Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD3H – Overview

For $160, there are a significant number of Z77 motherboards to look at, but Gigabyte wants you to buy theirs.  In this case, it is the Z77X-UD3H - their mid range, probably highest selling, Z77 SKU.  As a reviewer, it is important to not solely focus on the high end products, as it is the ones lower down the range that are often the best selling and closer to what people actually get in a system.  Too many high-end boards can leave a reviewer out-of-touch to what actually sells.

With the GA-Z77X-UD3H, we have a good priced Z77 board with a myriad a features to tempt users.  Gigabyte is pushing their digital power delivery and tweakable power delivery options, but we also have an mSATA port, a very good (and new-ish) automatic overclocking utility, and a cheaper board with all four video outputs.  The audio/network controller choice is a little different, and we actually get power/reset buttons on a mid range Gigabyte board.

Overall, I did not come across many things wrong with the board.  There are certain areas that could do with a little improvement, such as memory compatibility or fan controllers, but it seems like a user will have to stretch the wallet a bit for them in other products.  At $160, the board is definitely probing the lower end of the enthusiast market, so could be ideal for a more budget-oriented build.

Visual Inspection

Black and blue seems to be the order of the day when it comes to mainstream boards, as indicated by some of the previous boards but also with the Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD3H.  Perhaps there is a sale on black PCBs and blue heatsinks?

Joking aside, Gigabyte intends to release two high-end boards initially – the Z77X-UD5H and the Z77X-UD3H, both in regular and WiFi variants.  The WiFi variant comes with a PCIe x1 WiFi card to be used in the first PCIe slot on the board, and aerials for the outside of the case.

We have the Z77X-UD3H in to review for the launch of Ivy Bridge, which should retail for around $160 MSRP.  Gigabyte has chosen a few different directions regarding which controllers are on the motherboard.  This should provide interesting results when it comes to performance.

The VRM power delivery comes with a relatively small blue heatsink next to the socket.   I’ve noticed that Gigabyte tend to have their memory closer to the socket than most other manufacturers, presumably in the name of performance due to shorter interconnects, but the downside is that it can restrict big air coolers.  Nonetheless, it all still conforms to Intel specifications, and there is actually a large gap to the south of the socket.

In terms of fan headers, there are only two within reach of the socket.  We have a 4-pin CPU header at the top near the memory slots, and another near the power/reset/ClearCMOS buttons at the top right of the board.  The other three headers on board are found at the bottom – one 4-pin beside the SATA ports, one 4-pin next to the USB headers and another 4-pin beside the TPM.

Along the right hand side of the motherboard, Gigabyte has given us a different style of power/reset/clear CMOS button that I have seen before.  The power button is big and red, whereas the other two are relatively small.  These will be of use to reviewers and overclockers, however having the ClearCMOS the same size and shape as the reset button may lead to several bad fumbling for the right button followed by several four-letter expletives.

Further down is another style choice – an additional power connector for the PCIe and system, but this case it is a SATA power connector.  I prefer this to the awkward molex connectors we see on other products.  Below this are the standard six SATA ports from the PCH – two SATA 6 Gbps and four SATA 3 Gbps.  Below this is the handy two-digit debug display.

Along the bottom of the board, from left to right, we have the front panel audio, SPDIF header, a 4-pin fan header, the TPM header, three USB 2.0 headers, and another fan header.  At the top of the PCIe is our mSATA connection, useful for mSATA SSDs and boot drives to save case space.  In terms of PCIe, Gigabyte has installed a little nugget of common sense, giving enough space between the first two full-length PCIe for GPUs.  However, in the x1, x16 (x8 in multi-GPU), x1, x1, x8, PCI, x4 setup, only the first two full length PCIe are for graphics output – the final one is a PCIe 2.0 x4 connector.  This would be better served if it were a slightly different color to the other PCIe x16/x8 connectors.  Also with two full length GPUs on board, the user will have access to two PCIe x1 connectors but the PCI connector is blocked.

I know Gigabyte will make a few people jump with joy in relation to the back panel layout – no USB 2.0!  From left to right, we have a PS/2 combination port, two USB 3.0, D-Sub, DVI-D, an Optical SPDIF output, HDMI, DisplayPort, two more USB 3.0, two eSATA, gigabit Ethernet, a final two USB 3.0, and audio outputs.

