This can skew some results in favor of controllers that also do not support NCQ.

MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming Series Motherboard SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Performance

Testing of the USB3 was done using the "Thermaltake BlacX 5G Hard Drive Docking Station . The drive used was an Corsair Force GT 240Gb SSD.

GIGABYTE Z87X-UD3H Intel Z87 SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Performance

Benchmark Results: The GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force uses a pair of Renesas uPD720210 USB 3.0 hubs to split up the chipset SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports into six ports on the back panel and one of the internal USB 3.0 headers. The remaining internal USB 3.0 header is straight out of the chipset and as we can see from the performance numbers above, the Renesas uPD720210 USB 3.0 Hubs are detrimental to the performance. The internal header had an average sequential read and write speed of 410.9MB/s read and 354.5MB/s while the USB 3.0 ports that run through the Renesas hub averaged 397.5MB/s sequential read and 339.3MB/s sequential write.

HD Tune Pro 5.00 is an extended version of HD Tune which includes many new features such as write benchmark, secure erasing, AAM setting, folder usage view, disk monitor, command line parameters and file benchmark.

Intel Z77 SuperSpeed USB 3.0 HD Tune 5.50 Read Benchmark Results

MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming Series Motherboard SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Performance

Intel Z77 SuperSpeed USB 3.0 HD Tune 5.50 Write Benchmark Results

MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming Series Motherboard SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Performance

Testing of the USB3 was done using the "Thermaltake BlacX 5G Hard Drive Docking Station . The drive used was an Corsair Force GT 240Gb SSD.

GIGABYTE Z87X-UD3H Intel Z87 SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Performance

Benchmark Results: The results between the various ports on the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force were even greater in HD Tune. The back panel USB 3.0 ports with the Renesas hub had an average read of 209.9MB/s and an average read of 194.2MB/s. The internal header which isn't connected to the Renesas hub had an average read of 241.0MB/s which is 14.8% faster and an average write of 215.3MB/s which is 10.9% faster.

Power Consumption

CPU Power Consumption

Since power consumption is a big deal these days, we ran some simple power consumption tests on our test beds. The systems ran with the power supplies, case fans, video cards and hard drives. To measure idle usage, we ran the system at idle for one hour on the desktop with no screen saver and took the measurement. For load measurements, Prime95's in-place large FFT's were run on all cores to make sure each and every processor was at 100% load for maximum power consumption and heat. Curious about real world scenarios, we decided to drop Furmark and ran 3DMark 11 on the performance preset and took the maximum power consumption during the first GPU test.

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Power Consumption

Benchmark Results: The GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Power consumption was certainly higher than we would have liked to see. At Idle it was pulling 77 Watts at the wall, 17 Watts more than the next board which was in the same range as the rest of the boards. Loading up the Intel Core i7 4770K in Prime95 with Large FFT's the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force was pulling 184 Watts, again higher by 17 Watts at the wall. The trend continued in Futuremark 3DMark Firestrike where the Z87X-OC Force was pulling 250 Watts at the wall compared to the next board at 236 Watts at the wall.

Overclocking

Overclocking greatly varies due to what hardware is being used and who is doing the overclocking. Always remember that no two pieces of hardware will perform the same, so our results will differ from what you might be able to get.

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Overclocking

The Intel Core i7 4770K runs at a non-turbo speed of 3.5GHz and turbo will ramp the processor up to as high as 3.9GHz under a lightly threaded load, or under a full load 3.7GHz as we can see above. Since we are using a K series processor which has an unlocked multiplier we will be able to increase the default x35 multiplier to achieve our overclock today. This is the easiest way to overclock K series processors and should provide us with some great speeds.

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Overclocking

We first started out with with the CPU Upgrade option in the GIGABYTE UEFI BIOS. This option will allow you to set your processor to either 4.3GHz, 4.4GHz, 4.5GHz, 4.6GHz, or as high as 4.7GHz. I will give you a guess as to which one we tried first, yup you guessed it! We went right to the 4.7GHz setting and we booted right up without any issues. Though as with previous motherboards, the auto overclocking was a little to high on the CPU VCore for our particular processor.

