Gigabyte Z87X-UD4H ReviewRHKCommander959 - October 23, 2013
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Gigabyte Z87X-UD4H Closer Look:
Most motherboard manufacturers have gotten into software development in an attempt to increase the amount of features they can provide. Some of these attempts have worked flawlessly while others are buggy at best. Gigabyte has a slew of programs bundled together into a simple interface. Inserting the DVD and opening the Auto Play option brings about the Gigabyte Xpress Install program. This disk comes packed with extra programs from other companies: Google Drive, Chrome, and Toolbar are bundled. Norton Internet Security is included for antivirus software. Users can select which programs to install with a check box; some programs are bundled in the Chipset Drivers section.
The Application Software tab has the Gigabyte programs bundled together; here is where you get the in-house Gigabyte software. EasyTune is for the overclocking/fan controls, @BIOS is an automatic BIOS updating program, and EZ Setup checks for the latest software updates and utilizes three Intel technologies — Intel Smart Response, Intel Rapid Start, and Intel Smart Connect. USB Blocker does as the name suggests; users can select specific types of USB devices to deny or allow access to. Double clicking on the type and setting up a password is all that is required. Lastly for the Gigabyte software is the On/Off Charge 2, this is to optimize cell phone and device charging speeds.
The second tab under Application Software is for software from other vendors. Norton is linked again and Adobe Acrobat reader is also included here. The Intel software is included here separately from the Gigabyte EZ Setup program. CFosSpeed is intended to enhance Internet connections and Splashtop Streamer is for remote desktop connections to other Splashtop users. Several Cyberlink programs are paired up for different media management activities such as shrinking videos to fit on phones, video playback, and editing photographs and home videos.
The third tab is the Information page. This lists all of the different things included on the disk, organized by purpose. The disk includes files not necessarily used on this motherboard such as the Bigfoot LAN Driver. On this same tab there is a Contact sub-tab where Gigabyte's address, phone, fax, and website address are listed. The last two main tabs are for installing Google Chrome and Google Toolbar. Since most are familiar with Norton and Google products (and can download at any time, free of charge) I will instead focus directly on the Gigabyte software.
After installing the Gigabyte software and restarting, users will find a small black and blue icon in their taskbar. This icon pops up the APP Center when clicked and gives access to the other programs that are installed. Here users can also click the gear to change colors from blue to orange or green. First is @BIOS; this program lists the BIOS chip type, size, BIOS version, and BIOS vendor. Clicking Update from Server will automatically start downloading and installing the latest BIOS if it isn't already installed. It is usually a good idea to get the latest BIOS because the one installed is probably pretty old and may have some bugs. Users can also manually download the BIOS files from the Gigabyte website and update it manually, and save their old BIOS as a backup. These features can also be done from within the UEFI BIOS (except for server updating) with a thumb drive. USB Blocker is a simple program. Double click the individual status to change the type of USB device from unblocked to blocked or vice-versa. Once you click OK it will prompt you to input a password to keep these settings secure. This is mainly for commercial areas where data theft can be a problem.
EasyTune is probably the most complex looking program in the Gigabyte arsenal. Looks are deceiving as most of this stuff is just like the BIOS, and most of the stuff is information rather than settings. The first tab is System Information, which lists four separate hardware categories. The Clocks category lists CPU and BCLK frequencies, and CPU Multiplier Ratio. The Memory category has four options to select — memory slot 0 - 3. Each slot will list the memory type, module size, maximum bandwidth (not X.M.P.), manufacturer, and manufacturing date. The Motherboard category lists the model and BIOS version. Last is the Processor category, which lists the processor and architecture names, socket, fabrication technology used, specifications, and core and thread count. Along the bottom of EasyTune is the clock speeds, voltages, fan RPMs, and system temperatures. This information stays around for every EasyTune tab.
The second tab is the Smart Quick Boost feature. Here users can select four different CPU clock frequencies — Light (4.10GHz), Medium (4.30GHz), Extreme (4.50GHz), Energy Saving (0.80GHz), or run at default clock rates (3.90GHz). These options require a restart to take effect. Auto Tune attempts to overclock automatically through a flash app that tests stability, restarts, and pushes until it detects instabilities. This program doesn't load the processor down as much as Prime95 or other tools as the temperatures at 4.8GHz were only in the 50 °C range. At 4.9GHz the system BSOD'd; the instructions say this is part of the process and to ignore it. After the reboot and manually opening Auto Tuning back up it asked me to wait 30 seconds. After this it told me that my score was 4.80GHz for the CPU, up 37.14%, and for the onboard GPU 1600MHz, up 6.67%. It will then ask if you want to save these settings.
There is also an Advanced page where users can customize settings similar to the BIOS and even save or load their custom profiles. This program worked well, except it would sometimes hang after applying the changes with the version off the disk. Updating it fixed this and the program worked perfectly. I was even able to overclock the graphics card through this software, and have it remember the settings!
EasyTune has a Smart Fan page with a Calibration feature to find out what the relative minimum and maximum RPMs are for each fan installed, and three profiles to choose how fast to run those fans. Each fan is different so it is a good idea to calibrate so the software knows how to properly treat the fan! Clicking Advanced lets you specify how the fan speeds ramp up according to temperatures. You can also turn off fan throttling and lock the RPMs at a specific amount on the second tab.
System Alert is a page that can be setup to alert you of unusually low fan speeds or high system temperatures. Scan interval length can be changed to scan more or less frequently, or disabled altogether. Scan intervals default at three seconds, but users can choose between disabled or 1-60 seconds. 3D Power allows users to change current protection, CPU phase control, voltage ramping, turbo voltage response rates, and voltage protection for the CPU and memory. Thermal protections are locked out at 130 °C. PWM switch rates are locked at 300KHz for the CPU VRING and 250KHz for memory. At the bottom left is Hardware Monitor; clicking this brings up a new window for it. It shows voltages, temperatures, and fan speeds over time. Hardware Monitor can be left up on its own since it is in its own window.
EZ Setup lets users change what disk mode they use; using RAID is likely for the Intel Smart Response SSD and HDD teaming capability since that is the mode needed for that. True RAID had to be setup before the operating system is installed. Since EZ Smart Response isn't usable without an HDD, the option is blacked out and unable to be selected. EZ Rapid Start is an enhanced sleep mode. Here the program just shows the amount of memory installed and the first and only storage drive, listing it as SSD but at the bottom saying no SSD drives were detected. EZ Smart Connect is intended to refresh Internet features, such as email, periodically so it is up to date while the system is sleeping. Here you can choose which programs are to be refreshed. Last is Gigabyte XHD, this is for setting up a RAID 0 array. The option is also blacked out and not selectable. Clicking Live Update on the APP Center will get the latest BIOS, drivers, and software. This is not meant for unattended setup as you will have to click through the drivers to install them. This software worked perfectly and updated several drivers.
After this, it is time to take an in-depth look at the BIOS settings!