Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD5H-WiFi Review

ccokeman - 2011-11-23 13:48:17 in Motherboards
Category: Motherboards
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: November 13, 2012
Price: $209

Introduction:

Back in April of this year Intel introduced its Third Generation Core series processors along with the Z77 "Panther Point" chipset. Since then we have seen that the platform offers an upside over the previous generation products. After looking at the Z77X-UD3H it was clear to see the path that Gigabyte would take bringing the rest of its Z77 lineup to market including the board I have to look at today, the Z77X-UD5H-WiFi. Packed full of features such as Untra Durable 4 technology that incorporates 2oz copper layers for better signaling and cooling, an all digital 12+2+1 phase power circuit, new glass fiber core for the PCB, ESD humidity and surge protection, and more. Added value and functionality comes by way of the inclusion of the companie's own WB300D Dual Band WiFi/Bluetooth expansion card to release you from the reliance on that wall mount RJ-45 jack.

As good an overclocker as the Z77X-UD3H was Gigabyte has set the bar pretty high with the lower end of its product stack. If the trickle down effect from the upper end is indeed evident at the low end of the price spectrum then these credentials should prove out with the Z77X-UD5H-WiFi. Priced at $209, the addition of the wireless package adds to the cost of the board but is a cost that should prove out its usefulness with the proliferation of smartphones and tablets in use in homes across the globe. Let's dig into what Gigabyte's Z77X-UD5H-WiFi has to offer and see if it earns its more than reasonable price tag.

Closer Look:

The packaging for Gigabyte's offerings has not changed much since I last looked at one of their motherboards. The front and rear panels are full of information about the Z77X-UD5H-WiFi laid out in vivid colors that catch the eye. The front panel illustrates the top line feature set including 3D Power and 3D BIOS, Ultra Durable technology, the motherboard name, GPU and CPU support, the inclusion of Gigabyte's WB300D Dual Band WiFi/ Bluetooth add in card, 2oz copper layers, and new glass fiber design in the PCB core. The back side of the package really expands on these features so that customers can make an informed decision without reaching for a smartphone to look up the feature set. Inside the package the motherboard and bundle are segregated by a cardboard enclosure for the motherboard. The large bundle is stored under the board and fills the compartment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gigabyte has delivered a fairly robust accessory bundle with the Z77X-UD5H-WiFi. The documentation and software include several installation as well as the general manual, a quick start guide, Gigabyte sticker, and a driver and software disk for the board and one specifically for the WB300D add-in card. The hardware side of the bundle includes an SLI bridge connector, SATA 3Gb/s and 6Gb/s cables, externally accessed USB 3.0 ports that can be mounted in a 3.5 inch drive bay, I/O bracket with ESD and EMI protection, WB300D WiFi/Bluetooth module, and a pair of antenna for use with the WB300D.

 

 

 

Since the bundle is sufficient enough to get the board installed and running, let's see what the Z77X-UD5H-WiFi has to offer.

Closer Look:

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.

Closer Look:

Gigabyte has its own suite of utilities to maximize the usability of the GA-Z77X-UD5H-WiFi including 3D power that allows you to manage the power and voltage frequencies to get the maximum clock speed from the platform. There are three separate areas that can be modified: Voltage, Frequency and Phase. Under each tab or side of the cube, as it appears, is a sub menu where parameters for each main tab are adjusted. Under the voltage tab you can adjust a set number of voltages and apply them in the GUI. For frequency the PWM frequency can be adjusted for the CPU, VTT, DRAM, and onboard graphics. Under phase the load line calibration for the CPU can be set as well as the over current protection levels. All short and to the point in an easy to use utility.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easy Tune 6 is Gigabyte's overclocking-specific software overclocking and tuning tool and has been in use through the past few generations. There are three modes under the tuner section: Quick Boost, Easy, and Advanced. This suite allows you to go as shallow or as deep as the software will allow. Across the top of the GUI are six sub menus that target a specific area including the CPU, Memory, Graphics, Smart Fan, Hardware Monitoring, and Tuner where all the adjustments to voltages and frequencies are made. The interface is reminiscent of CPU-Z in its layout but not how it functions. Under the tuner section the Easy mode and Advanced mode differ slightly with a more granular approach being taken under the advanced tab.

