Gigabyte Z77-HD4 In The Box

Motherboards on the low end of the price scale have only one focus – the motherboard itself.  While the $180-$400 packages might have those extras and bonus, we would not expect a $120 motherboard to produce much.  That being said, in the past we have been pleasantly surprised in $140-$160 packages, either ATX or mITX, which have included a USB 3.0 panel in the past.  That was when USB 3.0 was ‘an extra’, rather than a standard of the chipset – meaning that we are unlikely to get one of those as most cases now have a connector.  But in the Gigabyte Z77-HD4, we do get:

Rear IO Shield
Driver Disk
Manual
Four SATA Cables

I am surprised we have four SATA cables in the box – previous motherboards from Gigabyte have had two, so users wishing to have the additional storage have some extra headroom (as long as you are not blocking the SATA ports with a second GPU).

Gigabyte Z77-HD4 Overclocking

Note: Ivy Bridge does not overclock like Sandy Bridge.  For a detailed report on the effect of voltage on Ivy Bridge (and thus temperatures and power draw), please read Undervolting and Overclocking on Ivy Bridge.

Experience with Gigabyte Z77-HD4

To be honest, when dealing with a motherboard at a low price point, I was not sure what to expect regarding the overclocking.  A lot of the marketing fluff around the big launches and the high-end products is all about power delivery and overclocking prowess.  If the hullaballoo surrounding overclocking capabilities of the more expensive motherboards was blown away by smaller models, it just represents another angle that should prioritize feature set over overclocking.  Alternatively if a cheaper model falters, then the marketing surrounding overclocking could be considered justified – the other factor could also be longevity.  With a more substantial phase design, components are stressed less.  The cheaper motherboards often have cheaper phases, leading to potential heat generation issues – on the flip side more phases means more things to go wrong.

Overall however, the overclocking experience on the Z77-HD4 was better than expected, matching some of the other motherboards we have tested, despite our poor CPU!  In previous motherboards we have achieved 4.6 GHz with reasonable temperatures (albeit rather high voltages), and the Z77-HD4 matched this with ease.  In terms of manual overclocking options, we have Gigabyte’s three CPU Level Up options in the OS software, which performed with mixed results, with the top options placing too much voltage into the CPU.

Methodology:

Our standard overclocking methodology is as follows.  We select the automatic overclock options and test for stability with PovRay and OCCT to simulate high-end workloads.  These stability tests aim to catch any immediate causes for memory or CPU errors.

For manual overclocks, based on the information gathered from previous testing, starts off at a nominal voltage and CPU multiplier, and the multiplier is increased until the stability tests are failed.  The CPU voltage is increased gradually until the stability tests are passed, and the process repeated until the motherboard reduces the multiplier automatically (due to safety protocol) or the CPU temperature reaches a stupidly high level (100ºC+).  Our test bed is not in a case, which should push overclocks higher with fresher (cooler) air.

Automatic Overclock:

For automatic overclocking, the three options available to users are located in the EasyTune6 software in the OS.  These options are labeled in a traffic light system, and 1, 2, 3 with 3 being the highest overclock.  There is also an option for ‘Auto Tuning’, which should perform a stress test style analysis to find the best overclock.  Here are our results:

For CPU Level 1, the system attempts to apply a 41x102 overclock (4182 MHz) with a BIOS voltage setting of 1.335 V and a 0.150 V offset.  In the OS, this leads to a load voltage of 1.380 volts, a PovRay score of 1532.10, and a peak temperature during OCCT of 83C.

For CPU Level 2, the system attempts to apply a 43x103 overclock (4429 MHz) with a BIOS voltage setting of 1.340 V and a 0.150 V offset.  In the OS, this leads to a load voltage of 1.392 volts, a PovRay score of 1619.67, and a peak temperature during OCCT of 84C.

For CPU Level 3, the system attempts to apply a 45x104 overclock (4680 MHz) with a BIOS voltage setting of 1.345 V and a 0.150 V offset and LLC set to High.  In the OS, this leads to a load voltage of 1.380 volts, a memory error during PovRay, and a peak temperature during OCCT of 101C.

The Auto Tuning option in ET6 failed to load.

Manual Overclock:

Starting with our base settings (40x100 and 1.100 volts), we test for stability and increase voltage until stable.  When stable, the multiplier is increased and the process repeated.  Here are our results:

Software and BIOS

Unfortunately due to the timing of this review (very close to Haswell), we have not had time to write an extensive run-down of the BIOS and software on the Z77-HD4.  After playing with the software and BIOS, it performs identically to that of the UD3H and UD5H which we have reviewed, meaning a couple of thousand rehashed words with a slightly different twist related to the HD4.  If you wish to read up on the BIOS and software of a similar motherboard, please follow this link for the UD3H rundown.

