G1-Killer Assassin: Our Initial Thoughts
Gigabyte is clearly building on a very firm foundation and growing sales - there's an argument that the company should have done something like this G1-Killer range years ago, just like its now-black PCB. Furthermore, these extra brands will only increase Gigabyte's presence in online stores.
In some ways that will create artificial competition, as they are still Gigabyte boards, but Asus' ROG, WS and new TUF series aren't immune from this criticism either. That's also not forgetting that if the competition had been better years ago, we wouldn't be left with so few dominant companies anyway.
However, we have to question some of the hardware choices. Given our recent reviews of the Killer 2100 gaming network card
and Killer Xeno Pro gaming network card review
gaming network cards, and the fact that EAX is arguably no longer relevant in PC gaming, we doubt whether many people will find this hardware genuinely useful.
On the other hand, now we have more bespoke choice than ever: instead of the same Realtek, VIA and NEC chips on every single board, we'll actually have a real decision to make about which technologies we really want.
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The decision to base the board on Intel’s moribund X58 chipset and LGA1366 socket seems misguided as well. With the cheaper LGA1155 Sandy Bridge
CPU range dominating everything but the extremely pricey Intel Core i7-980X, it hardly seems worth buying an LGA1366 motherboard unless you’re a professional media creator.
There should be an LGA1366 Core i7-990X
coming out soon, but this looks like a simple speed-bump rather than a radically new CPU. What's more, according to Intel roadmaps
, we're unlikely to get an 'affordable' six-core LGA1366 chip any time soon, which would give us reason to look at X58 boards a bit more seriously again. Even then, games don't need six-core/12-thread hardware to run at their best - games will typically only address up to four execution units, and favour IPC and frequency over thread-count.
The debate is officially on: is LGA1366 pointless after the launch of Sandy Bridge's LGA1155 socket?
Gigabyte says it used the X58 chipset because it has the most PCI-E lanes for multi-GPU setups, so it didn't need to use a PCI-E multiplier chip (either an NF200, a Lucid Hydra or a more conventional PLX). However, we've seen such multiplier chips cut 2-3fps from your frame rate, and very few people will want to build machines with three or four graphics cards. Besides, we've never been sold on the qualities of multi-GPU setups anyway. Waiting for a driver update to actually use the second card in a new game and hoping it won't break support for an old favourite is not our definition of a 'premium experience.'
Maybe Gigabyte can cash in on the market for those looking to spice up an ageing X58 system. There are plenty of people who already have LGA1366 CPUs but, outside of catastrophic failure, would you upgrade the board without upgrading the CPU?
Gigabyte's attitude is close to that of Asus' ROG range, in that it will have boards for overclockers (Extreme boards, in ROG-speak) and boards for gamers (Formula boards in ROGese). Gigabyte claims that 'gamers don't want to overclock; if you want to overclock you should buy a UD7.
' This isn't quite the case - we overclock our PCs to get maximum gaming performance, for example, but we believe the G1-Killer gaming series is solely trying to tap into the core gaming crowd with a better motherboard. The Assassin is trading on the brand strength of Creative EAX and 'gaming' network cards, and game-heavy looks back this up too.
We may have lamented Asus for its mixed gaming/overclocking message on its ROG boards in the past, but we prefer PC games that push the graphical, aurally and visually beautiful and immersive experience of gaming. To get that, your PC needs as much processing power it can muster, and so overclocking is an essential part of what we look for in every PC component. Let's hope that the G1-Killer Assassin can deliver on this front.
Impressed by what you see, or are you worried that's all show and no go? Let us know your thoughts in the forums