 

 

 

 

 

 

EZ Setup is a one stop shop for setting up Intel's Smart Response, Smart Connect, and Rapid Start Technologies. This option is much easier than having to go into the BIOS to set up a Raid Array and reload the OS. @BIOS is a tool that allows you to update the BIOS from within the operating system by either searching the web or looking for the BIOS file on a flash drive. Auto Green is a tool that can be used to control the PC remotely with a smartphone and put it into an S3/S4 state. LAN Optimizer can be used to manage network traffic.

 

 

 

The included utilities are there for the user willing to put them to good use whether it is overclocking monitoring or managing the PC.

Closer Look:

This implementation of Gigabyte's 3D Bios is a welcome sight in terms of functionality and ease of use. The GA-Z77X-UD5H-WiFi uses an AMI EFI BIOS that supports PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.6, ACPI 2.0a, and Dual BIOS. A pair of 64MB BIOS chips are used to hold the BIOS and back up BIOS for use if a flash goes wrong or is used as a way to increase the amount of OC Profiles that can be saved. This 3D BIOS has two modes: 3D that has an image of a motherboard and preset options along the bottom of the screen that allows adjustment to the parameters of the board including boot order and top line settings without getting too granular. For that you can switch to the Advanced mode. Here you will find six menus to fine tune the operational parameters and include the M.I.T. Menu, System, BIOS Features, Peripherals, Power Management, and Exit menus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By entering into the Advanced section of the BIOS you get a more detailed look at the settings that make the board tick. M.I.T. is first on the list and is where you find all of the tools necessary to overclock your installed hardware. In this section you are able to check the currently applied values under current status showing the memory and CPU settings. Advanced Frequency settings is where the bclock and multiplier are adjusted as well as where the memory XMP profiles are activated. Advanced memory settings allow for the adjustment of the memory multiplier, timings, and displays the applied voltage for the DIMMs. Digging further into the Channel A and B memory timings is where memory performance can be tuned to deliver the highest memory bandwidth and speed. Advanced voltage settings is where the voltages to be applied are set and adjusted to the values that best suit the clock speeds used on the memory and CPU. 3D Voltage control is where the operating frequencies and current limits can be tuned again for greater overclocking margins or higher efficiency. Health Status shows the component temperatures, voltages and the speed of any installed fans. Under the Miscellaneous tab the PCIe support can be set based on the installed CPU. Legacy Benchmark Enhancement is used to help drive system performance in benchmarks such as 3DMark 01 or Super Pi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The System tab gives basic system information including the BIOS revision, allows setting of the appropriate system language, time, and date to be set, as well as looking at the ATA port info to view the installed drives and how they are configured.

 

 

BIOS Features is where the boot sequence is set up, the boot logo is turned on and off, and the boot priority of the attached drives is setup. The Peripherals tab is where the on-board devices can be enabled or disabled. Power Management is where the resume sequence is applied along with the resume mode for the IGP. Last but not least is the Exit tab that allows the user to save and exit or apply the standard default settings for a starting baseline. Here you can also save and load BIOS profiles.

 

 

 

Entering the Q-Flash utility will allow the end user to either search for a BIOS online or search for a BIOS to install from an installed flash drive. I found this utility worked well allowing an update to the latest BIOS at the time of testing.

 

We have seen the board, the included utilities, and the latest 3D BIOS, so let's see how well the Z77X-UD5H-WiFi performs and overclocks.

Specifications:

CPU
Support for Intel® Core™ i7 processors/Intel® Core™ i5 processors/ Intel® Core™ i3 processors/Intel® Pentium® processors/Intel® Celeron® processors in the LGA1155 package
    L3 cache varies with CPU
(Some Intel® Core™ processors require a graphic card, please refer "CPU support List" for more information.)
Chipset
Intel® Z77 Express Chipset
Memory
4 x 1.5V DDR3 DIMM sockets supporting up to 32 GB of system memory
    * Due to Windows 32-bit operating system limitation, when more than 4 GB of physical memory is installed, the actual memory size displayed will be less than 4 GB.
    Dual channel memory architecture
    Support for DDR3 2400(OC)/1600/1333/1066 MHz memory modules
    Support for non-ECC memory modules
    Support for Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) memory modules
(Please refer "Memory Support List" for more information.)
Onboard Graphics
Integrated Graphics Processor:
1 x D-Sub port
1 x DVI-D port, supporting a maximum resolution of 1920x1200
* The DVI-D port does not support D-Sub connection by adapter.
1 x HDMI port, supporting a maximum resolution of 1920x1200
1 x DisplayPort, supporting a maximum resolution of 2560x1600p
Audio   
Realtek ALC898 codec
 Support for X-Fi Xtreme Fidelity® and EAX® Advanced HD™ 5.0 technologies
High Definition Audio
2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
Support for S/PDIF Out
LAN
1 x Atheros GbE LAN chip (10/100/1000 Mbit) (LAN1)
1 x Intel GbE LAN chip (10/100/1000 Mbit) (LAN2)
Expansion Slots               
1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x16 (PCIEX16)
 For optimum performance, if only one PCI Express graphics card is to be installed, be sure to install it in the PCIEX16 slot.
1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x8 (PCIEX8)
 The PCIEX8 slot shares bandwidth with the PCIEX16 slot. When the PCIEX8 slot is populated, the PCIEX16 slot will operate at up to x8 mode.
 
