Gigabyte Z77X-UD4H LGA 1155 Motherboard Review

It’s been awhile since we’ve looked at a motherboard from Gigabyte. We haven’t forgotten Gigabyte and decided to take the Z77X-UD4H for a little test drive. The Z77X-UD4H is a sub-$170 motherboard with a great look and a solid feature list for the price point that has the computer hardware enthusiast in mind.

Introduction

Gigabyte is a major player in the motherboard market. Like their competitors Gigabyte has diversified in recent years expanding into graphics cards, cases, laptops, servers, and more.

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The Gigabyte Z77X-UD4H is based on the Intel Z77 Express chipset. The Z77X-UD4H utilizes an 8 phase digital PWM controlled power design. The Z77X-UD4H includes all the standard features the Z77 chipset supports with some additional features thrown in as well. The Z77X-UD4H supports up to 32GB of DDR3 DRAM using 4x8GB modules. Also included with the chipset features we have; PCI-Express 3.0, native USB 3.0, LucidLogix Virtu MVP, Intelآ® Rapid Start Technology and Smart Connect Technology, SATA 6Gb/s support, USB 3.0, NVIDIA SLI / Quad-SLI support and 2 card CrossFire supporting up to four GPUs. Gigabyte includes additional storage support via the VIA VL800 USB 3.0 controller and the Marvell 9172 RAID controller. I would classify this as a somewhat low to midrange offering though it’s certainly not a stripped down model offering minimal features either.

Main Specifications Overview:

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Detailed Specifications Overview:

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Packaging

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The Z77X-UD4H comes in a standard motherboard box. Our sample arrived intact with the following accessories: User manual, driver disc, SLI bridge, I/O shield and two SATA cables. It’s a bit lower priced so the lack of a more comprehensive bundle just goes with the territory.

Board Layout

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Gigabyte has paid more attention to aesthetic qualities in recent years. It had some hideous color schemes in the past but its current motherboards tend to be very eye pleasing. This one is no different. The black color scheme may be a fairly common sight but Gigabyte pulls it off well. The board layout is superb all things considered though it isn’t perfect. My only real complaint is the location of the clear CMOS button. It is located directly next to the reset button. I’ve been complaining about this for some time stating that accidentally pushing the clear CMOS button could easily happen. Many people in our forums argued that you shouldn’t do this if you are paying close attention and while that reigns true in theory, in practice humans get complacent and sometimes fumble around for a switch rather than getting up and looking down at the board before pressing the button. After one lockup during overclocking I managed to hit the clear CMOS switch by mistake. So yes it can happen and I will continue to make note of the clear CMOS button’s location as being a poor design decision. If this button isn’t moved it should be recessed or somehow feel different than the reset button. In any case the layout is very good despite this one strong criticism.

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The CPU socket area is relatively clean. As usual DIMM socket placement could create issues with some large air coolers but this can be mitigated by the use of self-contained liquid cooling solutions or custom loop water cooling hardware. Even if neither of these is compelling to you the use of low-profile DIMMs could do just as well for you. It is unfortunate that the DIMM slots can’t be farther away for technical reasons but this is beyond Gigabyte’s control.

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There are four properly color coded DIMM slots on the Z77X-UD4H. These slots are positioned well to avoid clearance issues with the expansion slots or anything else. Using 4 8GB modules the Z77X-UD4H supports up to 32GB of DDR3 memory. Located directly to the right of the DIMM slots are the board’s power button, clear CMOS, and reset buttons. These are typically for diagnostic or benchmarking usage.

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The Z77 chipset is found directly in front of the expansion slot area. It is cooled with a low clearance, passive heatsink. The heat load of the Z77 Express chipset is not that demanding and as a result a large or complex cooling system is not generally needed. In front of the chipset are the board’s 8 SATA ports. These are right angled / locking ports. Among the most interesting things that Gigabyte does here is including an auxiliary power plug next to the SATA ports which is right angled. Many boards have auxiliary power headers. Most use either a standard four-pin Molex connector or a six pin PCIe power plug. Gigabyte uses a SATA power connector which is genius in my opinion. Most power supplies these days come with more SATA power plugs then you’ll ever need and not enough of the others. So Gigabyte’s solution is the best there is in my opinion.

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The expansion slot area is nicely designed. I really don’t have anything to complain about here. I’m not overly fond of legacy PCI slots but there are some special needs for these out there. It’s good that Gigabyte is accommodating. I would note that the compatibility chip required does increase the cost of a Z77 Express based board since Z77 doesn’t support PCI natively. In between the two PCIe x16/x8 slots are the dual-BIOS ROMs. Note that these are soldered onboard the PCB and are not socketed. I’m not a big fan of that but at this price point I understand it.

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The I/O panel is packed with ports with little wasted space. There are no USB 2.0 ports on the back panel of the board. Instead Gigabyte has marked the native Intel USB 3.0 ports which are the only ones which will allow the use of the USB keyboard and mouse in the UEFI or in a pre-OS / boot environment. The ports included on the I/O panel are: 1 PS/2 keyboard/mouse combination port, 6x USB 3.0 ports, 1x D-Sub, 1x DVI-D, 1x Optical Output, 1x DisplayPort, 1x HDMI port, 1x RJ-45 port and finally six mini-stereo jacks for audio output.