- Category: Motherboards
- Created: Friday, 16 March 2012 07:20
- Published: Friday, 16 March 2012 07:20
- Written by garfi3ld
It seems almost like it was yesterday when I took a close look at Gigabytes Assassin, flagship motherboard on the X58 chipset. Here we are less than a year later with a new chipset and socket available. That means it’s time once again to take a look at Gigabyte’s flagship gaming motherboard, the Assassin 2 X79. With a lower price point, smaller form factor, and all of the features of the original we loved the Assassin 2 should be a great board. Of course we won’t know that for sure until we dig in a little farther, so let’s jump in!
Product Name: Gigabyte Assassin 2
Review Sample Provided by: Gigabyte
Review by: Wes
Pictures by: Wes
Support for Intel® Core™ i7 processors in the LGA2011 package
L3 cache varies with CPU
(Please refer "CPU Support List" for more information.)
Intel® X79 Express Chipset
4 x 1.5V DDR3 DIMM sockets supporting up to 32 GB of system memory
4 channel memory architecture
Support for DDR3 2133/1866/1600/1333/1066 MHz memory modules
Support for non-ECC memory modules
Support for Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) memory modules
(Please refer "Memory Support List" for more information.)
1 x Creative CA20K2 chip
Support for Dolby® Digital Live and DTS™ Connect
Support for X-Fi Xtreme Fidelity® and EAX® Advanced HD™ 5.0 technologies
High Definition Audio
Support for S/PDIF Out
1 x Bigfoot Killer E2100 chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)
2 x PCI Express x16 slots, running at x16 (PCIEX16_1/PCIEX16_2)
1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x8 (PCIEX8)
2 x PCI Express x1 slots
1 x PCI slot
Support for 3-Way/2-Way AMD CrossFireX™ / NVIDIA SLI technology.
2 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors (SATA3 0/SATA3 1) supporting up to 2 SATA 6Gb/s devices
4 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors (SATA2 2~SATA2 5) supporting up to 4 SATA 3Gb/s devices
Support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10
2 x Marvell 88SE9172 chips:
2 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors (GSATA3 6/GSATA3 7) supporting up to 2 SATA 6Gb/s devices
2 x eSATA 6Gb/s connectors (eSATA/USB Combo) on the back panel supporting up to 2 SATA 6Gb/s devices
Support for RAID 0 and RAID 1
Up to 14 USB 2.0/1.1 ports (8 ports on the back panel, including 2 eSATA/USB Combo, 6 ports available through the internal USB headers)
2 x Fresco FL1009 chips:
Up to 4 USB 3.0/2.0 ports (2 ports on the back panel, 2 ports available through the internal USB header)
Internal I/O Connectors
1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
4 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
4 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors
1 x CPU fan header
4 x fan headers
1 x front panel header
1 x front panel audio header
1 x S/PDIF Out header
3 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
1 x USB 3.0/2.0 header
1 x Clear CMOS jumper
1 x Trusted Platform Module (TPM) header
Back Panel Connectors
1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port
1 x CPU overclocking button
1 x BIOS switch button
1 x Clear CMOS button
1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
6 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
2 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports
2 x eSATA/USB Combo connectors
1 x RJ-45 port
5 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out, Rear Speaker Out, Side Speaker Out, Line In/Mic In, Line Out)
iTE IT8728 chip
System voltage detection
CPU/System temperature detection
CPU/System fan speed detection
CPU overheating warning
CPU/System fan fail warning
CPU/System fan speed control
2 x 64 Mbit flash
Use of licensed AMI EFI BIOS
Support for DualBIOS™
PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.6, ACPI 2.0a
Support for @BIOS
Support for Q-Flash
Support for Xpress BIOS Rescue
Support for Download Center
Support for Xpress Install
Support for Xpress Recovery2
Support for EasyTune
Support for Smart 6™
Support for eXtreme Hard Drive (X.H.D)
Support for ON/OFF Charge
Support for Cloud OC
Support for 3TB+ Unlock
Support for TouchBIOS
Support for Q-Share
Norton Internet Security (OEM version)
Support for Microsoft® Windows 7/Vista/XP
E-ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 26.4cm
The Assassin 2’s packaging is very similar to the originals design although slightly smaller. The entire box has a camo design on it with the G1 Killer logo in the bottom right corner. In the middle you have the G1 Assassin 2 logo and the rest of the bottom half of the front is covered in feature logo’s like the build in 22100 NIC and 20K2 audio chipset from Creative.