1 x PCI Express x16 slot, running at x4 (PCIEX4)
The PCIEX4 slot is available only when an Intel 22nm (Ivy Bridge) CPU is installed.
The PCIEX4 slot shares bandwidth with the PCIEX8 and PCIEX16 slots. When the PCIEX4 slot is populated, the PCIEX16 slot will operate at up to x8 mode and the PCIEX8 will operate at up to x4 mode.
 (The PCIEX16, PCIEX8 and PCIEX4 slots conform to PCI Express 3.0 standard.)
* PCIE Gen.3 is dependent on CPU and expansion card compatibility.
    3 x PCI Express x1 slots
    (All PCI Express x1 slots conform to PCI Express 2.0 standard.)
    1 x PCI slot
Multi-Graphics Technology
Support for AMD CrossFireX™ / NVIDIA SLI technology
Storage Interface
Chipset:
2 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors (SATA3 0/SATA3 1) supporting up to 2 SATA 6Gb/s devices
4 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors (SATA2 2~5) supporting up to 4 SATA 3Gb/s devices
1 x mSATA connector
The SATA2 5 connector will become unavailable when the mSATA connector is installed with a solid state drive.
 Support for RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, and RAID 10
When a RAID set is built across the SATA 6Gb/s and SATA 3Gb/s channels, the system performance of the RAID set may vary depending on the devices being connected.
2 x Marvell 88SE9172 chips:
3 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors (GSATA3 6/7/8) supporting up to 3 SATA 6Gb/s devices
1 x eSATA 6Gb/s connector on the back panel supporting up to 1 SATA 6Gb/s device
Support for RAID 0 and RAID 1
USB
Chipset:
Up to 2 USB 3.0/2.0 ports (available through the internal USB headers)
Up to 6 USB 2.0/1.1 ports (2 ports on the back panel, 4 ports available through the internal USB headers)
Chipset + 2 VIA USB Hubs:
 Up to 8 USB 3.0/2.0 ports (4 ports on the back panel, 4 ports available through the internal USB headers)
In Windows XP, the Intel USB 3.0 ports and VIA USB HUB can support up to USB 2.0 transfer speed.
Due to a Windows 7 limitation, please connect your USB device(s) to the USB 2.0/1.1 port(s) before the Intel USB 3.0 controller driver is installed.
IEEE 1394             VIA VT6308 chip:
 Up to 2 IEEE 1394a ports (1 port on the back panel, 1 port available through the internal IEEE 1394a header)
Internal I/O Connectors        
1 x 24-pin ATX main power connector
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
1 x PCIe power connector
5 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
4 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors
1 x mSATA connector
1 x CPU fan header
4 x system fan headers
1 x front panel header
1 x front panel audio header
1 x S/PDIF Out header
3 x USB 3.0/2.0 headers
2 x USB 2.0/1.1 headers
1 x Clear CMOS jumper
1 x Trusted Platform Module (TPM) header
1 x power button
1 x reset button
1 x Clear CMOS button
1 x heatsink LED power connector
1 x BIOS Switch
    Voltage Measurement Points
Back Panel Connectors
1 x D-Sub port
1 x DVI-D port
1 x optical S/PDIF Out connector
1 x HDMI port
1 x DisplayPort
1 x eSATA 6Gb/s connector
4 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports
2 x USB 2.0/1.0 ports
1 x IEEE 1394a port
2 x RJ-45 ports
6 x audio jacks (Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out, Rear Speaker Out, Side Speaker Out, Line In/Mic In, Line Out)
I/O Controller
iTE I/O Controller Chip
H/W Monitoring
System voltage detection
CPU/System temperature detection
CPU/System fan speed detection
CPU overheating warning
CPU/System fan fail warning
CPU/System fan speed control
Whether the CPU/system fan speed control function is supported will depend on the CPU/system cooler you install.
BIOS
2 x 64 Mbit flash
Use of licensed AMI EFI BIOS
 Support for DualBIOS™
PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.6, ACPI 2.0a
Unique Features
Support for @BIOS
Support for Q-Flash
Support for Xpress Install
Support for Xpress Recovery2
Support for EasyTune
Available functions in EasyTune may differ by motherboard model.
Support for eXtreme Hard Drive (X.H.D)
Support for Auto Green
Support for ON/OFF Charge
Support for Q-Share
Support for 3D Power
Support for EZ Setup
Support for LAN Optimizer (Intelligent optimization network management tool)
Bundle Software
Norton Internet Security (OEM version)
Intel® Rapid Start Technology
Intel® Smart Connect Technology
Intel® Smart Response Technology
LucidLogix Virtu MVP
Make sure the monitor cable has been connected to the integrated graphics port on the back panel.
Operating System
Support for Microsoft® Windows 8/7/XP
Form Factor
ATX Form Factor; 30.5cm x 24.4cm

