CPU & MotherboardsReviewsUncategorized

Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD3H Motherboard

Continuing the Z77 review round-up we have for this week, we got another motherboard from Gigabyte in their lower mid-range offering: the GA-Z77X-UD3H. Serving as the budget option in the UD product line, this motherboard gives us the bare necessities whilst still brandishing Gigabyte features and quality. We’ll see if this board can pack a punch and we’ll make it showy!

Gigabyte is part of what has come to be known as the “Big 3” motherboard makers in the world and serves an integral part in the progression of technology in the motherboard market. Gigabyte also boasts an extensive product line featuring graphics cards, chassis, notebooks and peripherals as well as very memorable endeavors in the cooling market. As a company, their motherboard division is their core business and today we’ll be looking at one such product. As most will know, Intel earlier this year released the Ivy Bridge 3rd generation Core i-series processors along with its accompanying 7 series chipset. Without AMD in the picture, Intel is enjoying itself but motherboard makers are constantly duking it out to make themselves shine and sway possible consumers and as we all know, the motherboard segment is all about three things: feature, performance and price. Let’s see some specs and images and let’s get testing.

Specifications

This list is quite long. If you want a clearer view and more information on Gigabyte features, see the product page here.

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CPU
  1. Support for Intel® Core™ i7 processors/Intel® Core™ i5 processors/ Intel® Core™ i3 processors/Intel® Pentium® processors/Intel® Celeron® processors in the LGA1155 package
  2. L3 cache varies with CPU

(Some Intel® Coreâ„¢ processors require a graphic card, please refer “CPU support List” for more information.)

Chipset
  1. Intel® Z77 Express Chipset
Memory
  1. 4 x 1.5V DDR3 DIMM sockets supporting up to 32 GB of system memory
    * Due to Windows 32-bit operating system limitation, when more than 4 GB of physical memory is installed, the actual memory size displayed will be less than 4 GB.
  2. Dual channel memory architecture
  3. Support for DDR3 2666(OC)/1600/1333/1066 MHz memory modules
  4. Support for non-ECC memory modules
  5. Support for Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) memory modules

(Please refer “Memory Support List” for more information.)

Onboard Graphics Integrated Graphics Processor:

  1. 1 x D-Sub port
  2. 1 x DVI-D port, supporting a maximum resolution of 1920×1200
    * The DVI-D port does not support D-Sub connection by adapter.
  3. 1 x HDMI port, supporting a maximum resolution of 1920×1200
  4. 1 x DisplayPort, supporting a maximum resolution of 2560×1600
Audio
  1. VIA VT2021 codec
  2. High Definition Audio
  3. 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
  4. Support for S/PDIF Out
LAN
  1. Atheros GbE LAN chip (10/100/1000 Mbit)
Expansion Slots
  1. 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16 (PCIEX16)
    * For optimum performance, if only one PCI Express graphics card is to be installed, be sure to install it in the PCIEX16 slot.
  1. 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x8 (PCIEX8)
    (The PCIEX16 and PCIEX8 slots conform to PCI Express 3.0 standard.)
    * The PCIEX8 slot shares bandwidth with the PCIEX16 slot. When the PCIEX8 slot is populated, the PCIEX16 slot will operate at up to x8 mode.
    * PCIE Gen.3 is dependent on CPU and expansion card compatibility.
  1. 1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x4 (PCIEX4)
    * The PCIEX4 slot shares bandwidth with all PCI Express x1 slots. All PCI Express x1 slots will become unavailable when a PCIe x4 expansion card is installed.
  1. 3 x PCI Express x1 slots
    (The PCIEX4 and PCI Express x1 slots conform to PCI Express 2.0 standard.)
  1. 1 x PCI slot
Multi-Graphics Technology
  1. Support for 2-Way AMD CrossFireXâ„¢/NVIDIA SLI technology (PCIEX16 and PCIEX8)
Storage Interface Chipset:

  1. 2 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors (SATA3 0/SATA3 1) supporting up to 2 SATA 6Gb/s devices
  2. 4 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors (SATA2 2~5) supporting up to 4 SATA 3Gb/s devices
  3. 1 x mSATA connector
    * The SATA2 5 connector will become unavailable when the mSATA connector is installed with a solid state drive.
  4. Support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10
    * When a RAID set is built across the SATA 6Gb/s and SATA 3Gb/s channels, the system performance of the RAID set may vary depending on the devices being connected.