Around back the camo theme is carried over but the entire back of the packaging is packed full of information. In the middle there is a full board shot of the Assassin 2 with a few of its key features broken down with lines pointing each of them out.
Inside the packaging is a second box, once opened you are greeted with a quick peak of the Assassin 2 through a window in its box. Yes you have the board inside of a box, that is inside of a box that is inside of a box.
Under the actual motherboard box you have a tray that is split up into four different sections. Inside you have all of the Assassin 2’ accessories. For those who remember the original Assassin you will remember that it came with a lot of accessories and this one is no exception. The first thing you will see is a fold out poster that has a nice G1 Killer Logo on it with multiple fake bullet holes on it.
You also end up with a G1 Killer sticker pack!
For documentation you have a fairly thick manual along with a second manual for the included GC-Wifi wireless card. In this photo you can also see the two included wireless antenna’s.
Both two and three way SLI bridges as well as a crossfire cable. That’s right this board comes with a crossfire cable. Why? Because they wanted to make sure you got a black cable, the same goes for the flexible SLI cable. These ribbon cables are worth their weight in gold.
The rear I/O plate sticks with the black them and even includes a G1 Killer logo on it, a nice touch.
Adding to the value of the Assassin 2 is a nice 3.5 inch bay device that runs two USB 3.0 ports directly off of an internal header.
Last but not least you have your SATA cables, two right angle and two straight. The third bag actually has the USB header for the included Wifi card.
Here is a full shot of the GC-Wifi wireless card and both of its included wireless antenna’s. If you look close you can actually see that this is a standard wireless card designed for laptop and Mini ITX use that is running on an adapter card. What you don’t know just from looking at this photo is that this card also runs Bluetooth 4.0 using one of its two antennas’. You can tell the difference on the back of the card with different colored status LED’s and labels also. (wireless on top and BT on bottom). The card plugs into a 1x PCI Express slot but also requires an internal USB 2.0 connection. The wireless runs off of the PCI Express x1 connection while the Bluetooth runs on the USB.
Here is an overall look at the Assassin 2, from here the Killer NIC and audio chipset really stand out. You can see that Gigabyte went with a flat black PCB for the board, it looks great and is complemented by the black and green PCI/DRAM sockets.
The best past about X79 boards like the Assassin 2 is the chipset/sockets additional CPU Lanes. This allows manufactures like Gigabyte to setup true triple SLI/Crossfire configurations without the extreme limitations that you would see with Sandy Bridge. The Assassin 2 slot breakdown is as follows
PCI Express x16
PCI Express x1
PCI Express x8 (x16 form factor)
PCI Express x1
PCI Express x16
As you can see you have triple SLI/Crossfire support or you can run dual GPU’s while still leaving open one of the PCI Express x1 slots for using the included Wifi/Bluetooth module.
One of the most debatable features of the Assassin 2 is Gigabytes choice to go with only four dim slots when a lot of other full feature boards come with 8 dimm slots. Personally I don’t have any problem with it, I myself would only end up running a 16Gb quad channel kit both because I don’t need any more than that and I would rather have the overclocking headroom. Those are both the same reasons that Gigabyte went with just four dim slots. The idea being that gamers won’t need over 32 Gigs of ram, leaving 8 dimm setups just for workstation boards.
It may come as no surprise to those of you who have seen other G1 Killer motherboards like the original Assassin but the Bigfoot Networks (qualcomm) e2100 NIC is built right into the Assassin 2. You can spot the NPU just above the top PCI Express x16 slot with the bright E2100 logo on it. Just next to the NPU is also the built in dedicated DDR. This goes along with what Gigabyte is calling “Super Speed” , helping you avoid the windows network stack all together to give the best gaming experience possible.
