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Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD3H Intel Z77 Motherboard Review

Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD3H Intel Z77 Motherboard Review  - PCSTATS
Abstract: There's nothing finer than a new chipset to kick the summer off and this year it's the Intel Z77 Express. In this review PCSTATS will put the performance oriented Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD3H motherboard, which is built on Intel's shiny new Z77 Express chipset, through its paces with the exceptionally popular 32nm 2nd Gen. Intel Core i3/i5/i7 'Sandy Bridge' processor.
 80% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Gigabyte Apr 19 2012   Max Page  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD3H

Introducing the Intel Z77 Express Chipset

Intel Z77 Express Chipset

Intel's Z77 Express chipset has essentially the same feature set of the Intel Z68, the notable new addition being native USB 3.0 and a set of software tools Intel calls Platform Responsiveness Technologies - we'll get to those in a bit.

Both the Intel Z77 'Panther Point' and Intel Z68 'Couger Point' chipsets are built on the 65nm process and support 32nm 2nd Gen. 'Sandy Bridge' and 22nm 3rd Gen. 'Ivy Bridge' Intel Core i3/i5/7 socket LGA1155 processors. For the first time in a long while, Intel's allowing users to upgrade without switching CPU sockets!

The Intel 7-series chipset family encompasses a few different models; Z77, H77, Z75, B75 and a few Q models that are beyond the scope of this article. The Intel Z77 serves up onboard video outputs from the integrated graphic core of Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge processors, CPU/Mem/IGP overclocking, Intel Smart Response Technology, Intel QuickSync media transcoding acceleration and SLI/Crossfire. Furthermore, Intel Z77 boards support triple monitor displays off the IGP when an Ivy Bridge CPU is used.


The Intel Z77 Express Chipset

Intel 3rd Gen. Core i3/i5/i7 'Ivy Bridge" processors add DX11 IGP into the mix and PCI Express 3.0 support for discrete videocards. The new CPUs also bump memory support from DDR3-1333 to DDR3-1600. In the past integrated graphics and memory were handled by the Northbridge chipset, but now the exact platform capabilities depend in equal part on the CPU as you can see by the block diagram below:


The Intel Z77 Express Chipset block diagram

As with previous Intel H67 and Z68 chipsets, the Intel Z77 PCH communicates with the socket LGA1155 processor over a DMI2.0 link at 20Gb/s and via the Intel Flexible Display Interface. Sandy Bridge CPUs host eight PCI Express 2.0 lanes running at 5Gb/s. Ivy Bridge CPUs host sixteen PCI Express 3.0 lanes (or 2x8 or 1x8, 1x4 and 1x4 Thunderbolt).

Intel Chipset Comparisons
Intel X79 Express Intel Z77 Express Intel Z68 Express Intel P67 Express Intel H67 Express
CPU LGA 2011
2nd Gen. Core i7 / Extreme
LGA 1155
Core i3/i5/i7 3rd/2nd Gen
LGA 1155
Core i3/i5/i7 2nd Gen.
LGA 1155
Core i3/i5/i7 2nd Gen.
LGA 1155
Core i3/i5/i7 2nd Gen.
Chipset Code Name Patsburg (65nm) Panther Point (65nm) Couger Point (65nm) Couger Point (65nm) Couger Point (65nm)
Bus Interface / Speed DMI 2.0, 20Gb/s DMI 2.0, 20Gb/s & Intel FDI DMI 2.0, 20Gb/s & Intel FDI DMI 2.0, 20Gb/s DMI 2.0, 20Gb/s & Intel FDI
Memory Support DDR3-1600, quad channel DDR3-1600, dual channel DDR3-1333, dual channel DDR3-1333, dual channel DDR3-1333, dual channel
Maximum Memory Capacity 64GB (64-bit) 32GB (64-bit) 32GB (64-bit) 32GB (64-bit) 32GB (64-bit)
Integrated Graphics / Intel FDI - Yes Yes - Yes
Integrated Graphics Ports - HDMI, DVI, DP, VGA
(3-way monitor with IvyBridge CPU)
HDMI, DVI, DP, VGA
(dual monitor)
- HDMI, DVI, DP, VGA
(dual monitor)
PCI Express 2.0 Lanes
(chipset)
8 8 8 8 8
Intel Rapid Storage Technology (RST) RST enterprise 3 iRST 11 RST 10 RST 10 RST 10
Intel Smart Response Technology (SRT) - Yes Yes - -
SATA 6Gb/s | SATA 3Gb/s | IDE Ports 2/4/0 2/4/0 2/4/0 2/4/0 2/4/0
RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 0, 1, 5, 10 0, 1, 5, 10 0, 1, 5, 10 0, 1, 5, 10
Intelgrated LAN 10/100/1000 MAC 10/100/1000 MAC 10/100/1000 MAC 10/100/1000 MAC 10/100/1000 MAC
USB 3.0 Ports - 4 - - -
USB 2.0 Ports 14 10 14 14 14
Intel High Definition Audio Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Other Intel Identity Protection Technology (IPT) Intel Rapid Start, Intel Smart Connect - - -

