Gigabyte squeezes Haswell-E motherboard into microATX form factor

— 10:30 AM on November 19, 2014

Gigabyte is rolling out a new motherboard for Haswell-E processors, and it's smaller than one might expect. Instead of occupying a full-sized ATX form factor, the X99M-Gaming 5 squeezes into a microATX footprint.

Source: Gigabyte

Cutting down to middleweight costs the board some of the features available on larger X99 offerings. For example, there are only four DIMM slots instead of eight. The X99M-Gaming 5 is also limited to four expansion cards—or two with dual-slot coolers. The M.2 slots don't connect to the CPU, either, although not necessarily due to the form factor.

That's right: I said two M.2 slots. The first is connected to dual storage-specific lanes in the chipset, while the second has an x1 link meant for mini wireless cards. Kudos to Gigabyte for letting folks add PCIe-based Wi-Fi without monopolizing one of the full-sized expansion slots.

Wired networking is handled by a Killer NIC, because gaming, while audio is piped through a high-end Realtek codec. The integrated audio has the usual embellishments in addition to a socketed amplifier chip. There are also four "DAC-UP" ports tuned to deliver cleaner power to USB audio devices. These yellow-colored ports use an "isolated power source" to provide "the best audio experience possible," but it's hard to see why four are necessary. I doubt audiophiles are cobbling together surround setups with multiple stereo DACs.

The X99M-Gaming 5 isn't selling online just yet, but Newegg lists three comparable microATX alternatives from $231-250. I'd expect the Gaming 5's street price to fall close to that range.

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