Gigabyte Z97P-D3 Intel LGA1150 Z97 ATX Motherboard Review
Most of the motherboard reviews we tend write at Home Media Portal are for the smaller micro-ATX and mini-ITX boards but many gaming and performance enthusiasts are opting for ATX for their HTPC media centres. ATX does give you more choice when it comes to components and lower costs but you do end up with a bigger media centre. The Gigabyte Z97P-D3 motherboard is a best selling choice for ATX form factor motherboards and is feature rich for its price. The board is designed for Intel based CPUs and supports the very latest 4th and 5th generation processors. This includes all socket 1150 CPUs of the Intel I3, I5 and I7 and Celeron families. The Gigabyte Z97P-D3 comes with all of the connections and slots required to build a high performance media centres. Gigabyte is an established motherboard brand and one thing you are guaranteed with their hardware is reliability.
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Gigabyte Z97P-D3 Specifications
|Weight||980 g||Model||Z97P-D3||USB 3.0 Ports||4|
|Dimensions||35 x 30 x 6 cm||RAM Size||32768 MB||On-board Graphics||Yes|
|Batteries||1 CR2||Mem Type||DDR3 SDRAM||On-board Sound||Yes|
The Gigabyte Z97P-D3 utilises DDR3 SDRAM and with 4 available memory slots takes a maximum of 32GB. The board also supports Extreme Memory Profile memory modules (XMP). As with all motherboards these days you get an on-board graphics chip set with a HDMI socket. As far as on-board graphics cards go it isn’t bad with up to 512MB shared memory and support for resolutions up to 4096×2160@24Hz or 2560×1600@60Hz. However if you are going to choose an ATX form factor motherboard for a HTPC media centre then you are going to want a dedicated graphics card and this is where the Gigabyte Z97P-D3 motherboard comes into its own. The Gigabyte Z97P-D3 uses a PCI-E 16X slot for the main graphics card allowing you to choose from all of the top graphics cards out there but best of it it utilised AMD Crossfire technology. AMD Crossfire technology allows the installation of two graphics cards and runs them in parallel giving you unrivalled graphics performance! If your budget allows the use of two GPUs then this motherboard is for you! The Gigabyte Z97P-D3 is built with expansion in mind and you get a total of 6 PCI slots (1X PCI-E 16X, 1X PCI-E 4X, 2X PCI-E 1X and 2X PCI slots).
Along with on-board graphics the Gigabyte Z97P-D3 comes with an on-board sound chip set running the Realtek ALC887 codec. This gives you full high definition audio and provides connections for the speaker and headphone sockets on your cases. This sound chip set is more than enough for any HTPC media centre whether your focus is music, movies or gaming. The Gigabyte Z97P-D3 comes with a total of 6 SATA connections for connecting your storage. With your media being important to you many HTPC media centre enthusiasts are looking to NAS boxes to protect their movie collections. With the Gigabyte Z97P-D3 you will not require external storage as the motherboard supports all major RAID types. Your data can be spread across your internal hard disks and if one fails you can simply replace it without any loss of your media. If you were thinking of buying a NAS box the Gigabyte Z97P-D3 could save you money! The Gigabyte Z97P-D3 gives you 4X USB 3.0 sockets allowing fast transfers of your media from external storage (2X USB 3.0 Ports on the rear and 2X USB 3.0 ports via case connectors). You also get the standard LAN socket supporting 10/100/1000 Mbit transfer speeds.
Now lets talk about the software side of the Gigabyte Z97P-D3. The motherboard comes with an AMI UEFI BIOS giving you faster start-up times and of course support for all of your larger storage devices. The motherboard also has support for dual BIOS meaning you can you can set a different BIOS for a different purpose and boot them accordingly. The Gigabyte Z97P-D3 comes with a number of software packages including Norton Internet Security (OEM version), Intel Rapid Start Technology, Intel Smart Connect Technology and Intel Smart Response Technology all adding to the user experience. You also get access to the Gigabyte APP Center giving you a whole host of software applications to manage your motherboard and fine tune it’s performance. The Gigabyte Z97P-D3 also comes with a number of monitoring tools to look after the health of your system. These are designed to monitor your system temperatures and manage the various fan speeds. The motherboard supports all of the latest versions of Windows 8 and older versions of Windows including Windows 7 XP and Vista. (Please see online manual for full details).
Gigabyte Z97P-D3 Price
Due to the popularity of the Gigabyte brand the Gigabyte Z97P-D3 is an affordable motherboard solution. Many of the technologies discussed above are quite advanced features but the motherboard comes with a lower end price tag. You will struggle to find a motherboard with the same feature level, number of expansion ports and supported technologies for the same price as the Gigabyte Z97P-D3.
Reasons to Buy Gigabyte Z97P-D3 Motherboard
- Supports all major RAID types to protect your media content
- Supports dual graphics card technologies for gaming HTPC builds
- Supports a good range of Intel based CPUs
For most HTPC media centre builds we would advise using a smaller form factor motherboard but for those wanting performance gaming or multiple expansion cards then this motherboard is for you. The Gigabyte Z97P-D3 is currently the top ATX motherboard when it comes to price vs the features that you get. The Gigabyte Z97P-D3 will allow you to utilise the very best desktop processors on the market today and the showcase graphics cards. With AMD Crossfire technology you can utilise two top graphics cards running simultaneously making your gaming machine superior to all others. With Gigabyte hardware usually comes reliability and the Gigabyte Z97P-D3 will certainly last you. The BIOS and bundled software is both feature rich and extremely easy to manage for most levels of expertise. If you don’t mind the ATX form factor the Gigabyte Z97P-D3 is an affordable ATX motherboard suitable for any HTPC media centre build.