Gigabyte Z87X-UD5H LGA 1150 Motherboard Review

Gigabyte brings a lot to the test bench with the Z87X-UD5H. New UEFI, New Easy Tune software, and a whole lot more. Gigabyte is facing some very tough competition based on what we’ve seen from other manufacturers. Does Gigabyte still have what it takes to compete? Let’s find out.

Introduction

GIGABYTE is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of motherboards. Naturally new chipsets and CPUs bring new motherboards to market. Gigabyte wasn’t about to be left out of the race and as a result have launched itsown lineup of Z87 Express chipset based motherboards.

Haswell and the z87 chipset is an evolutionary step in technological advancement and not revolutionary. Given the software / hardware dynamic you could argue that anyone sitting on a good Z68 Express or newer platform has little reason to upgrade. For some applications and usage models I’d even agree with that sentiment. The Z68 wasn’t that much more than P67 and Z77 Express offered little by itself over those platforms. Z87 is more of the same. Tiny increments in the feature set are all your getting each generation. However the motherboard manufacturers are innovating perhaps more than Intel itself with this generation. Due to the nature of Intel’s IVR being built into the processor the motherboards needed a total redesign and redesigns are what occurred.

Aside from what has been changed out of necessity motherboard makers are going to better capacitors, new UEFIs, more comprehensive fan control and new software suites. ESD resistance IC’s are being employed along with headphone amplifiers and other stuff making this generation of motherboards particularly exciting and competitive. After seeing what ASUS had to offer with its Z87-A and Z87-Deluxe I knew the competition had its work cut out for it. Other motherboard makers like Gigabyte certainly aren’t rolling over for ASUS either which makes things even more interesting.

Gigabyte is matching ASUS in some areas and attempting to raise the bar in others. You’ll see what I mean very shortly.

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The Gigabyte Z87X-UD5H is based on Intel’s Z87 Express chipset as its name implies. The motherboard is roughly midrange in the product stack and borders on the higher end of the spectrum. It’s definitely targeted toward enthusiasts and gamers alike. This generation Gigabyte kicked things up a notch. The Z87X-UD5H features a 12-phase all digital power design featuring International Rectifier PowIRstage ICs and black Nippon Chemi-Con capacitors rated at 10,000 hours at temperatures of 105c. Like ASUS it has started integrating special IC’s designed to protect against ESD, specifically the USB and network jacks. Gold plated CPU sockets, and 2oz. copper PCBs are part of the design and Gigabyte also introduces a new one fuse per USB port implementation.

Gigabyte even went the extra mile by adding a 600ohm headphone amplifier. The Gigabyte Z87X-UD5H has 10 SATA 6Gb/s ports all supporting RAID functionality and SSD caching. Dual Intel network adapters, 2-Way SLI and CrossFireX support is also included in Z87X-UD5H’s robust feature set.

Main Specifications Overview:

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Detailed Specifications Overview:

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Packaging

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The Gigabyte Z87X-UD5H ships in a stylish yet rudimentary package. The box art has taken on a harder edge and more modern tone than the last several generations were known for. The board arrived intact with the following accessories: User manual, Quick install guide, driver disc, Gigabyte case badge, front panel USB 3.0 bracket, SATA cables, SLI bridge and I/O shield.

Board Layout

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The Z87X-UD5H has a superb layout. Port locations, expansion slots and onboard controls are all well placed with ease of use in mind. This model has onboard power, reset and clear CMOS controls. The clear CMOS button has been moved a little bit out of the way to make accidental depression of this switch a bit more difficult than on last generation’s models. The motherboard’s black PCB and black expansion slots make for a visually appealing piece of hardware. Yellow accents with a golden shine provide the needed contrast which give the Z87X-UD5H an almost elegant but harder edged appearance.

The attention to detail is certainly present as many of the motherboard’s PCB mounted connector’s are capped with plugs which are even labeled. Most of the ports on the back I/O panel are filled with similar caps and plugs. Virtually every imaginable detail of the board’s design shows a considerable amount of thought.

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The CPU socket area is no better and no worse than that of any other motherboard designed for Intel CPUs since the debut of their first integrated memory controller. The board’s 12+2 phases flank the socket. DIMM slots are somewhat close to the CPU socket as usual but low profile memory modules and closed loop water cooling units alleviate any clearance issues that could arise.

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The Z87X-UD5H has four color coded DIMM slots supporting a total of 32GB of DDR3 RAM. There is ample room to allow the removal or installation of modules with a large graphics card installed. Onboard power and reset controls are just to the left and in front of these slots. The POST code readout is directly blow the RAM slots.

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The chipset is located in the south west corner of the motherboard PCB. It’s covered by a large heat sink. This heat sink still maintains a low profile for optimal clearance necessary for expansion cards. There are 10 SATA 6Gb/s ports located in front of the chipset. These are all right angled, locking ports. Gray ports are assigned to the Marvell 9230 RAID controller while black ports belong to the Z87 Express chipset itself.

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The expansion slot area is virtually flawless. The PCIe x1 slot at the top ensures that the graphics card doesn’t get too close to the CPU cooling solution or the memory slots. There is no PLX chip, so only 16x0, 8x8, or 8x4x4 configurations are possible. For multiple GPUs only two cards are supported in CrossFireX and SLI.

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The I/O panel features a multitude of connectivity options. All six rear USB ports are USB 3.0 compliant. There is 1 PS/2 mouse/keyboard combination port and dual RJ-45 interfaces for network connectivity. For audio there is one optical output and six mini-stereo jacks. Though naturally audio over HDMI is also supported. Speaking of which there are two HDMI ports, one DisplayPort and a single DVI-I connector.