Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H £160
23rd Apr 2012 | 16:01
The best Gigabyte board we've seen in years, and possibly the best Z77 too.
Introduction and benchmarks
The Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H marks a serious return to the world of high-end motherboards.
Gigabyte has, after all, had a hard time in recent years, being left behind by two of its biggest rivals, Asus and MSI, as they found new, profitable revenue streams.
Things were looking ropey for the Taiwanese motherboard company for a while there; the P67/Z68 debacle was very bad for business and Gigabyte had a host of problems with its X79 boards.
At the start of the year you could maybe find one X79 board from it out in the wild.
Business has picked up though, and more X79 boards have sprung out of the Taipei factory, including the excellent Gigabyte X79-UD3 and following those are a load more Z77 boards.
At last count there where twelve different designs in various form factors.
At the top-end are the two G1.Sniper 3 boards, in ATX and mATX form factors, but sitting just below them, in more sensible black and blue trim (no neon green in sight) is this Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H.
And it's a fantastic board.
Socket - Intel LGA 1155
Chipset - Intel Z77
Graphics support - 2x PCIe 3.0 x16, 1x PCIe 2.0 x16, Nvidia SLI and AMD CrossFireX
Memory - Dual channel DDR3
High speed interfaces - 10x USB 3.0, 6x SATA 6Gbps
We tested all the motherboards here with the same Intel Core i7 3770K processor to test their relative performance across a range of tasks.
Despite running at the same multi-threading Turbo frequency of 3.9GHz (over the stock 3.5GHz) the Gigabyte board has the edge over the Asus P8Z77-V Pro mobo across our entire range of benchmarks; even in the gaming tests where Asus has traditionally held sway.
If you want top performance at the stock settings then you really cannot look past the Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H.
CPU rendering performance
At £160/$190 the Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H is one of the more expensive of our launch Z77 boards, but still cheaper than Intel's DZ77GA-70K or Asus' Sabertooth Z77, and arguably better than both.
Key to the board's impressive debut is the serious feature-set it manages for the price.
Although it doesn't actually come with a drive as standard it still sports the teeny mSATA connection, like the Gigabyte Z68XP-UD3-iSSD before it.
That allows you to drop in a little 60GB SSD into the slot to link up with Intel's Smart Response Technology for drive caching loveliness.
Thanks to some clever Gigabyte tinkering you don't have to do any drive formatting for it to work either, just take your existing installation and plug a wee SSD into it.
The Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H also has every single display output sprouting from the backplate you could possibly want. Covering the analogue with a VGA port and catering for the digital crowd with either Dual-link DVI, HDMI or full DisplayPort.
So serious multi-monitor support from the onboard graphics alone.
But then when the gaming performance of the board is this good why would you bother sticking with the CPU graphics when you can throw a discrete card in there and watch it fly?
The Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H takes the top-honours in our benchmarks in discrete graphics tests, especially World in Conflict and elsewhere in Shogun 2.
The big test was always going to be against the Asus board as they historically do better in gaming tests, but the Gigabyte board manages to hold its own. Both this Z77X-UD5H board and the Asus were running at a standard Turbo of 3.9GHz, pushing them ahead of both the Intel and ASRock boards off the bat.
At those same Turbo frequencies the UD5H also comes out top against the P8Z77-V Pro across the rest of our benchmarking suite. It may only be by the tiniest of margins in each case, but the fact it can push ahead is testament to how much work Gigabyte has been putting into this Z77 design.
Ivy Bridge: What you need to know
Intel Core i7 3770K review
Intel Core i5 3570K review
The straight-line performance of the Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H is what immediately impressed us, and the overclocking performance backing it to the hilt too.
But it doesn't stop there either, this board comes with an incredible feature set, making it one of the best all-round Z77 boards available.
Like the Asus board though we're disappointing with the lack of physical USB ports on the backplate. Again it supplies a secondary backplate mounting with another pair of USB 3.0 ports, but it still feels rather limited. And to make it up to the touted 10 USB 3.0 ports you need a further two extenders from the mobo which aren't supplied in the box.
Still, that slight niggle aside, this is an excellent, well-priced, well laid out board that performs over and above what we would have expected from a £160 mobo from Gigabyte. An excellent return to form for Gigtabyte's motherboard division at a wallet-friendly price to boot.