Gigabyte G1.Assassin X58 £435
31st Mar 2011 | 14:03
An army flavoured enthusiast board for military-mad billionaires
Gigabyte G1.Assassin X58 - Overview
The market for top-of-the-line X58 boards should have dried up with the release of the Sandy Bridge chips, but the Gigabyte G1.Assassin X58 board is looking to get people excited again.
The latest Intel Sandy Bridge chips have dominated CPU-related column inches, for better or for worse, since their release early last month.
That said, it's still the Gulftown chips and accompanying X58 chipsets that sit atop the entire Intel range though, for now at least.
The Intel Core i7 990X Extreme Edition is theoretically Intel's fastest production chip, and that leaves enthusiasts in a quandary.
Stick with the X58 platform and buy the best right now, or wait for the Sandy bridge SATA issues to be resolved and invest in formidable new technology with an eye on a Sandy Bridge hexcore?
I certainly know how Gigabyte would answer that question. 'Live in the now, man! What's money anyway? You can't take it with you!' That's what they'd tell us, in a voice almost as loud as the X58-based G1.Assassin's visual stylings.
Priced at over £400, this is very much an enthusiast's mobo solution. In amongst the cooling bits modeled on ammo clips, the Gigabyte G1.Assassin sports two PCI-E x16 and two x8 slots, so sexy crossfire GPU foursomes are on the menu.
There's also triple channel DDR3 memory supporting up to 24GB at up to 2000MHz. It's USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gbps friendly, as you'd expect for the price.
You'd also expect a bit more, wouldn't you?
Gigabyte G1.Assassin X58 - Benchmarks
Motherboards are rarely the bottleneck of system performance, but at the top end of the market you'd expect maximum bang for your buck.
Outperforming the much cheaper Asus P6X58D-E mobo by such a small margin is discouraging enough, but being outperformed in gaming and memory bandwidth tests makes our wallets slam shut.
Video encoding performance
3D rendering performance
1080P gaming performance
Gigabyte G1.Assassin X58 - Verdict
You want more for your money do you?
Well, there's a dual bios with auto-recovery, and as with all the Gigabyte G1.Killer range of motherboards, it comes with an onboard Bigfoot Killer 2100 network chip. That networking hardware boasts up to ten times quicker ping than other network cards.
However, we found the difference in latency between the Bigfoot Killer and the Asus P6X58D-E's onboard networking chip was minimal.
The Killer outperformed its sub £150 rival by around 2 milliseconds.
Hardly game-changing stuff.
Perhaps overclocking is the forte of the Gigabyte G1.Assassin then? The heatsinks are certainly the most eye-catching feature, but do they offer a distinct advantage for hardcore tweakers?
Well, we managed to get the Intel Core i7 930 on our test rig at a stable 4.15GHz, a respectable 1.3GHz overclock.
We did also managed to clock a stable 4.10GHz out of the same CPU using the Asus P6X58D-E comparison board. And that's a board which is nearly £300 cheaper.
That price tag then is looking steeper and steeper.
The Gigabyte G1.Assassin currently the most expensive X58 board on the market, and yet doesn't seem to offer any significant advantage over its more reasonably priced competition in either the X58 or Sandy Bridge supported P67 chipset camps.
Underneath that battlefield inspired design lies the almost-cynical knowledge that certain enthusiasts will pay through the teeth to have the fastest of everything on the market at any given time.
So if you're willing to pay £800 for the Intel i7 990X on the grounds that it marginally outperforms the Sandy Bridge range, chances are you'll also pay this much for a board to house it, as long as it marginally outperforms the other boards on the market in some way or other.
It is a high-performance board. We managed a healthy 1.3GHz overclock using our standard Core i7 930 CPU and it churns through rendering and encoding benchmarks with ease.
Our biggest issue with the Gigabyte G1.Assassin is the price. Our favourite X58 board is still the excellent Asus P6X58D-E - a £145 board - which manages to hold its own against the far more expensive board in all tests.
It even marginally bests it in some.
The killer app in the G1.Killer series is the Bigfoot Networks Killer NIC, but that offers little benefit over the standard networking hardware in the Asus board.
As this board offers so little for the money, and is increasingly old, soon to be obsolete, tech, it's impossible to recommend.
Buy it now and feel extremely foolish in three months time.