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Gigabyte X99 Designare EX Review

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Gigabyte X99 Designare EX Review – BIOS

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When in Windows Gigabyte offer a suite of software which allows us to monitor, maintain and tweak our board, we’ve seen the software before and it is solid, intuitive and responsive. What we haven’t seen before is Gigabytes new BIOS which this board uses and some example images are shown above. The new screens feature all the functionality we would expect and nothing of note has been lost in the move. Performance tuning, updates from USB, advanced recovery, secure erase. All are present.

Gigabyte X99 Designare EX Review – Performance

Test systems:
I7-5960X/6900K/6950X, X99-Designare EX, 4x8GB DDR4-2800(Corsair)
i7-6700K, Z170, 2x8GB DDR4-2666 (Corsair)
i7-5960X, X99, 4x8GB DDR4-2800 (Corsair)
FX-9590, 990FX, 4x8Gb DDR3-2133 (Corsair)

All with:
Windows 10
GTX 980 Ti OC
Corsair H100 Series Cooler
Corsair AX1500i PSU
Samsung 850 Pro SSD (SATA Testing)
Samsung 950 (M.2 Testing)
OCZ Revodrive 350 (PCIe Testing)
And Samsung T3 SSD (USB Testing)

On a Dimastech EasyXL Test Bench with the BenQ BL3201 4k Display

design-x99-review-cinebench design-x99-review-3dmark design-x99-review-bfh design-x99-review-memory design-x99-review-m2 design-x99-review-pcie design-x99-review-sata design-x99-review-usb design-x99-OC

Gigabyte X99 Designare EX Review – Conclusion

Starting with the build quality of the Designare we have a board which hits the usual high standards we expect from Gigabyte, and then some. Building on the aspects we have seen Gigabyte use before we now have reinforced PCIe slots, specialist coating and the like. These all combine with the quality branded components to create a high-quality product. As far as the overall design goes, Gigabyte has included the new in-thing of highly configurable LEDs and taken it a little further with support for LED strips too. For those who look past aspects like that to the more important features, they will find a decent PCIe slot layout, great support for the latest components and a massive amount of drive connectors and USB 3.0 ports.

On the performance front, we have a board which competes with the best the competition has to offer. Throughout our testing, the Designare EX was within a percent or two of the comparison X99 board, some tests finishing a little ahead, some behind. Overclocking results on the 6950X were also good, in fact, it was our cooling/CPU which was the limit rather than the motherboard. With that particular model, you really need to get something more extreme than water to run past 4.2GHz with all 10 cores under load.

So far, all good. There are a few little quirks that we’d have like to seen resolved for such a high spec product. Onboard buttons for the enthusiasts being the main thing. Oh, and a different name. Not sure what Gigabyte were going for with “Designare” but it doesn’t really work for a motherboard. Back to the more important stuff, and if we are being really picky, the new BIOS could still do with a bit of work, some speed enhancements as we navigate through the screens but it is solid and packed with features.

When the name is one of the things that you can moan about, it means the manufacturer has done well overall though and so it should be no surprise to hear that the Designare EX is competitively priced too. Around £380 in the UK and $420 in the US gives you a massive amount of features, top-notch performance and, of course, fancy lighting…

Performance Award

Review Date
Reviewed Item
Gigabyte X99 Designare EX
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About Author

Stuart Davidson

Stuart Davidson is Senior Editor at HardwareHeaven having joined the site in 2002.