Intel's X99 platform has been around for a few years now, and it's generally geared towards the more enthusiast user—the one who's going to be doing a lot of high end gaming and overclocking. The question, though, has been whether or not the average gamer actually needs to adopt X99 when there are cheaper options in the Skylake and Kaby Lake ranges. Usually an X99 board will run you hundreds of pounds, however there's currently a big discount on the Gigabyte X99 SOC Champion extended-ATX motherboard. You can find the deal over at Overclockers for £135, suddenly making X99 a bit more attractive.
The price has been sitting up around £200 for quite a while, and that's the current price you can find on Amazon too. So, £135 is a fairly hefty discount on this motherboard. Granted, it's a couple of years old now, but it's still packed with X99 features. The Gigabyte X99 SOC Champion essentially took over from the SOC Force, bringing over some of the better aspects of that board, and also cutting the price a bit.
It'll support 3-way and 4-way graphics card configurations, and a fancy onboard external clock generator, combined with the fact one of the four PCIe 3.0 x16 lanes is directly connected to the CPU in a switchless design, means an extra boost in graphics bandwidth, taking it up to 320Gb/s for that lane. Elsewhere you've got an M.2 slot for a super quick SSD, 3x PCIe x1 slots, 10 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors, a SATA express connector, 6 x USB 3.0 ports, and 8 x USB 2.0 ports. There are only 4 x DDR4 DIMM sockets, so you'll have to go for higher density memory if you want more than 16GB.
Of course, if you're committing to X99, then you're limited to some of the more pricey CPUs available. The full range of Broadwell-E, Broadwell-EP, Haswell-E, and Haswell-EP processors supported can be found on the Gigabyte website. If you're not sure about going all in on the higher end hardware, check out PC Gamer's guide to the best gaming motherboards, where you'll find a whole range of options.
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