Just like the built in e2110 NIC, Gigabyte has also integrated the Soundblaster Digital Audio Processor (20k2) along with its own 128Mb of dedicated memory also. Even more interesting is the use of high end Nichicon caps (the green and gold caps) along with the shielding placed around the caps to try to prevent any interference from the rest of the motherboard. Along with the caps, if you look close you can actually see all five of the built in high capacity amplifiers, most interesting of them all are the front amplifiers. With front amplifiers pushing the front audio connections you will get crisper details and less distortion while using good headphones.
Moving to the top right corner of the Assassin 2 you can spot both the second 8 pin CPU connection and part of the 24 pin power connection. You also have a 4 pin PWM fan connection if needed.
A little lower down we have full view of the 24 Pin connection along with an internal USB 3.0 header just under the main power connection.
On the bottom right side of the Assassin 2 you have the SATA connections. It’s a little odd that Gigabyte placed two of the SATA ports down far apart from the others. You have a total of four SATA 2 ports and four SATA 3 ports with two of the SATA 6 ports running off of a Marvell 88SE9172 chip. There is a second Marvell 88SE9172 chip that also runs the two eSATA connections on the back of the I/O panel.
Starting on the right side of the bottom we have another PWM 4 pin fan header, our clear CMOS jumper (its right above the front panel connections), our front panel header, and three USB 2.0 headers with one being red in color for extra power for device charging.
The left side of the bottom row has a TPM header, another PWM 4 pin fan header, and the front panel audio connection. It’s great to see Gigabyte putting the front panel header down at the bottom, in the past we would normally see it tucked in behind the rear I/O panel.
The rear I/O panel has everything you need and nothing you don’t. Gigabyte kept it fairly simple. Starting from the left you have two USB 2.0 connections for plugging in your mouse and keyboard along with a dual use PS2 connection in case you would like to hookup an old IBM keyboard or similar. The next stack has Gigabytes OC button and a dual BIOS switching buttons. Next you have two matching eSATA/USB combo ports along with two normal USB 2.0 ports with them/ The Two blue USB ports are USB 3.0. Next you have two red USB 2.0 ports that provide extra power for charging your devices when needed. On that same stack you have the 10/100/1000 Killer NIC port. Last but not least you have the audio connections. From the back here you can’t even tell that Gigabyte has included that Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi DAP.
A quick peak at the underside of the board shows off that nice black PCB and you can see all of the mounting points for Gigabytes cooling. It’s nice to see that most of the heatsinks are attached by screws on the underside rather than plastic push pins.
Gigabyte’s is running UEFI for its bios’s now that means you can finally use your mouse while making adjustments to your overclock. This time around they are calling it 3D BIOS, named after the “3d” view of the motherboard you get when you boot into it. Here is a quick video of us flipping through all of the boards features. I apologize for the video’s focus; I would recommend not running it in full screen.
As you can see the 3D BIOS is very interesting. My only complaint is that anyone who knows what parts of the motherboard to click on to get to things already has a good knowledge of their PC. Meaning they most likely don’t NEED the 3D interface in the first place lol. I also ran into problem with our Razer Deathadder not tracking correctly in this BIOS, I have had the same issue with another UEFI board but no problems with our Rampage 4. As of the time of this review I was unable to figure out if this was a Razer issue or Gigabyte issue.
The cooling on the Assassin 2 is similar to the original Assassin but not exactly the same. This time around rather than use an ammo clip they went with a full gun. This makes the cooling on the Assassin 2 unique yet still functional. Don’t get me wrong this isn’t going to cool as well as the Rampage 4’s active cooling, but considering the board focus on gamers not overclockers this shouldn’t be needed. To help with the cooling Gigabyte has also ran a heatpipe between the heatsinks to even out the heat aiding in cooling. What is interesting about the heatpipe placement is we normally see this pipe ran around the left side of the CPU socket then down and around, Gigabyte took a more direct approach, this shorter distance will help with transferring that heat quicker when needed.
