Gigabyte Z87X-UD4H ReviewRHKCommander959 -
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Gigabyte Z87X-UD4H Closer Look:
The Gigabyte Z87X-UD4H motherboard is fitted with the Intel Z87 chipset and Intel CPU socket LGA 1150 in an ATX form factor. Four DDR3 memory slots support frequencies up to 3000 MHz with overclocking according to Gigabyte. The socket layout is very open so mounting large water blocks, heat sinks, or more exotic cooling (and its insulation) should be no problem. The board provides two PWM fan headers for the CPU cooling, a nice feature to see as many manufacturers have overlooked this and many advanced coolers use dual fans. At the top near the memory slots are the Quick Buttons — Power, Reset, Clear CMOS buttons, and Dual BIOS DIP Switches, plus some Voltage Read Points for serious enthusiasts who like to monitor voltages with their own meters. Two USB 3.0 pin-headers are also provided, one by the two-digit seven-segment Debug Display and the other next to the front panel headers. Next to the bottom USB 3.0 header is a CLR_CMOS header intended for installation with a normally-open button for quick resets after a failed overclock.
Three USB 2.0 headers, one Serial COM header, one TPM (Trusted Platform Module) header, and front panel audio and SPDIF input and output headers round out the expandability options. For slot expansion there are three PCIe x16 3.0 slots (one in x16 when alone, the second in x8 and forcing the first into x8, and the third is wired x4), three PCIe 3.0 x1 slots, and a PCI slot. Six of the eight SATA 6Gb/s connectors are provided by the Intel Chipset, an additional two are from a Marvell 88SE9172 chip that also provides the I/O eSATA; only two matching (eSATA vs internal SATA) of these four ports can be propagated at once. The chipset provides two USB 3.0/2.0 ports through an internal header and six USB 2.0/1.1 ports through headers, while both the Chipset and two Renesas uPD720210 USB 3.0 Hubs provide six I/O ports and another two through a second internal header. The USB ports are individually fused so if there is a failure in one port only that port dies instead of all that are on that hub. The USB 3.0 ports and Gigabit Ethernet LAN port feature High ESD Protection filter to protect the system from electrical surges and even lightning strikes.
The back of the Gigabyte Z87X-UD4H is standard stuff. To remove the heat sinks just unscrew the spring-retention screws. You cannot tell by looking at it but Gigabyte claims to use twice the traditional amount of copper in its PCBs (2x Copper PCB design).
The back panel has a combination PS/2 mouse and keyboard port with two USB 3.0 ports, followed by D-Sub VGA and DVI-D ports with maximum resolution of 1920x1200 (side note: the DVI-D port does not support being adapted to D-Sub). The next hub has a TOSLINK connector for S/PDIF, HDMI 1.4a (maximum resolution 4096x2160), and DisplayPort 1.2 (maximum resolution 3840x2160) video connections. After this the hubs go back to data — USB 3.0 atop eSATA 6Gb/s ports, then Intel Gigabit LAN, and two more USB 3.0 ports. Lastly there's the 7.1 channel Realtek ALC898 Codec hub that can provide two channels of independent front panel stereo output. Users can also customize any of the audio ports to either input or output functionality for different tasks.
The motherboard has three PCIe 2.0 x1 slots, two PCIe 3.0 x16 slots (the top one is x16 unless the second is occupied, then both are x8 shared), and a PCIe 2.0 x16 slot wired for x4 that shares bandwidth with the second and third PCIe x1 slots. They are disabled upon a x4 or greater device being installed in this slot. There is also a PCI slot provided for legacy devices. Looking closely you can see printed next to the audio hub the words "Audio 110db"; this is as loud as a gas-powered chainsaw. Gigabyte also has a high capacity headphone amplifier for the front panel audio capable of driving 600 ohms for high quality headphones.
Along the bottom are all of the connectivity headers; there is also a fan header, number three. In order from left to right we have Front Panel Audio, S/PDIF input and output, fan header three, TPM module, Serial COM, and three USB 2.0 headers. Also in the first picture are the Dual BIOS chips, to the right of the second and third PCIe x1 slots. Continuing on in the second photo you see the three USB 2.0 headers again, then a USB 3.0 header, Clear CMOS jumper, and the Front Panel LEDs and Buttons header. Another fan header — number two — sits between here and the SATA ports.
At the bottom left you can get a better look at the System Fan two header next to the Marvell 88SE9172 SATA 6.0Gb/s ports numbered six and seven. Intel provides the SATA 6.0Gb/s ports from zero to five. Immediately following this is a SATA power connector labeled ATX4P, it is there to provide auxiliary power to the PCIe ports for increased stability when running multiple cards and/or overclocking. Up and to the right just a little, next to the heat sink and memory slots, is the second USB 3.0 header. The next photo shows it from another perspective, and to the right is the Debug LED and System Fan header four. Next to this area is the 24-pin ATX power connector that delivers the majority of the power to the board. On the other side of the memory slots are two CPU fan headers, both PWM. The white one is intended to be the primary while the black one is labeled optional. This is a nice feature for those planning on using a tower-style heat sink with dual fan capabilities and makes wire management much easier as well. Next to these is the CMOS battery.
At the end are the Quick Buttons — Power, Reset, CMOS Clear, and the Dual BIOS switches used for toggling between both or either chip. Position one on BIOS SW is for Main BIOS, the other for Backup BIOS. SB switch position one is to disable Single BIOS, two is to enable it. Next to this area is a strip of empty header spots where users can use a voltmeter to see how much voltage is being delivered: from left to right we have VCORE, VDIMM, VRING, VCCIOA_L, VAXG, IMC, VIOD, and VRIN. The 8-pin ATX power connector is near the keyboard/mouse headers, at the corner of the PWM heat sinks. Next to it is the System Fan header one; this is the last fan header on the board. The heat sinks are very stylish and short enough that they shouldn't interfere with even the largest CPU cooling solutions available.
The features on this board seem very promising; this package should deliver great performance for this price range. The new color scheme looks great and has come a long way from past designs. Everything looks great on the Gigabyte Z87X-UD4H but nothing is for sure until testing has been done!