GIGABYTE Z97X-UD5H Motherboard Review
When the new Intel 9-series motherboards were first unveiled it has hard to get really excited about them since the new features and capabilities were promising, but there was no way to actually take advantage of any them. MOre than a month later and the same holds true since there are no serious SATA Express devices ready for primetime and M.2 SSDs are still few and far between. However, now that Intel's upcoming Devil's Canyon chips have been fully unveiled, there is finally a tangible reason to want one of these new Z97 motherboards since they are the only ones with native support for these enthusiast-oriented processors.
With this in mind, today we will be taking a look at the second highest-end model in GIGABYTE's mainstream Ultra Durable Series lineup, the Z97X-UD5H. The UD5H comes with a 12-phase power design, which is more than any of the other 9-Series models, but with slightly less sophisticated MOSFET components than the G1 Gaming or SuperOverClocked models. There are three PCI-E x16 slots and multiple graphics cards support is present in the form of 2-Way CrossFire and 2-Way SLI.
Those who plan on making use of the CPU's integrated graphics will be able to utilize VGA, DVI, and HDMI video outputs. There are eight SATA 6Gb/s ports, one SATA Express port (which utilizes two of SATA ports) and an M.2 slot. When it comes to USB connectivity, there are six USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, and internal headers permitting a mix of six more ports. This model also features two gigabit LAN interfaces courtesy of both a Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2200 network controller and Intel I217V NIC. Audio is supplied by a modern Realtek ALC1150 eight-channel CODEC, and the sound subsystem is isolated from the rest of the system by audio separation line on the PCB. Rounding things out, you will find small extras like six Smart Fan 4-pin PWM headers, two physical BIOS chips, and a POST code debug display.
Staying true to its high-end roots, this is one of the few GIGABYTE models with the full compliment of user-friendly Quick Buttons on the top-right corner of the motherboard, which consists of onboard power and reset buttons, clear CMOS button, Dual BIOS switches, and the all important voltage read points. These might not be key selling points for your average user, but they are a must for those who run their systems outside of a conventional case or just those who like to tinker.
On the software side, this model features a newly revised triple-mode UEFI BIOS, which introduces the simplistic Startup Guide, while maintaining the eye-catching Dashboard Mode and traditional, option-rich Classic Mode. The well-known EasyTune utility has refocused towards its core functions of automatic overclocking and real-time tweaking of system frequencies, timings and voltages. As a result, EasyTune has been stripped of its monitoring and fan control duties, and that functionality has been transferred to the new System Information Viewer tool that can apparently handle these tasks with much lower latency.
This $190 motherboard certainly looks great on paper, but that is really only half the story, so let's see if it can impress us as much as the flagship Z97X-Gaming G1 Black Edition did.
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