Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD5H-WiFi Reviewccokeman - November 13, 2012
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The Z77X-UD5H-WiFi is an ATX form factor motherboard that measures 30.5cm x 24.4cm. As the name suggests it is built around the Intel Z77 PCH and LGA 1155 socket for use with both Second and Third Generation Core series processors from Intel including the Core i7 3770K used in this review. This board is built using Gigabyte's Ultra Durable 4 technology and is equipped with Lower RDS(on) MOSFETs, Japanese solid capacitors, ferrite core chokes, 2oz copper layers for the power and ground layers, a new glass fiber core to reduce moisture intrusion, and more. The layout is pretty much standard for the form factor and includes a heat pipe interconnected cooling solution for component cooling. The board features a blue and black theme. While not unique as far as the color scheme goes the PCB is jet black and does not wash out like many "black" PCBs. The back of the PCB is bare with only the back side of the CPU retention mechanism, the screws that hold the cooling solution on tightly, and the back side of the VRM MOSFET package.
Connectivity on the I/O panel is going to follow many of the standards for the form factor and cover the capabilities of the board and installed hardware. From the left are the graphics connections that include one D-Sub, one DVI-D, one HDMI, and one DisplyPort. Maximum resolution on the HDMI, D-Sub, and DVI-D is 1920x1200 while the DisplayPort connection supports up to 2560x1600. Above the HDMI port is the optical S/PDIF output. In red are the USB 2.0/1.0 ports, a VIA VT6308-controlled IEEE 1394a port, and a single Marvell 88SE9172-controlled eSATA port. A pair of Gigabit LAN ports are included, one Theros and one Intel-controlled. Four USB 3.0 ports are included with two controlled by the Intel chipset and two by way of a VIA controller. The analog sound ports of the 7.1 capable sound solution uses a Realtek ALC898 codec with support for X-Fi Xtreme Fidelity® and EAX® Advanced HD™ 5.0 technologies. Expansion capabilities for this board include three 1x PCIe 2.0 slots, a single PCI slot, and three 16x PCIe 3.0 slots. These operate at 16x with one discrete GPU, 8x by 8x with two GPUs, and three GPUs at 8x, 4x, and 4x. The bottom slot is only available with a Third Generation Ivy Bridge processor.
Across the bottom of the Ultra Durable PCB is where you will find much of the internal connectivity. Left to right are the front panel audio, S/PDIF output, a second IEEE 1394a connection, Trusted Platform Module connection, a pair of USB 2.0 headers to support four ports, a PWM controlled fan header, Front panel connections, a switch to choose between the dual 64MB BIOS chips, a Marvell-controlled SATA 6Gb/s port, and a pair of USB 3.0 headers.
Up the right side of the board we start with the balance of the drive connectivity save for the mSATA connection below the LGA 1155 socket. From the bottom are the four Intel-controlled SATA 3Gb/s ports in black, a pair of Intel-controlled SATA 6Gb/s ports (white) and two Marvell-controlled SATA 6Gb/s ports (grey). RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10 are supported across the Intel-controlled ports with RAID 0 and RAID 1 supported on the Marvell-controlled ports. When using an mSATA drive, SATA port 5 is not available for use. Just above the drive connections is a SATA power connection that is used to provide additional power to the PCIe bus when multiple graphics cards are used. Behind the PEG connection is another USB 3.0 header, the 24-pin ATX power supply connection, and voltage measuring points for a variety of voltages including : CPU vcore, PLL and VTT, DRAM voltage and VTT, as well as PCH I/O voltage. A debug LED is used to diagnose post trouble codes. At the top of the PCB are the onboard switches for Power, Reset and Clear CMOS. The Reset and Clear CMOS seem a little close for comfort and at least once I clipped the Clear CMOS button while hitting the Reset switch. If you do not have big hands it's a moot point. Memory support on this board is pretty solid with four DIMM slots able to handle up to 32GB of DDR3 2400MHz (OC) in a dual channel configuration.
Across the top of the PCB are the CPU fan header and another PWM controlled system fan header, the EATX Auxiliary 12v power for the CPU, and the upper most heat sink in the cooling package.
The LGA 1155 CPU socket and retainer are from Foxconn and are finished in black chrome. The area around the socket is no more crowded than what you will find on many socket 1155 motherboards. The Solid Japanese capacitors intrude into the open space but are short enough that they do not pose a space constraint. Gigabyte is using an all digital 12+2+1 phase VRM circuit that covers the CPU Vcore and VTT, the DRAM voltage and VTT, as well as the power to the integrated graphics processor on the Z77X-UD5H-WiFi. Underneath the heat sinks around the socket are a series of Lower RDS(on) MOSFETs that run cooler and more efficiently than traditional designs. The use of 2oz copper layers reduces impedance by upwards of 50% with an added benefit of spreading the thermal load over a large surface area to reduce the operating temperatures of the components.
The cooling solution used on the Z77X-UD5H-WiFi feature three large heat sinks that are interconnected via one long heat pipe to transfer the thermal load to the area where it will best be dissipated at the back panel. This design relies on airflow through the chassis and from the CPU heat sink to shed the thermal load much like every board on the market. The large finned passive heat sink over the Z77 PCH is oriented so that airflow from the front case fan is pulled over the heat sink. The two large sinks around the socket are low enough that large cooling solutions fit without issues.
Now that we know how the Z77X-UD5H-WiFi is built and equipped let's see how it performs. With an all digital power design and large cooling package it will be interesting to see how well it overclocks.