As much as I love the blue and black theme, I think in this case Gigabyte should have stuck with the all blacked out look. Beyond the heatsinks they did this, it almost feels like at some point someone changed their mind and wanted to go with a little color. The all blacked out PCB with all black slots, dims, and connections has a good look to it.
Starting in the top left corner, here is the 8 pin CPU connection needed. It’s tucked in just above the blue heatsink. I hope someday that we start seeing this 8 pin connection someplace that is easier to reach with a bottom mounted heatsink and if nothing else someplace that is easy to reach when you have a large heatsink installed.
In the top right corner we start off with a collection of different buttons. The large red button is the boards power button. This is something I didn’t expect to see on a budget board, kudos to gigabyte for that. The other two buttons are much smaller, one is reset and the other is a clear CMOS button. I love that they included both of these but putting them next to each other is asking to have someone reset the CMOS while trying to reset, or even after slipping off the power button. Next to the four all black DDR3 dimms you have one four pin fan header and the 24 pin power connection. Near the power connection there is also a USB 3.0 internal header tucked away.
I’m sure some of you looking at the photo below are wondering what that long SATA like connection is. That would be Gigabytes OC-PEG connection. This is a SATA power connection that is designed to provide more stable PCIe power while overclocking your GPU. In the past we have seen Molex connection used for a similar reason. Next you have the board’s six SATA connections all running on the Intel chipset. The white two are SATA 3 and the black four are SATA 2. You will also note a sticker pointing out that port 5 will be disabled when the board’s mSATA connection is being used. This is important to know if you plan on putting the mSATA connection to use. Last you have another four pin PWM fan header.
In the bottom right corner we have the diagnostic LED packed up against the front panel connections. It’s interesting to see a diagnostic LED at all on a budget board, but that seems to be becoming a trend. Next you have all of the front panel connections color coded to help with hooking everything up. There is also a clear CMOS jumper just above the front pane connections if you need it as well, personally I would go for the button at the top of the board.
The bottom left section of the board is lined with various headers including three USB 2.0, two four pin fan connections, and the front panel audio header.
The Slot layout is as follows
PCIe x4 (in x16 length)
This layout gives three spaces between two video cards . With two cards in you still have access to two PCIe x1 slots as well as the PCIe x4 slot.
Tucked in just above all of the PCI slots is an mSATA connection. As mentioned before when you use this one of the six SATA connections on the board is disabled, but if you need an mSATA connection you can’t beat having it right on the board. Perfect for building integrated systems with a small mSATA SSD.
For being a budget board the rear I/O panel is packed full of different options. First there are four different connection types for the onboard graphics. You can use VGA, DVI, Displayport, and HDMI. For audio there is a full six port audio setup along with the optical connection. Model M keyboard lovers will be happy to see the PS2 connection. There is one gigabit network connection as well as two eSATA connections capable of 6Gb/s each. By far the most impressive part to this board is the six USB 3.0 connections on the back. I love seeing every USB port being a full 3.0, something we haven’t seen on any other board to date!
I spoke about it before but the black PCB Gigabyte went with is one of my favorite parts about this board. Normally on a budget board like this we might see blue or another color to set the board apart from its more expensive brothers.