Gigabyte Z87X-OC Review
Unlike some other motherboards, the black and orange colour scheme of the Gigabyte range is reserved just for their high-performance models. So far it's existed on just four. The X58 OC, which was a stunning performer for the money. The Z77-UP7 which combined excellent performance with a wealth of features but had a price-tag to match. In the Z87 range there are two, the Z87X-OC Force, which is hilariously expensive and probably the genuine rival to the Maximus VI Extreme in the 'more money than sense' category, and today's review the Z87X-OC, which is to be found at a very reasonable £165. This puts it right in the zone of some other great motherboards such as the G1.Sniper M5 and the MSI GD65 Gaming.
Don't think that the heavily trimmed price when compared to its big brother has meant a crippling lack of features though. Everywhere you look, and regardless of what you desire, the Z87X-OC has got it covered. Quad-GPU support? Of course. Lots of USB ports and more fan headers than are likely to be filled. The real stars of the show though are the BIOS and the OC Gear. The BIOS has every option you could expect from something that's billing itself as an extreme overclocker. Those words thankfully still mean more than just a marketing slogan, but the user-friendliness of the BIOS is a far cry from the almost unfathomable DFI LanParty days. A lot of 'boards offer all the tuning options you need to make the most of your 4th Generation Intel CPU, and as we're so thermally-limited the average user wont need the tweaks that can get you over the hump into truly stunning overclocks. It's nice to have them there though.
What really raises the Z87X-OC above is the recovery options. With a couple of BIOS to choose from, and plenty of profiles you're unlikely to get stuck but even if you do you can clear your CMOS without fearing that you've lost a weeks worth of fine-tuning. With getting through the OS boot procedure being the death of many an overclock the OC Gear buttons really come in to their own, allowing you to boot at a fairly sensible overclock and once you're at the desktop you can push on, as our OC3D record 5.1GHz shows. Speaking of user-friendly things, the OC Ignition button at the rear of the Z87X-OC will power up the motherboard without actually turning it on. If you want to check your water loop, or just show off your choice of case-lighting, you can do so without actually having the system running. We're sure that the modding community will leap upon this supremely handy feature.
Of course all that would be for naught if the results didn't back up the CPUz, and the Z87X-OC is extremely consistent throughout our tests. It was either at the top or darn close in every test, and the few it did stand as the king of the hill it did so by a decent margin. What was most impressive, if the 5.1GHz overclock and performance didn't already have you reaching for your wallet, is how easy it was to attain this level. It's a joy to use with no head-scratching, no need to wade through a welter of beta BIOS releases. Just fire it up and get tweaking.
Such is the capability of the Z87X-OC that we've struggled to think of anything we don't like. If the orange colour scheme doesn't float your boat then that could be a problem, but we tend to think that the reason everyone has red and black systems is because that particular combination goes with the motherboards that provided the best performance. So far that's not the case as the Z87X-OC is clearly the weapon of choice if you're looking for a LGA1150 motherboard. Of course one of our team absolutely loves the black and orange combination and it's certainly not offensively garish.
All in all the Z87X-OC is a performance motherboard done right. It's a joy to use, relatively cheap to buy and is bristling with a wealth of features to suit everyone from the fit and forget users to the people surrounded by vials of liquid nitrogen. At £165 it's almost a steal and makes more expensive options look even sillier than they already do, especially when you consider that for the most part we have a VERY capable CPU and if you find one like ours you are very lucky, our point here is that the motherboard is overkill for 99% of the CPU's available today and it can max these out with ease. So why pay more? Unquestionably an OC3D Gold Award winner.