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Gigabyte X99-Designare-EX Review


Gigabyte X99-Designare-EX Testing:

Testing Gigabyte's X99 Designare-EX motherboard will involve running it through OCC's test suite of benchmarks, which includes both synthetic benchmarks and real-world applications, to see how each of these products perform. The gaming tests will also consist of both synthetic benchmarks and actual gameplay, in which we can see if similarly prepared setups offer any performance advantages. The system will receive a fully updated, fresh install of Windows 10 64-bit edition, in addition to the latest drivers for each board and NVIDIA drivers for the NVIDIA GTX 1080 Founders Edition video card. In the past we had locked the clock speed on the processor to eliminate any easily controlled variables due to processor speed. However, there is a difference in how each manufacturer handles the CPU default and boost speeds, creating opportunity for one board to deliver a higher level of performance. This variable is a point of difference between boards. The majority of users will run the stock settings, making this point a valid concern, so we have changed our test methods to capture this point of difference.

Testing Setup: Intel Socket 2011 V-3

  • Processors: Intel Core i7 6950X
  • CPU Cooling: Corsair H115i (Stock Testing) Custom Water cooling (Overclocked testing)
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte X99 Designare-EX
  • Memory: Corsair Dominator 64GB 3200Mhz
  • Video Card: NVIDIA GTX 1080 Founders Edition
  • Power Supply: Corsair RM 1000X
  • Hard Drive: Corsair Force GT 240GB SATA 3
  • Optical Drive: Lite-On Blu-Ray
  • Case: Corsair Obsidian 650D
  • OS: Windows 10 64-bit


Comparison Motherboard:

  • ASUS Sabertooth X99


Overclocked settings:


Cranking up a big clock speed on Intel's latest architecture is going to require, first and foremost, a really good chip from the lottery pool and exceptional cooling to keep all 10 cores running at full speed. When I first had the opportunity to play with the Core i7 6950X, I was a little surprised that 4.3GHz was about all it had to offer. When you look at the base core clock speed of 3.0GHz and the factory boost clock speed of 3.5GHz, 4.3GHz does not seem so bad. That's an increase in clock speed of over 30% for spending some time in the BIOS. Ultimately, 4.3GHz was all I could get out of my Core i7 6950X using the Gigabyte X99-Designare-EX. It's all I could get out of it realistically on the ASUS X99 Sabertooth as well. In that respect, the X99-Designare-EX is going to get you all the clock speed you can handle with your CPU.

To start with, I adjusted the core clock speed ratio to 42 on all cores with the core voltage set to 1.30v and found that stability came easily with no other adjustments. Moving the clock speed ratio to 43, again with 1.3 volts, was stable, but temperatures easily get out of hand if you are not on a full water cooling setup with plenty of radiator capacity. Bumping up the cache bus ratio was a bit harder on this chip, but I was still able to get up to a 3700MHz ring ratio speed by bumping up the VCCSA and VCCIO voltages slightly. Going any higher with the 64GB of 3200MHz Corsair Dominator memory just was not going to happen. At 1.3v the core does get hot in a hurry. When I first overclocked the Core i7 6950X, I had to add radiator capacity to the loop because a single stout 240 rad would not handle the thermal load. To drop the thermals I kept stepping down the core voltage until I would get prime95 errors. The final voltage applied was 1.270v in the BIOS.

Manually tuning the BIOS is not the only way you can overclock with Gigabyte's X99 Designare-EX. The company's EasyTune tool offers some quick and easy to use options that can deliver a nice overclock from within the operating system environment. You can use several predetermined profiles in the Smart OC section of the tool, or you can let the tool do the dirty work and auto tune the system. By doing so I was greeted with an overclock of 4.3GHz when running single threaded applications and a solid 4.0GHz clock speed when running multi-threaded applications. Not bad at all for very little effort. Clearing out that overclock and trying the 4.2GHz OC would give me the 4.2GHz speed for single apps and 4.0GHz running multi-threaded. If you take the time to identify the best core using Intel's Turbo Max 3.0 Tool, you can further refine your overclock and will soon be able to map applications to the best clocking core to improve single threaded performance.

Any way you look at it, a 30%+ gain in clock speed on all cores is pretty significant.





Maximum Core Clock Speed:

Each CPU has been tested for stability at the listed overclocked speeds. These clock speeds will represent the level of performance shown by the overclocked scores in the testing.




  • Scientific & Data:
  1. PCMark 8
  2. SiSoft Sandra 2016
  3. Cinebench R15
  4. HWBOT X.265 Benchmark
  5. AIDA64 5.74
  6. CrystalDiskMark
  7. ATTO
  8. iPerf
  9. Rightmark Audio Analyzer
  • Gaming:
  1. 3DMark
  2. Tom Clancy's The Division
  3. Shadow of Mordor

  1. Gigabyte X99-Designare-EX: Introduction & Closer Look
  2. Gigabyte X99-Designare-EX Closer Look: The Board
  3. Gigabyte X99-Designare-EX Closer Look: Programs & Applications
  4. Gigabyte X99-Designare-EX Closer Look: The BIOS
  5. Gigabyte X99-Designare-EX: Specifications & Features
  6. Gigabyte X99-Designare-EX Testing: Setup & Overclocking
  7. Gigabyte X99-Designare-EX Testing: PCMark 8, SiSoft Sandra 2016
  8. Gigabyte X99-Designare-EX Testing: Cinebench R15, X.265, AIDA64
  9. Gigabyte X99-Designare-EX Testing: CrystalDiskMark, ATTO 2.47
  10. Gigabyte X99-Designare-EX Testing: iPerf, RMAA
  11. Gigabyte X99-Designare-EX Testing: Gaming
  12. Gigabyte X99-Designare-EX: Conclusion
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