Included in the retail box is the board itself, user manual and associated documentation, driver disc, various stickers, an SLI video card bridge, a front panel 3.5" USB 3.0 bay insert, four SATA 6/Gbps cables and a rear I/O panel.
The first thing you'll likely notice about this board from Gigabyte is that it doesn't look much like their most recent offerings. Gone is the blue PCB and blue / white slots which have all been replaced with a black layout that looks really nice. Although the blue theme never bothered me on their previous boards, I know some people who were concerned with aesthetics didn't really like the color scheme. A black board can pretty much look at home in any chassis.
Looking at the top half of the board we see three large heatsinks and a smaller one that are all connected by heatpipes. Unlike most other boards that use push-pins to hold the heatsinks in place, Gigabyte uses screws which result in a much more secure hold. The heatsinks also have a relatively low profile meaning you shouldn't have any clearance issues when installing a large CPU cooler.
These heatsinks around the CPU socket are used to dissipate heat from the 20 phase power VRMs (voltage regulation modules) that Gigabyte has implemented on this board. 20 phases is possibly the highest I have seen on a board and in the past we have seen that more phases generally leads to better overclocking. Of course each board manufacturer uses different terminology and technology when it comes to power phases so we will have to put the overclocking capabilities to the test a bit later.
Gigabyte describes their power system as Dual CPU Power Technology which allows the CPU VRM power phases to split evenly into two sets of power engines that operate in tandem. According to Gigabyte, this allows one set of power phases to rest while the other is active, as opposed to a traditional power design, where all the power phases are always active.
It's also worth mentioning that Gigabyte is using Driver-MOSFETS which combine traditional MOSFETS with Driver ICs, resulting in a smaller mounting area on the board. We have seen this from other board manufacturers in the past so it's not something totally new, but good to see nevertheless. Other familiar technology includes Ultra Durable 3 which includes 2oz of copper PCB, Japanese solid capacitors, Lower RDS(on) and Ferrite Core chokes.
Looking back at the board layout, we find the 8-pin CPU connector in the top left between the two heatsinks as well as a 3-pin system fan connector. Moving to the right is a 4-pin CPU fan header, four memory slots, an on-board power button, another 3-pin fan header and the ATX power connector. Near the power button are phase LEDs which indicate the CPU loading. There are also six other random diagnostic LEDs scattered across the board: CPU, Memory, SATA, PCIe x16/x8, PCIe x4/x1 and PCI. Additionally there are two more buttons located near the ATX connector: a reset button and a clear CMOS button.
More photos and analysis just ahead.