Gigabyte Z77-HD4 Overview, Visual Inspection, Board Features Test Setup, Power Consumption, POST Time
POST A COMMENT

63 Comments

View All Comments

  • lever_age - Sunday, May 19, 2013 - link

    I also agree that a greater emphasis should be placed on these cheaper options. It's not always easy to be able to tell when too many corners have been cut.

    Particularly with power consumption going down the way it has, all the companies are rather overselling VRMs for overclocking. For a moderate 24/7 overclock on air, enough to satisfy say a gamer wanting to grind something out of the SC2 engine or somebody wanting to speed up some calculations, where's the cutoff point of quality in how low you can reasonably go? (Yeah, more phases and higher switching frequency can mean lower ripple, and lower temps and power losses are better, but how much of a big difference does that really make?) Of course, it's still hard to tell about longevity.
    Reply
  • klmccaughey - Sunday, May 19, 2013 - link

    Been using Gigabyte boards for ten years now almost exclusively. They're always good with decent overclock options. Never had a bad one yet. Reply
  • Wall Street - Sunday, May 19, 2013 - link

    I feel like Ian is stretching when he critiques this board for not having onboard power/reset buttons and error code displays. I guess he assembles and disassembles systems all day long, but having these features on my current motherboard, I never use them (I only have them because I needed to replace my 1156 board and only high-end parts are still readily available when I ordered).

    I guess he has finally seen the light when it comes to overclocking though. The motherboard makers stretch as much as they can to justify the extra $50=$100 to up-sell enthusiasts. However, Intel has done an incredible job designing their chipsets and most users don't need 8+ SATA, 12+ power phases, or debug codes, and few use SLI/Crossfire.
    Reply
  • Wall Street - Sunday, May 19, 2013 - link

    And I forgot to mention "this board is probably aimed at the internet café market in China" is pretty shameful and below the belt Ian. As you have shown yourself, it is just as good at gaming as the $200+ boards unless extreme overclocking or multi-GPU. Go look at a Steam survey to see what actual gamers have installed - this board is quite capable of power a system in the top 1% of Steam users. Reply
  • A5 - Sunday, May 19, 2013 - link

    Seriously. There are so few use cases that justify the $200+ boards.

    I know the $300 boards are more fun to review, but I think AT users are better served with reviews of these sub-$150 Z-series boards.
    Reply
  • ForstAmt - Sunday, May 19, 2013 - link

    What those guy said.

    I honestly don't know what the point of this review is. So having a HE GPU running in a PCIe x4 slot is not a good idea. Really? Well I don't think that in 2013 anyone needed a review to know that. Seems like that is the main focus of the review though.

    For most people running PCs on hardware aimed at chinese internet cafes it would probably be much more interesting how well thought trough the layout is.
    Are the fan connectors positioned in a way that makes sense? How about the slot layout: Can you use a graphics card (2 or 3slot) along with 2 or 3 other pci and/or pcie cards without problems? (and no, i am not talking about another gpu -.-).

    But atleast the reviewer was honest at the beginning when he stated that he doesn't have a clue. And it shows. I really like anandtech but this review aggravated me enough to register and comment.

    p.s.: I hope my chinese internet cafe hardware manages to send this comment in a way that makes it readable on you guys using the regular sniperelite and rog gaming elite stuff.
    Reply
  • ForstAmt - Sunday, May 19, 2013 - link

    Please excuse the typos. Reply
  • kmmatney - Sunday, May 19, 2013 - link

    Well - the review was useful for me. These are the types of boards I buy, and I might have missed the fact that it uses a 4x slot for the second card. I effectively spent $59 for my My GA-Z77X-UD3H, but didn't think to look at what happens when you run 2 GPUs. Thankfully my board runs them at 8x/8x, which gives better performance, but I hadn't thought to even check that when I bought it. Not that I've ever used 2 GPUs... Reply
  • jonjonjonj - Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - link

    why the techpowerup article only shows a 5% difference between 3.0 x16 and 2.0 x4 with a 7970. terrible crossfire drivers?

    http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/Intel/Ivy_Bridg...
    Reply
  • Jambe - Sunday, May 19, 2013 - link

    I agree but I'd also like to see reviews of boards with other chipsets, namely Z75 and H77. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now