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.
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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