Due to the level of consistency between BIOSes and software packages within the same chipset from the same company, our overview of the X99-SOC Champion almost mirrors the one of the X99-UD7 WIFI package that we reviewed during the launch of X99. The full run down is added here for completeness, with the specific SOC Champion details added.


For X99, several things have changed for the BIOS. The classic mode gets a facelift and moves to a cleaner but blockier interface with a good contrast between text and background. In the HD mode, the text now all fits in the boxes and there is some improvement to adjust the visual differentiation between background and text, but more could still be done. Interactivity is still quite minimal, with classic and HD mode featuring many of the same options slightly rearranged.

The first entry screen is the Startup Guide which is the main recipient of text adjustment, but we also get a few more options to fill up this 3x3 grid.

Most of these are self-explanatory. Fast boot gives options related to Windows 8 such that devices are not initialized until later in the OS boot process, speeding up overall POST time:

The SATA controller option text now all fits nicely into each of its boxes, although due to the dual AHCI controller nature of the chipset and only six SATA ports having access to RAID, it does not help the user much if the drives are plugged in the wrong ports. Ideally we would see an explanation giving SATA versus sSATA ports on the motherboard used, and what drives are installed where.

Although we also get a Boot Sequence selector:

The Startup Options allows the user to boot into any of the four modes available. The HD mode does offer a smaller sized version with less information if the monitor is not capable of 1920x1080.

Despite a nice start guide for users, it would help if the initial screen detailed the system, perhaps in the top left. We want to see the name of the motherboard, the BIOS used, the CPU installed, the DRAM installed and frequencies where possible. That way any user trying to debug the system without having access to the insides will be able to see immediately what is at hand.

The standard classic mode gets an update from the blue interface to a sleeker grey and white menu system.

The layout is pretty much the same as before, along with the information provided. For example, the entry point offers the model name of the motherboard and the BIOS version, but no mention of the CPU installed.

The overclocking options in the GIGABYTE BIOS are for automatic and manual overclocking, and split into several sub-menus coming from MIT. The Frequency menu allows the user to adjust the CPU and DRAM as well as select automatic overclocks via the CPU Upgrade option:

In order to adjust the per-core ratios or the Uncore and C-states, the CPU Core Settings menu is provided:

Note that there are no voltage options in either of these menus. GIGABYTE’s reasoning is that the voltage options are solely for the voltage menu, but I differ. Motherboard manufacturers can place the same option in multiple menus, but often choose not to for reasons of layout or space or to avoid confusion. I do not see that as an issue – if anything, I believe it would enhance the experience especially for an enthusiast wanting to adjust these settings. So while the voltage settings are not duplicated, the DRAM frequency strap is – we see it here in the Advanced Frequency menu and also in the Advanced Memory menu:

In order to adjust sub-timings for the memory, as with previous GIGABYTE motherboards, the memory timing mode must be changed to ‘Manual’ to set a rule for all modules or ‘Advanced Manual’ to set per-module timings.

GIGABYTE has adjusted how the BIOS communicates what each option means to the user in the top right of the screen. I remember one of my contacts at GIGABYTE was writing the initial drafts for these info texts earlier in the year, and remarking that it was no small feat especially after several iterations and then sending it to the translators for other languages and making sure no subtleties were lost.

The Advanced Voltage Setting menu is split into several sub-options.

The Power Settings menu is for voltage protection options, current protection and switch rate adjustment. The most important option though is the Load Line Calibration for the FIVR:

The Core Voltage menu is where the CPU voltage options are:

Adjustments to the VRIN (FIVR), VCore and Cache voltages are here, with only absolute values allowed. Other manufacturers offer both offset and absolute choices for these values although I find offset values more applicable for automatic overclocking options.

When the LGA2083 switch is enabled, we get the following additional options:

The fan controls in the classic mode are in the PC Health option from the MIT tab.

While the system has four temperature sensors and five fan headers, the level of fan speed options in the BIOS is very basic.

For anyone not used to a value describing how one variable adjusts with another, the options here might make no sense. The power applied to a fan is a ‘PWM’ number from zero to 255. GIGABYTE’s options allow you to adjust that value based on the temperature, in terms of ‘PWM per ºC’. So a CPU temperature of 50ºC at 2 PWM per ºC will give a value of 100, which means that 100/255 = 39.2% of the full power of the fan is used. To confuse the matter even more, a fan does not respond linearly to power increases, and GIGABYTE does not mention of this value has a base number.

Other manufacturers have the fan controls in the BIOS at a state where they are a lot easier to follow, and GIGABYTE has fallen behind in adapting their controls to a more interactive interface that is easier to understand.

The BIOS Features tab relates to the boot order and fast boot options:

The Peripherals tab involves LED options, enabling onboard controllers:

The Chipset tab is for SATA adjustments, with GIGABYTE offering different menus for the sSATA (non-RAID) and SATA (RAID) AHCI controllers:

The rest of the classic BIOS allows for power management and BIOS flashing, with the Save and Exit menu giving boot override possibilities.