Features:



All informationcourtesy of Gigabyte @ http://www.gigabyte.us/products/product-page.aspx?pid=4167#ov

Testing:

Testing the  Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H WiFi will involve running it through OCC's test suite of benchmarks, which includes both synthetic benchmarks and real-world applications, to see how each of these products perform. The gaming tests will also consist of both synthetic benchmarks and actual gameplay, in which we can see if similarly prepared setups offer any performance advantages. The system will receive a fully updated, fresh install of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit edition, in addition to the latest drivers for each board and the latest AMD Catalyst drivers for the XFX HD 7970. To ensure as few variables as possible, all hardware will be tested at their stock speeds, timings, voltages, and latencies – unless otherwise stated. Turbo Boost is disabled to make a fair comparison without skewing results.

 

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Boards:

 

Overclocking:

Looking at the results generated by the Z77X-UD5H WiFi you can truly see that based strictly on the capabilities of the hardware installed in each of the comparison boards as well as the Z77X-UD5H WiFi that you will get a certain level of overclocking margin with each board. That being said each board that I have tested has delivered roughly the same overclock on the CPU and memory. It just comes down to to the ability of the board to supply a steady supply of current and have the settings available in the BIOS to allow the end user to tweak for the highest level of performance. In that respect Gigabyte's Z77X-UD5H-Wifi was able to deliver all that my CPU and memory have to offer at 4.7GHz on the Core i7 3770K and 2400MHz on the Mushkin Redline Hynix BFR based modules. To reach 4.7GHz on the CPU required 1.325v while the memory was happy with 1.66v, both set in the BIOS. Under the 3D Power section PWM Phase control was set to Extreme, Vcore voltage response was set to Fast, and LLC was set to Extreme. All other voltages were let at the auto settings.

Manual tuning is not the only way to overclock on Gigabyte's platform. Each manufacturer, Gigabyte included, have a comprehensive set of tuning and tweaking utilities to allow the user to tweak from within the OS. Gigabyte provides its Easy Tune 6 utility with the software package and can be downloaded separately. Using this utility you can manually tweak or you can use on of the preset options Auto Tuning section. Three preset overclocks can be utilized. The 4.43GHz turned out to be the best combination for the installed hardware and proved to be Prime 95 stable for at least a couple hours. The 4.68Ghz Level 3 boost was a bit too aggressive for my hardware as it was set in the tool. Further manual tuning was needed to tune out the instability. Even so an almost 1GHz clock speed increase by just pushing a button is nothing to sneeze at.

 

 

Maximum Overclock:

Each CPU and motherboard has been tested for stability at the clock speeds listed when in an overclocked state. These clock speeds will be used to run the test suite and will show the performance increase over the stock settings in the overclocked scoring.

 

Benchmarks:

Scientific & Data:

  1. PCMark 7
  2. HD Tune 5.0
  3. AIDA64 2.50
  4. Sandra 2012 SP6
  5. x264
  6. HandBrake 9.8
  7. ATTO 2.47

Video:

  1. DiRT 3
  2. Battlefield 3
  3. 3DMark11



 

Testing:

PCMark 7 is the latest iteration of Futuremark's popular PCMark system performance tool. This version is designed for use on Windows 7 PCs and features a combination of 25 different workloads to accurately measure the performance of all PCs from laptops to desktops.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

  

 

  

  

 

  

  

 

 

Gigabyte's Z77X-UD5H-WiFi is neither the highest or lowest performer in any of the tests at stock speeds but falls happily into the middle of the road. When overclocked it is the highest performer in the Creativity and Entertainment tests.