Marvell 88SE9172 chip:

  1. 2 x eSATA 6Gb/s connectors on the back panel supporting up to 2 SATA 6Gb/s devices
  2. Support for RAID 0 and RAID 1
USB Chipset:

  1. Up to 4 USB 3.0/2.0 ports (2 ports on the back panel, 2 ports available through the internal USB header)
    * In Windows XP, the Intel USB 3.0 ports can support up to USB 2.0 transfer speed.
  2. Up to 6 USB 2.0/1.1 ports (available through the internal USB headers)

VIA VL800 chip:

  1. Up to 4 USB 3.0/2.0 ports on the back panel
    * Due to a Windows 7 limitation, please connect your USB device(s) to the Intel controlled USB port(s) (located below the RJ-45 LAN port) before the VIA USB 3.0 controller driver is installed.
Internal I/O Connectors
  1. 1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
  2. 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
  3. 1 x PCIe power connector
  4. 2 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
  5. 4 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors
  6. 1 x mSATA connector
  7. 1 x CPU fan header
  8. 4 x fan headers
  9. 1 x front panel header
  10. 1 x front panel audio header
  11. 1 x S/PDIF Out header
  12. 3 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
  13. 1 x USB 3.0/2.0 header
  14. 1 x Clear CMOS jumper
  15. 1 x Trusted Platform Module (TPM) header
  16. 1 x power button
  17. 1 x reset button
  18. 1 x Clear CMOS button
  19. 1 x Voltage Measurement Points
  20. 1 x BIOS Switch
Back Panel Connectors
  1. 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port
  2. 1 x D-Sub port
  3. 1 x DVI-D port
  4. 1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
  5. 1 x HDMI port
  6. 1 x DisplayPort
  7. 2 x eSATA 6Gb/s connectors
  8. 6 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports
  9. 1 x RJ-45 port
  10. 6 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out, Rear Speaker Out, Side Speaker Out, Line In/Mic In, Line Out)
I/O Controller
  1. iTE I/O Controller Chip
H/W Monitoring
  1. System voltage detection
  2. CPU/System temperature detection
  3. CPU/System fan speed detection
  4. CPU overheating warning
  5. CPU/System fan fail warning
  6. CPU/System fan speed control
    * Whether the CPU/system fan speed control function is supported will depend on the CPU/system cooler you install.
BIOS
  1. 2 x 64 Mbit flash
  2. Use of licensed AMI EFI BIOS
  3. Support for DualBIOSâ„¢
  4. PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.6, ACPI 2.0a
Unique Features
  1. Support for @BIOS
  2. Support for Q-Flash
  3. Support for Xpress Install
  4. Support for Xpress Recovery2
  5. Support for EasyTune
    * Available functions in EasyTune may differ by motherboard model.
  6. Support for eXtreme Hard Drive (X.H.D)
  7. Support for Auto Green
  8. Support for ON/OFF Charge
  9. Support for Q-Share
  10. Support for 3D Power
  11. Support for LAN Optimizer (Intelligent optimization network management tool)
Bundle Software
  1. Norton Internet Security (OEM version)
  2. Intel® Rapid Start Technology
  3. Intel® Smart Connect Technology
  4. Intel® Smart Response Technology
  5. LucidLogix Virtu MVP
    * Make sure the monitor cable has been connected to the integrated graphics port on the back panel.
Operating System
  1. Support for Microsoft® Windows 8/7/XP
Form Factor
  1. ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 24.4cm
Remark
  1. Due to different Linux support condition provided by chipset vendors, please download Linux driver from chipset vendors’ website or 3rd party website.
  2. Most hardware/software vendors may no longer offer drivers to support Win9X/ME/2000/XP SP1/SP2. If drivers are available from the vendors, we will update them on the GIGABYTE website.

Gigabyte has adopted a new styling for their motherboards recently and have ditched the previous UD3, UD5, and UD7 color distinctions and have went with a simple black and blue color scheme for the UD line. Despite the minimalist heatsink covering the PCH and VRM, the PCB an enthusiast feel to the board but nothing really spectacular and eye-catching.

The rear I/O ports consist of mainly USB3.0 ports and video display out puts. Every USB port on the back is USB3.0 and that’s certainly nice to have. A legacy PS/2 port is available which is always a nice touch. The internal USB3.0 is labeled so that’s where you should connect your USB keyboard and mice. Everything in the back is standard, we get audio connectors, a LAN port and some eSATA, too.