Board Features

Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD3H
Price Link
Size ATX
CPU Interface LGA-1155
Chipset Intel Z77
Power Delivery 6 + 4
Memory Slots Four DDR3 DIMM slots supporting up to 32 GB
Up to Dual Channel, 1066-1600 MHz
Video Outputs DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI-D, D-Sub
Onboard LAN Atheros
Onboard Audio Via VT2021
Expansion Slots 2 x PCIe x16 Gen3 (x16, x8/8)
1 x PCIe x16 Gen2 (x4)
3 x PCIe x1 Gen2
1 x PCI
Onboard SATA/RAID 2 x SATA 6 Gbps (PCH), Support for RAID 0, 1, 5, 10
4 x SATA 3 Gbps (PCH)
1 x mSATA connector (shared with SATA2_5)
2 x eSATA 6Gbps (Marvell 9172), RAID 0, 1
USB Six USB 3.0 at rear (2 PCH, 4 VIA VL800)
One USB 3.0 header on board
Three USB 2.0 headers on board
Onboard 4 x SATA 3 Gbps
2 x SATA 6 Gbps
1 x mSATA Connector
5 x Fan Headers
1 x USB 3.0 Header
3 x USB 2.0 Headers
1 x Front Panel Header
1 x Clear CMOS Button
1 x TPM Header
1 x SPDIF Output
1 x SATA Power Connector
Power Connectors 1 x 24-pin ATX connector
1 x 8-pin 12V connector
1 x SATA Power connector
Fan Headers 1 x CPU Fan Header (4-pin)
4 x CHA Fan Headers (4-pin)
IO Panel 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
Audio Outputs
1 x DVI-D
1 x D-Sub
1 x DisplayPort
1 x HDMI
2 x eSATA 6 Gbps
1 x Combo PS/2 Port
6 x USB 3.0
1 x Optical SPDIF Output
Warranty Period 3 Years
Product Page Link

One of the odd choices of Gigabyte is their network and audio controllers.  On nearly every board I have reviewed, we get either a Realtek, an Intel or a Broadcom for the network, and a Realtek or Creative audio solution.  Gigabyte has decided to jump in with an Atheros network controller, and a Via VT2021 audio.  It will be interesting to see if this has an effect on our test capabilities.

ASUS P8Z77-V Pro - In The Box, Overclocking Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD3H - BIOS and Software
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  • DarkRogue - Tuesday, May 08, 2012 - link

    First off, thank you for the review.

    I am a bit bummed that the UD5H and the Z77 Deluxe were not reviewed, since those were the two I was looking at. Especially since the UD5H can be had for under $200.

    Anyway, the voltage ripple/stability charts were quite interesting for me.
    But my main concern lies with the Gigabyte's chart. It looks good... but in my eyes, TOO good. It's too perfectly straight. On one hand, I thought, "Wow, this board has awesome VRM or something."

    On the other hand, it made me suspicious about why it was so stable. I have to ask, is it measuring the correct voltage?

    The reason is because I had a similar finding when I was looking at the vcore requried to OC an IVB CPU (or any CPU, really) on the new Z77 mobos.
    Per my thread here: http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=22417...

    We found that Gigabyte mobos were incorrectly reporting its VTT voltage as the vCore, which resulted in "vcore" readings in CPU-Z and other programs reporting the same, or very similar, 1.0xx voltages regardless of what the CPU OC'd to.

    I hope to be able to get some clarification on this.

    Only other suggestion I have is to really test more of the features of each motherboard. (mSATA, firewire, audio, etc; how do they compare with other chipsets, how are their drivers, etc..)
    Thank you, and keep up the good work!
    Reply
  • IanCutress - Tuesday, May 08, 2012 - link

    Hi DarkRogue,

    I have the Deluxe on my test bed right now, so keep your eyes peeled for when I finish the review.

    Regarding the voltage reading charts, it merely reads the OS reported voltage. This is loosely a smoothing of what ripple actually happens on board. After consideration, it only serves to show LLC on board, and how the board reacts to requested load by the processor. It's fairly easy for a manufacturer to override this to make sure only a straight line is reported. But, if it is a messy line, then there could be a problem (e.g. check my 990FX review a little while ago).

    I'd love the kit to test more features on the boards (mSATA etc), if you've got any kit spare! :) Though keep in mind that each test can't take 2 hrs, or we would end up with 1 board a month reviewed (as we do this part time)! I'm open to suggestions regarding tests if anyone has a good one with a simple output I can report and analyse.

    Ian
    Reply
  • DarkRogue - Tuesday, May 08, 2012 - link

    Thank you for your response, Ian!

    I wish I had the funds to send in spare items, though. Unfortunately, I'm not quite rich enough, haha. We'll have to be bound by the generosity of the various vendors to this site.

    As far as tests go, I imagine some people would be interested in a quick RMAA test of the various audio chipsets. It's of no concern to me, since I insist onboard solutions are never going to be as good as a dedicated external DAC+amp, but it should be good for a lot of people.

    I'd also be interested in how the eSATA and Firewire performs, as I'm of the camp that says anything firewire related that isn't Texas Instruments is not worthwhile. The eSATA, mainly it's to see if there are any quirks with the drivers from each manufacturer allowing hotswap properly or not, and whether it causes DPC latency issues. My friend's ASUS board was plagued with problems related to eSATA not allowing him to eject drives, BSOD'ing on resuming from sleep, causing massive DPC latency when a drive was connected, etc. It's these little things that really make or break the experience of a board.