Testing:

HD Tune measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

  

  

  

 

 

AIDA64 Extreme Edition is a software utility designed to be used for hardware diagnosis and benchmarking. I will be using the Cache and Memory benchmark tool to measure memory performance.

 

  

  

  

  

 

The results in HD Tune are similar across the board. The memory testing shows Gigabyte's offering move toward and reach the top spot in two of the tests.

Testing:

SiSoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful. For this benchmark, I will be running a broad spectrum of tests to gauge the performance of key functions of the CPUs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overall Score

  

 

X.264 Benchmark: This benchmark is used to measure the time it takes to encode a 1080p video file into the x264 format. The default benchmark is used with an average of all four tests on each pass taken as the result.

  

  

 

 

 

HandBrake 9.8 is an open source application used to transcode multiple video formats to an h.264 output format. The test file size is a 4GB full length movie that is reduced in size to a 1.5GB file.

  

  

 

 

In the Sandra testing, Gigabyte's Z77X-UD5H WiFi delivers the best overall performance at stock speeds. In the media encoding tests the Gigabyte board continues to shine at stock speeds but falls off a bit in the overclocked tests by comparison.

Testing:

Moving data to and from an external device is something we all do as a means of backing up sensitive data whether it is family pictures, movies, music, or projects. The speed with which this transfer occurs is measurable and can improve with different board partner specific tools. I will be using ATTO version 2.47 to measure an external drives read/write performance through the USB 3.0 interface. The default test algorithm is used for this test. Motherboards that support a boost to the USB spec such as USB 3.0 Boost on the ASUS offering and XFast USB on the Asrock will be used as they show the maximum potential speeds.

ATTO:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

  

  

  

 

When compared to motherboards that have the ability to boost USB 3.0 performance with included utilities, the Z77X-UD5H WiFi performs at a level that is greater than 25% slower than the comparison boards. When compared apples to apples the results are going to show that the tested hardware is going to be within a couple point margin. However, when you can transfer data faster to an external drive you save time and add value.

Testing:

3DMark11 is the next installment for Futuremark in the 3DMark series, with Vantage as its predecessor. 3DMark11 was designed solely for DirectX 11, so Windows Vista or 7 are required alongside a DirectX 11 graphics card in order to run this test. The Basic Edition gives unlimited free tests on performance mode, whereas Vantage only allows for a single test run. The Advanced Edition costs $19.95 and unlocks nearly all features of the benchmark, while the Professional Edition runs for $995.00 and is mainly suited for corporate use. The new benchmark contains six tests, four of which are aimed only at graphical testing – one that tests physics handling and one that combines graphics and physics testing together. The open source Bullet Physics Library is used for physics simulations and although not as mainstream as Havok or PhysX, it still remains a popular choice.

The new benchmark comes with two new demos that can be watched; both of which are based on the tests, but unlike the tests, contain basic audio. The first demo is titled "Deep Sea" and involves a number of vessels exploring what looks to be a sunken U-Boat. The second demo is titled "High Temple" and displays a location similar to South American tribal ruins, with statues and the occasional vehicle. The demos are simple in that they have no story, but really demonstrate testing conditions. The vehicles have the logos of the sponsors, MSI and Antec, on the sides, helping to make the Basic Edition free. The four graphics tests are slight variants of the demos. I will use the three benchmark test preset levels to find the performance of each card. The presets are used because they are comparable to what can be run with the free version, so results can be compared across more than just a custom set of test parameters.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DiRT 3 is the third iteration of this series. Published and developed by Codemasters, this game uses the EGO 2.0 game engine and was released in the US on PC in May of 2011.

Settings

 

 

 

Battlefield 3 is a first-person shooter video game developed by EA Digital Illusions CE and published by Electronic Arts. Battlefield 3 uses the Frostbyte 2 game engine and is the direct successor to Battlefield 2. Released in North America on October 25, 2011, the game supports DirectX 10 and 11.

Settings

 

 

 

Parity is the name of the game per say when it comes to gaming tests with this platform equipped with the same hardware. Even though the performance differential in 3DMark 11 from highest to lowest falls within a fairly small envelope, the Z77X-UD5H-WiFi was the lowest average performer in this test. In actual gaming tests Gigabyte's board is dead even with the rest of the comparison boards showing that for real gameplay there is no significant advantage one way or the other as the GPU is going to limit your FPS performance.

