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The Gigabyte Z77X-UD4H is a mid-range socket LGA1155 motherboard targeted to the “Ivy Bridge” processors (third-generation Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 processors). Let’s see what this motherboard has to offer.
The Intel Z77 is an upgraded version of the Z68 chipset with the same basic features (Intel Smart Response Technology and Virtu video switching technology), plus native support to four USB 3.0 ports. It also includes the addition of two new technologies: Smart Connect (allowing the computer to receive emails and refresh webpages while it is in sleep mode) and Rapid Start (faster boot times).
In addition, the Gigabye Z77X-UD4H supports the Virtu Universal MVP, which allows you to combine the performance of the integrated graphics processor available in the CPU with the performance of any video card installed. This is similar to what occurs with the Hybrid SLI and ATI Hybrid Graphics technologies, with the notable difference of not being limited to GPUs from a specific manufacturer.Gigabyte has launched 21 different motherboard models based on the Intel Z77 chipset; we list the differences between them in the tables below. We won’t describe the Z77X-UD5H-WB WIFI and the Z77X-UD3H-WB WIFI models, as they are simply a version of the Z77X-UD5H and the Z77X-UD3H models bundled with a PCI Express x1 expansion card containing IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n wireless networking and Bluetooth 4.0. This card is also included with the Z77X-UP7 and with the G1.Sniper 3 motherboards. Prices were researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this article.
|PCI Express x16 3.0||4 (x16/x0/x16/x0 or x16/x0/x8/x8 or x8/x8/x8/x8)||4 (x16/x0/x16/x0 or x16/x0/x8/x8 or x8/x8/x8/x8) + 1||2 (x16/x0 or x8/x8)||2 (x16/x0 or x8/x8)||2 (x16/x0 or x8/x8)||2 (x16/x0 or x8/x8)||1|
|PCI Express x16 2.0||0||0||1 (x4)||1 (x4)||1 (x4)||1 (x4)||1 (x4)|
|PCI Express x1 2.0||2||2||3||3||3||3||2|
|BlueTooth||Yes, 4.0||Yes, 4.0||No||No||No||No||No|
|Wi-Fi||Yes, a/b/g/n||Yes, dual-band 802.11b/g/n||No||No||No||No||No|
|Price||USD 270||USD 400||USD 190||USD 165||USD 145||USD 150||USD 130|
* The motherboard has only four “real” USB 3.0 ports that are expanded to eight using hub chips.
|Specification||Z77-HD3||Z77-D3H||Z77-DS3H||Z77P-D3||Z77X-UP4 TH||Z77X-UP5 TH|
|PCI Express x16 3.0||1||1||1||1||3 (x16/x0/x0 or x8/x8/x0 or x8/x4/x4)||3 (x16/x0/x0 or x8/x8/x0 or x8/x4/x4)|
|PCI Express x16 2.0||1 (x4)||1 (x4)||1 (x4)||1 (x4)||0||0|
|PCI Express x1 2.0||2||3||2||2||3||3|
|Wi-Fi||No||No||No||No||No||Yes, dual-band 802.11b/g/n|
|Thunderbolt||0||0||0||0||Two ports||Two ports|
|Voltage Regulator||6+2+1||6+1+1||4+1+1||4+1+1||10 phases total||12 phases total|
|Price||USD 115||USD 125||USD 110||NA||USD 185||USD 240|
|Specification||G1.Sniper M3||X77MX-D3H||X77MX-D3H TH||Z77M-D3H||Z77M-D3H-MVP||Z77N-WiFi|
|PCI Express x16 3.0||2 (x16/x0 or x8/x8)||2 (x16/x0 or x8/x8)||2 (x16/x0 or x8/x8)||1||1||1|
|PCI Express x16 2.0||1 (x4)||1 (x4)||1 (x4)||1 (x4)||1 (x4)||0|
|PCI Express x1 2.0||1||1||1||1||1||0|
|Wi-Fi||No||No||No||No||No||Yes, dual-band 802.11b/g/n|
|Price||USD 170||USD 125||NA||NA||USD 120||USD 130|
You can see the Gigabyte Z77X-UD4H motherboard in Figure 1.
The Gigabyte Z77X-UD4H comes with two PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots, one PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot (working at x4), three PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots, and one PCI slot.
The two PCI Express 3.0 x16 slots are controlled by the CPU, with the first slot working at x16 when only one video card is installed, and with both working at x8 when two video cards are installed. Since these slots are controlled by the CPU, it will offer PCI Express 2.0 bandwidth (8 GB/s at x16) when a “Sandy Bridge” CPU is installed, but PCI Express 3.0 bandwidth (16 GB/s at x16) when an “Ivy Bridge” CPU is used.
