Gigabyte H97M-Gaming 3 Review – This Micro-ATX motherboard from Gigabyte is priced just right for an affordable mini-SFF gaming rig, and has packed a surprisingly large number of features into its tiny dimensions. Based on the H97 chipset it obviously has a few limitations, but they’re arguably irrelevant to SFF builders anyway. We doubt many HTPC builders want to overclock their CPU or install multiple GPUs, but the latter option is indeed possible if you stick with AMD. As an aside, it turns out this board can indeed overclock K-series CPUs, but you didn’t hear that from us, as Intel is none too happy about mobo vendors enabling this.
That’s because this tiny board still retains twin PCIe x16 slots (only one runs at full speed though, with the other limited to x4), along with twin PCIe 2.0 x1 slots. Unfortunately there’s no M.2 connection though, which would have been very handy in such a small system. Instead the board includes six SATA 3 ports, a generous amount for such a small platform.
Gigabyte once again relies on Realtek’s ALC1150 codec for sound, but has equipped it with the companies proprietary AMP-UP technology. Basically this is an integrated rear amp combined with SoundBlaster software, yet it delivers the same 115dB SNR of all ALC1150 sound systems. No overclocking is supported, but Gigabyte has included Killer’s E2200 gaming Ethernet. If only it had shipped Wi-Fi as well, which is pretty standard around this price point. This is a well-rounded board, but it’d be even better if Wi-Fi or M.2 came as standard.
- Six SATA3 ports
- Four PCIe slots
- Solid onboard audio
- No M.2
- No Wi-Fi