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
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  • Grok42 - Monday, May 20, 2013 - link

    I am extremely proud of the Anandtech readers that commented here. I typed out what would have been the first post on this review and at the last minute canceled it. I thought it too harsh and possibly wasn't fair to post it on a specific review when in fact it was about the editorial leaning of Anandtech as a whole.

    Go read the About page and you'll see this site is dedicated to reviewing computers, phones and components from consumer to enterprise. However, as of late it seems that all the reviews on the consumer side are completely bent toward some stereo-typical gamer building water cooled overclocked triple GPU gaming rigs. While nothing wrong with these types of builds and they are fun to read and think about, there has to be some respect for those that want other builds. I just spent $1500 building a mITX gaming and workstation rig with a core i7 3770. It has a $300 GPU, $300 CPU, $350 SSD, $120 case and a $80 MB running a stock Intel cooler. I couldn't be happier and NEVER intend to overclock it. As strange as my choices are, I bet I'm closer to 90% of the readership than a $600-$900 dual or triple GPU and $200 MB rig that seems to be implied as required equipment around here.

    The worst of it is that there is a huge movement to smaller, cooler and quieter rigs that doesn't seem to have a voice on the inside at Anandtech. A full ATX tower running 3 GPUs and 5 HDDs is no longer the sought after box for a growing base of enthusiasts. The small cool looking mITX that can also play games is what's hot.
    Reply
  • jabber - Monday, May 20, 2013 - link

    Yes indeed, also quite a few of us here are over the age of 30 so a lot of the toys and whistles and flashing lights don't really appeal so much.

    We prefer durability, stability and value for money more.

    I think a lot of the high-end manufacturers have forgotten that a lot of their consumer base has got a lot older. Buying boxes with dragons and wonderwomen on them doesn't have quite the appeal it might have 15 years ago.
    Reply
  • Razorbak86 - Monday, May 20, 2013 - link

    LOL. Age doesn't have a thing to do with it. Money often does though. Remember, this site is oriented towards enthusiasts first. So don't hate because others like more expensive components than you can afford. Reply
  • kmmatney - Monday, May 20, 2013 - link

    It not about being able to afford the high end stuff - but why pay %100 more for maybe a 10% gain in performance. I like to see all the reviews - high and and low end, so this review was great. At the end of the day, the parts I buy will be whatever gives the best bang-for-buck, at the performance level (and noise level) I can accept. I don't hate the reviews of high end parts, but I want reviews like this to balance things out. Reply
  • Wall Street - Monday, May 20, 2013 - link

    It isn't even for a 10% gain in performance. I, and a many users like me, are not going to use more than one SSD, aren't going to use more than one GPU, aren't going to use more than a couple of USB 3.0 ports (I don't own a single USB 3.0 device), won't overvolt/aggressively overclock and I even use the digital audio out on top of that (although the analog audio on this board is very disappointing).
    In that case, $120 boards like this are nearly identical in performance to one of the top end offerings. I think that, in thinking this is a low end offering, Ian misses where the sweat spot of the market is entirely. $120 motherboards are solidly midrange. You can get a low-end motherboard for less than $70 on Newegg. Compared to what Dell uses in its desktops, this board is feature packed!
    Reply
  • jabber - Monday, May 20, 2013 - link

    It does actually. When you get a bit older you find out.

    Enjoy your youth while you have it!
    Reply
  • jabber - Monday, May 20, 2013 - link

    Oh and the PC enthusiast market is slowly diminishing. Sites like this need to diversify to appeal to types that don't think the peak of a good day is spent running Prime95 on a new PC for 24 hours. Reply
  • Rob94hawk - Monday, May 20, 2013 - link

    Anyone want to explain to me why they're still putting USB 2.0 and SATA 3Gb/s when everything's backwards compatible? Reply
  • lever_age - Monday, May 20, 2013 - link

    Every SATA 6 Gb/s and USB 3.0 port is handled by the Z77 chipset on that board. Actually, all the SATA 3 Gb/s and USB 2.0 are as well.

    If you want more of the faster SATA and USB, you need to pay for extra 3rd-party controller chips, which increases board costs. It's a legitimate form of product differentiation to leave those out on the cheaper products. But supposedly 8-series chipsets with Haswell (or at least most of them?) will support six SATA 6 Gb/s and six USB 3.0 natively.
    Reply
  • jabber - Monday, May 20, 2013 - link

    I find USB3 still isn't quite a solid in terms of "it just works" like USB2 does. I think the USB3 chipsets still haven't got bedded down in the OS as solidly as USB2.

    Give it another year or two and it should be...I hope.
    Reply

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