The software for the Assassin 2 is nothing that we haven’t seen before between the original Assassin and other gigabyte boards but when it’s all put together Gigabyte is starting to cover all bases. The only downside is all of the software is split up requiring multiple installations and its harder to keep track of. I would love to see all of the software integrated into one control panel like some of the other manufactures are doing now.
Having said that, that doesn’t mean the software is bad, far from it really. There are three pieces of software that are included with the Assassin 2 that are extremely useful along with a few that I didn’t really use much. Let’s take a look.
The Bigfoot Network software as always is my favorite, this is the main reason I like having a Killer card in my PC in fact. They give you the ability to set priority to any service for network usage. That means you can set your steam downloads to not interrupt your Netflix viewing. The also include a PC Monitor that allows you to graph out your CPU, network, NPU, CPU Usage, FPS, and many other things. This is great to jump in game with to see how your PC reacts to different games.
Next we have Gigabytes EasyTune 6. At first glance it doesn’t look like much more than a rebranded CPUZ but once you start flipping through the tabs you will find the ability to overclock both with an easy to use three color system or in full detail along with hardware monitoring and (my fav) the ability to be able to map out your fan speed profiles in relation to temperatures.
The Assassin 2 also has Gigabytes Touch BIOS, a piece of software that we have taken a look at before. You have a direct like to the BIOS meaning on the fly adjustments in an easy to use layout. You really shouldn’t even have to dig into the BIOS when you combine these three programs. I hope in the future everything is integrated into a nice package.
Our Test Rig
Kingston HyperX DDR3 1600MHz Quad Channel Ram
Two Kingston HyperX SATA 3 SSD’s in RAID 0
Intel Active Thermal Solution RTS2011LC Water-cooling
Two Nvidia GTX580’s in SLI
http://www.highspeedpc.com/ Test Bench
Our Testing Procedures
Aida64 – Formally Everest ADIA64 is a full benchmark suite. For CPU benchmarking we run CPU Queen, CPU PhotoWorxx, CPU ZLib, CPU AES, CPU Hash, FPU VP8, FPU Julia, FPU Mandel, and FPU SinJulia.
Breakdowns on each benchmark from AIDA64
CPU Queen – “This simple integer benchmark focuses on the branch prediction capabilities and the misprediction penalties of the CPU. It finds the solutions for the classic "Queens problem" on a 10 by 10 sized chessboard. At the same clock speed theoretically the processor with the shorter pipeline and smaller misprediction penalties will attain higher benchmark scores. For example -- with HyperThreading disabled -- the Intel Northwood core processors get higher scores than the Intel Prescott core based ones due to the 20-step vs 31-step long pipeline. CPU Queen test uses integer MMX, SSE2 and SSSE3 optimizations.”
CPU PhotoWorxx - It performs the following tasks on a very large RGB image:
-Rotate 90 degrees CW
-Rotate 90 degrees CCW
-Fill the image with random colored pixels
-Color to black & white conversion
This benchmark stresses the integer arithmetic and multiplication execution units of the CPU and also the memory subsystem. Due to the fact that this test performs high memory read/write traffic, it cannot effectively scale in situations where more than 2 processing threads used. For example, on a 8-way Pentium III Xeon system the 8 processing threads will be "fighting" over the memory, creating a serious bottleneck that would lead to as low scores as a 2-way or 4-way similar processor based system could achieve. CPU PhotoWorxx test uses only the basic x86 instructions, and it is HyperThreading, multi-processor (SMP) and multi-core (CMP) aware.
CPU ZLib - This integer benchmark measures combined CPU and memory subsystem performance through the public ZLib compression library. CPU ZLib test uses only the basic x86 instructions, and it is HyperThreading, multi-processor (SMP) and multi-core (CMP) aware.
CPU AES - This benchmark measures CPU performance using AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) data encryption. In cryptography AES is a symmetric-key encryption standard. AES is used in several compression tools today, like 7z, RAR, WinZip, and also in disk encryption solutions like BitLocker, FileVault (Mac OS X), TrueCrypt.
