First and foremost, the initial setup was straightforward and a breeze, partly due to the two USB slots on the rear I/O panel that GIGABYTE have labelled as being native ports controlled by the Z77 chipset itself. With some motherboards getting your USB mouse and keyboard to work is trial and error when doing a fresh Windows install since some of the USB ports are being run off of controllers they aren't automatically recognized by the OS. As we mentioned in the introduction, these second-generation motherboards are always more polished than the first wave, and the above is definitely an example of that.
What about the Z77X-UD4H stood out for us? Well aesthetically, we appreciate the fact that it doesn't stand out. We definitely like the new understated design theme that GIGABYTE first unveiled on their X79 series. It's matte yet sleek without being gaudy, and thus matches a larger number of other components and actually looks good in a case. This maybe not a big deal to everyone, but looks matter for some. The red onboard power button is a cool addition, the voltage measurement points are lifesavers when it comes to serious overclocking endeavours, as is the venerable LED POST code display. The onboard BIOS switcher is useful for those who like to run multiple BIOS profiles or when something unexpected has occurred, and the full complement of VGA, DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort ports guarantee that you will be able to output a video signal to just about any type of display imaginable.
Turning our focus towards connectivity, the Z77X-UD4H did not disappoint at all. With six USB 3.0 ports on the rear panel, an internal USB 3.0 header, four SATA 3Gb/s ports, four SATA 6Gb/s ports, and two eSATA 6Gb/s ports, the storage options are impressive. Now an mSATA and/or Thunderbolt port would have been nice additions, but you can't have everything and expect to maintain the $165 retail price. If that's a deal-breaker, and you are willing to live with two less SATA and USB ports and a pared down CPU VRM, the GA-Z77X-UD3H features an mSATA port and is $15 cheaper. The higher-end Z77X-UP4 TH has both mSATA port and Thunderbolt ports, but retails at around $185. So it really comes down to which features matters for you. To us, the UD4H is a happy compromise since Thunderbolt really doesn't matter at this point in time, and in a desktop system there's nothing an mSATA drive can do that a regular 2.5" SSD can't do for cheaper.
On the overclocking front, we were very satisfied with our results. Thanks to the superlative overclocking abilities of Ivy Bridge processors and big improvements in software-based auto-overclocking, we were able to use the Quick Boost feature in EasyTune6 to ramp up over i7-3770K from 3.9GHz to 4.68Ghz with one mouse click and a reboot. That's an impressive overclock, with very worthwhile performance gains as we demonstrated in our benchmarks. The slightly more inteligent Auto Tuning feature managed to clock our processor to an even more impressive 4.8GHz, however it was not quite stable due to a lack of vCore. We can't rule out the possibility that the program likely isn't optimized for our engineering sample chip. Having said that, 4.8GHz is only a tiny bit less than the 4.81Ghz we managed to achieve during our manual overclocking effort, so clearly Auto Tuning has some serious potential. Overall, the Z77X-UD4H was joy to use when overclocking. No weird issues or random reboots, perfect system recovery when we did push things too far, and a mature BIOS with all the overclocking settings we needed. Speaking of which, it was relief to know that it anything when catastrophically wrong, the UD4H's two physical BIOS chips would save our derrières.
From your Average Joe to your overclocking-focused enthusiast, this is a motherboard that ticks many boxes and that does most things very well. It has just about everything you could want in a Z77 LGA1155 motherboard, unless you want more or should I say different connectivity, in which case GIGABYTE offers quite a few other models that should meet your criteria while sharing the same basic genes as the easily recommendable Z77X-UD4H.
- Consistently fast performance.
- Clean black-on-black design.
- Very convenient layout.
- Comprehensive SATA 6Gb/s and USB 3.0 connectivity.
- VGA, DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort outputs.
- 2-Way CrossFire & 2-Way SLI capability.
- LucidLogix Virtu MVP support.
- Voltage measurement points.
- Excellent manual overclocking capabilities.
- Very capable automatic overclocking options.
- Flawless voltage regulation & output.
- LED Post code display.
- Two physical BIOS chips.
- User-friendly and tweaker-friendly UEFI BIOS.
- Comprehensive software suite.
- Reasonable price tag given the features list.
- Clear CMOS and Reset buttons are a bit too close together.
- Large CPU coolers + tall memory heatspreaders will cause installation issues.
- Auto Tuning feature needs a little work.
- GUI-based 3D BIOS mode needs to be expanded a bit functionality wise.
Our thanks to Gigabyte for making this review possible!
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