The full HD mode uses a similar sort of option arrangement in the middle of the screen with as much information as you can pack into the surrounding edges. Most BIOSes need something like this around the edge to tell the user about the system, although I might suggest that having bars underneath values such as ‘CPU VRIN’ are ultimately not necessary and could be cleaned up. The ideal BIOS is one that displays everything succinctly without wasted space but still visually effective. For example, perhaps graphing the voltage change over time in the BIOS is not particularly helpful.

GIGABYTE X99-SOC Champion Overview Software
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  • zepi - Monday, January 5, 2015 - link

    Anandtech should check on the rumours that some Motherboard and Graphics card manufacturers are silently rolling out Rev 2.0 boards with inferior quality components through retail channels without updating their product listing websites etc.

    Especially Gigabyte has been targeted by this rumour, but you should investigate this about other vendors as well.

    I'm sure that some retailers would be more than willing to co-operate about such information assuming a bit of visibility.
  • Jasmij - Monday, January 5, 2015 - link

    That Gigabyte is having revisions for costdown is not a rumour, please see this article: http://us.hardware.info/reviews/5835/spot-the-diff...
  • RaistlinZ - Monday, January 5, 2015 - link

    Yeah, I read that too. I hope it's only limited to their super low-cost boards. But Anandtech should certainly follow up in a Rev 2.0 of this board is realeased and make sure Gigabyte isn't cutting back on quality, features or performance.
  • bobmitch - Monday, January 5, 2015 - link

    Also beware of the USB 3.0 issue with Gigabyte. Their boards fail to boot up with a USB 3.0 external peripheral attached. In addition, the latest set of bios releases cause the CPU to throttle. No static overclocking is available...doublecheck your board
  • EvilNodZ - Monday, January 5, 2015 - link

    I had this problem with my USB3.0 external HDD connected to my X99 Gigabyte Gaming 5 motherboard and after contacting to customer support i was given a few Beta Bios that eventually sorted this problem with the front ports on my case after feedback they sorted it with all my ports. So they are aware of the problem and already have a fix in development.

    I havent checked if the new Bios released fixes the problem yet since i don't have any problems with my beta bios i have not updated yet.
  • Samus - Tuesday, January 6, 2015 - link

    I haven't had a quality gigabyte board since the P35-series. The H61 and B85 I've come across were both problematic. The H61 had a lot of BIOS bugs (and the last BIOS before end-of-life didn't fix them, such as fan controls and UEFI secure boot problems) and the B85 was just downright unstable. I eventually tracked the problems down to the Quadro K2000 that was installed by installing a GT430. I don't think the board has proper power regulation to power a spec PCIe GPU that doesn't have aux power input. At first I thought it was the power supply and I tried replacing it the Corsair CX430 with a Seasonic 500-watt but the random reboots still persisted in Adobe Illustrator.

    That Quadro K2000 has been running for months in a Dell with a H81 chipset without issues. It is just the Gigabyte B85 board that can't supply enough power to the PCIe slot.

    I've had better luck with MSI lately than Gigabyte, and that's kind of depressing. MSI has come a long way and Gigabyte is falling apart. Asus and occasionally Asrock are still my go-to brands, though.
  • chizow - Monday, January 12, 2015 - link

    I never had this problem with my Gigabyte X99 Gaming 5, but had a slew of other issues that would have prevented me from recommending this board.

    The main two would have been:

    1) Overclocking required a LOT of voltage. Much more than similar OCs for other boards, like the Asus and MSI boards. I needed 1.3V for 4.4GHz on my i7 5820K and I still wasn't totally satisfied it was stable OC.

    2) RAM would not run rated specs above 2133MHz (technically OC above that for X99), even with RAM with XMP rated higher.

    They have both been resolved in the latest BIOS update here, so I am pretty happy with it now: F8b


    Before that, there were some of the worst BIOS issues I have ever encountered, failed boot loops, fail to boot with RAID array, fail to POST with molex power connected to board, yeah. Rough launch for X99 for sure, but glad to see they are still working on improving the boards. Definitely don't waste time with the official BIOS or stock BIOS if you want to OC at all, go to the link above and grab the latest!

    Overall though, great platform, extremely fast, all modern amenities with tons of native USB 3.0, 10xSATA3, and up to 40 lanes of PCIe 3.0. Just a lot of growing pains, more than I can remember with any new chipset.
  • SumGuy954 - Thursday, January 8, 2015 - link

    Awesome specs on the board, and love the looks of it. One issue. I hate sideways Sata ports. I really hate it when they are sideways. Access is difficult when it is installed in a case. Finding angled cables wit the notch pin the right direction can be very frustrating. I wish none of them did this.
  • imaheadcase - Tuesday, January 13, 2015 - link

    I agree, I kind of wish they found someway to put the sata ports, or all ports in the back of motherboards so you can hook them up through holes on other side of care. They would eliminate the need for any cable management since all cables would go straight to back of case area. I guess this is a manufacturing difficulty that is to hard to address.

    But at the very least, why can't they put all ports on top of the board so all cables can drape back behind board?
  • nraglin - Monday, August 17, 2015 - link

    Does this motherboard support Mac OS?

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