CPU AES test uses only the basic x86 instructions, and it's hardware accelerated on VIA PadLock Security Engine capable VIA C3, VIA C7, VIA Nano and VIA QuadCore processors; and on Intel AES-NI instruction set extension capable processors. The test is HyperThreading, multi-processor (SMP) and multi-core (CMP) aware.
CPU Hash - This benchmark measures CPU performance using the SHA1 hashing algorithm defined in the Federal Information Processing Standards Publication 180-3. The code behind this benchmark method is written in Assembly, and it is optimized for every popular AMD, Intel and VIA processor core variants by utilizing the appropriate MMX, MMX+/SSE, SSE2, SSSE3, AVX or XOP instruction set extension. CPU Hash benchmark is hardware accelerated on VIA PadLock Security Engine capable VIA C7, VIA Nano and VIA QuadCore processors.
FPU VP8 Benchmark -This benchmark measures video compression performance using the Google VP8 (WebM) video codec Version 0.9.5 (http://www.webmproject.org). FPU VP8 test encodes 1280x720 pixel ("HD ready") resolution video frames in 1-pass mode at 8192 kbps bitrate with best quality settings. The content of the frames are generated by the FPU Julia fractal module. The code behind this benchmark method utilizes the appropriate MMX, SSE2 or SSSE3 instruction set extension, and it is HyperThreading, multi-processor (SMP) and multi-core (CMP) aware.
FPU Julia Benchmark - This benchmark measures the single precision (also known as 32-bit) floating-point performance through the computation of several frames of the popular "Julia" fractal. The code behind this benchmark method is written in Assembly, and it is extremely optimized for every popular AMD, Intel and VIA processor core variants by utilizing the appropriate x87, 3DNow!, 3DNow!+, SSE, AVX or FMA4 instruction set extension. FPU Julia test is HyperThreading, multi-processor (SMP) and multi-core (CMP) aware.
FPU Mandel Benchmark - This benchmark measures the double precision (also known as 64-bit) floating-point performance through the computation of several frames of the popular "Mandelbrot" fractal. The code behind this benchmark method is written in Assembly, and it is extremely optimized for every popular AMD, Intel and VIA processor core variants by utilizing the appropriate x87, SSE2, AVX or FMA4 instruction set extension. FPU Mandel test is HyperThreading, multi-processor (SMP) and multi-core (CMP) aware.
FPU SinJulia Benchmark - This benchmark measures the extended precision (also known as 80-bit) floating-point performance through the computation of a single frame of a modified "Julia" fractal. The code behind this benchmark method is written in Assembly, and it is extremely optimized for every popular AMD, Intel and VIA processor core variants by utilizing trigonometric and exponential x87 instructions. FPU SinJulia is HyperThreading, multi-processor (SMP) and multi-core (CMP) aware.
Cinebench - CINEBENCH is a real-world cross platform test suite that evaluates your computer's performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. The test procedure consists of two main components - the graphics card performance test and the CPU performance test.
Main Processor Performance (CPU)
The test scenario uses all of your system's processing power to render a photorealistic 3D scene (from the viral "No Keyframes" animation by AixSponza). This scene makes use of various algorithms to stress all available processor cores.
In fact, CINEBENCH can measure systems with up to 64 processor threads. ThIS test scene contains approximately 2,000 objects which in turn contain more than 300,000 polygons in total, and uses sharp and blurred reflections, area lights, shadows, procedural shaders, antialiasing, and much more. The result is displayed in points (pts). The higher the number, the faster your processor.
Graphics Card Performance (OpenGL)
This procedure uses a complex 3D scene depicting a car chase (by renderbaron) which measures the performance of your graphics card in OpenGL mode. The performance depends on various factors, such as the GPU processor on your hardware, but also on the drivers used. The graphics card has to display a huge amount of geometry (nearly 1 million polygons) and textures, as well as a variety of effects, such as environments, bump maps, transparency, lighting and more to evaluate the performance across different disciplines and give a good average overview of the capabilities of your graphics hardware. The result given is measured in frames per second (fps). The higher the number, the faster your graphics card.
Floating Point Math
Find Prime Numbers
Physics String Sorting
Whetstone testing is great to see how well a CPU can handle floating-point arithmetic. We also do Dhrystone that is similar but for integer and string operations.
