The G1.Assassin is the most high-end socket LGA1366 motherboard from the Gigabyte series "G1-Killer," which has a "gun-like" design and is aimed at gamer enthusiast users. It has eight SATA ports (six SATA-300 and two SATA-600), eight USB 3.0 ports, six memory sockets, and four PCI Express x16 slots. Let’s check it out.
The G1-Killer series is a set of motherboards (by now, all compatible with socket LGA1366 CPUs) which brings high-quality sound and network interfaces (we will see more details in the next pages). The G1-Killer motherboards also have a graphical design on the box, manuals, and even heatsinks, that resembles weapons and warfare. Other models are the G1.Sniper and G1.Guerrilla.
The portrayed motherboard comes in the XL-ATX form factor, measuring 13.5 x 10.3 inches (345 x 263 mm), which means it will not fit standard ATX cases with seven slots.
Figure 1: Gigabyte G1.Assassin motherboard
The north bridge of the Intel X58 chipset provides 36 PCI Express x1 lanes, while the south bridge (ICH10R) provides six more lanes.
The first PCI Express x16 slot (PCIEX16_1) works at x16 speed if the second one (PCIEX8_1) is empty. If it is populated, both slots work at x8 speed. The third and the fourth PCI Express x16 slots work the same way. So, if you install two video cards, you must install one at the first PCI Express x16 slot (PCIEX16_1) and the other one at the third PCI Express x16 slot (PCIEX16_2), so both of them will work at x16 speed. If you install four PCI Express x16 cards, all of them will work at x8 speed.
The PCI Express x16 slots are placed with one slot between them. This means that you can install video cards that occupy two slots in the first three PCI Express x16 slots and you will still be able to use the next PCI Express x16 slot (of course, in this case you “kill” the PCI Express x1 and PCI slots). You will be able to install a VGA that uses more than one slot at the last PCI Express x16 slot only if your case provides space for that.
The PCI Express x16 slots support both two, three, or four way CrossFireX and two or three way SLI.
As can be seen in Figure 2, there are also two PCI Express x1 slots and one standard PCI slot.
Two peripheral power connectors can be installed on the motherboard in order to provide extra current to the PCI Express x16 slots.
[nextpage title=”Memory Support”]
Intel socket LGA1366 CPUs have an embedded memory controller, meaning that it is the processor – and not the chipset – that defines what memory technologies and the maximum amount of memory you can have. The motherboard, however, may have a limitation on how much memory may be installed.
Currently, the integrated memory controller from socket LGA1366 processors supports only DDR3 memories up to 1,066 MHz under triple-channel architecture. However Gigabyte says the G1.Assassin supports DDR3 memories up to 2,200 MHz through overclocking.
Similar to other high-end socket LGA1366 motherboards, the G1.Assassin has six memory sockets, rather than only four. This allows you to make future memory upgrades without having to remove your current memory modules and, at the same time, to keep the maximum performance possible.
Just to clarify, in order to achieve the maximum performance you have to install three or six memory modules. If you install three memory modules, you have to use sockets with the same color. If you install a different number of memory modules, the system won’t achieve its maximum possible performance.
On motherboards with only four memory sockets you have a problem. If you add a fourth memory module, this module will be accessed at single-channel performance (1/3 of the maximum transfer rate), so for you to add more memory keeping the maximum performance, you have to remove your old three modules and install new ones. This upgrade is more expensive than using a motherboard with six sockets, where you can simply add three more modules and keep your old modules installed.
Since currently DDR3 memory modules can be found in capacities up to 4 GB, you can have up to 24 GB with this motherboard, if you use six 4 GB modules.
The first, third, and fifth sockets are black, while the second, fourth, and sixth are green. In order to achieve the maximum performance, you should install three or six memory modules in order to enable triple-channel architecture. When only three modules are used, install them in the green sockets, otherwise your computer won’t turn on.
Figure 3: Memory modules. Install three or six modules for the best performance
[nextpage title=”On-Board Peripherals”]
The Intel X58 chipset is a dual-chip solution, using the ICH10R south bridge chip. This chip supports six SATA-300 ports (with RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10). The G1.Assassin has two SATA-600 ports, controlled by one Marvell 88SE9128, supporting RAID (0 and 1). In Figure 4 you can see these ports, located on the motherboard edge, rotated 90°, so video cards won’t block them. SATA-600 ports are the white ones, and the black ports are the native SATA-300 ports.
Figure 4: SATA-300 and SATA-600 ports
There is no native eSATA port, but you can convert one SATA-300 port into an eSATA port using the front panel shown in Figure 5.
There are no ATA-133 or floppy disk drive ports.
This motherboard has eight USB 2.0 ports, four soldered on the rear panel and four available through two headers located on the motherboard. It has also eight USB 3.0 ports, controlled by one Renesas D720200 chip (which provides two ports) and two Via Labs VL810 hubs (which can multiply one USB 3.0 port to four). Four of these ports are soldered on the rear panel, and another four are available on two front panel headers. This motherboard comes with an adapter for you to install two of these ports on an external 5.25” bay, shown in Figure 5. This front panel also provides one shared eSATA/USB 2.0 port, besides the overclock button that allows you to change the overclock configuration by hardware.
Every USB port on this board has an individual fuse to protect the system from short-circuits.
There are no FireWire (IEEE1394) ports.
One of the highlights of the G1.Assassin is the onboard audio, generated by a Creative CA20K2 SoundBlaster Digital Audio Processor. This is a high-end sound board, supporting 7.1 Advanced HD 5.0 audio. The analog audio has high capacity amplifiers, and the audio circuits use h
igh quality capacitors from the Japanese Nichicon manufacturer.
