Gigabyte X99-UD4P Haswell-E Motherboard

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Aside from a few tweaks, the software provided by Gigabyte is mostly the same as older boards like the Z97MX-Gaming 5. There are individual utilities for different functions that launch in separate windows but most of them are accessed through a central repository called APP Center. Compared to loading all the functionality into one application like Asus does with AI Suite, this strategy should keep overhead lower but it doesn't quite succeed at this. On the X99-UD4P, APP Center takes about 19 seconds to load, and each utility inside requires up to 9 seconds to launch. Below is a rundown a few of the more notable apps provided.

The EasyTune utility offers both basic and advanced overclocking options with an easy-to-use interface. There's a "Smart Quick Boost" section that will do a quick overclock or power saving underclock with predetermined settings, and an advanced menu with similar options as in the BIOS' advanced menu.

Note: On our original sample, I encountered a myriad of problems APP Center modules, but the System Information Viewer was particularly broken. After fan calibration, for both CPU fan headers, the reported fan speed at each workload setting was the same, making speed changes impossible. It also had issues detecting PWM fans on the SYS fan headers. Troubleshooting with a tech from Gigabyte proved fruitless as they couldn't duplicate the problem so a new board was shipped to us, but that didn't solve the problem either. It turned out to be a software issue with the latest version of APP Center from Gigabyte's website. Installing an older version off the driver disc made it all better.

The SIV (System Information Viewer) is home to the fan control system, offering more customizable options than in the BIOS. You can set thresholds and warnings, change the fan speed curve of course or use a fixed speed, and there's a calibration feature to test the speed range of each fan to ensure optimal operation. The board has five fan headers altogether which should be sufficient for most systems. All of the fan headers offered are of the 4-pin variety but PWM capability is only offered available on the main CPU fan header.

You may have noticed that the "(RPM)" text in the Fan Speed column is cut off. This is one example of a poorly polished UI that unfortunately permeates across Gigabyte's software.

Another example of this the dedicated hardware monitor which launches docked to the right side of the screen. Doing so takes you away from the fan controls, so you can't see both menus at once. You could set a fan to certain speed but you can't confirm that it's working until you go to a different screen. The font used is also comically large and out of whack with most of the other provided apps.

While the BIOS only allows you to enable/disable these LEDs, the Ambient LED app adds some functionality to the yellow LEDs running through the audio traces. There's a "pulse" mode that makes it "breathe" in and out at a regular frequency or a "beat" mode that makes it flash with the audio output. As you can imagine, the latter setting can be seizure-inducing if you play heavy tracks with erratic drum solos.

Like many high-end boards, the X99-UD4P has packet-shaping software included to prioritize traffic to certain applications like games to reduce lag. It has all the functionality you would expect like speed/bandwidth limits, setting priority by protocol or program, and charting capability.

This utility is pretty ugly in its own right but because it's a separate application that doesn't live in APP Center, it has a different font and color scheme. This sort of defeats the whole purpose of having the APP Center.

While software usability isn't one of Gigabyte's great strengths there is some notable innovation in its Cloud Station utility which hooks up with mobile devices to provided added functionality. With an Android or iOS app (and Google, Facebook, or Windows Live to login on both server and client), you can access/transfer files, use your phone/tablet as a remote for the desktop, make the PC going into a power saving mode (Suspend/Standby/Hibernate) when out of Bluetooth range, setup a WiFi adapter as a wireless hotspot, and even change overclocking settings.

The Android app has a fairly basic design with a dark theme. After logging in and selecting the server, you're presented with the the five functions I mentioned earlier.

The large text UI is retained in the file manager used to download and upload files which can be an incredible pain if you have a lot of files to scroll through. There's an automated backup feature but I'm not sure how it works exactly. There are no settings for scheduling or choosing which folders to backup anywhere in the menus and only manually backed up files ever showed up on the desktop during use.

The remote function has a virtual trackpad that works fairly well but a switch has to be flipped on to enable dragging rather than using a gesture or combination of tapping and holding like competing remote control apps. The keyboard is exceptionally horrid looking with several of the main function buttons present, stretched out and awkwardly positioned, to complement the onscreen keyboard on your phone/tablet. There's also a simple media control interface that seems to only work with Windows Media Player.

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