If you’ve seen our review of the GA-Z77X-UD5H, you’ll notice this board lacks the rich assortment of connectivity that higher model has. Still, this board packs the basics with 3 front USB2.0 headers. The Port 80 Debug LED is also placed in the bottom edge.

The SATA ports all run off the Intel chipset and we get a pair of SATA3 and four SATA2 ports for connecting our devices to.

Above the SATA ports we see the 24pin power supply connector and the DIMM slots. The slots are paired in alternating slots from the right. We can see the lone USB3.0 header in this area. Enthusiast goodies can be spotted in this section starting with the outer edge where we can see voltage check points. Next to those are the tack switches for power, reset and clearing the CMOS.

Cooling the 6-phase VRM is a small heatsink. In the middle of the board we can spot a large clearing and a retention module. This is for mSATA and mini-PCIe cards.

BIOS images provided by Tech Porn

Gigabyte’s UEFI implementation is called 3D BIOS. This is due to the fact that their “simple mode” is in 3D… of sorts. We prefer the advanced mode though, it’s got all the toys we need to fiddle around with this baby. Going back to the advanced layout, Gigabyte presents us with a clean layout with sections most will be familiar with. The overclocking options are rich and provide granular control of our motherboard and processor. Rich voltage options are also available which makes Gigabyte’s BIOS a nifty overclocking playground.

Gigabyte provides a basic package of an SLI bridge, some SATA cables, driver disc and some documentation along with this motherboard.

TEST SETUP

Processor Intel Ivy Bridge Core i7 3770K 3.5Ghz (Turbo up to 3.9Ghz)
Motherboards Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD3H, Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD5H-WB, ECS Z77H2-A2X Golden Board
Cooling Corsair H80 (Maximum Fan Speed)
Power Supply Silverstone Strider Plus ST65F-P 650W
Memory Kingston HyperX T1 DDR3-2400
Video Cards ASUS HD7870 DirectCUII
Hard Drive Kingston HyperX SSD 120GB
Operating System Windows 7 64-bit SP1

*Sandy Bridge-E results for comparative purposes only. 

PERFORMANCE

SiSoft’s SANDRA is a benchmarking, testing and system information application which provides plenty of options in gaining information regarding your system. For this test, we gauge the raw computational power of the CPU with the Processor Arithmetic benchmark based on the Whetstone and Dhrystone test. Both tests run completely within the processor so it gives a good picture of how a processor performs.

This test should give us some indication on what to expect on the UD3H and that it should perform around the same level as it’s mid-range sibling which is very much a souped of version of this motherboard. Looking closely at the stock results, we immediately see the UD3H tie its brother.

wPrime is a multi-threaded benchmarking application designed to measure the raw computational power of a CPU. It can be configured to run on a custom number of threads to accomodate multi-core CPUs.

Maxon offers a nice benchmark tool called Cinebench which really stresses your entire system to render a very complex scene. The output score is completely unique to Cinebench but allows us to have a rough idea of how the CPU works with 3D rendering tasks.

The UD3H ties the UD5H in this test and ties the higher clocked ECS board that should show the potential of this board.

SuperPI is another benchmarking tool that utilizes the pure computational power of a CPU. This test however is purely single-threaded and shows us the performance of a single core which gives us a good picture of how a processor performs on similar tasks.

3D Mark06 is a benchmarking software designed to measure the performance of a system in DirectX9 applications. The test has long been updated with newer version of the software for more modern use but the CPU test is still relevant and still gives us a good image of system performance by loading the CPU with logic, path-finding and physics computation tasks.

Very good stock performance again leading all boards in the stock run.

3DMark Vantage is the successor to 3DMark 06 and is targeted for DirectX10 compliant devices. Similar to our 3DMark 06 test, we only take the CPU scores using the Performance preset.

Looking closely we see both Gigabyte motherboard perform about the same.

WORKLOAD TESTS

We use a 150MB 1080p MP4 video and convert it to standard iOS format using Xilisoft Video Converter. GPU acceleration is disabled and conversion is purely done by the CPU.

We use WinRAR 4.0 on default settings to compress 3340 files of varying types including MP3s, various images and documents for a total of 2.40GB of data.

We resize 3,030 varying images of different formatsand sizes (a total of 883MB) to our standard 1200×900 resolution and note the time it takes to finish up the batch job.

The UD3H beats out its older brother in stock and just a few seconds behind it in this test.

X264 HD is a free benchmarking tool that shows the performance of a system by converting a 720p video clip.