The third PCI Express x16 slot is 2.0 and works at x4. If you plan to install a dual-slot video card in this slot, you will have to buy a case with at least eight slots. (Computer cases usually have seven.)
When installing dual-slot video cards, you “kill” the slot immediately to the left of the slot being used (looking at the motherboard with its rear connectors facing up).
Since the Intel Z77 chipset doesn’t support standard PCI slots, the motherboard uses an ITE IT8892E bridge chip to connect the standard PCI slot to a PCI Express x1 lane.
The PCI Express x16 slots support both SLI and CrossFireX technologies.
[nextpage title=”Memory Support”]
Intel socket LGA1155 CPUs have an embedded memory controller, meaning that it is the processor, not the chipset, that defines what memory technologies you can have and the maximum amount of memory that is possible. The motherboard, however, may have a limitation as to how much memory can be installed.
The integrated memory controller from socket LGA1155 processors supports DDR3 memories up to 1,333 MHz (“Sandy Bridge” CPUs) or up to 1,600 MHz (“Ivy Bridge” CPUs). According to Gigabyte, the Z77-UD4H supports memories up to 2,800 MHz.
The Gigabyte Z77X-UD4H has four memory sockets. Since DDR3 memory modules can be found in capacities up to 8 GB, you can have up to 32 GB with this motherboard if you use four 8 GB modules.
In order to enable the dual-channel mode, you must install two or four memory modules. On the Gigabyte Z77X-UD4H, the first and third memory sockets are gray, while the second and fourth are black. When installing two memory modules, use the gray sockets.
[nextpage title=”On Board Peripherals”]
The Intel Z77 chipset is a single-chip solution, which is also known as a PCH (Platform Controller Hub). This chip supports two SATA-600 ports and four SATA-300 ports, supporting RAID (0, 1, 10, and 5). This motherboard has two additional SATA-600 ports, controlled by a Marvell 88SE9172 chip, supporting RAID 0 and 1. These two additional ports are shared with the two eSATA-600 ports available, so they cannot be used simultaneously.
The SATA ports are installed on the motherboard edge and rotated 90°, so the installation of video ca
rds won’t block them.
The Intel Z77 chipset supports 14 USB 2.0 ports and four USB 3.0 ports. The Gigabyte Z77X-UD4H offers six USB 2.0 ports through three headers located on the motherboard. It also offers eight USB 3.0 ports, six on the motherboard rear panel and two available through one header on the motherboard. The four additional USB 3.0 ports are controlled by a VIA VL800 chip.
The Gigabyte Z77X-UD4H doesn’t support FireWire ports.
This motherboard supports 7.1+2 audio format, i.e., eight channels plus two independent channels for audio streaming. On this motherboard, the audio is generated by the chipset using the Realtek ALC892 codec, which is a mid-range solution, providing 97 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the analog outputs, 90 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the analog inputs, and up to 192 kHz sampling rate for both inputs and outputs, with 24-bit resolution. These specifications are perfect for the average user. However, if you plan to convert and edit audio from analog sources (such as VHS tapes, vinyl records, and cassette tapes) you will need to pick a motherboard with an input SNR of at least 100 dB.
The analog audio outputs are independent and the motherboardalso comes with an on-board optical SPDIF output. It also has a two-pin header labeled “SPDIF_O”, where you can install an adapter to have a coaxial SPDIF output or to connect a cable to older video cards that required a physical connection to have audio on their HDMI outputs.
The portrayed motherboard has one Gigabit Ethernet port, controlled by a Realtek RTL8111F chip.
In Figure 5, you can see the motherboard rear panel with a shared PS/2 connector for keyboard and mouse, six USB 3.0 ports, VGA output, DVI-D output, optical SPDIF output, HDMI output, DisplayPort output, two eSATA-600 ports, one Gigabit Ethernet port, and the analog audio jacks.
[nextpage title=”Other Features”]
This motherboard has two BIOS chips, so if the main BIOS chip is corrupted by a virus or a bad BIOS upgrade, you can still recover the motherboard.
The Gigabyte Z77X-UD4H has a POST diagnostics display, so you can see, through a two-digit code, which component is preventing your computer from turning on.
The portrayed motherboard supports the installation of a TPM (Trusted Platform Module), in charge of storing encryption keys in order to increase the security of the computer.
In Figure 8, you can see all of the accessories that come with the Gigabyte Z77X-UD4H.
[nextpage title=”Voltage Regulator”]
The CPU voltage regulator circuit of the Gigabyte Z77X-UD4H has eight phases for the CPU main voltage (Vcc a.k.a. Vcore), two for the CPU VSA (a.k.a. system agent) voltage, and one for the embedded GPU (VAXG). Therefore, it uses an “8+2+1” configuration.
