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Gigabyte G1.Assassin2

Ultimate X79? Five £230+ LGA 2011 Motherboards, Reviewed

Evidence that Gigabyte listens to gamers is found throughout its Assassin motherboards, beginning with the usual, “Give us a stripped-down overclocking board with plenty of slots to mount our high-end NICs and audio cards.” But wait. Aren’t those network and audio jacks we see?

With SLI potentially consuming a bunch of slots, Gigabyte improved upon the concept suggested by those requests (which go back as far as any of us can remember) by placing the high-end NIC and audio processor on-board. Here we find a Killer NIC E2100, complete with cache, along with the full hardware set of Creative’s 64 MB X-Fi Titanium HD.

The best memory latencies are usually accessible by placing only a single module on each memory channel, so Gigabyte docks the board to a mere four slots. The only thing really missing from making this the ultimate gaming-only platform is the absence of four-way CrossFireX or SLI support. But Gigabyte had to put that audio and network hardware somewhere. And besides, there's always that pistol-shaped chipset heat sink to admire.

Gigabyte finally listened to a few editors too, placing a BIOS selector switch on the I/O panel right below its automatic-overclocking OC button. Hidden beneath both of those is a rear-panel CLR_CMOS button.

Fewer connectors leave the G1.Assassin2 with fewer potential layout issues, and the board should fit nearly any ATX case designed for forward-facing SATA cables. Gigabyte paid special attention to the USB 3.0 header by moving it above the graphics cards—where its competitors usually place it—to avoid a repeat of past criticisms.

Yet, just when some might have thought this to be a perfect layout for gaming systems, Gigabyte throws in an added feature that can’t be used in conjunction with most three-way graphics builds. Its Bluetooth/Wi-Fi PCIe card requires a x1 slot that’s usually covered up by the heat sinks of high-performance graphics cards. The space that might have hosted a x1 slot non-obtrusively is filled by the Killer E2100 NIC, and x16 slot spacing issues that could cause the top card to run “hot” add to a package that’s best-completed with only two cards installed.

The G1.Assassin2’s installation kit includes CrossFire, SLI, and three-way SLI bridges, along with four SATA cables, the Wi-Fi kit, and a sheet-metal USB 3.0 drive bay adapter.

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