The motherboard comes with on-board optical and coaxial SPDIF connectors, and you can route digital audio to your video card to have digital audio in the HDMI connector using the available “SPDIF_O” header.
The analog audio jacks are independent, meaning that you won’t need to “kill” the mic in or the line in jacks if you install an analog 7.1 speaker set.
The onboard Ethernet is a Bigfoot Networks Killer 2100, which is a full network processor with 128 MB dedicated RAM that takes all the networking tasks from the CPU and the operating systems. You can learn more about this feature in our review of an Ethernet card based on this chip, the EVGA Killer Xeno Pro.
Figure 6: Killer 2100 processor and memory
In Figure 7, you can see the motherboard rear panel, with keyboard and mouse PS/2 connectors, optical and coaxial SPDIF outputs, four USB 2.0 ports, four USB 3.0 ports (blue), one Gigabit Ethernet port, and independent analog 7.1 audio outputs.
Figure 7: Motherboard rear panel
In Figure 8, you can see all the accessories that come with this motherboard: cables, manuals, drivers DVD, case backplate, SLI and CrossFireX bridges, and some questionable taste poster and stickers for your case and your room.
[nextpage title=”Voltage Regulator”]
The Gigabyte G1.Assassin comes with an 18-phase voltage regulator circuit. Of the 18 available phases, 16 are used to generate the CPU main voltage (Vcc, a.k.a. Vcore), while the other two are used to generate the voltage required by the integrated memory controller, the QPI controller, and the L3 memory cache (VTT). Therefore, this motherboard has a “16+2” configuration.
The manufacturer added passive heatsinks on top of the transistors of the voltage regulator circuit, which are connected to the passive heatsink of the north bridge chip through a heatpipe.
Figure 9: Voltage regulator circuit
In Figure 10 you see the voltage regulator circuit with the heatsinks removed. There are 16 Vishay DrMOS SiC769 chips (each chip integrates the driver and the low-side and high-side FETs), and since each chip controls one phase, the G1.Assassin has 16 phases. From the 16 available chips, 12 are installed on the component side and four are installed on the solder side of the motherboard.
Figure 10: Voltage regulator circuit
All capacitors used on this motherboard are solid, and the voltage regulator circuit uses ferrite chokes, which are better than iron chokes. Please read our Everything You Need to Know About the Motherboard Voltage Regulator tutorial for more information.
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]
The main specifications for the Gigabyte G1.Assassin motherboard include:
- Socket: 1366
- Chipset: Intel X58 + ICH10R
- Super I/O: ITE IT8720F
- Parallel ATA: None
- Serial ATA: Six SATA-300 ports controlled by the chipset (RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10) and two SATA-600 ports controlled by a Marvell 88SE9128 chip
- External SATA: None
- USB: eight USB 2.0 ports, four soldered on the motherboard rear panel and four available through two headers on the motherboard, and eight USB 3.0 ports controlled by one Renesas D720200 chip and two VIA VL810 hubs, four available on the rear panel and four available on two headers on the motherboard
- FireWire (IEEE 1394): No
- On-board video: No
- On-board audio: Produced by a Creative 20K2 chip, on-board optical and coaxial SPDIF outputs
- On-board LAN: One Gigabit Ethernet port controlled by a Bigfoot Networks Killer 2100 chip, connected to the system through a PCI Express x1 lane
- Buzzer: No
- Infrared interface: No
- Power supply required: 2x EPS12V
- Slots: Four PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots (the first one working at x16 if the second one is empty and x8 if it is used, the second one working always at x8, the third one working at x16 when the fourth one is empty and at x8 when it is populated, and the fourth one always working at x8) with support for SLI and CrossFireX modes, two PCI Express x1 slots, and one standard PCI slot
- Memory: Six DDR3-DIMM sockets (up to 24 GB, up to DDR3-2200 through overclocking)
- Fan connectors: One four-pin connector for the CPU cooler, one four-pin connector for an auxiliary fan, and three three-pin connectors for auxiliary fans
- Extra Features: 2 oz copper power lines, two BIOS chips
- Number of CDs/DVDs provided: One
- Programs included: Motherboard drivers and utilities
- More Information: https://www.gigabyte.com
- Average price in the US*: USD 510.00
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this First Look article.
The Gigabyte G1.Assassin may be classified as a "wow" motherboard. It could be a "simple" high-end socket LGA1366 motherboard, just because it has six memory slots, a high-end voltage regulator, four PCI Express x16 slots, support for SLI and CrossFireX arrays, eight USB 3.0 ports, two SATA-600 ports, etc.
But it is aimed at the serious gamers who want some more. And the manufacturer probably thought, "If you are an extreme gamer with no budget limitations, what will you do after buying a high-end motherboard? You will buy high-end discrete networking and sound cards. So, let’s include these cards onboard." And so they did. They incorporated within the motherboard some of the best (and most expensive) Ethernet and audio chips available, which resulted in the G1.Assassin being over the "common high-en
Note, however, that even with good overclocking features, including a hardware overclock button at the front panel, the G1.Assassin isn’t designed specifically for extreme overclockers since it doesn’t have features like clear CMOS buttons or POST errors display. It’s just a matter of purpose; it is made for gamers, not for overclockers.
But the big drawback of the Gigabyte G1.Assassin is its price. You must take gaming really seriously (and have a stuffed wallet) to buy this motherboard.
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