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Intel Z77 Chipset motherboard Review


Closer Look:

Each manufacturer has its own suite of utilities to maximize the usability of their platform and package.With the Z77A-GD65 you get the latest revision of MSI's Control Center software. This application will allow you to overclock the system from within the operating system environment and instantly apply the settings for a real time check of the settings you have made. This in itself can save some time in finding those settings that work. Once found they can be applied in the Click BIOS II. The Overclocking section presents a total of four different areas that have either information or the capability of managing the clock speeds, voltages and/or memory timings. The Mainboard section gives top line information about the motherboard with more detail found under the "More" button to the right of the window. The CPU monitor section again gives top line info about the installed CPU, in this case an Intel second generation Core i7 2600K. The CPU monitor tab to the right of the window opens up a new window that shows the current CPU clock speed, clock multiplier, temperature, and maximum Turbo Boost ratio by cores. The "More" button shows information displayed that is similar to what you see displayed in CPU-Z. The OC Genie tab gives an illustrated tutorial on how to use the OC Genie II button.

















LucidLogix Virtu Software is included to take advantage of the Z77 chipset's ability to use dynamic switching between the Intel HD 3000 and an installed discrete GPU. The software comes with a preset list of supported games and applications, although I found 3DMark Vantage to not switch between the IGP and discrete card, while several games did show the jump in performance (indicating the sofware switched from IGP to the discrete graphics card).



MSI has made the Click BIOS II available in the OS environment to change settings and work through the BIOS. Not all the information and utilities are shown, but you can get a good feel for walking your way through the BIOS. Some settings can be applied in the OS while others will need to have a reboot before the application of the setting.



Gigabyte has their own suite of utilities to maximize the usability of the GA-Z77X-UD3H 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 ares 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 on board graphics. Under phase the load line calibration for the CPU can be set as well as the over current protection levels.






Easy Tune 6 has long been a staple of Gigabyte's software suite for the enthusiast and is included in this series of boards. There are three modes, Quick Boost, Easy and Advanced, to allow 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.







Both sets of utilities proved functional and will allow the user to maximize performance in the OS then go into the UEFI BIOS on both of these board to finalize the settings.

  1. Introduction & Closer Look
  2. Closer Look: MSI Z77A-GD65
  3. Closr Look: Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD3H
  4. Closer Look: Programs and Utilities
  5. Closer Look: The BIOS MSI
  6. Closer Look: The BIOS Gigabyte
  7. Specifications & Features: MSI
  8. Specifications & Features: Gigabyte
  9. Testing: Setup and Overclocking
  10. Testing: Apophysis, WinRar, GeekBench, Bibble 5
  11. Testing: MS Office, POV Ray, Handbrake
  12. Testing: SiSoft Sandra, AIDA 64
  13. Testing: Sciencemark, Cinebench, HD Tune, PCMark 7
  14. Testing: Aliens vs. Predator
  15. Testing: Battlefield 3
  16. Testing: 3DMark 11
  17. Conclusion
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