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Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD4H Intel Z77 Motherboard Review

Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD4H Intel Z77 Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: PCSTATS really liked what we saw from Gigabyte's Intel Z77 based GA-Z77X-UD4H motherboard -- the board graciously offers up a comprehensive feature set, its layout and implementation are well executed and the build quality is first rate.
 84% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Gigabyte May 02 2013   Max Page  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD4H

Intel Z77 Express Chipset + VirtuMVP

Intel's Z77 Express chipset adds native USB 3.0 and a set of software tools Intel calls Platform Responsiveness Technologies to what is essentially and updated and respun Intel Z68 core. 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. The next chipset, the Intel Z87 which is expected in June 2013 will be moving to the LGA1150 socket... so it looks like the streak of upgradeability we previously enjoyed has been cut short.

The Intel Z77 serves up onboard video outputs, CPU/Mem/IGP overclocking, Intel Smart Response Technology, Intel QuickSync media transcoding acceleration and SLI/Crossfire. 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 IVB 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 you choose.

The Intel Z77 Express Chipset block diagram

The Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD4H motherboard is PCI Express 3.0 compliant and brings with it an incremental upgrade to 8 GT/s, or 16GB/s bi-directional bandwidth for each PCI Express x16 videocard slot. The previous PCI Express 2.0 standard delivered 5 GT/s, or 8GB/s bi-directional bandwidth to each x16 videocard slot. As with previous Intel chipsets, the Intel Z77 PCH communicates with the socket LGA1155 CPU over a DMI2.0 link at 20Gb/s and via the Intel Flexible Display Interface (FDI). 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
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.
Chipset Code Name Patsburg (65nm) Panther 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
Memory Support DDR3-1600, quad channel DDR3-1600, dual channel DDR3-1333, dual channel
Maximum Memory Capacity 64GB (64-bit) 32GB (64-bit) 32GB (64-bit)
Integrated Graphics / Intel FDI - Yes Yes
Integrated Graphics Ports - HDMI, DVI, DP, VGA
(3-way monitor with IvyBridge CPU)
(dual monitor)
PCI Express 2.0 Lanes
8 8 8
Intel Rapid Storage Technology (RST) RST enterprise 3 iRST 11 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
RAID 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
USB 3.0 Ports - 4 -
USB 2.0 Ports 14 10 14
Intel High Definition Audio Yes Yes Yes
Other Intel Identity Protection Technology (IPT) Intel Rapid Start, Intel Smart Connect -

Intel Platform Responsiveness Technologies

Intel Smart Response Technology brings about "like-SSD responsiveness" to operating systems and applications installed to mechanical SATA hard drives. It works by storing frequently accessed hard drive I/O data blocks to a small capacity, dedicated 'caching SSD' that Windows 7 can read from very quickly. See PCSTATS in-depth review of Intel SRT for the complete details. Intel Rapid Start Tech. leverages SSD caching hardware (if present) to decrease the time Windows requires to come out of hibernation. If your office PC is set to hibernate when you're away, this tool allows the PC resume in about as much time as it takes to recover from sleep mode/standby. 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.

LucidLogix VirtuMVP

LucidLogix VirtuMVP is a software driver Intel validated for the Intel Z77 platform which enables on-the-fly switching between discreet graphics cards and Sandy Bridge / Ivy Bridge's integrated graphics core. It does this by virtualizing one GPU or the other. If the monitor is connected to the GA-Z77X-UD4H's onboard video outputs, VirtuMVP virtualizes the discreet videocard (i-Mode) when 3D games are launched. Conversely, if the monitor is connected to a discrete videocard, VirtuMVP virtualizes the IGP when required (d-Mode).

VirtuMVP allows the integrated graphics core to accelerate video transcoding tasks via Intel QuickSync and seamlessly switch to purpose bred discreet videocards when 3D gaming.

On top of the core features, VirtuMVP adds Hyperformance and Virtual Vsync which aim to improve 3D performance. Hyperformance increases frame rates by eliminating redundant rendering tasks and "predicting potential synchronization issues in the graphics delivery pipeline". VirtualVsync reduces screen tearing. VirtuMVP is simple to set up and can be tasked to kick in for specified applications. Moving along, it's time for the 360-degree look at the Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD4H motherboard!

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Contents of Article: Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD4H
 Pg 1.  Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD4H Intel Z77 Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  Overclocking Tools and Intel Z77 Chipset Details
 Pg 3.  — Intel Z77 Express Chipset + VirtuMVP
 Pg 4.  360-Degree Motherboard Gallery: Features and Layout
 Pg 5.  Overclocking Report and BIOS Walk through
 Pg 6.  Video Transcoding, Power Draw and Conclusions
 Pg 7.  Test System Specs + Sysmark 2012 Benchmarks
 Pg 8.  PCMark Vantage Motherboard Benchmarks
 Pg 9.  SiSoft Sandra: CPU Motherboard Benchmarks:
 Pg 10.  Sandra: Memory Motherboard Benchmarks:
 Pg 11.  3DMark 11 Motherboard Benchmarks
 Pg 12.  3DMark Vantage Motherboard Benchmarks
 Pg 13.  3DMark 06 Motherboard Benchmarks
 Pg 14.  IGP Motherboard Benchmarks

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