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Overclocking

The CPU Upgrade set the VCore to 1.417 Volts, significantly higher than we needed. We dropped the voltage to 1.25 Volts and we were running rock solid. While this voltage may work for our Intel Core i7 4770K (ES) other chips may need the higher voltage to hit 4.7GHz.

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Overclocking

Once we tweaked the voltage down a bit we were golden at 4.7GHz!

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Overclocking

With a slight bump in the CPU VCore we were able to hit 4.8GHz. 4.8GHz has pretty much been the limit of our chip when using the Corsair H100i at ambient temperatures. Since the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force is an overclocking board, it was decided that the 'Redneck' chilled water loop would come out to play.

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Overclocking

It's certainly not the most glamorous chilled water loop I've ever seen but it gets the job done in a pinch.

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Overclocking

Using the epic cooling solution that I was using, I had really hoped to push our Intel Core i7 4770K further than 4.9GHz. I was able to get into Windows at 5.0GHz, but I couldn't get any stability when firing up anything that would stress the processor. There may be some more tweaking in the near future to see if I can hit 5.0GHz, but for now I'm mostly happy with 4.9GHz.

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Intel Core i7 4770K Stock Settings

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Overclocking

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Intel Core i7 4770K 4.8GHz

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Overclocking

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Intel Core i7 4770K 4.9GHz

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Overclocking

When it was all said and done we were able to increase our score in Cinebench from 8.57 points/1.72 points at stock speeds to 10.63 points/2.15 points at 4.9GHz! That's an overall improvement of 24% for all cores and 25% for the single core benchmark!

Final Thoughts and Conclusions

GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Intel Z87 Motherboard Layout

There's a couple of items about the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force that have me, hate to say confused but that may be the most accurate word in my vocabulary to describe my views about this board. Before we get to that though, I'll admit that I really liked working with this board. On that note, anytime that you're working with a motherboard that retails for $409.78 it should be nothing but a pleasure! All in all I was certainly not let down with the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force and the performance that it showed.

What does have me slightly perplexed is the way the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force is named. The original OC motherboard from GIGABYTE was the X58A-OC and was an incredibly stripped down motherboard with none of the bells and whistles that one would find on the average motherboard. The design for the X58A-OC board was created with the extreme overclocker Hi-Cookie and had one true purpose, extreme overclocking.

GIGABYTE X58A-OC Overclocking Motherboard

I can certainly understand why GIGABYTE has added the additional features that make the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force a much more mainstream board, there isn't much of a market for a pure overclocking motherboard. It's certainly a great idea for those looking for boards like that, but it's such a small niche market that I doubt it's at all profitable. While GIGABYTE likes to support the overclocking scene with their OC motherboards, and the gaming scene with the G1 Series of motherboards like the G1.Sniper 5, they are after all a company that wants to make some money.

When I first opened the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force I was a little concerned about the potential fan noise from the fans on the heatsink. Small fans like that tend to be a little on the high pitched side, which can be quite annoying. When I first fired up the Z87X-OC Force I couldn't hear the fans over the Corsair H100i water cooler fans. I disabled the fans on the Corsair H100i to see how loud the fans on the heatsinks are and ultimately they were barely audible to me. This really alleviated my concerns about the fans being annoyingly high pitched.

When it comes to the performance of he GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force Intel Z87 motherboard, it was right on track with our other Z87 boards. Ultimately though, the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC isn't designed for use at stock speeds. The GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force is meant for those that like to push their processor to the limits with Liquid Nitrogen (LN2) over and over. That's where the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force will shine! Features like the OC Touch, OC Ignition, integrated water cooling on the PWM heat sink and of course the high quality components that go into the Z87X-OC Force are going to make this board a force to be reckoned with in the overclocking arena.

GIGABYTE didn't make this board for the feint of heart, and it carries a price tag that isn't for the feint of heart either. At $409.78 this is one of the more expensive Intel Z87 LGA1150 motherboards out on the market today. If you're in the market for an extreme overclocking motherboard it's not likely that you will find much that is designed better for it though! If something were to happen and the GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force happened to fail, it is backed by a three year warranty.

ASRock Z77 Pro3 Legit Reviews Recommended Award

Legit Bottom Line: The GIGABYTE Z87X-OC Force has the features that could make it a great gaming motherboard in addition to being a great overclocking board! If you're looking for either, the Z87X-OC Force Intel Z87 motherboard may be the right choice for you!