The Intel Z77 Express chipset shares the same core features as previous IGP enabled chipsets, save for the native 4-port USB 3.0 controller it now contains. Along with video transcoding acceleration a la Intel Quick Sync, Intel has unveiled Platform Responsiveness Technologies. These software tools consist of Smart Response Technology (SRT), Rapid Start Technology (RST) and Smart Connect (SC).

Intel Platform Responsiveness Technologies

Intel Smart Response Technology brings about like-SSD responsiveness to operating systems and applications installed on traditional mechanical SATA hard disk drives. It works by storing frequently accessed hard drive I/O data blocks onto a small capacity, dedicated 'caching SSD' that Windows 7 can read from very quickly. See PCSTATS in depth review of Intel SRT for the full story. With the Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD3H there's a dedicated mSATA slot for small SSDs to be plugged in.

Intel Rapid Start Tech. leverages SSD caching hardware (if present) to decrease the time Windows requires to come out of hybernation. If your office PC is set to hybernate when you're away, this tool allows the PC resume in about as much time as it takes to recover from sleep mode/standby. The goal of Intel RST is a more convenient way to pick up where you left off while conserving energy. In PCSTATS tests, the system exited sleep mode in about 5 seconds and while in that state drew just 3W of power.

Intel Smart Connect essentially tells the PC to come out of sleep state at predefined time intervals and check for updates. At the moment it only works with a few social networking and email programs, so it seems to be oriented towards Windows 8 on mobile devices where battery life and data coherence are more relevant.

Lucidlogic VirtuMVP is another new addition to the Intel Z77's feature stables, we'll cover that in full on the next page of this review.

PCI Express 3.0

The old PCI Express 2.0 standard has been around for a couple years now, but in mid-2011 PCI-SIG sought to upgrade it. The Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD3H motherboard is compatible with the newly released PCI Express 3.0 standard that brings with it an incremental upgrade to 8 GT/s, or 16GB/s bi-directional bandwidth for each PCI Express x16 videocard slot. The older PCI Express 2.0 standard delivered 5 GT/s, or 8GB/s bi-directional bandwidth to each x16 videocard slot. PCI-E 3.0 is nice to have for future proofing a computer system, but not a critical 'must have' for gamers so don't get too caught up in it.

Okay, let's test out VirtuMVP Hyperformance and see if it delivers!

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Contents of Article: Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD3H
 Pg 1.  Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD3H Intel Z77 Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  Overclocking Tools and Tweaks
 Pg 3.  — Introducing the Intel Z77 Express Chipset
 Pg 4.  Testing Lucidlogix VirtuMVP
 Pg 5.  360-Degree Motherboard Gallery: Features and Layout
 Pg 6.  360-Degree Motherboard Gallery: Continued
 Pg 7.  Overclocking Report and BIOS Walkthrough
 Pg 8.  Test System Hardware and Specs
 Pg 9.  Sysmark 2012 - Workstation Motherboard Benchmarks
 Pg 10.  PCMark Vantage Motherboard Benchmarks
 Pg 11.  SiSoft Sandra: CPU Motherboard Benchmarks:
 Pg 12.  Sandra: Memory Motherboard Benchmarks:
 Pg 13.  3DMark 11 Motherboard Benchmarks
 Pg 14.  3DMark Vantage Motherboard Benchmarks
 Pg 15.  IGP Motherboard Benchmarks: 3DMark Vantage, 3DMark06, FEAR, Juarez
 Pg 16.  IGP Motherboard Benchmarks: PCMark Vantage
 Pg 17.  Transcoding and Power Draw

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