The voltage regulator is controlled by an IR3564 integrated circuit, which uses a digital design. For the main voltage and the VSA voltage, the motherboard uses one IR3598 integrated circuit instead of a discrete driver transistor. One integrated circuit is used per two phases, as each one has two MOSFETs inside. Two NTMFS4921N MOSFETs are used per phase as the “low side” and the “high side” transistors. On the single phase for the VAXG voltage, one RJK03B7DPA MOSFET is used as “driver” and two RJK0393DPA MOSFETs are used as “low side” and “high side.”
The Gigabyte Z77X-UD4H uses solid electrolytic capacitors. All coils on this motherboard are ferrite-core models, which can provide up to 20% improvement in efficiency.
If you want to learn more about the voltage regulator circuit, please read our tutorial on the subject.
[nextpage title=”Overclocking Options”]
The Gigabyte Z77X-UD4H has voltage monitoring points, allowing you to monitor the chipset voltage (PCHIO), the memory termination voltage (DDRVTT), the memory voltage (VDIMM), the CPU PLL voltage (CPUPLL), the CPU VSA voltage, the CPU VTT voltage, and the CPU main voltage through a voltmeter. See Figure 10.
The portrayed motherboard has a few overclocking options. Below, we list the most important ones (F2f BIOS):
- Base clock: From 80.00 MHz to 133.33 MHz in 0.01 MHz increments
- CPU graphics clock: From 400 MHz to 3,200 MHz in 1 MHz increments
- CPU core voltage: From 0.800 V to 1.900 V in 0.005 V increments
- CPU graphics voltage: From +0.000 V to +0.350 V in 0.005 V increments
- CPU VTT (“I/O”) voltage: From 0.800 V to 1.700 V in 0.005 V increments
- CPU PLL voltage: From 1.200 V to 2.200 V in 0.005 V increments
- Memory controller (“IMC,” “System Agent,” VCCSA) voltage: From 0.715 V to 1.400 V in 0.005 V increments
- Memory voltage: From 1.100 V to 2.100 V in 0.005 V increments
- Memory reference voltage: From 0.695 V to 0.810 V in 0.005 V increments
- Memory termination voltage: From 0.593 V to 1.934
V in 0.007 V increments
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]
The main specifications for the Gigabyte Z77X-UD4H include:
- Socket: LGA1155
- Chipset: Intel Z77 Express
- Super I/O: ITE IT8728F
- Parallel ATA: None
- Serial ATA: Four SATA-300 ports and two SATA-600 ports controlled by the chipset (RAID 0, 1, 10, and 5) and two SATA-600 ports controlled by a Marvel 88SE9172 chip (RAID 0 and 1)
- External SATA: Two eSATA-600 ports shared with the two SATA-600 ports controlled by the Marvell chip
- USB 2.0: Six USB 2.0 ports available through three headers on the motherboard
- USB 3.0: Eight USB 3.0 ports, four controlled by the chipset and four controlled by a VIA VL800 chip; six soldered on the motherboard rear panel and two available through one header on the motherboard
- FireWire (IEEE 1394): None
- Thunderbolt: None
- On-board video: Controlled by the CPU; VGA, DVI-D, DisplayPort, and HDMI connectors
- On-board audio: Produced by the chipset together with a Realtek ALC892 codec (7.1+2 channels, 24-bit resolution, 192 kHz sampling rate, 97 dB SNR for the outputs, and 90 dB SNR for the inputs)
- On-board LAN: One Gigabit Ethernet port controlled by a Realtek RTL8111F chip
- Buzzer: No
- Infrared interface: No
- Power supply required: EPS12V
- Slots: Two PCI Express 3.0/2.0 x16 slots (working at x16), one PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot (working at x4), three PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots, and one PCI slot (ITE IT8892E bridge chip)
- Memory: Four DDR3-DIMM sockets (up to DDR3-2800, 32 GB maximum)
- Fan connectors: One four-pin connector for the CPU cooler and four four-pin connectors for auxiliary fans
- Extra features: Two BIOS chips, POST diagnostics display, support for TPM, and voltage monitoring points
- Number of CDs/DVDs provided: One
- Programs included: Motherboard utilities
- More Information: https://www.gigabyte.us
- Average Price in the U.S.*: USD 165.00
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]
The Gigabyte Z77X-UD4H is the quintessential mid-range motherboard, targeted to users who want to buy a good-quality product with more features than entry-level products, but don’t want to spend a lot of money on a high-end model.
The highlights of this motherboard include the presence of eight USB 3.0 ports, two additional SATA-600/eSATA ports, three PCI Express x16 slots supporting SLI and CrossFireX, a decent voltage regulator circuit, a POST diagnostics display, two BIOS chips, voltage monitoring points, an adequate audio codec for mainstream users, independent analog audio jacks, and more.
We believe that the price for this motherboard (USD 165) is right for what it has to offer, being a nice option if you are looking for the features it offers.