    I'd also like to see how well the fan controls are on each motherboard. ASUS' Fan Xpert 2 really drew me in, as it seems no one else can match the level of customization for fans. I dug a bit and found out that Gigabyte's boards not only cannot do this, but it even struggles to stay consistent between its various headers. (One header runs straight +12v no matter what, while the others make the fans spin at different speeds with the same settings.)

    ANYWAY, back to the issue at hand - Gigabyte's voltage readings.
    As I found in my thread linked above, Gigabyte appears to be reporting the wrong voltage, for some unknown reason. This to me seems to invalidate the test result for the Gigabyte board, because it's incomparable to the others.

    I know that the purpose of the test is to test for variation in the voltage to the CPU, not necessarily the exact ripples, but the VTT supplies voltage to a completely different segment than the vcore, unless I'm mistaken. I wouldn't think that the voltage supplied toward the IMC would vary as much when the CPU ramps up and down.

    Is there a way to force that program to probe a specific/different voltage reading, or have you already done this and the chart actually does represent Gigabyte's handling of vcore voltage? I wasn't able to figure that out from the article.

    Thank you again!
    Reply
  • UltraWide - Tuesday, May 08, 2012 - link

    Thank you so much for covering the fan control features on each board! I truly appreciate this as it is often left out in other reviews.

    Keep up the great work!
    Reply
  • AeroRob - Tuesday, May 08, 2012 - link

    I don't know about anyone else, but I'm really sick of seeing VGA and PS/2 ports wasting space on new motherboads.

    I know some gamers might think that PS/2 does the job better than USB, and I can appreciate that, but VGA? Who even uses VGA connections anymore? They should be avoided like the plague.

    And even if you do insist on using a VGA connection, what's the point of putting a DVI-D connector and a VGA together? Chances are you won't be using both, so just make it a DVI-I connector and throw in one of the cheap DVI>VGA adapters, and use the newly freed up space for a connector that isn't an ancient piece of garbage. Let's see HDMI or DP up there. Move things around so you can perhaps throw an eSATA connector on the back, or more USB ports--you can never have too many USB ports!
    Reply
  • Paapaa125 - Wednesday, May 09, 2012 - link

    PS/2 has one single thing that makes it superior to USB: you can turn your computer on by clicking space bar on a PS/2 keyboard or clicking mouse button on a PS/2 mouse. USB does not have this feature which is a big problem if your computer case is not easily reachable.

    Agree about VGA ports. Nobody uses them anymore. Nobody.
    Reply
  • AeroRob - Wednesday, May 09, 2012 - link

    As I understand it, gamers feel there's an issue with USB's polling rate, and prefer PS/2 for that reason.

    As for turning on your computer, I never heard about that. I rarely shut my computer completely off, and my wireless USB keyboard can wake it up from sleep just fine. Hell, my computer's so sensitive to any change, just flipping my monitor back on wakes it up (probably due to the built-in USB hub).
    Reply
  • mcquade181 - Thursday, May 10, 2012 - link

    I know whole organizations that still use VGA, and there are tons of KVM switch boxes in development and testing centres everywhere that only support VGA. Yes I know you can get HDMI and DVI KVM's but most places won't have them yet.
    I still use VGA occasionally and would be annoyed if it wasn't there.
    Reply
  • Paapaa125 - Friday, May 11, 2012 - link

    And how many of those organizations are switching to Z77 boards and still keeping their VGA? Reply
  • Ramon Zarat - Tuesday, May 08, 2012 - link

    The latest AXTU version does not include XFastRAM anymore. XFastRAM is a stand alone utility now. Also, XFastRAM is much more than a 32bit 4GB RAM limitation extender. It's in fact a RAM disk on steroid, valid for both 32 and 64bit system. It can do the following:

    1- "Recycle" unused memory beyond 4GB on a 32bit OS into a RAM disk. A RAM disk of up to 32GB can be created on a 32bit OS.

    2- RAM disk of up to 8GB on a 64bit OS. Asrock is working on extending that limit on 64bit OS.

    3- Can choose any available driver letter to assign to your RAM disk

    4- Use part of the RAM disk as a Readyboost drive to accelerate your magnetic boot drive!

    5- Easy transfer of either or both the "user" and "system" temp file to RAM disk. No fooling around with Windows configuration.

    6- Easy transfer of IE and Firefox cache to RAM disk. XFastRAM take care of everything straight from its interface.

    7- Easy transfer of the page file to RAM disk. Again, directly from XFastRAM interface.

    8- Possibility to save the RAM disk to hard drive before shutting the PC down.

    It's fast (10 000MB/s with CrystalDiskMark on a 2500K @ 4.7 and 8GB of 1866 RAM) , it's free, it's amazingly flexible and can both accelerate your PC and prevent premature wear on your SSD by redirecting a lots of small writes to the temp folders and web cache! You can apparently gain 5X performance in some Photoshop operations when you configure it so use the RAM disk as the temp folder!
    Reply

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