Good scores all across the board in this one.

GAME TESTS

Ungine’s Heaven benchmark is a DirectX application designed to measure the performance of a system in game-like loads.

Pretty solid numbers but compared to other Z77 boards, this product could be better. Overclocking did give us an improvement in scores but still nothing spectactular.

3DMark 11 is the most recent iteration (not counting the version for the upcoming Windows 8) of the popular benchmarking software from Futuremark. For this test we run the Performance preset of the benchmark which comes with the free version of 3DMark 11 which should present a more reproducible scenario for a lot of people.

The overclocked result was a bit disappointing and retests only made us more sure this isn’t going to change. However though, on stock performance the Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD3H closes the gap.

The benchmark modes in Civilization5 are designed to stress and test various aspects of the users hardware and supporting software. This benchmark is designed to simulate a late game workload as it exercises all aspects of the game engine pipeline since all simulation and renderable object types are represented at a frequency consistent with a game that has been in progress for 300+ turns. We capture the full render score for our comparison graphs.

Very even contest all throughout.

Battlefield 3 is the latest intallment in the highly-acclaimed FPS franchise from EA. Battlefield 3 puts players in modern combat situations with highly detailed environment and in-game graphics, whose Ultra detail settings, can bring most systems to their knees. Graph results are for average FPS.

Very even contest here all across so rest assured if you’re banking on a BF3 rig with similar specs to ours, you’re getting good playable framerates.

OVERCLOCKING

Our 3770K sample is an average overclocker and has yet to show us any record-breaking figures but still, it can do respectable overclocks with ease.

Overclocking with Gigabyte’s 3D BIOS is fairly easy. All the necessary options are laid out immediately for users to fiddle around. We feed 1.3v Vcore to our processor and try and find our most stable clocks.

The GA-Z77X-UD3H gave us quite a bit of a problem breaking 4.6Ghz in our ideal voltage as the processor conks out at x46 multi. We reached our highest clock with a 103Bclk and a 45 multiplier. If you’ve noticed we only included results for x45 OC as this was the most stable multiplier overclock we had. This is to be fair to the other boards in this test which both were only multiplier overclocked. But going back to max stable OC, without multiplier helping the Gigabyte UD3H it still managed a good max OC in our test.

Just a notch below it’s bigger brother.

Both Gigabyte boards manage to run our XMP-2400 profile with no problems but manually tweaking some settings, the board will freeze if we go further. The UD3H manages to squeeze out on top by a hairline against its bigger brother. On XMP-2133 overclocking, the UD3H flexes a bit and gaining the highest clocks at that profile.

TEMPERATURE and POWER CONSUMPTION

We check to see how motherboard maker tune their default BIOS settings and see how it impacts temperatures and power consumption. The system is left to idle for 30 minutes before readings are taken and load data is taken 30 minutes while Prime95 blend test is running. Power readings are taken for the entire system from the socket.

Gigabyte’s GA-Z77X-UD3H manages to get the lowest idle wattage during our testing possibly due to the absence of extra features. All in all the board’s consumption is well-within our expected figures.

Even temps across the board for this one.

CONCLUSION

We’ll make this quick and go right down to business, the entry-level Z77 arena is a tough and crowded market where it’s hard to stand out especially when your target consumers are budget-conscious. With a local price of Php7,800 it goes up against ASUS and ASRock’s offerings that feature the same specs. Gigabyte however assures the potential consumers 3 things: 1) you’re getting a rock-stable motherboard, 2) it’s got 3 years of warranty backing it, and lastly you get more USB3.0 connections. Simple as that. You also get mSATA.

Although the benefits are not all tangible for the Gigabyte product, we feel that the board still deserves some love. We’ve seen this board used in some extreme overclocking runs and that should be enough testament to the build quality of this board. Unfortunately though not all it’s users are going to get vats of LN2 and will be OC’ing so we’ll just stick to the stability part which is a signature of Gigabyte and their dedication to product development.

In closing, if you’re looking for a solid Z77 motherboard ready for Intel Smart Response technology, some room for expansion and a pedigree of overclocking potential, the Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD3H is for your consideration. I personally like it and give it my Editor’s Choice.

HOT

  • Good performance
  • 3 year warranty
  • Onboard voltage check points and buttons
  • Matte finish board
  • Lot of USB3.0 connections
  • Triple PCI-e slot

NOT

  • Not as stylish as competing board in price segment
  • Bare package bundle


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