A benchmark specifically designed to measure the efficiency of the different multi-core processors with their different architectures as well as compare their performance to traditional multi-processor (SMP) systems.
Performance measuring benchmarks do not show at-a-glance the differences between multi-core processors and how multi-threading programs should be designed to best take advantage of the underlying architecture while avoiding the "gotchas" .
This benchmark does not test processor unit computational performance, i.e. how fast the cores of the processors are; it tests how fast the connection between them is only.
Sandra's algorithm is multi-threaded on SMP/SMT systems. This works by splitting the arrays and letting each thread work on its own bit. Sandra creates a thread for each CPU in the system and assignes each thread to an individual CPU.
Another difference is the aggressive use of sheduling/overlapping of instructions in order to maximise memory throughput even on "slower" processors. The loops should always be memory bound rather than CPU bound on all modern processors.
The other major difference is the use of alignment. Sandra dynamically changes the alignment of streams until it finds the best combination, then it repeatedly tests it to estimate the maximum throughput of the system. You can change the alignment in STREAM and recompile - but generally it is set to 0 (i.e. no).
Designed by the guys behind PCWorld, Worldbench is a benchmark designed to use applications and utility’s that everyone uses day to day and benchmark their performance. This gives the most accurate REAL world results, something that no other benchmark does. Being fully automated, WorldBench 6's application tests are scripted to run consecutively, and those results are automatically combined and compared against a baseline system. Popular applications like Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop and Mozilla Firefox are each used as they would be in real-world situations to comprise the final WorldBench score.
WPrime – Perfect for testing the multithreading of multiple core CPU’s. “wPrime uses a recursive call of Newton's method for estimating functions, with f(x)=x2-k, where k is the number we're sorting, until Sgn(f(x)/f'(x)) does not equal that of the previous iteration, starting with an estimation of k/2. It then uses an iterative calling of the estimation method a set amount of times to increase the accuracy of the results. It then confirms that n(k)2=k to ensure the calculation was correct. It repeats this for all numbers from 1 to the requested maximum.”
X264 HD – X264 HD is a CPU encoding benchmark. Using the x264 codec this test encodes a video file and times its performance.
Overall Synthetic Benchmarks
We run the entire collection of futuremark’s PC and 3D benchmarks. Although they are synthetic, they do run consistent benchmarks on both in game performance and PC performance. Their new PCMark 7 does an amazing job of testing real world programs including web page loading speed and other activities nearly everyone does on their PC daily.
3DMark Vantage Performance
3DMark Vantage High
3DMark Vantage 2011 Performance
3DMark Vantage 2011 Extreme
In Game Tests
Call Of Duty Black Ops (1920x1080 – high settings, first scene starting after the cut scene, recorded using fraps)
Battlefield Bad Company 2 (1920x1080 – high settings, first scene starting after the cut scene, recorded using fraps)
Dirt 2 (1920x1080 – 4x MSAA – high settings, in-game benchmark)
Metro 2033 DX11 test (built-in benchmark, 1920 x 1080; DirectX: DirectX 11; Quality: Very High; Antialiasing: MSAA 4X; Texture filtering: AF 4X; Advanced PhysX: Enabled; Tessellation: Enabled; DOF: Disabled)
Metro 2033 DX10 test (built-in benchmark, 1920 x 1080; DirectX: DirectX 10; Quality: Very High; Antialiasing: MSAA 4X; Texture filtering: AF 4X; Advanced PhysX: Enabled; Tessellation: Enabled; DOF: Disabled)
Audio Testing is done using Rightmark Audio Analyzer
3DMark and PCMark
As a whole the Assassin 2 performed well in our synthetic benchmarks, specificly in the 3DMark benchmarks. PCMark on the other hand showed slowdowns in hard drive performance, something that is odd because we use the same two Kingston Hyper X SSD’s in raid on all of our X79 tests. Raid performance was a little lacking but all of the other benchmarks came out respectable putting the Assassin 2 in just below the Rampage 4 in most benchmarks.
