We had a good time testing the G1.Assassin 2 from Gigabyte, it was a pleasant experience. First things first, the new F7 BIOS will apply a limitation in the upper ceiling of settings, if you are not on Liquid Cooling, it will never hinder you (we think). IF the CPU or VRM zone get too much load, the new BIOS will throttle down the processor and the only thing that you'll notice is a little less performance. In all fairness, all manufacturers have this safeguard active as far as we have seen, it's just that Gigabyte didn't have it enabled, hence the problems that have shown. So we doubt you'll see any real negative effect from the F7 BIOS firmware fix.
Now admittedly, we had a hard time overclocking our processor. Typically with our H100 cooler we get 4.9~5.0 GHz out of the processor on all six cores at roughly 1.50~1.55 Volts. The G1.Assassin 2 would not allow us to reach that number stable. On this board 4.8 GHz was our maximum with that H100 cooler. Surely it's enticing enough, and with proper liquid cooling you can get higher though.
Also and I do need to note this, there's is an OC switch on the motherboard which should automatically overclock the system when activated, that little button lights up nice once activated but other then lighting up, it did nothing. It might have been overlooked while rushing out the new F7 BIOS. Then again,. I expect everybody will overclock manually anyway.
So our upper limit with this cooler and processor was 4.8 GHz, and that certainly is respectable. Where the G1.Assassin 2 makes a difference is obviously the hardware (audio/NIC) extra's. We do dislike the gun heatsink on the board, the overall design however works out well. You do need to appreciate the green colored elements though.
Top notch is of course the embedded audio solution, I know that Creative Labs drivers are a bit of a discussion topic here on the forums, personally we hardly have issues with their products and drivers and really do like their audio solutions. As such I very much enjoy the 7.1 channel Creative Labs X-Fi (20K2) DSP mounted into the motherboard.
You get truly excellent multi-channel audio quality compared to the typical Realtek codec standards. Next to that it brings along EAX (5.0) and OpenAL with it. Next to that you get the software suite including the Crystallizer and Environmental Audio Extension 5.0, these are all kick ass features for a motherboard integrated audio solution. Dolby Digital Live and DTS Connect are supported as well as a Built-in Front Audio Headphone Amplifier.
It is not that the Realtek audio codec is bad or anything, but I like the integration of this audio solution as it is 10x better than Realtek's offering. The X-Fi solution wins hands down with features, versatility and quality.
BigFoot's Killer NPU (Ethernet) then, yup we mentioned it many times already -- it means absolutely nothing to us as latency is found in-between your network router towards the server you play on, not your internal network.
That said, you can do a little LAN traffic shaping and speed up gaming packets, but once you pass that router and the data-packets enter cyber-space... it will not matter as you can't turbo charge a data-packet and make it go faster. If we ping a connection from Europe towards USA, there's not a thing that can improve the ping times compared to a good Intel or Realtek NIC and the BigFoot Killer NPU.
That aside, it is a high quality high-speed NIC alright and it obviously isn't a negative aspect either. We love the accompanying software suite and overall it just is an exceptional NIC, whether or not it makes a difference to you as a gamer ... well, we'll leave that up to you to decide. BTW we found out why there is a second NIC on the motherboard, the Marvell 88E1118R sitting just behind the rear IO outputs functions as transmitter/receiver chip for the LAN cable.
Small stuff that can be improved: I'd like to have seen that second Ethernet jack, we didn't find any power/reset buttons on the motherboard and well, we would have liked to see even more internal SATA connectors. X79 is high-end and say 10 SATA ports on the motherboard should be the minimum really. Gigabyte brings four USB 3.0 connectors to the board, a little steep as we like six. With the help of the included USB bay, you can add 2 ports at the front of the PC, with blazing fast performance alright. That we like.
Our overall experience with the Gigabyte G1. Assassin 2 gaming edition motherboard was very pleasant. It is a rock solid and stable product. The baseline performance is exactly that, baseline compared to reference. Overclocked you'll notice the numbers op up fast. With the option to pursue 3-way SLI and Crossfire this motherboard is going to interest a very intricate demographics. The gamers that sit in-between mainstream and enthusiast level PC usage.
The bottom line is that we definitely like the G1.Assassin 2 , please forget about the BIOS issue as that problem has been fixed. Do make sure you have a F7 or newer BIOS. The G1.Assassin 2 is a lovely motherboard, you do need to like the design (it's either love or hate with the gun theme) and that will be culprit for many of you.
Features wise the board is equipped with some very nice goodies, the included Creative labs audio solution, the KillerNIC, the USB 3.0 ports it's all done well. Another good thing is that won't be priced to steep (within its segment) as well, expect to pay 250~275 EUR for this product. And that's a price we agree on, as such the product definitely comes recommended.
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