The holiday shopping season officially gets underway today, and a select few gerbils that have been really good all year might want to put Gigabyte's X299 Aorus Gaming 7 Pro motherboard on their wish lists. The Gaming 7 Pro supports Intel's Core X processors all the way up to the mighty 18-core Core i9-7980XE CPU. This board's big feature is its 12-phase VRM with an Intersil PWM controller and integrated power stages. We were quite impressed with Gigabyte's Z370 Aorus Gaming 7 motherboard and its similar VRM components.
Gigabyte says that fancy VRMs can deliver up to 60 A per power phase. That juice will likely come in handy when overclocking Core X processors, as they can get very hungry for current when pushed beyond their factory clock speeds. That VRM is actively cooled with a wee little fan. We'll have to get one of these boards in the lab before we can comment on the effectiveness of the heatsink over the power supply section, but it looks good from the pictures.
The ATX Gaming 7 Pro has five full-length, metal-jacketed PCIe slots, though builders might not need to populate any of them with network hardware thanks to the dual Gigabit Ethernet controllers powered by Killer E2500 and Intel chips. Additionally, there's a Killer 1535 card offering 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.1 card support. The Gaming 7 Pro's Realtek ALC1220 audio codec with an ESS Sabre 9018 DAC might also obviate the need for expansion cards. Two of the PCIe slots are x16 units, one is an x8 number, and the last two are wired for four lanes each. Thanks to Intel's creative product segmentation, builders will need to read the owner's manual to see how PCIe lanes are split depending on the CPU installed.
Pack rats will appreciate the eight SATA ports and three M.2 PCIe slots. All three M.2 slots can accept NVMe devices and two of them can also handle older SATA drives. If external gizmos are needed, the Gaming 7 Pro has plenty of ports and bandwidth for them. Thanks to Realtek and ASMedia controllers, there are four Type-A and one Type-C USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports on the back panel, plus internal headers for even more high-speed peripheral connectivity. The I/O cluster has another quartet of plain-old USB 3.0 ports, and pin headers on the board allow for another eight USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 connectors.
Gigabyte wasn't going to let a motherboard with so much fancy hardware leave the factory unadorned, and the Gaming 7 Pro is bedecked with plenty of RGB LEDs. The board has multiple RGB lighting zones and pin headers for individually-addressable LED strips in plain RGB, RGB+W, and RGB+UV flavors.
The company didn't provide any pricing or availability information, but we'd expect the Aorus Gaming 7 Pro to land somewhere between the $400 Aorus Gaming 7 and the $500 Aorus Gaming 9. Gigabyte backs all of its motherboards with a three-year warranty.