All of our in game testing puts the Assassin 2 near the top but not enough to topple the performance numbers of the Rampage 4. Even so on the differences between the boards are only a matter of a few FPS.
Our Aida64 benchmarks are mostly CPU specific but as you can see we did see a nice bump in a few of them while running the Assassin 2 over all of our other boards, specifically the FPU Julia benchmark.
Both Single core performance and overall CPU performance was a little on the low side this time around with the Assassin. Our numbers aren’t too far off but they were noticeably lower than the other boards.
Our Passmark numbers as a whole show the Assassin 2 with slightly less performance in all of the memory benchmarks even though we used the same memory on all of the boards. CPU benchmarks on the other hand are a dead heat between everything except for the Rampage 4.
Our Sandra benchmarks, as explained in the our benchmarks section of this review, are very CPU oriented. It’s very surprising to see the Inter-Core Latency to be off from our other benchmarks. Most of our results show the Assassin 2 on par with the Asus P9X79 Pro, not bad at all!
X264 HD and wPrime
wPrime does things a little different with its scores, this time around the lower the score the better. That puts the Assassin 2 nearly at the bottom of the pack in 1024M testing and in second in 32M testing. X264 HD benchmarking on the other hand is the other way around with the highest score being the goal. The first pass has the Assassin at the bottom of the pack but the second pass shows a closer result with it coming in second.
Our Worldbench real world results are always interesting. Anything can perform good in standard benchmarks but it’s always interesting to see how they hold up when they are put thought normal everyday tasks. Being timed benchmarks lower is better. With that having been said I was disappointed with the Assassin 2’s performance in Photoshop CS2, I suspect this has to do with the low hard drive results we saw earlier. Beyond that performance was on par with the other boards, topping the charts in Office 2003 even!
Of all of the Audio benchmarks we have ever done, I have never had as many problems as I ended up having with the Assassin 2. Truth be told, the built in sound card sounded amazing but when it came down to benchmarks, underperforming would be an understatement. Normally we would replace the board but we ran into similar issues with our original Assassin after using if for a few months. I suspect there might be a deeper issue at play here. This is really disappointing because the audio quality is amazing when it’s working correctly!
Overall and FV
The Assassin 2 at the end of the day is a very interesting board. Gigabyte lowered the price on this board considerably compared to the original without taking away any features. Some might argue that dropping four way SLI support is a con, but after living with the original Assassin and having to find a case that supports XL-ATX I am very happy to see that it’s not a con, more likely a pro. I love what Gigabyte has done with their board layout especially, in the past we have seen connections and headers placed wherever it’s easiest, now they are located in locations that are easy to reach and areas that help with good wire management. As always I love how Gigabyte has gone out of the box with the G1 Killer lineup and their unique cooler designs, it may not be the best design for cooling but if nothing else tits a conversation starter.
The best part about the Assassin 2 are what I call its value adders. The built in Creative Audio chipset (when working correctly) is a great addition that adds considerably to both Gigabytes manufacturing costs and the value of the board itself. The built in Killer NIC chipset is also the same, some may argue how much it helps, but having it built right on the board is cutting out nearly $100 for someone who would be looking to buy it apart from the board. Then you have smaller things like the front panel USB 3.0 adapter and even the included wireless/bluetooth card. It all adds up to make the Assassin a good value for a mid to high end motherboard. Something the original could never say considering its $600 price tag.
It’s not all fun and games though. My experience with the Gigabyte Assassin 2 did have a few ups and downs. My audio issues were very surprising considering the high end audio chipset built into the board. The same goes for the hard drive performance issues that seemed to cause lower performance numbers across the board in any test that touched our two SSD’s.
So when it’s all said and done would I recommend the Gigabyte Assassin 2? Its very dependent on your situation. If you aren’t into the “Killer” style or care about the built in Killer NIC and Creative audio card, no. But if you are a gamer looking for a board that is going to get attention and also help increase your gaming experience then the Assassin 2 is perfect for you. It’s a fairly limited market, but the idea is that Gigabyte makes a board for every type of person. It’s up to you if this is the board for you.