Articles

GIGABYTE X299 Aorus Gaming 3 Motherboard Review

Author:Daniel Dobrowolski

Editor:Kyle Bennett

Date: Tuesday , October 17, 2017

GIGABYTE adds another product to its ever expanding Aorus Gaming line. The X299 Aorus Gaming 3 sounds like it might be at the bottom of the Skylake-X heap feature-wise, but you can hardly call a motherboard with so many features "stripped" down. The GIGABYTE X299 Aorus Gaming 3 has a lot to offer on paper but can it deliver?
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UEFI BIOS

GIGABYTE’s X299 Aorus Gaming 3 uses licensed American Megatrends Inc. UEFI BIOS ROMs. These are 128Mbit flash ROMs that are soldered onto the PCB and cannot be removed. The GIGABYTE X299 Aorus Gaming 3’s UEFI BIOS supports the following features and management standards: DualBIOS, PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.7, WfM 2.0, SM BIOS 2.7, and ACPI 5.0. UEFI BIOS version F6i was used for all screenshots subsystem and overclock testing.

The user experience offered by the GIGABYTE X299 Aorus Gaming 3 is solid, but not perfect. While the overall features you would expect to be present are all here, there are some issues relating to the design of it. Sure, the overall experience is good, but I don’t like the inconsistencies found in the experience. The UEFI doesn’t always let you manually type in a value. It usually, if not always does for numeric values, but not alphanumeric values. I like being able to hit "enter" or click on a setting and see a menu of possible options for that setting and being able to highlight and select one of those. This shows you what’s available, and lets you choose what to use in an instant. The plus and minus keys do increment or decrement settings as expected, but so does the page up and down keys. I find that redundant, and odd as no one else does things that way. Also, the space bar increments values, but I am uncertain if there is a nearby or corresponding way to decrement the values. I do like the PC health monitor being available anywhere by clicking on the fly out button on the right. The alt key brings up a menu bar for navigation on the bottom of the screen. This allows you to go to the EZ-Mode interface, Smart Fan menu, or the Q-Flash utility. Any values altered will show up in white if it’s considered safe, yellow for caution and red for anything deemed unsafe or risky.

Another thing I don’t like about GIGABYTE’s UEFI BIOS, is the excessive use of submenus. It isn’t at all uncommon to browse down one or two submenu levels just to find a nearly blank screen with two or three settings on it. Many settings which are somewhat related could be organized on a single menu screen with headers dividing them, yet GIGABYTE almost never does things this way. On the plus side, you never lack for available settings to choose from. There are several pages of memory settings and a long list of CPU feature settings. These vary by platform, but the X299 Aorus Gaming 3, is the low end offering in the family and still never feels stripped down or somehow lacking in anything.

Another positive is the fact that GIGABYTE easily spells out SATA, RAID, and NVMe / M.2 related settings. You can leave the M.2 ports uncontrolled, or control them through Intel’s RST software. You can create the RAID array right in the UEFI if you want to or use Intel’s classic RAID BIOS. I like the choice and the way this is handled. Unfortunately, you cannot set any M.2 RAID array as a bootable device without adding the VROC license key. (More on this later.) With the VROC key, you would be able to add these arrays as a bootable device, and probably be able to do so without a reboot to make the array show up in the UEFI. GIGABYTE’s Smart Fan 5 menu provides fan control and general PC health monitoring. Fan control is simple, yet effective. PWM and DC modes are available for all fan headers. You can set fan performance by profile, or set the fan speed according to temperature. This is done by plotting the points on the graph. Warning alerts for temperature conditions can be controlled form this menu as well. RGB Fusion control can be accessed within the UEFI BIOS as well. This is nice, as this isn’t a feature supported by all manufacturers. That is, not all of them have LED lighting controls in the UEFI. I prefer setting these values in the UEFI, rather than software. You do not get the same level of color control, but all the visual effects can be configured from the UEFI.

Overall, the UEFI experience isn’t perfect, but GIGABYTE’s X299 Aorus Gaming 3 offers a solid, reliable, and user-friendly experience. I never had any issues with getting into the UEFI or had issues with keyboard or mouse responsiveness. The color scheme offers solid contrasts which are easy on the eyes and make for easy navigation. The tools offered within the UEFI are nice, and I do like how RAID arrays can be configured without going into the separate RAID BIOS.