Conclusion:

After seeing what Gigabyte has to offer with the Z77 platform when I looked at the GA-Z77X-UD3H, it looks like Gigabyte has improved upon the feature set. Improvements are seen from the PCB with its dual 2oz copper layers and new glass fiber design in the core that makes it more difficult for moisture to infiltrate the PCB causing shorts in humid locales to the large integrated cooling solution that covers the heat generating components of the PCH and 12+2+1 phase VRM on the PCB. Visually not much has changed on the PCB other than the noted larger cooling solution. The PCB is jet black and does not wash out and turn brown when you put a bright light over it. The layout of the board is similar to most Z77-based boards with the exception of the mSATA socket located between the CPU socket and first 16x PCIe slot. An mSATA drive fits and does not create any interference concerns.

Now when it came to overclocking, the Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H-WiFi will allow your processor and memory to scale almost effortlessly when manually tweaking the settings. Up to the limits of your hardware at least. I was able to pull a 1.2GHz overclock out of the CPU and run the 2133MHz rated memory at up to 2400MHz by adjusting the timings and tweaking the voltages a bit for stability. Manually tuning in the 3D BIOS is not the only avenue to increase the performance of your installed hardware. Using Easy Tune 6 you can overclock from within the operating system to see what works and what does not. The utility does not come by the Easy Tune name just the sake of calling it something. Using the Auto Tuning feature of the Tuner section of ET6 you can choose a few preset options to overclock your hardware from a mild 4.18GHz using a 102MHz bclock to a more aggressive 4.68GHz using a 104MHz bclock.

Although my hardware will run the number, the 4.68GHz option proved a bit aggressive in terms of the settings applied in the BIOS with the end result being a reset of the CMOS to get back into the 3D BIOS. Essentially a non recoverable error; not the type of recovery option seen on today's high end boards. After tweaking voltages in the BIOS the 4.68GHz option would work. That being said the 4.43GHz Level 2 option was spot on when it came to stability even though the applied voltage was higher than what my chip needs to run that speed.

What makes all this possible is the use of Ultra Durable 4 technology. Gigabyte is using an all digital power circuit on this board for the CPU, DRAM, and IGP that uses Japanese-made solid capacitors, Ferrite core chokes, and Lower RDS(on) MOSFETs on top of the PCB equipped with 2oz copper power and ground layers. This design gives better control over the applied voltages than a traditional analog design with the end result a solution that runs cooler and delivers higher power efficiency. Lower temperatures and higher efficiency both help deliver excellent overclocking results on top of an increased lifespan. Additionally Gigabyte uses ICs that have a higher ESD tolerance as well as special anti surge ICs that prevent static discharges from killing onboard components; a problem all of us have from time to time plugging in USB devices.

Gigabyte has equipped this board with a pretty solid feature set that includes an mSATA slot to take advantage of all of the Intel technologies associated with the Z77 PCH including Intel Smart Response, Rapid Start and Smart Connect Technologies. With prices still relatively high on mSATA drives at around $1 per GB, adoption rates may be slim although the benefits are there for those who do step up and use the feature. On this version of the Z77X-UD5H Gigabyte has included a Bluetooth 4.0/Dual Band WiFi expansion card to allow the user the ability to take advantage of a wireless solution. This device has the ability to stream data to DLNA certified devices, share files with wireless devices including smart phones, laptops, tablets and notebook PCs, and, last but not least, provide an access point for a shared Internet connection saving the cost of a wireless router.

Lucid LogiX Virtu MVP software allows the user to increase graphics performance and improved visual quality by teaming the IGP with the discrete GPU. The software bundle included with this board is functional and delivers added value in terms of ease of use and functionality including Easy Tune 6, LAN Optimizer, 3D BIOS, EZ Setup, Auto Green, and On/Off charge. Navigating through Gigabyte's 3D BIOS is seamless using a combination of mouse and keyboard strokes to get the job done. BIOS enhancements continue to be rolled out by Gigabyte showing continued support.

All in all I would have to say that Gigabyte has put a solid combination out providing a well rounded feature set that covers the concerns of a large swath of the user base looking to step into a Z77-based motherboard. When you look at the Z77-based market place it all comes down to feature set and price as performance is going to fall into a similar envelope any way you cut it. With the GA-Z77X-UD5H-WiFi you get a motherboard that is priced at just over the $200 mark. For that amount of coin you get a board that overclocks as well as any out on the market, a comprehensive software and hardware bundle, and the tools to deliver comparable performance.

 

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