Gigabyte Z97MX-Gaming 5 (LGA 1150) Motherboard Review

/ 7 years ago

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A Closer Look & Layout Analysis

Gigabyte’s Z97MX Gaming 5 is a fairly attractive little motherboard. The design is fairly safe with the usual black and red colour scheme and nothing too garish. gigabyte_z97mx_gaming5 (6)

The layout of the board is very well executed, which is important given the small size. As far as I am concerned the power connectors are all ideally located and so are the front panel connectors. It might be nice to see the central system fan header located closer to the edge of the board for cable management but this location is also ideal for rear mounted exhaust fans located above the rear I/O.  Note how this board has just a 4 phase CPU VRM, given the space I think Gigabyte could have opted for 6 or 8 phases instead.

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The PCB is a dark brown not a black which may bug some people. However, the overall aesthetic is still clean and tidy and the fact the PCB is brown is fairly difficult to identify.

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Around the CPU socket we see the 4 phase VRM, dual CPU fan headers and the CPU 8 pin.

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Round by the DRAM area we find a system fan header and the USB 3.0 header, this provides USB 3.0 through the Z97 chipset.

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The PCH heatsink is fairly small but has to be given the board size. We find the SATA ports and SATA express connectors down here.

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Three full length PCIe lanes is great to see on a compact mATX board like this. You also get an M.2 slot tucked in with a variety of screw points for different sized devices.

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The audio comes with its own separated PCB, high-end nichicon caps and DIP switches to control the audio gain.

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In terms of connectivity we find front panel audio, a system fan header, two USB 2.0 headers and colour coded front panel connectors.

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The rear I/O offers up the following:

  • 1 x PS/2 keyboard port
  • 1 x PS/2 mouse port
  • 1 x D-Sub port
  • 1 x DVI-D port
  • 1 x HDMI port
  • 4 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports
  • 4 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
  • 1 x RJ-45 port
  • 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
  • 5 x audio jacks

Note the four USB 2.0 ports in yellow, these are optimised for cleaner power delivery if you want to use a DAC device.

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Along the top we can see the main heatsinks, these are fairly wobbly and I think Gigabyte need to move towards a screw not push-pin securing mechanism.

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