Gigabyte Z77X-UP4 TH Software

The software stack that comes with Gigabyte products has been fairly stagnant the past 18 months.  As detailed in our recent reviews of other Gigabyte motherboards, the stalwart of the pack is EasyTune6, featuring automatic overclock modes, fan controls and a hardware monitor for temperatures.  On top of this we have the @BIOS software for updating the firmware of the motherboard from inside the OS, and more recently there have been two newer additions to the software – Gigabyte Tweak Launcher (a stripped down OC interface) and USB Blocker.

The install CD does not win any awards for looks, but in terms of function we have a one button install all on drivers and some software.  More advanced tools (Gigabyte Tweak Launcher, USB Blocker) have to be downloaded direct from the Gigabyte website, or a few such as 3D Power and 3TB Unlock are installed individually by the user from the disk.

EasyTune6

The EasyTune6 software was on the very first Gigabyte motherboard I reviewed for P67 way back in January 2011, and it probably predates even then.  The main premise of ET6 is a simple interface in order to invoke a series of preset overclocks:

As shown, we get a choice of three boost levels – these are all tested in our overclocking section, along with ‘Auto Tuning’, which is Gigabyte’s automatic overclock tuning software.  Alongside these presets, ET6 allows users to control BCLK, multipliers and voltages from the more advanced menus.

The other areas of ET6 give the user information on the CPU, memory and GPU, similar to the diagnostic tool CPU-Z.  With an appropriate GPU, ET6 will also act as an overclocking tool for the GPU as well. 

EasyTune6 features fan controls as well, where we can determine the start and end point for a single gradient:

As shown, we only have control of the fans in two sets – one setting for the CPU fan, and another setting for all other fans on board.  Compared to other fan controls on other motherboards, this is pretty poor – ideally we would have individual control of each header, multi-point gradient application and hysteresis.

The final part of ET6 is the H/W Monitor, which plots a graph of particular values (temperatures, voltages) against time.  H/W Monitor is also the culprit of large Deferred Procedure Call latency during testing, so if audio is important to you make sure ET6 is turned off.

@BIOS

Every motherboard needs to have two utilities to update the BIOS – one inside the BIOS itself and another in the OS.  @BIOS is the tool Gigabyte uses for the OS, and it enables users to directly check Gigabyte servers for the latest BIOS, as well as update from a file. 

Ideally, this feature should be integrated into ET6, so we do not have to deal with extra icons or programs in the OS.

USB Blocker

From the requests of users, Gigabyte has created a new tool that helps to control what devices can and cannot be plugged into the USB ports.  This is extremely relevant to protect machines in a SOHO environment from external devices which may infect a network.  The premise of USB Blocker is simple - behind an admin password, the USB ports can be disabled when certain types of devices are plugged in.

Almost ironically, USB mice and keyboards can also be blocked.  Gigabyte has told me that the only way around this is to boot in safe mode and uninstall the software, or plug in a PS/2 mouse if applicable.  This would suggest that the USB ports are only blocked when the software is running and thus if you can disable the software in msconfig from starting up, it should disable the functionality.

Gigabyte Z77X-UP4 TH BIOS Gigabyte Z77X-UP4 TH In The Box, Voltage Readings
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  • ElFenix - Monday, September 17, 2012 - link

    "Despite all this, Gigabyte’s foray into the Thunderbolt world is spurned in part by the board we are reviewing today...."

    You probably meant 'spurred,' though that doesn't really fit either.

    Also, the very first sentence should be more like "Because the exclusive license has expired...."
    Reply
  • IanCutress - Monday, September 17, 2012 - link

    Thanks for pointing the first one out - it should have been 'initiated in part'. As to the phrasing of the first sentence, I find it common enough where I am. Not sure if it's a UK thing or not, though US vs. UK idioms have been commented on in past reviews. As always, if anything catches your eye please feel free to email :)

    Ian
    Reply
  • freedom4556 - Monday, September 17, 2012 - link

    Speaking of UK vs US, I had to Google your Stella Artois reference, and I actually drink the stuff occasionally. Must have been a UK specific ad campaign. Reply
  • lurker22 - Monday, September 17, 2012 - link

    I understand that Thunderbolt is a lot faster and a different usage than USB 3. Frankly, it's not so much better than USB 3 that consumers will pay for Thunderbolt. USB 3 is already leading, and Thunderbolt will be left behind like Firewire despite the tech being superior... Reply
  • dagamer34 - Monday, September 17, 2012 - link

    It's rather meh on desktops since it's pretty easy to add new hardware internally, but it makes far more sense on laptops when you have limited number of ports. Having an external PCI-Express bus is interested, especially if external GPUs ever actually arrive at an affordable price point. Reply
  • Kjella - Monday, September 17, 2012 - link

    If you're going to plug in one device, yes. I think the strength of Thunderbolt is as a laptop dock - plug in one cable and you got wired network, sound, keyboard, mouse, printers external screens, any USB 1/2/3.0 device, firewire, esata, external graphics card dock, regular 3.5" HDDs and whatnot. That can have a future in many companies I think who've now chosen laptops for higher flexibility - now you can have that and dock into a full system with one cable. Reply
  • sean.crees - Monday, September 17, 2012 - link

    It will mean a lot if they ever put thunderbolt on a mini itx board. I know a lot of SFF enthusiasts who would love to try external graphics with a sub 10 liter enclosure. But on a full size ATX board it doesn't really mean a whole lot. Reply
  • Skidmarks - Tuesday, September 18, 2012 - link

    That's possibly true but only time will tell. Reply
  • GeorgeH - Monday, September 17, 2012 - link

    It really would've been nice to see some Thunderbolt testing. I realize Anand is hogging all of the shiny TB gear, but the review didn't really test the primary draw of this MB and as such is kind of useless. Reply
  • zanon - Monday, September 17, 2012 - link

    Agreed. As the summary correctly states, the raison d'etre of this board are the TB ports. Even if it's just the overpriced Promise a review should give them some stress and see how they perform. Maybe it'll get easier if QNAP ever releases their JBOD. Reply

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